Iowa win paves way for improvement in seasons to come

by Michael Dougherty

Muddled together with all of Gophers coach Glen Mason’s words of excitement after Saturday’s 49-7 rout of Iowa, the second-year coach interjected some words of warning to the media at his postgame interview.
“Don’t get carried away,” he said. “Don’t make a knee jerk reaction and think that we’ve arrived. We’ve got a long way to go.”
Mason said he had mixed emotions about the loss of 17 seniors, including linebacker Parc Williams, cornerback Craig Scruggs, safety Keith Dimmy and tight end-turned- tackle Troy Duerr.
But the blowout did provide a glimpse of what could be in store for the team next season. For starters, Mason applauded the Gophers’ ability to play hard.
“Our football team is a lot better right now than we were a year ago,” he said, “and most of those guys are coming back.”
The aforementioned foursome are the only starters Mason will lose, and all of his offensive weapons will be back with another year of experience under their belts.
The potential of the team even prompted University President Mark Yudof to make a prediction.
“I wish we would be going to a bowl game for all of those great seniors,” he said. “But I feel real good about next year and I think we’ll go to a major bowl.”

Tapeh or not Tapeh
St. Paul Johnson running back Thomas Tapeh was at the Gophers game for the second time this season. The Gophers are heavily recruiting Tapeh, who ran for more than 1,800 yards this season.
Tapeh, who was also at the Penn State/Gophers game in October, said he will make his official visit to the University on Dec. 4, then head to Michigan a week later.
Tapeh said he was impressed with the Gophers’ offensive line play in the win over Iowa.
“They dominated from the beginning to the end,” Tapeh said. “It was a great thing to see.”
Tapeh injured his ankle in the team’s final regular season game, and was unable to play in the playoffs. Tapeh said the ankle injury is getting better, and he said he hopes to be ready for the second game of the basketball season during the second week of December.
Land of 10,000 Iowans
Of the 50,640 fans in attendance for Saturday’s game, an estimated 10,000-12,000 were from Iowa.
The majority of them occupied the sections in the north end zone, and early in the first quarter they made it seem like Iowa was enjoying some home field advantage.
After Hawkeyes punter Jason Baker pinned the Gophers at the one-yard line with a 36-yard punt, the Gophers had some problems getting the snap off because of the rowdy Hawkeyes fans.
Later in the third quarter, with their team down 42-0, the Hawkeyes fans gave their team a standing ovation for finally getting a first down in the second half. The Gophers outscored Iowa 21-0 in the second half before the Hawkeyes could even muster a first down.
Two shy of Tutu
Wide receiver Luke Leverson watched his breakout season fall two receptions short of tying Tutu Atwell’s team record for catches in a season of 62.
Leverson caught five balls for 107 yards and two touchdowns in the Iowa game to bring his season totals to 60 receptions; two behind Atwell and one behind Omar Douglas. His 854 yards was fifth-best, and his nine touchdowns was second-best.
Despite falling shy of breaking the record, Leverson said personal achievements like that aren’t that important to him.
“I knew at the beginning of the week that I could break the record,” he said. “But I didn’t really care about that, I just wanted to go out with a win.”