Between summer classes and working out with her Golden Gopher teammates, freshman Jackie Johnson did not have a lot of free time prior to starting her rookie season on Pam Borton's women's basketball team. But, that didn't stop the 6-foot-1 forward from using that small amount of extra time to play basketball and travel the world with Athletes in Action. GopherSports.com recently sat down with Johnson to learn more about her experience overseas.
Jackie met up with fellow Gopher Alex Ionescu in Prague.
We heard you had a busy summer playing basketball. Where did you go? "I was able to play basketball in Prague through Athletes in Action."
For those of us that do not know, what is Athletes in Action? "Athletes in Action is a Christian organization that builds spiritual movements through the platform of sport. You have the opportunity to go to a different country, share the Gospel and use your sport to show who God is. There are five principles they teach you on how to play for God and not for yourself or other people."
Who played on the team with you? "I went with women from all over the United States. Most of them had already graduated and played basketball in college. I was the youngest person on our trip. Most of the players were anywhere from 21-25, and then there was me who was 18 at the time. There were players from Northern Kentucky, Aiken in South Carolina and Green Bay, so there we players from bigger schools and smaller schools."
Was it fun getting to know your teammates? "Yes, but I connected with some of the players more than others. One of the women, Karen, is on staff at Colorado State. She was the oldest player on the trip, but I bonded with her a ton because we had a lot of the same interests."
What was your typical day like while you were there? "We played five different teams in seven days. In the morning our coach would have a joint practice so the other team could see how an American practice is run. We would then play that same team later in the afternoon. Sometimes we would only practice or only play a game. Afterward, we would go hang out with the team and get to know them.
"Overall, the trip was very demanding. We walked everywhere. We stayed in a hostel, so we would walk from our hostel to get on the train, then get off the train and walk to the gym. You had to carry your backpack with everything possible in it. It felt like I was climbing a mountain half the time. It was definitely an experience, but I liked it."
Why was your team selected to go to Prague? "The main reason we went to Prague was because the country is about 85 percent or 90 percent Atheist, or known as Atheist. Most of the people know that there maybe is some God out there, they just choose not to believe that or they don't want to know about it. They say it's partially from when there was Communism in the Czech when the country was part of Czechoslovakia. They say that suppressed the country and left it as it is now, but it is getting better. They have an actual Athletes in Action team in Czech, and that is who set everything up for us."
How did you get involved with Athletes in Action? A Pastor at my Church knew a lot about it, so he had mentioned it to both Shayne (Mullaney) and me. Shayne's older sister, Kelly Jo, went to the Czech Republic last year, so we also knew a lot about it from her. One of the coaches from Hopkins High School goes to my Church and said that he would coach our team, so he and my pastor talked to me about it and I was totally up for it."
What was your favorite part of the trip? "Obviously, playing basketball and getting to share God's word was one of the best parts, but being able to do it in a foreign country was amazing. I also loved seeing and touring Prague because it is so beautiful. I have never seen anything like that before. There is so much old architecture. The buildings are like 600 years old and there are giant Churches. I also love that they still have cobblestone roads. Minneapolis is nice, but it's not the same. We don't have a castle (laughing)."
Is it something you would like to do again? "I would love to do it again. Probably not going back to Prague, just because that's somewhere I've already been. I would love to do different ones just because I love traveling, I love Jesus and I love basketball."
The Gophers put Floyd of Rosedale on the line this weekend when they travel to Iowa for an 11 a.m. game tomorrow. We spoke with Scott Dochterman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette to learn about the Hawkeyes. You can follow Scott on Twitter at @ScottDochterman and you can read his Gazette stories here.
GopherSports: Scott, thanks for taking the time to speak with us, as we certainly appreciate it. Can you provide a general scouting report on Iowa?
Scott Dochterman: Iowa is a team in transition and searching for an identity. Thus far, the team is out of sync with only one touchdown pass. The communication between quarterback James Vandenberg and his wide receivers at times has not been on point. Defensively, Iowa has shaken things up a bit with new defensive coordinator Phil Parker. Iowa traditionally incorporates a two-deep, 4-3 zone with few personnel changes. But this year has involved nickel and dime units with more press man coverage. It's a team without a lot of confidence but it still has enough players that make plays.
GS: Iowa has had their issues with injuries at running back this year, but Mark Weisman has been a beast the last two games. Tell us a little bit about him.
SD: Weisman is a suburban Chicago kid who transferred to Iowa from the Air Force Academy. Weisman sat out last year and really started to get looks in spring practice. When regular starting fullback Brad Rogers went down with various injuries during summer camp, Weisman stepped in and won the job. But Weisman was little more than a primary blocker until he was thrust into service two weeks ago against Northern Iowa. Starting running back Damon Bullock went out with a concussion and backup Greg Garmon suffered an elbow injury. Third-teamer Mike Malloy didn't dress because of a week-long illness so Weisman was inserted at running back. His physical style of running really lifted Iowa that game, and Weisman backed it up with a 217-yard performance against Central Michigan.
GS: This game is always important, but Minnesota has won two straight against Iowa. At media availability this week, did you sense a feeling from the Hawkeyes really wanting to win this game and not drop a third-straight game to one of their main rivals?
