Corners keep hitting without Carter

David La

Strong safety Clorenzo Griffin inherited much scrutiny and expectation long before Saturday’s game.
Of Minnesota’s four new defensive starters, Griffin stood out, thanks to solid play.
In tallying seven tackles, Griffin gave coaches and fans hope that the position vacated by the departure of two-time All-American Tyrone Carter is in capable hands.
“Actually, I was pretty comfortable,” Griffin said. “I’ve been preparing myself for this for a while. I took care of my responsibilities.”
Griffin also raised the level of his teammates’ play, thanks to a crushing tackle of Louisiana-Monroe running back Bryant Jacobs.
The Minnesota defense played tentatively in the first quarter, giving up 129 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown run by Indians quarterback Andy Chance.
On the first play of the second quarter, Chance dumped a pass to Jacobs in the right flat. Griffin took a running start and finished in the area of Jacobs’ ribcage, dropping him for a three-yard loss and raising the intensity of the defense.
“That (hit) brought the defense together a little bit; it kind of woke us up,” Griffin said. “It was something we needed to help get us going.”
“Those things help,” safety Delvin Jones said. “You see hits like that, and it gets everybody hyped.”
Three plays later, Jacobs fumbled after a hit by Gophers cornerback Trevis Graham.
Minnesota’s offense scored 37 more points, while Louisiana-Monroe managed three.

Henderson out for year
Senior Antoine Henderson is lost for the 2000 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.
The senior wide receiver fielded a Louisiana-Monroe punt in the first quarter and returned it 12 yards before appearing to go down after making a cut.
“He’s out for the year,” Mason said. “We’ll redshirt him.”
Henderson played as a true freshman in 1997.

Special teams mixed bag
While Minnesota’s special teams units wobbled, Louisiana-Monroe’s fell down. Repeatedly.
After initially missing a 30-yard field goal, the Gophers Dan Nystrom was allowed a reprieve thanks to an Indians penalty. Nystrom then drilled the 25-yarder, his 14th consecutive make in a streak dating back to last season.
The streak ended in the third quarter when Nystrom missed a 46-yard attempt.
“He’s in a little bit of a slump right now,” Mason said. “He’ll play through it. He’ll be all right.”
Sophomore Preston Gruening quelled some of Mason’s worries about the punter position, as he boomed kicks of 65 and 51 yards.
Louisiana-Monroe had one punt deflected by the Gophers Jimmy Henry, then botched a snap that went out of the end zone for a safety.

Legends Honored
Two recently deceased Minnesota football legends, quarterback Sandy Stephens and coach Cal Stoll, were remembered before the game with a moment of silence.
Stephens died on June 7, while Stoll passed away Aug. 25.
At halftime, radio broadcasting legend Ray Christensen was honored on the field, the culmination of an entire week of recognition for Christensen’s 50th year calling Gopher football games.
The first 10,000 fans attending the game, Christensen’s 500th, received a commemorative lapel pin.

David La Vaque welcomes comments at [email protected]