Mason welcomes OSU homecoming

Michael Dougherty

With his team in the middle of a six-game stretch in which they face six bowl teams, it doesn’t seem right to hear Gophers coach Glen Mason say he’s looking forward to Saturday’s matchup with top-ranked Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio. But Mason is full of surprises when evaluating his 3-2 team.
“I told the players I feel better about this team than I have since we started the first day of spring practice,” he said. “I know you’re looking at me like I’m crazy but that’s how I feel.
“I actually can’t wait for next Saturday to play the Buckeyes, the number one team in the country on their homecoming. It’s the 30th year reunion of our national championship team and all of my buddies will be there. I can’t wait. I hope it’s a nice sunshiny day.”
Mason, who was a member of the 1968 Ohio State national championship team, also was an assistant coach for the Buckeyes from 1978-1985.
Potentially Purple
Vikings defensive coordinator Foge Fazio enjoyed the Purple’s week off by attending the Gophers loss with offensive coordinator Brian Billick and offensive line coach Mike Tice.
However, Fazio said he was not at the game as a talent scout, but to visit with Penn State coach Joe Paterno and some of his assistant coaches.
“Joe Paterno tried to recruit me out of high school,” Fazio said. “I also got to know some of Penn State’s assistant coaches when I was in the Ivy League.”
Despite his claim that he was not at the game to scout, Fazio said he thought Tyrone Carter and Parc Williams, who had 19 and 15 tackles respectively, played hard. But he said he was most impressed with the two linebackers from “Linebacker U”.
“Both of those guys, (Brandon) Short and (LaVar) Arrington, are going to be good in the pros,” Fazio said. “They’ve both got the size, the speed and the temperament to succeed at the pro level.”
Arrington, who had three tackles and two pass breakups, and Short (10 tackles, four sacks) are both considered shoo-ins for the NFL. But Mason said he was particularly impressed with Arrington.
On a play near the Minnesota sideline, Mason said he had a brief brush with death — in the form of Arrington.
“He came rushing right at me,” Mason said. “I felt my heart stop. I thought I was gone. But then he stopped just short of me and asked me if I was okay. I said, `Yes I am, Mr. Arrington.'”
Mason was asked if he tried to convince Arrington to transfer during their exchange on the sideline.
“That would be unethical,” Mason said. “Yes.”
No Plays for Mays
Freshman wide receiver Jermaine Mays, who saw significant playing time in the first four games, was forced to sit out Saturday because of an NCAA investigation into his eligibility.
“I normally don’t talk about situations within our team, but I just want to dispel any misconceptions that might be out there,” Mason said of the Mays investigation. “The fact of the matter is that he had been certified by the NCAA and the Clearinghouse, and then all of a sudden they come up with a question this week.
“It’s one of those goofy things we go through when we’re dealing with those type of situations, so it’s hard for him to understand and it’s hard for his parents to understand.”
Dizzy Dimmy
Gophers free safety Keith Dimmy rammed into Lions running back Cordell Mitchell after a 10-yard gain early in the first quarter, and the collision rendered Dimmy dizzy.
“I knew I was pretty woozy and that’s why I just sat there,” Dimmy said. “I didn’t want to get up and start staggering and make it look worse than it really was.”
Later in the first quarter, Penn State wide receiver Joe Nastasi caught a pass across the middle and Dimmy leveled him with a bone-jarring shot that broke Nastasi’s arm.
“Keith’s a good hitter,” Carter said. “We call him `Bullet’ in practice, because he only weighs about 165 pounds, but he’s going to shoot it at you.”
Touchdown Tommy
St. Paul Johnson running back Thomas Tapeh, who the Gophers are recruiting heavily, rushed for 195 yards and four touchdowns in the Governors’ 54-0 win over Humboldt on Friday.
Tapeh watched the Gophers lose to Penn State from the fourth row on the 40-yard line, with his mother Cecily Woiwor and his five-year-old brother Archie.
The 6’1″ 215-pound tailback has said Minnesota is at the top of his list of colleges. He also said he was impressed with the way the Gophers hung with Penn State.
Indications are good he will attend Minnesota because he wants to stay close to his family, and said he likes Mason’s intense coaching style.
“He’s a good man, he’s a real good man,” Tapeh said of Mason. “Just the way he talks to me you can tell he knows what he’s doing over there.”
Tapeh and his team will play St. Paul Harding Friday night at the Metrodome.