Football uses scrimmage to shake rust, prepare for Purdue

Minnesota’s football team has not stepped on the field for a game since Sept. 8. The drought continues until Saturday when the Gophers host Purdue.

With the three-week layoff only two-thirds over, Minnesota did its best to simulate a game environment by holding an intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday.

After going two weeks without playing, coach Glen Mason said it looked like the team’s first scrimmage of spring practice.

“It concerns me,” Mason said. “You keep talking about (playing) but until you do it and they can see themselves and we can see them, I don’t know what else we’re going to do.”

Despite the rain, the team spent two hours outside running plays at game speed.

The first team players ran between 40 and 45 plays while the second team ran about 30 plays.

With Purdue coming to the Metrodome in less than a week, players and coaches felt scrimmaging was the only option to prepare for the start of the Big Ten season.

“You have to stay on your toes,” senior Jimmy Henry said. “Purdue is a good team. You don’t want to go out there bringing your `B’ game with you. If you don’t bring your `A’ game, without a doubt they’re going to beat you.”

“We’re rusty. A lot of other teams (including Purdue) had games, so we have to be extra focused this week,” added quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq.

Over the weekend, Purdue defeated Akron 33-14 to improve its record to 2-0.

Wisconsin defeated Penn State 18-6 in the Big Ten opener on Saturday, but next weekend marks the beginning of the conference season for the other nine teams.

The only other Big Ten team in a situation similar to the Gophers is Iowa. The Hawkeyes are also coming off a bye week.

The Gophers hope scrimmaging Saturday will help the team pick out problems it needs to work on for its match-up with last season’s Rose Bowl representative.

“You see things from a different perspective,” Mason said. “When you think you need to (scrimmage), you have to do it.”

Around the Big Ten

Illinois defeated Louisville 34-10 to improve its record to 3-0. The Illini’s Antoineo Harris ran for 102 yards.

John Navarre passed for 240 yards as Michigan defeated Western Michigan 38-21. With the win, the Wolverines improved to 2-1.

Michigan State (2-0) upset Notre Dame 17-10 in South Bend, Ind. The Spartans Charles Rodgers caught four passes for 116 yards.

Ohio State (1-1) managed only eight first downs in a 13-6 loss to UCLA. Buckeyes quarterback Steve Bellisari was a dreadful 5-of-23 for 45 yards and two interceptions.

Utah defeated Indiana 28-26, dropping the Hoosiers to 0-2. Antwaan Randle El rushed for two touchdowns and threw another one in the loss.

Northwestern dropped Duke 44-7, improving its record to 2-0. Heisman Trophy candidate Damien Anderson rushed for 189 yards and four touchdowns while Zak Kustok passed for 318 yards in the win.


Anthony Maggio covers football and
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