SD: Senior center James Ferentz admitted he was embarrassed by the way the Hawkeyes played without emotion against Minnesota the last two years. He told reporters, "During the week all you have to do is throw on the past few years' film to get a little bit of motivation and yeah maybe if you're tired halfway through practice, you just think about that kind of image and what you want to put on tape this year." There's an empty trophy case inside the Hawkeyes' locker room after losing six straight trophy games. Although all the games were tough losses - five by a total of 11 points to historic rivals Iowa State, Minnesota and Wisconsin - the Floyd of Rosedale trophy itself means the most to the program. Iowa always cares about this game, but you can sense its importance this week.
GS: Greg Davis and Brian Ferentz are both new to the offensive Iowa coaching staff? How has the Hawkeye offense changed until their leadership?
SD: Greg Davis has changed the terminology in the passing game, which has led to a lot of inconsistency thus far. The wide receivers have more option routes than before but there's more confusion in spontaneous situations, like back-shoulder throws. The Hawkeyes still like to run the ball and use both its traditional inside/outside zone on offense. Brian Ferentz is a fiery leader for the offensive line, which was sorely needed. He's helped turn that unit from an eyesore in week one against Northern Illinois into a positive the last few weeks.
GS: Who is a an under-the-radar player Gophers fans should keep an eye on this week?
SD: Middle linebacker James Morris might be the Hawkeyes' best player and he continues a long line of talented linebackers that recently includes Chad Greenway and Pat Angerer. Morris is now a junior, is bigger and stronger at the point of attack, he's got good quickness and a smart player. He made several key plays against Iowa State, including a 50-yard interception return, that nearly swung the game into Iowa's favor. He's one of the league's best linebackers, which is saying something in the Big Ten.
GS: Finish this thought. Iowa will win if...
SD: James Vandenberg can have enough time to throw the football and hit open targets. But that suggests Minnesota defensive end D.L. Wilhite or nose tackle Ra'Shede Hageman will give him time. Likewise, with the Gophers' ball-hawking secondary, it will be difficult for Iowa's disjointed passing game to make strides this week. Vandenberg has shown propensity to make plays before, but he'll need to do it this week at another level for Iowa to win Floyd back.
GS: Thanks for your time Scott. We are looking forward to seeing you on Saturday.
The life of a Division I student-athlete is anything but easy. Between workouts, class, practice, media obligations, video and photo shoots, training table and studying, members of the University of Minnesota women's basketball team carry a full load. But, it is not all work and no play for the Golden Gophers, as they also find time to have fun on and off of the court with each other.
Sophomore Rachel Banham takes Gopher fans along for a busy day in her life, where she wakes up early for class, does an interview, participates in the 2012-13 season intro video shoot, works out, eats and studies.
It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it, right? Enjoy!
As the 2012-13 season rolls on, we'll chat with each of Gopher Hockey's freshmen including this week's featured newcomer -- forward Christian Horn.
Last season as a prep hockey player, Christian Horn helped Benilde-St. Margaret's to the Minnesota Class AA state championship. It was the school's first hockey championship since 2001.
Horn piled up 70 points as a senior for the Red Knights including six points in the state tournament. The forward received all-state honors as a junior and senior while racking up school records in career points and assists. Horn also excelled on the lacrosse field and in the classroom.
We caught up with Horn earlier this week...
What's your best memory from winning the high school championship with Benilde-St. Margaret's in 2012?
"The best part was just being with all the guys. We had a great team last year. A lot of times were tough, but being able to show the state that we were a good team and win the state championship like that was really special."
What does it mean to you to play for the University of Minnesota?
"It means a lot. People grow up dreaming about playing here, so getting an opportunity to do it means everything from when you were a kid to now."
How has the adjustment to college classes gone for you?
"Not too bad. There is a lot more reading and studying that I have to do, but it is good that they set us up with tutors, and we have all of that right at your fingertips. "
What do you think will be your biggest adjustment coming straight from high school hockey into college hockey?
"Definitely my strength, I know I can skate with the guys. I need to get in the weight room and get a little stronger. I need to do the things I can control to compete (on the ice). The more I workout, the bigger I will get and the easier it will become for me."
What do you think is your biggest asset on the ice?
"I believe I see the ice really well because I can find open guys. When I was younger it was goal scoring, but through high school my assists started to pile up. I think that is what it turned out to be now."
You have experienced a lot of success on the lacrosse field. How does playing lacrosse help you when you are playing hockey?
"In lacrosse, you have to see the field very well, and I think that has helped me a lot with hockey. Whenever I come back to hockey from playing lacrosse, my legs are ten times stronger from all the running. I can go for miles and miles, so that definitely helps too."
What is one place you would like to travel to if you get the chance?
Somewhere in Europe, my parents got married in Italy last summer, and that was pretty sweet. Maybe somewhere in England, checking out a soccer game would be pretty cool."
Do you have any superstitions or pregame rituals?
"I love to take naps before games, and I always put my left equipment on before my right. I also carry around a medal pendant with me on game days that was blessed by the Pope."
-Article by Minnesota Athletic Communications Student Intern Josh Brennock
Are you headed to Iowa City this weekend to watch the Gophers and Hawkeyes battle for Floyd of Rosedale? If so, be sure to attend the 'Sota Social on Friday, Sept. 28, from 8-10 p.m. in the Rosewood Room at the Cedar Rapids Marriott.
