Redmon looking for help

by Sarah Mitchell

Gophers running back Tellis Redmon admits he wouldn’t mind a little help.
In Minnesota’s (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten) 41-35 last-second loss to Northwestern Saturday, Redmon carried the ball 23 times. He was the only Gophers running back to take the ball and run with it.
“It’s kind of hard being the only running back out there,” Redmon said.
“I was pretty worn down, but I still didn’t give up because I was the only running back rotating. I just tried to do my best and I played hard.”
As a team, the Gophers rushed 35 times, with the other 12 carries being handled by quarterbacks Travis Cole and Asad Abdul-Khaliq.
The season-ending foot injury to redshirt freshman Thomas Tapeh during practice last week slimmed Minnesota’s backfield.
Gophers coach Glen Mason is left with the services of sophomore Renato Fitzpatrick. With two regular season games remaining, Mason could use freshman Terry Jackson II — who has not played a down this year — but that would strip Jackson of his right to redshirt.
“We might use Jackson,” Mason said. “He’s ready to go if we need him. We might have to use him.”
Still, Redmon is the Gophers primary running back.
Despite being the sole running back against the Wildcats, Mason said Redmon put together a good outing. He gained 67 yards on 23 carries.
Redmon’s biggest contribution came on special teams. He returned four punts for 132 yards, including an 83-yard return for a touchdown in the first quarter. Redmon’s 83-yard punt return was the longest in school history.
“It was not my best game. I did well on special teams, but not good at running back,” Redmon said. “I’ll just have to step it up this week at Wisconsin.”
Gone in a flash
Minnesota’s offensive twist against Northwestern — rotating Cole and Abdul-Khaliq at quarterback — added the obvious surprise factor against the Wildcats.
The change was also a surprise for the Gophers’ coaching staff. Mason said the quarterback-switch plan hadn’t been in the works very long.
“I hadn’t seriously thought about alternating quarterbacks before,” Mason said.
Cole, Minnesota’s starter, was used mainly to pass and was replaced by Abdul-Khaliq on some short-yardage running situations.
By game’s end, Cole recorded 259 yards of total offense (251 passing, eight rushing) while Abdul-Khaliq complete one-for-two passes for 20 yards. Abdul-Khaliq also rushed for 49 yards and two touchdowns.
Most importantly, Minnesota operated better in the red zone, an area that has been lacking this year. The Gophers earned touchdowns — twice on the feet of Abdul-Khaliq — both times they were inside Northwestern’s 20-yard line.
“It worked good,” Mason said. “At least we weren’t terrible in the goal-line situations. I think we were damn good.”
Despite the improvement, the plan could disappear as quickly as it materialized.
“I’m not sure we’ll still do it,” Mason said.

Sarah Mitchell covers football and welcomes comments at [email protected]