Steady O-line not ‘fine-tuned’

Marion Barber III and Laurence Maroney had to earn these 100-yard games.

Dan Miller

Minnesota’s offensive line, which dominated Toledo Sept. 4, struggled against Illinois State on Saturday.

Coach Glen Mason said Sunday that the offensive line put forth a lot of effort but wasn’t sharp.

“Those kids played hard on the offensive line, but we weren’t fine-tuned,” Mason said. “To be able to run the ball like we have in the past, you have to be fine-tuned. We weren’t.”

The Gophers rushed for 303 yards, but running backs Laurence Maroney and Marion Barber III found they had to break more tackles than usual.

When Barber III countered to the left and pounded 10 yards into the end zone, he broke at least three tackles with the Gophers’ offensive giving minimal help.

Barber rushed for two scores in the first half.

“Marion carried us, he broke those tackles and got touchdowns, he carried us in the first half,” Cupito said. “But we can’t rely on that every game.”

The offensive line had four false-starts in the game – three in the first quarter alone.

Cupito said penalties played a big part in slowing down the Gophers’ offense in the first half.

“Penalties were killing us in the first half,” he said. “On a couple, (the linemen) said they really couldn’t hear me – some of the audibles I was throwing. So I take blame for some of those penalties – if not all of them.”

Co-captain tackle Rian Melander sat out the entire second half after being shaken up in the first half Saturday.

Mason wouldn’t comment on the injury Sunday, but Cupito said on Saturday he thought it wasn’t serious.

Replay debuts at Dome

After no calls being reconsidered Sept. 4 against Toledo, the Gophers experienced their first two replays ever on Saturday.

The Big Ten’s new replay system is new this season and is in effect only during televised games at Big Ten stadiums.

Redshirt sophomore Jason Lamers’ fair catch on the opening kickoff of the game was reviewed by the booth and the play stood as called on the field.

Fullback Justin Valentine’s fumble at the start of the fourth quarter was reviewed, but the officials changed nothing.

All he does is catch TDs

Minnesota freshman Ernie Wheelwright caught an 80-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

With that catch, he now has three career catches – all for touchdowns. He had two catches for 52 yards last week.

“Coach told me to run a post route, I got open over the middle, and (Cupito) got me the ball,” Wheelwright said.