Starting backs cheer on fourth-string Maroney

by Aaron Blake

Minnesota first-year running back Laurence Maroney starred Saturday for the 24th-ranked Gophers (4-0), leading the team with 132 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown in a 48-14 win over Louisiana-Lafayette.

Maroney, who is behind Marion Barber III, Terry Jackson II and Thomas Tapeh on the depth chart, is now second on the team, with 238 yards in four games. He earned praise from coach Glen Mason on Tuesday.

“All of a sudden you put Maroney in there, and you see those other three guys cheering him on,” Mason said. “They know he paid the price in two-a-day practices. He was almost like a stunt man. We tried to keep those guys healthy, so he took the beating and got the opportunity to show what he was worth.”

Despite the strong nonconference showing, Maroney’s role on offense remains in question as the Big Ten season begins. The St. Louis native has played predominantly in the second half with the Gophers comfortably in front.

Mason said he is not worried about whether Maroney will get playing time on offense. Regardless, he will likely retain his role on special teams, where he returned a kick 88 yards for a touchdown Sept. 6 in a win over Troy State.

Clarett launches lawsuit

Suspended Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett began his quest to become eligible for the 2004 NFL draft Tuesday.

Clarett and his lawyer, Alan Milstein, filed a lawsuit asking the Manhattan federal court to throw out a rule requiring NFL draftees to be three years removed from high school. With the rule in effect, Clarett is not eligible until 2005.

The suit seeks to waive the requirement for Clarett or to force the NFL to hold a supplementary draft.

Clarett was suspended for at least this season by the Buckeyes for lying to investigators about items stolen from a borrowed car and for breaking NCAA benefit rules.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said despite the suspension and pending lawsuit, Clarett’s mother informed him her son would in classes when they begin today.

Davis, Krenzel updates

Wisconsin running back Anthony Davis and Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel both remain in question as to whether they will play as their respective teams open their Big Ten seasons Saturday. Neither played last weekend because of injuries.

Davis sprained his left ankle Sept. 13 in a 23-5 loss to UNLV.

“I don’t know on Anthony yet,” Badgers coach Barry Alvarez said. “I’m hoping. They keep telling me he’s improving every day. I don’t know where we are. I’m looking forward to it.”

Redshirt freshman Booker Stanley rushed for 119 yards and three touchdowns and sophomore Dwayne Smith added 75 yards in Davis’ absence versus North Carolina. Wisconsin (3-1) won 38-27.

Krenzel, who was also injured Sept. 13 in the fourth-ranked Buckeyes’ 44-38 triple-overtime win versus North Carolina State, threw lightly in practice Monday.

“I don’t know that we would know prior to Thursday because you need to practice,” Tressel said. “But we’ll know by the end of the day Thursday if he’ll play significantly, play sparingly or not be able to play at all.”

Krenzel’s replacement, senior Scott McMullen, was 10-for-16 for 118 yards, a touchdown and an interception in Ohio State’s (4-0) 24-17 win over Bowling Green.