During this Maroon-and-Gold filled two hours, there will be a visit from coach Kill, a raffle, photographs with Goldy, a spirit squad presentation and a lot of Minnesota fun. The event is free and open to all Gopher fans, so be sure to stop by.
If you are not traveling to Iowa for the game then there is no better place to watch the Gophers at Senser's in Roseville.
Doors open at 10:30 a.m. with kickoff scheduled for 11:01 a.m. A Pig Roast, along with breakfast and regular menu, will be available at 11 a.m. There will also be $2 Bloody Mary and Screwdrivers plus other great specials. In addition, there will be great prize giveaways during the game. There is no need to RSVP, just show up in your maroon and gold and be ready to eat and cheer.
Three home games - and three wins mind you - are in the books. Speaking of books, or game programs, here are some of the Gopher quotables that have run this year in our game-day publication.
Who is the worst singer on the team?
Harold Legania - "We got a lot of pretenders. The worst singers would have to be Mike Carter, Jeremy Baltazar and Donnell Kirkwood."
Max Shortell - "David Cobb without a doubt."
Kyle McAvoy - "Probably my brother Luke"
Dan Orseske - "That would probably be Donnell Kirkwood."
Jeremy Baltazar - "David Cobb by far."
Brock Vereen - "It's a tough competition but I think the winner is James Manuel."
Josh Campion - "Definitely Caleb Bak."
Aaron Hill - "I believe it's Mike Rallis."
Keanon Cooper - "We got a lot of guys on this team that can't sing and I'll admit I'm one of them but I'll go with Mike Carter. He swears he's like Trey Songz or Frank Ocean or somebody."
What position player would you want to take a field goal if need be?
Joe Bjorklund - "I would say probably Foster Bush. I think he would be good at that."
Troy Stoudermire - "I would have to go with MarQueis Gray."
Dan Orseske - "I'll say Max Shortell"
Brock Vereen - "Derrick Wells, sometimes after practice he will just punt on just for fun and he actually has a leg."
Who on the team Tweets too much and why?
Joe Bjorklund - "I'd say Keanon Cooper because he just tweets everything. It doesn't matter what it is he tweets no matter what."
Ed Olson - "I don't want to call anyone out. I just got Twitter so I'll have to check when I get back in."
MarQueis Gray - "Steve Montgomery. He thinks he's like a relationship therapist so he has to answer to everything."
Jonah Pirsig - "I don't know, I'd have to say Keanon Cooper."
Brock Vereen - "Steve Montgomery. All of his tweets are nonsense."
Keanon Cooper - "I've been hearing that people have been saying it's me, but I'd have to go with Steve Montgomery. I've been Tweeting for like two years now and he's only been tweeting for about a year and he's catching up. I've definitely laid back on Tweeting contrary to popular belief."
What was your favorite NFL Team growing up? And who your favorite player?
Peter Westerhaus - "The Vikings and Jared Allen. I just love the energy he brings and how hard he plays on defense."
Joe Bjorklund - "Chicago Bears were my favorite team and Joe Thomas was my favorite player. He's a Big Ten Player like me and I wear the same number as him."
MarQueis Gray - "My favorite team was the Pittsburgh Steelers and it still is today. I wasn't born in Pittsburgh but my dad was a Steelers fan and it kind of rubbed off on all of us. My favorite player is Big Ben, I have a lot of favorite players but I'll say Big Ben because he's the Steelers quarterback."
Isaac Hayes - "My favorite NFL team was probably the Vikings since they're the hometown team. Favorite player, that's a hard one, I'd have to go with Randy Moss, he was a pretty athletic guy."
Jonah Pirsig - "My favorite team was definitely the Minnesota Vikings. My favorite player was probably Steve Hutchinson just because he played in the Big Ten and was an offensive lineman."
Dan Orseske - "Chicago Bears and Brad Maynard."
Victor Keise - "My favorite team is the Philadelphia Eagles to this very day and my favorite player was Donovan McNabb."
Andre McDonald - "Favorite team was the Pittsburgh Steelers and my favorite player was Jerry Rice."
What is the best part of playing at TCF Bank Stadium?
Peter Westerhaus - "It's fun to play with teammates here, it's a great atmosphere, and I'm looking forward to getting it rocking with fans and get some wins."
Donnell Kirkwood - "Just the fans, excitement, and the energy."
MarQueis Gray - "Playing in front of our student section, all our fans, and our family members every Saturday. Plus we got that new scoreboard and the locker room."
Aaron Hill - "The best part is just the outdoor experience. Night games are probably the best I would say."
Keanon Cooper - "Just the environment and the weather changes. When it gets to the end of the season when it gets cold outside you have an advantage over the opponent. The last two years we won our last couple games at home and the weather has definitely been a part of that. Our fans come out to support us through whatever weather it is. When it gets to the end of November we definitely have that home field advantage."
What is your favorite saying from Coach Kill or one of the other coaches?
Peter Westerhaus - "I love it when coach Kill says 'You're as soft as ice cream.' He'll say that sometimes."
Joe Bjorklund - "You'll get an apple and a road map from Coach Kill."
Kyle McAvoy - "My favorite saying is probably from coach Limegrover in reference to what he wants us to do as a defensive line and it's, "Total and utter annihilation."
