Absence of Fraley, Banks not a problem for secondary

Dan Miller

Minnesota’s football team’s 45-0 blanking of Illinois is even more impressive knowing that its defense was as beat up as it has been all season.

The Gophers gave up only 231 total yards and did so without regular starting cornerback Trumaine Banks, who missed the game after being “a little banged up” last week.

“He could have played. He was on an as-needed basis, but we didn’t need him,” coach Glen Mason said.

Strong safety Justin Fraley also missed the game with an unspecified foot injury.

Although Mason wouldn’t comment on the extent or details of the injury, he said Fraley is doing better than trainers thought.

“Fraley is doing a lot better than anticipated. I won’t know until later this week whether he will be able to go (at Indiana on Saturday),” Mason said.

Gophers redshirt freshman Jamal Harris substituted for Banks at cornerback and recorded his first career interception in the second quarter. Harris also recorded eight tackles in the game.

Quentin White, who saw a lot of time against Michigan and Michigan State, started at strong safety and recorded three tackles, including one for a loss.

Barber back on track

Minnesota running back Marion Barber III, who has been cold rushing the last three games, rebounded for 138 yards on 11 carries.

Barber, who now has the second-most touchdowns in school history, hadn’t rushed more than 100 yards in his last three games.

On Saturday, Barber tied his father, Marion Barber Jr., with 34 rushing touchdowns in his career.

Marion Barber III now has 12 100-yard rushing games at Minnesota. He had a career-long 65-yard run in the third quarter, cutting across the entire width of the field to avoid Illini defenders.

Putting some versatility on his stat sheet, Marion Barber III also threw a touchdown pass to teammate Ernie Wheelwright in the third quarter.

“We really needed the win to get back on track,” Marion Barber III said.

Helping the turnover margin

Harris’ interception gives the Gophers defense at least one interception in each of its last seven games.

The Gophers now have 18 takeaways this season, while giving up only four turnovers.

The Gophers have forced a turnover in 12 straight games dating back to last season.