Toledo drops Gophers 38-7

Anthony Maggio

Minnesota head coach Glen Mason smiled at a press conference this week while reminiscing of his first trip to Toledo back in 1986. In his second game as head coach for Kent State, Mason defeated the Rockets 18-16. But after Thursday’s 38-7 loss at Toledo — Mason’s worst defeat at Minnesota since dropping a 56-21 contest at Purdue in 1998 — smiles were sparse as mistakes and missed opportunities were pondered.

“Offensively I never felt like we had anything going all night,” Mason said. “We just didn’t seem in sync.”

The defense never really had anything going all night either.

The Rockets punted a mere four times all game, and put points on the board in each of their three first-quarter drives to lead 17-0.

Senior tailback Chester Taylor ran circles around the Gophers, rushing for three touchdowns and catching one. Taylor ran for 186 yards and caught five passes for 27 yards. In addition, second-string tailback Antwon McCray rushed for another 120 yards. Overall, Minnesota gave up 363 yards on the ground and 149 in the air.

Offensively the Gophers struggled all night, as starter Asad Abdul-Khaliq and Travis Cole were forced out of the pocket on a regular basis. Cole completed 12 of 21 passes for 130 yards while Abdul-Khaliq went 10-14 for 57 yards.

Mason refused to name his starter prior to the game, but Abdul-Khaliq led the team on to the field. Cole entered the game in the second half and remained behind center for the remainder.

Minnesota’s only trip into the end zone came on a 20-yard run in the fourth quarter by Tellis Redmon, but most of the 34,950 people in attendance had already found the exits. Redmon led the Gophers with 68 yards rushing.

Senior wide receiver Ron Johnson caught seven passes for 72 yards, leading the way for the Gophers. He now needs 22 catches and 422 yards to set Minnesota career receiving records in both categories.

Jolted by Toledo, Mason now has a week to adjust an offense that couldn’t move the ball, a defense that couldn’t stop the ball, and the psyche of his suffering young team.

“The credit goes to them,” Mason said. “The criticism goes to us, which I’m sure we’ll get. We deserve it.”

The Gophers face Louisiana-Lafayette next Saturday at the Metrodome. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m.

Anthony Maggio welcomes comments at [email protected]