Brock Vereen - "One that I can put on record? Just our team slogan from coach Kill, 'I hear what you say, I trust what you do.' It just defines us."
If you didn't play football what sport would you play?
Donnell Kirkwood - "I think I would box"
Ed Olson - "Probably baseball. I grew up playing baseball and I always loved pitching. It was a lot of fun, a lot of team camaraderie."
Troy Stoudermire - "I would probably run track because I'm really fast."
Caleb Bak - "I probably wouldn't be playing a sport."
Victor Keise - "Probably bowling. Nice and easy, laid back, can't go wrong."
The University of Minnesota women's hockey team held its Media Day
Tuesday afternoon at Ridder Arena. Head coach Brad Frost was accompanied
by team captains Megan Bozek and Bethany Brausen to answer questions
from the local media. Below are a few questions highlighting the event
along with the video posted above.
COACH FROST: I can't believe the season is here already, but we are very
excited and ready for that. We are getting going Friday night against
Colgate, and I think it is the first time that we have played them; at
least it is in the 12 years that I have been here. So we don't know a
lot about them, but we are still excited to get them into our barn here
on Friday and Saturday.
Our two captains are senior defender
Megan Bozek and junior Bethany Brausen, and so we know that we have
great leadership from these two but also our strong senior class. We
lost a lot certainly last year with our senior class, who contributed a
bunch for us and helped us win the national championship.
add seven new players in six freshmen and a transfer. Coming into the
season, we would expect them to contribute early for us. More
importantly our returners, which we have 15 of those from last year's
team, we hope they can elevate their game and help in the scoring area
We are deep in all positions, which is exciting for
us. At our goaltender position, Noora Raty returns for her senior year,
and she is a two-time All-American. She is obviously a tremendous goalie
and one of the best in the world, if not the best. We have a freshman
in Amanda Leveille from the Ottawa area, who will get some time this
year. She has shown some great things already here in the first week of
At the defensemen positions, we are led my Megan
[Bozek] and Mira Jalosuo, who is a senior as well. We have two new
freshman defensemen in Milica McMillen and Lee Stecklein, who are both
highly touted players. Megan [Bozek], who is 5-9 or 5-10 is probably our
shortest defenseman this year, so we have some big kids back there who
all can shoot and move the puck. So we are really excited about all six
of our defensemen on the backend.
And then upfront, we are
definitely led by junior Amanda Kessel, our leading scorer from last
year and an All-American as well. We also expect big things from Bethany
Brausen, Kelly Terry, Sarah Davis, Rachael Bona, Meghan Lorence and
then some of our freshmen too.
We are just super excited about
the year. It is just a great time of year, and it is a brand new team
for us. We can't look at last year's team and think we are going to be
identical to that because we are a completely different team. Having
said that, we will have the same goals of winning the WCHA conference
and tournament. Obviously, getting to the Frozen Four, which is being
held here at Ridder Arena come March. It is a great opportunity for us
to play in a great environment and play back here in front of our own
Our league is tremendous again, as it always has been.
There is a reason our league has won the last 13 national championships.
Today it came out that we are favored and picked to finish first in the
WCHA. North Dakota also received a vote for I believe the first time in
their history, and Wisconsin received the other first-place vote and
then us getting six. Wisconsin, North Dakota, Duluth and us should all
be in the mix again for the conference title. As you all know, if you
can win your conference tournament and/or the conference regular season
championship, there is a good chance you will be contending in March,
which is what we hope to be doing.
Again, we look forward to the year, and thanks for being here. We will now answer any questions you may have.
does it give the team to have that trophy sitting there and have that
experience to have made it all the way and won it? How does it change
the aura surrounding the team and the program? BETHANY BRAUSEN: I
think Coach Frost has already emphasized. It has been really, really
great and a great experience, especially with all the returners coming
back. It is really cool to have that experience under your belt.
However, the big focus this year is that that was last year and that it
where it stays. It gives you something to strive for. Like you said, it
also something that we need to know that it is not an indication of how
this season will go. It will be just as hard, if not even harder now
that we have that big 'X' on our back. Thought it was great to get the
monkey off our back last year, I think it is very important, especially
this year, that we come out and hopefully, do the same thing this
With having been on a coaching staff that has won a
couple national titles and done it back-to-back as well, what is
tougher winning a national championship, or trying to repeat the next
year? COACH FROST: It is going to be really difficult. I told
our players, and both Megan and Bethany have done this, but when you
have the 'M' on your chest, it is hard enough. There are so many players
on other teams within the WCHA that would love nothing more than to
kick the Gophers around a little bit. That may be because they didn't
get recruited, or they did and we went with another. Whatever the
reason, we are a team that has been near or at the top ever since our
program started. So we have the 'M' on our chest and now the target on
our back, and I think that is exciting. Wisconsin dealt with it, Duluth
dealt with it, we dealt with it in 2004 and 2005, and it did bring out
the best of every team. Our players are aware of that we will have to be
at our best every game, and we will take it chip-by-chip and hopefully,
end out on top. But it's difficult, and if people think it is easy...they
are nuts. Again, we are going to focus on the process of the things
that we do well because March is a long ways away. I know that is what
everybody wants to talk about - repeating, back-to-back national
championships, etc. - but that is so far out of our minds right now.
