Persby still out with leg injury

by Michael Dougherty

Getting handed the keys to the struggling Minnesota offense is sort of like your parents handing over the keys to a wood-paneled AMC Pacer when you first got a driver’s license.
But Gophers coach Glen Mason needs someone to step forward and take control of an offense he said is lacking identity.
Unfortunately for Mason and the rest of the Gophers, it’s unlikely Andy Persby will return to the huddle for Saturday’s game at Indiana.
Persby said his right leg is still hobbling him despite daily treatment. He said he couldn’t even walk on it last week but it is improving enough so he can now walk somewhat comfortably.
“It’s really frustrating,” Persby said. “I really dislike Wisconsin a lot, and I really wanted to play them. Now I’m just trying to get back for this week.”
He said it felt very good for one day last week, and he thought he might be able to play, but the next day he could barely stand on it.
“Hopefully game day is the day it feels the best this week,” Persby said.
On Monday Persby was still unable to take any snaps in practice, as Billy Cockerham and Ryan Keller continued to practice with the first team.
Two weeks ago a local paper reported Persby was being tested for Hodgkin’s disease while he was taking the initial MRI on his leg, unbeknownst to him.
“I have no idea what that was all about; the trainers didn’t even know,” Persby said. “But then they talked with the doctors and I guess they did just because I bruise up real bad.
“People were coming up to me and saying, `Do you have Hodgkin’s?’ and I was like, `What?’ The media is sometimes your friend and sometimes not.”
Black & white & red all over
If you ask some of the Minnesota faithful, the referees in Saturday’s game with the Badgers might have been wearing red under their pinstripes.
Mason said he thought a pass interference call in the second quarter should not have been called because the ball was uncatchable. The flag came on a third-and-4 at the Gophers 14-yard line, and was called against cornerback Craig Scruggs.
Without the penalty the Badgers would have had to kick a field goal for a 6-0 lead. Instead the infraction gave Wisconsin a first down, and Badgers running back Ron Dayne eventually trampled over Gophers linebackers Sean Hoffman and Parc Williams for a two-yard touchdown.
“You thought it was questionable, too,” Mason said when a reporter asked him about the referee’s call. “When you’re playing away from home and they throw a flag and call pass interference and the home crowd all laughs — it’s kind of funny.”
Williams and strong safety Tyrone Carter, however, were not laughing. Both players said they thought the ball was uncatchable, but Carter said he doesn’t let the officials’ calls affect him.
“I leave that kind of stuff on the field,” Carter said.
Two other incidents added fuel to the impartiality fire. The first came when Cockerham threw a pass to Luke Leverson across the middle that bounced off the receiver and into the hands of Badgers linebacker Chris Ghidorzzi.
Leverson seemed to knock the ball out of Ghidorzzi’s hands before he retained possession, but the officials called it an interception. The subsequent fumble was recovered by defensive lineman John Favret and the Badgers wound up with a chip-shot field goal.
Part three came late in the game, when Ryan Keller threw passes on consecutive plays to Ron Johnson on the Wisconsin sideline. Both balls were caught but ruled out of bounds. However, replays showed the second pass on third down was a catch.