Persby probably out

by Michael Dougherty

During his weekly press conference Tuesday, Gophers coach Glen Mason said he was too slick to let the media get him wrapped up in any sort of quarterback controversy.
Apparently Mason is as slick as Teflon, because later in the afternoon after the Gophers finished practice, last week’s starting quarterback Andy Persby said his thigh injury would probably keep him out of Saturday’s game with No. 22 Michigan, thus ending any sort of controversy.
When asked if he thought he could play Saturday, Persby said, “As far as it looks right now, I’d say no, unless something happens really quick, but I doubt it.”
Persby was supposed to have an MRI on Tuesday afternoon to determine the extent of the mysterious thigh injury, but he said the coaches postponed it until 9:00 p.m. that night so he could be at practice.
His right leg is extremely swollen and Persby said he can’t even bend it. Although the trainers told him the treatments are helping, Persby said he doesn’t feel they are.
Meanwhile, Ryan Keller, who was the No. 3 quarterback until he was moved to wide receiver, is now back practicing with the second team.
Wolverine worries
After stopping their 17-game losing streak against Michigan State in dramatic fashion Saturday, the Gophers (4-3, 1-3 in the Big Ten) will try to stop another streak when No. 22 Michigan rolls into town on Saturday.
The Wolverines (5-2, 4-0) have beaten the Gophers 11 straight times, with the last Minnesota victory coming in 1986 when Gophers kicker Chip Lohmiller hit a game-winning field goal as time expired for a 20-17 win.
The Wolverines, who were co-national champions along with Nebraska last season, began the defense of its title rather ignominiously with season-opening losses to Notre Dame and Syracuse.
But Michigan has since reeled off five straight wins and has now won 13 Big Ten games in a row.
Usually Michigan teams are notorious running teams, but this season they are relying more on passing instead.
“We’ve not been able to run the football as well as we would have hoped to,” Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr said.
Fortunately for Carr and the Wolverines, they have been able to count on quarterback Tom Brady and big-play wide receiver Tai Streets.
Brady threw two touchdown passes to Streets in Saturday’s 21-10 win over Indiana. It was the first time in his career the junior had thrown for more than one touchdown.
Brady, who split time early in the season with budding superstar Drew Henson, has now won the position outright. Carr said he sees some of the same qualities in Brady that he saw in last year’s quarterback Brian Griese, who is now with the Denver Broncos.
“I think he’s had growing pains just like Brian did,” Carr said. “Brian really emerged as a fifth-year senior, and he struggled at different points in his career and I see a lot of similarities between him and Tom.”
Henson, meanwhile, has signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees after being drafted in the third round of the 1998 draft.
“He’s going to play football here at Michigan and play baseball in the summer,” Carr said of Henson. “He’s chosen a very difficult course to try to be a major league baseball player and try to be a great college quarterback, but he’s the type of athlete who can do it.”
With Brady now clearly the starter, he and Streets are becoming a dangerous connection. Streets is tied with the Gophers’ Luke Leverson for second in the Big Ten with six touchdown receptions and both are considered to be among the top five receivers in the conference this season.
Leverson, who was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for his 10 catch, 137-yard and two touchdown performance in the Michigan State win, said it’s an honor to be mentioned in the same breath as Streets and All-American David Boston of Ohio State.
“Those guys are pretty good. Boston is nationally known, having been an All-American, and Streets is a guy who has great hands and speed,” Leverson said. “But I always like to think of myself as the best.”
Streets biggest game of his college career came against Washington State in last year’s Rose Bowl when he caught two long touchdown passes from Griese en route to a career-high 127-yard performance.
Gophers cornerback Craig Scruggs, however, said he thinks Michigan will try to run the ball against a Minnesota-run defense that is ranked 15th in the nation.
“I think they’re going to come here and try to stick it down our throats,” Scruggs said. “The run will be the key thing for them.”