Gophers coaches take one for the team

Mike Dougherty

Aaron Kirscht

After getting flagged for a delay of game call on 2nd-and-6 from the Memphis 16-yard line — a penalty which stalled a potential touchdown drive — and being forced to burn three timeouts as the play clock wound down, coach Glen Mason and quarterback Billy Cockerham both took the blame for the clock mismanagement.
“I always blame delay of games on coaching,” Mason said. “That’s why they’ve got that big clock up out there.”
Cockerham, meanwhile, said he accepts the blame.
“I take full responsibility for that,” he said. “I’ve got to be aware of the clock, and if I can’t run the play in time I’ve got to call time out.
“It’s a combination of some different looks the defense was giving us, and I need to be in complete control of that and I wasn’t.”
Broadway Mark
Before Super Bowl III, Broadway Joe Namath made what is now considered one of the most famous guarantees this side of Domino’s Pizza’s accident-inducing 30-minutes-or-less pledge.
But Gophers defensive end coach Mark Snyder, who is in charge of the punt block team, provided the Gophers advantageous assurance when he guaranteed Mason and the team that his defense would block a punt against Memphis.
“I put my butt on the line for them and they came through,” Snyder said of his punt team. “We just needed to get that first one out of the way, and now we’ve got the confidence.”
R.I.P Rip
Memphis coach Rip Scherer was extremely dejected after his team’s enigmatic performance, calling it “the most disappointing loss” he has been around.
“It should be a 21-20 game at the half, and that’s a whole different ballgame,” Scherer said. “But it wasn’t. I mean, should’ves and could’ves and would’ves don’t count. I have no excuses for it. I don’t understand it. It baffles me.”
Which way to Disneyworld?
The Gophers’ two defensive touchdowns were scored by men from the Sunshine State.
Tyrone Carter, who returned a fumble five yards for a score, and Trevis Graham, who picked up Delvin Jones’ blocked punt and scooted 17 yards for another score, both call Florida home.
“I’m from Pompano Beach and Trevis is from Fort Lauderdale,” Carter said. “We’re around a lot of plays where things are going to happen and if you make the big play you’ll be successful.”
Top 10 plus three
A trio of players climbed into the Gophers’ record books Saturday. Thomas Hamner’s 22 carries for 128 yards gave him 1,851 yards for his career, good for ninth on the Minnesota all-time list. Senior kicker Adam Bailey scored 11 points (two field goals and five point-after-touchdowns) to bring his career total to 144 and 10th place. Senior linebacker Parc Williams led the Gophers with nine tackles against Memphis, giving him 293 to move into ninth place.
Carter is likely to break into the top 10 for tackles this season, as well; he has 265 for his career — only three games into his junior year.
Penalized
Again, penalties proved painful for the Gophers.
A Cockerham-to-Hamner touchdown early in the second quarter was called back on a holding penalty, and on the next play, Cockerham overlooked a group of Minnesota receivers and chose Tigers defensive back Mike McKenzie instead. McKenzie then returned the interception 66 yards to the Gophers’ 34-yard line.
Minnesota had seven penalties for 58 yards, and so far this season have been penalized 26 times for 256 yards.
“Against Arkansas State we had 13 penalties, and seven or eight of those are what I would call foolish penalties — false starts, too many guys on the line, stuff like that,” Mason said. “If you’re asking me whether I’m concerned about the penalties, yeah, I’m real concerned.”
Put me in, coach
After playing in 10 of 12 games last season and starting twice, junior running back Byron Evans figured to challenge Hamner for the starting position this season.
But some legal troubles over the summer — he was accused of assaulting a girlfriend, a case that was eventually dropped — caused Evans to slip to third on the depth chart behind freshman Arland Bruce.
Evans made an appearance midway through the fourth quarter and took advantage of the opportunity, squirting through the line for a 93-yard run straight up the middle. That was the second-longest run from scrimmage in Gophers history, behind Darrell Thompson’s 98-yard scamper against Michigan in 1987.
But Mason gave little indication that the run might free Evans from the coach’s doghouse.
“One rush for 93 yards, that’s quite an average,” Mason said. “I tell you what, if he runs two for 186, we’re not playing him enough.”