Thelwell breaks receiving record

by Jeff Sherry

At a media luncheon earlier this season, Gophers football coach Jim Wacker said split end Ryan Thelwell has “probably the most beautiful smile in the world.”
That smile was mostly absent following the Gophers’ 27-9 loss to Michigan State on Saturday. Like the rest of the team, Thelwell wore a somber expression in the locker room — except when he was asked about his new record.
Thelwell, a junior from Ontario, Canada, Saturday became the Gophers’ career receiving yardage leader. His 26-yard catch along the left sideline in the third quarter gave him 1,696 career yards and moved him past former record-holder Omar Douglas.
“I was happy about getting the record, but I’d rather be celebrating a Homecoming victory,” Thelwell said. “As far as the record goes, I’m happy. It’s something I’ll tell my kids about I guess, but that’s as far as it goes.”
Thelwell, set the team’s single-game receiving record Sept. 14 when he gained 228 yards against Ball State. He gained 101 yards against Michigan State to bring his career total to 1,720 yards.

Wacker fights flu bug
Wacker often says he feels sick after a loss. On Saturday he felt sick before the loss.
Wacker was hit with a bout of the flu Saturday and had to go to the hospital for treatment before the game. He didn’t get to the Metrodome until 45 minutes before kickoff.
The illness hit Wacker after eating the team meal, and he kept throwing up his medicine. He went to the hospital to have the medicine administered intravenously.
Wacker said the IV made him a bit disoriented, but he was fine by the time the game started.
“I was definitely feeling better after I got that medicine in me and it finally took effect,” Wacker said.

Off to the races
Michigan State receiver Octavis Long also runs sprints for the Spartans indoor and outdoor track and field teams. He put that experience to good use Saturday.
Long broke the game open at the beginning of the third quarter with his 64-yard touchdown reception. He caught the ball at the Michigan State 45, cut in to the middle of the field and outran the Gophers secondary to the end zone.
“I knew I had an angle on them,” Long said. “It was exactly like a track meet.”
Two-minute drill
ù Wacker said the Gophers came out of the game relatively healthy, with only the usual bumps and bruises. He said his primary concern was the status of outside linebacker Don Williams’ sore knee.
ù Saturday’s game extended Michigan State’s winning streak over the Gophers to 16. Minnesota’s last victory over the Spartans came in 1976.
ù Although the Gophers are 0-3 in the Big Ten, their defense hasn’t allowed a fourth-quarter point in any of those games.
ù After having their previous four games decided by no more than a field goal, on Saturday the Gophers had to deal with being blown out for the first time this year. Wacker said there wasn’t much of a difference in how they felt.
“Those two close losses were real tough with the way we lost at the end, but I’d still prefer those to the way we played Saturday,” Wacker said. “I’ve been there before. Losing makes you sick no matter what, even if you don’t have the flu.”