Does having a new group of players that are so highly skilled generate more competition in practice? MEGAN
BOZEK: Absolutely. The battle in practice is as if we were playing
Wisconsin. We know that if we set a high standard for ourselves, then we
won't expect anything less than everyone's best every day. So we have a
healthy rivalry when we play games in practice, but it will make
everyone better in the long run.
Have you ever wondered what really goes on behind the scenes of the Gophers' video and photo shoots? Gophersports.com is here to give you an all-access pass as the Minnesota women's basketball team gears up for the 2012-13 season.
Watch the video above and check out the photo gallery to get an inside look at many of the elements that will be featured on the new scoreboard and ribbon boards at Williams Arena, as well as some of the photos that will be used for this year's poster.
Also included is footage from the players "Doing the Gopher", a segement that is aired during the third-quarter break at every home football game. Did you see it played during Saturday night's win vs. Syracuse?
On his team so far this year... "It's been a workman's effort. It's gone to business each week. That's what I hope to see today, bring your lunch pail and go to work every single day.
"To this point our players have come to work every single day. They've
come to work every single day and done what we've asked them to do. If
they continue it do that, we have a chance to be in some football games
and have a chance to win. If they don't, the results aren't near as
good. You don't get as lucky."
On the win against Syracuse... "I thought we played more physical than we have since we have been here as a coaching staff. No doubt about that, and I want to see more of that." On injuries... "MarQueis, we met with the training staff today and he's working to get better, but I don't anticipate him playing. Tommy Olson got banged up and he's a big question mark for this week. And Shabazz is still, we're hoping we can get him back off the off week." On Iowa's coach Ferentz... "I think when I was at Southern Illinois I sent some coaches there, and you know, because throughout the country when you talk about people that run a great practice, he's always been known for running a tremendous practice. And you know, when our guys came back, people said it's what you hear. It's unbelievable. The organization, the fundamentals, the technique that's coached at their school. So that respect started a long time ago and has continued, and he's won a lot of football games." On Iowa... "They look just like Iowa always looks like. Big, strong, physical, come downhill, hit you in the mouth. Play good defense. Keeps the ball in front of them. They mix it up on you, and they are who they are. They're very good, and we go to Iowa City to play on their turf. So we have our work cut out for us, but we're looking forward to the challenge.
"We're not going to be able to miss two field goals. We're not going to be able to have a touchdown pass called back or we're not going to win. We have no room for error." On rivalry games... "We talk from the day we come into two-a-day camp we talk about the rival games, every one of them.
"We don't approach anything differently, but we certainly talk about we're going to play a huge game.
"I mean it's darn important to our fans. It's darn important to our players.
me. From the day I've walked in this door, our lettermen and people
that have played through our history have visited with our kids about
how important it is.
"It's important for our state as well as it is for Iowa."
On winning the turnover battle... "You look at college football, the teams that win most times are the ones that have the plus columns in the turnovers. If they don't turn it over and they get them. I don't think there's any question that turnovers are a big key." On his program... "I think we've moved it forward for the period of time we've been here, but with that being said we're nowhere close to where we need to be. Nowhere close." On if he changes anything when preparing for a rivalry game... "We haven't done anything different for the last 30 years of coaching. I really hadn't changed a practice much since I coached at Webb City High School, believe it or not." On the receiving corps... "I think we gotta become more physical. You become more physical at receiver, you get bigger plays and we had some runs in there that we could have busted out, and instead of being 10, 15 yard runs could be 40 yard runs. So I challenged our receivers a little bit. I said we're going to block better than we've been blocking." On running back Donnell Kirkwood... "He's worked hard. I think Coach Klein will tell you he's put in all kinds of extra time of stretching and doing all the little things it takes to stay healthy. So I give him all the credit. And I think his mindset is good and he's playing with some confidence." On his young safeties... "They've got bigger and stronger. They're smart. They run fast. They make plays."
"Those were good moves moving them to safety and how we recruited. I mean we got lucky, I guess, but it's proved out to be pretty good because they're doing well, and plus we got two young safeties in there that haven't seen a lot of time."
This past weekend, United States silver medalist and Gopher alum Lindsey Berg returned to the Minneapolis area to be inducted into the M Club Hall of Fame. With the induction and being honored at the Saturday football game, the former Gopher also reached out to some of the current members of the Gopher volleyball team and spoke to the group. Talking to current Gophers about her volleyball path and showing off the Olympic hardware were the highlights for the group.
Gopher volleyball Lindsey Berg was a key cog on the 2012 US Olympic Team.
One of the biggest names on the international volleyball scene, Berg first starred as a setter for the Golden Gophers. A three-time All-Big Ten selection, Berg was a four-year starter at Minnesota and still ranks second all-time in Big Ten history in both services aces (283) and assists (5,913).
During her Gopher career, Berg helped lead Minnesota to a pair of Big Ten runner-up finishes and NCAA Regional appearances in 1999 and 2000. In 2000, she helped lead the Gophers to a remarkable 30-4 overall record and their highest winning percentage in school history at .882.
