Small back comes up large for Ohio

Sarah Mitchell

Ohio Bobcats tailback Chad Brinker left the field with visible wounds Saturday.
As he walked through the Metrodome’s tunnels toward the visitor’s locker room — his left hand bandaged and blood seeping over the tape around his right elbow — Brinker summed up Saturdays game in one sentence.
“It was just awesome,” Brinker said.
The biggest pain was felt by the Gophers defense. Brinker violated Minnesota’s defense in every way, catching a touchdown pass, throwing for a touchdown and running for one more in Ohio’s 23-17 upset of Minnesota (1-1).
The 5-foot-11, 210 pound Brinker continues to be Ohio’s (1-1) offensive giant this season. On Saturday, the sophomore finished the day with 154 yards of total offense. Ohio finished the day with 453 yards.
Brinker attacked mostly on the ground, carrying the ball 24 times for 119 yards (5.0 yards-per-carry). Only once did Brinker lose yardage.
Minnesota simply could not stop the run. Could the Gophers really not contain Ohio’s undersized tailback?
“But consistently be able to defend them, no, we didn’t come close to that (Saturday),” Gophers coach Glen Mason said.
Brinker caused most of the frustration, even when he wasn’t carrying the ball. On the first play of Ohio’s second drive, Bobcats quarterback Dontrell Jackson faked a hand-off and threw an option pass to a wide-open Brinker for a 50-yard touchdown reception.
On Ohio’s next possession, Brinker took a pitch from Jackson, rolled right and threw to sophomore split end Joe Mohler for a 35-yard touchdown reception.
The play was a new wrinkle in Ohio’s offense and put the Bobcats up 13-0.
“We haven’t run that play yet,” Brinker said.
At the half, Ohio took a 13-0 lead and an injured Brinker into the locker room. Brinker had an X-ray on his left hand, an injury initially suffered during Ohio’s 25-15 loss at Iowa State on Sept. 2.
Brinker’s return was reported as doubtful, but the tailback said he never considered not returning to the game.
“There was no doubt in my mind that I would play,” Brinker said.
Brinker’s mindset was good news for Ohio, as he scored the game clincher for the Bobcats. Up 16-14 at the start of the fourth, Bobcats fullback Keland Logan broke loose and rushed for 67 yards, placing the ball on Minnesota’s 6-yard-line.
On the next play, Brinker ran up the middle and into the end zone.
“He’s a special guy,” said Bobcats coach Jim Grobe. “He hurt his hand at Iowa State and was still able to play in some pain.”
Minnesota’s defense would agree. Brinker steadily gained yardage for Ohio, causing confusion for Minnesota in a matchup the Gophers win on paper.
Brinker, however, did give the Gophers credit and said they didn’t get weaker as the game wore on.
“They fought real hard,” Brinker said. “I think they were frustrated, but I never heard them say anything. I just worried about myself.”
Brinker showed Saturday that others need to starting worrying about him, too.

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