Penalties prove too much to overcome

by Mark Remme

BERKELEY, Calif. – Minnesota’s football team learned quickly how penalties can change the course of a ballgame Saturday.

The Gophers displayed a lack of discipline both on offense and defense during their 42-17 loss to No. 22 California.

Minnesota played recklessly, losing 100 yards on nine penalties – including three negligent 15-yard personal fouls: one for roughing the kicker: one for roughing the quarterback and another for unsportsmanlike conduct.

After the game, coach Glen Mason voiced his displeasure about his team’s undisciplined play.

“You just don’t like those things,” Mason said. “It’s a team game – you try to do anything you possibly can to win the game. You don’t want to do anything to hurt your chances.”

The offense wasn’t exempt from the penalties, either. Minnesota picked inopportune times to commit false starts and holding penalties that ultimately stalled drives.

Junior center Tony Brinkhaus said the Gophers’ penalties didn’t show how well they studied for the game.

“Offensively I think we came in with a good game plan,” Brinkhaus said. “We really killed ourselves with some penalties – lot of drive stoppers.”

Those “drive stoppers” came at pivotal moments in the game.

With the game tied and less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter, Minnesota began a drive on their own 20 yard line with a 21-yard run by sophomore running back Alex Daniels.

The gain would have set the Gophers up with a first down at their own 41 yard line, but Minnesota was pushed back 10 yards when freshman Terrence Sherrer was called for holding on the rush.

Subsequently, the Gophers went three-and-out, punted, and allowed the Bears to go on a four-play, 59-yard drive over the span of 39 seconds, which was capped off by a 4-yard touchdown run by junior running back Marshawn Lynch.

The uncontrolled play wasn’t one-sided, however.

California joined the sloppy play too – committing six penalties for 61 yards. Three of the Bears’ penalties were personal fouls.

Cal coach Jeff Tedford also expressed irritation toward his team’s penalties.

“We had one personal foul I was really upset with,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. “We can’t be undisciplined to where we throw any type of thing that looks like a punch to get somebody off of us.”

Difference in turnovers

California quarterback Nate Longshore’s solid performance against the Minnesota defense proved pivotal in the Bears’ 42-17 win.

Longshore completed 22 passes for 300 yards and four touchdowns, but more importantly he did not turn the ball over.

“(Longshore) was really, really sharp today,” Tedford said. “He read the defenses really well. I thought Nate handled the offense very well.”

The Gophers, on the other hand, threw two interceptions in the game. Senior quarterback Bryan Cupito tossed both to senior cornerback Daymeion Hughes.

Partial miscommunication between Cupito and his wide receivers led to the first Minnesota turnover.

With 6:54 remaining in the second quarter, Cupito tried to connect with senior wide receiver Logan Payne down the far sideline.

Cupito was scrambling and anticipated Payne to break his route off and come back toward the line of scrimmage, but instead he kept running down the field.

“In our read he was going deep and I was just hoping he’d come back,” Cupito said. “I was just trying to improvise and it was my fault.”

Hughes benefited from the miscommunication by intercepting Cupito on the California 48 yard line. The Bears quickly turned the turnover into seven points.

Cupito said a lack of preparation was not the problem – just poor execution.

“I felt (more) ready for this opponent than anyone we’ve played since I’ve been here,” Cupito said. “To play like that – I don’t really understand it. It’s frustrating.”