Berg went on to become the first player from the Minnesota volleyball program to make the U.S. Olympic team in 2004. She followed up with two more Olympic appearances on USA's 2008 and 2012 squads and two silver medals. Berg has also been twice named USA Volleyball Indoor Female Athlete of the Year, winning the award in 2008 and 2011, and last year was also inducted into the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame.
"Being inducted into both the Hawaii Hall of Fame and this is an honor," Berg said. "Any time you're recognized with a group like this is humbling and amazing. The fact that I'm getting recognized with athletes that have accomplished as much or more in life is an incredible honor and there's not much more you can compare it with."
Every summer, numerous Gopher hockey alumni return to Mariucci Arena to work out and prepare for the upcoming season. Ask around and many of those alums will tell you a big reason for that is Head Olympic Strength and Conditioning Coach Cal Dietz.
The Shelby, Ohio native joined the Gophers athletic department in 2000 and has been working with the men's hockey program ever since. In addition to overseeing strength and conditioning responsibilities, Dietz has given numerous lectures around the country, as well as publish several scientific articles and dozens articles on training. Most recently, Dietz co-authored the the top-selling book, Triphasic Training: A systematic approach to elite speed and explosive strength performance.
Since joining the Gophers, Dietz has trained a total of eight national championship teams as well as more than 100 All-Americans.
It's said that a sound running game creates opportunities for a passing game to flourish. In the past two weeks, quarterback Max Shortell has established new career-bests for passing yards, combining to throw for 419 yards and three TDs since taking over for the injured MarQueis Gray in the second quarter of last week's win versus Western Michigan.
But the guy who has handled the bulk of the rushing duties for the undefeated Gophers is redshirt sophomore running back Donnell Kirkwood.
The 5-foot-10, 219-pounder from Delray Beach, Fla. (Atlantic HS) just missed having back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, as he carried the ball a career-high 28 times for 99 net yards and both of Minnesota's touchdowns in the 17-10 victory against Syracuse (1-3). In last week's win over WMU, he had rushed 23 times for a career-high 110 yards.
"I like to run power football," Kirkwood said of tonight's performance. "It felt good. I knew I was doing something positive tonight."
The two touchdowns Kirkwood scored matched the pair he tallied in last year's loss to North Dakota State. He said he took a can't-be-stopped mentality when scoring on runs of two yards in the first quarter and one yard in the third quarter, which allowed the Gophers to stretch their winning streak to five games for the first time since week four of the 2005 season.
"We have a mentality down there that we will not be stopped when we run goal line," Kirkwood said. "The offensive line knows it. The quarterback knows it. The receivers know it. When we run goal line, we have a mentality that we will get in. That is how we think, and that is how we are going to think for the rest of the year."
Although Kirkwood has logged career-highs for rushing attempts in back-to-back weeks, and Shortell's passing is what gets the most attention, he said the guy the team calls "Big Country" can run the ball when he needs to.
"Max can run the ball. He is not a MarQueis, but he can run the ball," Kirkwood said. "It is just a game plan that you have to go with. I don't really know how many carries I am going to get before the game. I just go out there and do my assignment and do what I have to do."
What he's done is produce. In four games, Kirkwood has 81 rushing attempts for 361 net yards, an average of 4.5 yards per carry. And his three touchdowns this season already equals the three he scored during 2011.
Shortell said that Kirkwood does more than just tote the ball for the Gophers. He helps keep the team loose with his personality.
"Me and Donnell have a great relationship," Shortell said. "We crack jokes in the huddle all the time and keep each other focused and just relaxed."
Whatever those jokes are, they've been working well, and Minnesota heads to Iowa City next weekend with an unblemished record in search of its third-straight victory against the Hawkeyes.
It just seems right that a guy named "Big Country" should keep watch over a pig named Floyd for another year. His friend Donnell will try to help him carry the load and keep the Gophers' successful streak going as they head into Big Ten play.
Many sportswriters and fans expected tonight's game between Minnesota and Syracuse to be an offensive shootout. But from the first play of the game, the defense stole the show.
Syracuse received the opening kickoff and ran a passing play to start its first drive. Orange quarterback Ryan Nassib targeted a receiver near the Gopher sideline. Troy Stoudermire was there when the pass arrived. The ball deflected, and Cedric Thompson swooped in to catch it. After one snap, the Gophers took over possession.
"I think it was huge," defensive end Michael Amaefula said of the play. "When coach came out in his speech, he was like, 'Let's go get something big right now.' We came out with the interception. I think it just motivated us throughout the game."
Later in the quarter, a D.L. Wilhite sack on third down forced the Orange to punt. Minnesota scored to go up 7-0 on the ensuing drive. Wilhite entered the game with a Big Ten best 3.5 sacks. Now at 4.5 on the season, he has already surpassed last year's team-leading total of 4.0 by the late Gary Tinsley.
In the second quarter, Ra'Shede Hageman hit Nassib to force a fumble, which Michael Amaefula recovered. The Gophers did not scored off either of their first two turnovers, but both helped the Gophers limit Syracuse to three points in the first half.
Aaron Hill, who wore No. 51 in Gary Tinsley's memory, came up with a big interception.
In the third quarter, with the Gophers ahead 14-3, Syracuse was close to cutting that lead. But on third and goal, the Minnesota defense came up with another big play. Nassib threw a pass, Brock Vereen delivered a hit, the ball popped into the air, and Aaron Hill made a diving catch to end the red zone threat.
