Abdul-Khaliq will play against Ohio Saturday

After making his Minnesota debut last Saturday — and nearly having his head removed by a defender in the process — Gophers quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq is ready to return to practice today.
Coach Glen Mason said Abdul-Khaliq, who suffered a concussion after being hit in the helmet by Louisiana-Monroe’s Henry Whitehead late in the first half, will return to his regular schedule Wenesday afternoon.
Abdul-Khaliq was on the sidelines for Tuesday’s practice and Mason expects he’ll be ready to start Saturday’s game against Ohio.
After the win over the Indians, Mason was asked whether he thought the pop by Whitehead was legal, and he thought it was. But after reviewing the game tape, Mason felt there should have been a flag on the play.
“I was surprised it wasn’t called, because everytime I question a referee they say ‘my job is to watch the quarterback,'” Mason said. “That’s one of those things that if it were in the National Football League it would have been a penalty and the guy would have gotten fined.
“There’s no doubt, (Whitehead) led with is head to Asad’s helmet.”
Along with the appearance of Abdul-Khaliq, Mason also expects redshirt freshman running back Thomas Tapeh to see some action on Saturday.
Mason, however, said how much time Tapeh will play is undetermined. The herladed back has never played a down in his short college career.
Poor Penn State
Penn State fans haven’t pushed the panic button yet, but their fingers are in the general area.
After losing the season opener to USC in August, the Lions lost again on Saturday — this time to a school with far less prestige.
The Toledo Rockets went into Happy Valley and handed Penn State a convincing 24-6 loss, marking the first time since 1990 the Lions have opened the season with consecutive losses.
That year Penn State rebounded to win the next nine and finish the season at 9-3.
But this year’s team may be different. Joe Paterno, who is in his 35th year as coach of the Lions, doesn’t seem to have a lot of confidence in his team.
“I think we lost to two teams that played so well against us, that even if we had played a little bit better, we still would have had trouble winning,” Paterno said. “We’re not a really good football team. Unfortunately people just don’t want to believe that.”
Bad idea Badgers
Wisconsin began it’s quest for a third-straight Rose Bowl appearance minus 11 players.
Last week the NCAA suspended 26 Badgers for breaking rules and receiving discounts at The Shoe Box, a sports apparel store in Madison.
The players suspended for last Thursday’s 19-7 win over Western Michigan included wide receivers Chris Chambers and Nick Davis, as well as all-Big Ten cornerback Jamar Fletcher.
Coach Barry Alvarez, who said his team played strong under tough circumstances, still believes the suspensions are wrong.
“I don’t feel the punishment fit,” Alvarez said. “Our players didn’t get anything for free. They didn’t do anything illegal.”
Henson who?
Injured Michigan quarterback Drew Henson wasn’t missed in the third-ranked Wolverienes 42-7 win over Bowling Green on Saturday.
His replacement, freshman John Navarre, was outstanding.
Navarre completed 15 of 19 attempts for 265 yards and four touchdowns while throwing no interceptions.
Despite Navarre’s impressive rookie performance — he earned the Big Ten offensive player of the week award — coach Lloyd Carr said Henson will be return to the starting role once he’s ready.
The earliest projected date Henson could play is Sept. 23 when Michigan plays Illinois.

John R. Carter covers football and welcomes comments at [email protected]