Football team remains cautious despite hype

Minnesota football coach Glen Mason is worried.
No, his nerves aren’t flowing because he has a root canal appointment or a big midterm or anything else like that scheduled this week.
He’s worried about what his team hopes they can schedule for the first of January — and it might involve roses.
If the 22nd-ranked Gophers win their remaining games and Purdue just happens to lose one, Minnesota (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) will earn its first trip to the Rose Bowl since 1961.
And the big “what if” is what is scaring the Gophers fourth-year coach.
“The phone rang Sunday morning and the first thing someone asked me was ‘Did you see the headlines in the papers: Gophers are smelling roses?'” Mason asked. “If we believe that, the Gophers will be smelling like road kill.”
Mason’s main concern is that roses don’t start budding up in the players thoughts, like they have in the Gophers fans and in the media.
Defensive end Karon Riley, however, said Mason has nothing to worry about.
“That’s not really on our minds because it’s so far away,” Riley said. “That is one of those things that’s going to have to take care of itself. And the only way we can do that is going to happen is if we take care of our responsibilities week in and week out.
“If we start looking past that, we won’t be smelling roses or anything else.”
Horrible Hoosier ‘D’
How bad is the Indiana defense the Gophers will face this Saturday down in Bloomington?
The Hoosiers are last in the Big Ten in points allowed (38.5 per game), pass defense (293 yards per game) and total defense (479.2 yards a game).
Indiana has allowed 231 total points this season over its six games, almost 100 more than the Gophers have given up in their seven contests.
“We’re just trying to get everybody to understand they need to do their job,” Hoosiers coach Cam Cameron said.
“When you’re not having success on defense guys start trying to do more than they’re being asked to do.
“Then there will be a gaping hole and somebody’s running down the field, or somebody overcommitting and the ball’s over your head.”
Indiana lost 58-0 at Michigan on Saturday. The Wolverines put 45 points on the board in the first half, seemingly scoring whenever they felt like it.
The Hoosiers defense is by far the worst Minnesota will face this season, but Mason said the stats don’t insure the Gophers will be able to score at will like the Wolverines did.
“Their defense has been inconsistent,” Mason said. “Statistically, it is the opposite of their offense (fourth in the conference). But at times they can play really well.”
Forever proud
Mason is still relishing in Saturday’s 29-17 upset win over his alma mater — Ohio State — in the Horseshoe.
At Tuesday’s media luncheon, Mason was asked if the game was the proudest moment in his life next to marriage and the birth of his five children.
“No,” Mason replied. “But I’m not going to tell you what was.”
Full house?
According to media relations, 54,000 tickets have been sold for the Oct. 28 Homecoming game against Northwestern at the Metrodome.
Only once last season did the Gophers reach more than 54,000, and that was the Wisconsin (63,108) game, which is known for drawing large amounts of Wisconsinites.
Last year’s Homecoming loss to Purdue drew 48,869 fans. Tickets for the Wildcats game are available by calling (612)624-8080 or 1-800-UGOPHER.

John Carter covers football and welcomes comments at [email protected]