The Gophers have had at least one interception in each game this season. They have seven overall. Minnesota increased its number of fumbles forced this season to three when Keanon Cooper forced one that Scott Ekpe recovered.
Minnesota also added two more sacks in the fourth quarter, by Roland Johnson and Amaefula. The Gophers have 11 sacks for 69 yards lost this season.
"We played physical, we played hard, and we ran to the football well," head coach Jerry Kill said. "When you put pressure on the quarterback and get him uncomfortable, you've got a chance."
Minnesota held Syracuse without a touchdown until late in the game and went on to win, 17-10. While the Gophers' sacks and forced turnovers excited the spectators in the stands, the Minnesota defensive players had no bigger fans tonight than their offensive counterparts.
"Our defense did a tremendous job creating turnovers and giving us great field position," quarterback Max Shortell said. "Hats off to the defense. They played amazing."
His long brown hair flowing out from under his helmet bouncing with every stride as he pursues an opposing running back. His hulking 245-pound frame comes crashing down as he stops the opposition for no gain.
He is Mike Rallis and he is a football player. He has not always looked like this, but he has always been a football player.
"We are football junkies in the Rallis' house," said the fifth-year senior who patrols the field as the starting middle linebacker for the Gophers. "We enjoy every part of the game. The history of it. The physical part of it. And the mental part of it." Rallis, his older brother Matt and younger brother Nick grew up in the nearby Minneapolis suburb of Edina. And if you were to go to his house, it would not take long to discover that they really are a football family.
"You cannot go over to their house and not have a game on or something going on that relates to football," said Bill Miller, who is the assistant head coach and linebacker coach for Minnesota. "They are into it."
It has always been that way too. Growing up the three boys would play football - tackle football - inside the house or outside.
"Matt and I used to get into it quite a bit because we are a little bit closer in age," said Rallis of his older brother who played quarterback at Edina. "We used to battle on the football field. He would get the best of me and then I would get the best of him. It would get pretty competitive, but at the end of the day we always shook it off."
One thing that never shook off was that internal desire to work hard and lead. That intangible compulsion to embrace pain and welcome it into his body. It is that thing that makes coach Kill say, "He has some insides to him."
When Rallis was deciding where to go to college he shunned scholarship offers from smaller schools like UNLV, Wyoming and New Mexico. He turned aside his childhood dream and an opportunity to walk-on for the Miami Hurricanes and decided to stay close to home and attend college only a few miles where he grew up.
"I came in as a walk-on," he said. "The first summer I started off at linebacker, but moved to safety pretty quickly. I was real quiet. I put my head down and went to work and tried to earn a scholarship as soon as I could." He earned that scholarship during preseason camp of his freshman year.
"I played a little bit my freshman year," said Rallis who was 35 pounds lighter than he is today and sported almost no hair at all. "Then during my sophomore season I broke my leg."
He used his medical redshirt year to get bigger and stronger. He also made a position switch moving from safety to linebacker. As he put it, he "would do whatever I need to do to help the team."
Coach Kill, who would take over the Gophers at the end of the 20120 season, said "He made himself into a ballplayer."
When Rallis returned to the lineup at the start of the 2010 season, he immediately began helping the team. In his first game back, he led the Gophers with seven tackles and had an interception. He finished his sophomore season with three interceptions and led Minnesota in tackles in three of the nine games he played in.
Nick Rallis, who is a freshman linebacker with the Gophers this year, has always known his older brother to be a leader. "It is in his blood," says Nick.
In high school, Mike Rallis was the vocal leader for the Hornets. He knew he wanted to be that guy for the Gophers as well, but also knew that leaders can only lead if there are others who want to follow them.
So before he became one of the strongest voices on the team, he went back to what he did during his freshman year. He put his head down and went to work.
"I think I tried to lead by example as much as I could early on," said Rallis. "I wanted to get it done on the field before I started leading vocally. What I have tried to be is a guy who is doing what he is always supposed to be doing. Then the other guys can look to that and say, 'There's Rallis always doing what he is supposed to be doing.' Then when you talk your words mean something."
This year, during his senior season, he has become that rare leader who not only paves the way by example, but also has a voice that resonates. Coach Miller says Rallis is always in the film room trying to get better.
"He studies the game really hard," said Miller, who been in the college coaching ranks for more than 35 years. "He has a great understanding of the concepts that we are trying to teach."
Before, during or after a game - or practice for that matter - it is almost impossible not to see No. 26 talking to a teammate or to the group as a whole.
After the triple-overtime win at UNLV to begin the year, Rallis was the player who broke down the team in the locker room after the game. Prior to the New Hampshire game, he was in the middle of the team on the sideline getting everyone ready to play.
"He has stepped up this year," said Kill. "I used to have to do all that stuff, but I have kind of taken a step back and have let the kids jump out there and see who wants to take a chance on some things. Mike has."
"He has really accepted that role," said Miller, who calls Rallis a coaches' dream. "The real good ones are always that way."
"He has always been like that and it was time for him to step up," said younger brother Nick. "It just came natural to him."
Like most seniors, Rallis knows his college career is coming to a close with each passing day. And like most seniors, he admits it went by way faster than he could have imagined. After today, he will play only eight more regular-season games. And before long, he will be pulling off that Minnesota jersey for the final time.
"The main thing I am trying to do right now is not look ahead to anything," he said. "I want to take it one day at a time and just enjoy every day and every practice. Even the stuff that people think is boring, just enjoy it."
His perspective may be sharper than most. One that has helped been formed by the tragic and sudden loss of former teammate Gary Tinsley last April.
"That had a great effect on me," he said. "It makes you realize how precious life is. Gary was the type of guy who lived every day to the fullest and was always having fun. That is something I try to emulate. I looked up to Gary and I just try to take advantage of every single day."
After five years at Minnesota, Rallis has changed physically and matured into a natural leader. But at his core, he is still just a football player who enjoys that intangible compulsion to embrace pain and welcome it into his body.
"If you get done with a game and you are not sore, then you feel like you did not do enough," he said. "That is definitely something I like, that feeling after a game being battered and bruised a little bit."
So among the on-filed carnage, look for No. 26 stopping that running back for no gain. With that hair he is impossible to miss. But before kickoff and in between plays, keep your ears open as well because these days Rallis' voice is just about everywhere too.
There may not be a better school in the nation for upcoming journalists than Syracuse. So we tracked down Michael Cohen, who is a Syracuse beat writer for the Daily Orange to learn all about Minnesota's opponent this weekend. You can read the Daily Orange online and follow Michael on Twitter at @Michael_Cohen13.
GopherSports: Michael, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Can you give us a brief scouting report on Syracuse?
Michael Cohen: Syracuse unveiled a new offense for the 2012 season, and the results so far -- in terms of points scored -- are certainly positive. Riding the right arm of Ryan Nassib, Syracuse has opened up the playbook and operated almost extensively out of the shotgun formation to put up more than 25 points in all three games this season.
In contrast, though, the defense has struggled in portions of all three games. The Orange trailed by 22 points in the second half against Northwestern, and the defense fell apart in the fourth quarter of what was a close game with then-No. 2 Southern California for the better part of 45 minutes. And last week Syracuse was picked apart in the first half by Stony Brook's running attack before tightening up in the second half.
So in summary, Syracuse is still a bit of an enigma in 2012. It's unclear what team will take the field each week, as the Orange continues searching for a sense of consistency.
GS: Syracuse is 1-2, but is that kind of a deceptive record? That Northwestern game was a one-point contest and USC is one of the best teams in the nation. Are they better than that 1-2 record indicates?
MC: I think at this point in time Syracuse is more like the team that gave USC a run for its money than the team that was outplayed by Stony Brook for large portions of the game last weekend. Syracuse is certainly one of the more dangerous 1-2 teams in the country, but the lack of consistency from week to week -- even quarter to quarter -- is something that makes the Orange completely unpredictable and frustrating for fans to watch at times.
GS: The Orange has a superstar in quarterback Ryan Nassib, as he throws for nearly 400 yards a game. What is the key to slowing him and his receivers down?
MC: The key to slowing down Ryan Nassib, in my opinion, is getting pressure from the edges that begin to collapse the pocket. He seems to get nervous when his protective bubble closes down, and he has made poor decisions when forced to step up in the pocket. See his first interception against USC that was thrown right into the stomach of Trojans linebacker Dion Bailey for proof. If Minnesota can pressure Nassib and force him to move around before throwing, the Gophers should be able to limit his production.
GS: Max Shortell will start at quarterback for Minnesota. How do you think that will change the Syracuse defensive game plan?
MC: Syracuse has struggled with mobile quarterbacks recently, as evidenced by last year's losses to Cincinnati and South Florida. So it would make sense to believe, then, that the Orange was a bit relieved that MarQueis Gray is unlikely to play this weekend. However, Syracuse defensive quarterback Scott Shafer pointed out that Max Shortell has experience starting football games in the past and cannot be taken lightly. He is making his first start in 2012, though, so I wouldn't be surprised if Syracuse brought pressure early to try and rattle him on the first few plays.
GS: Who is an under-the-radar player Gopher fans should keep an eye on?
MC: On the offensive side the ball, freshman running back Ashton Broyld is the player to keep an eye on. Broyld was a high school quarterback that made the switch to running back in preseason camp. He is an explosive player that is continuing to learn the offense, but he scored his first collegiate touchdown last week in a game in which he was much more involved than in Syracuse's first two games. I expect his role to continue to expand as the season progresses.
On defense, safety Shamarko Thomas is an exciting player to watch. Thomas is one of the bigger hitters for Syracuse, and he very much fits the definition of a ball-hawking safety. Look for him to be up around the line of scrimmage to help against the run as well as defending against the pass. He is the leader of the Syracuse secondary.
GS: Answer the following question. Syracuse will win if...
MC: ...it can avoid a fourth consecutive slow start on offense.
Cornerback 23 - Michael Carter 5-11 189 Sr. 22 - Jeremy Baltazar 6-0 196 Jr.
MarQueis Gray, questionable for Saturday Joe Bjorklund, questionable for Saturday Zach Mottla, questionable for Saturday Lamonte Edwards, questionable for Saturday Andre McDonald, questionable for Saturday Martez Shabazz, out for Saturday Jamel Harbison, out for the 2012 season
It was a fun-filled day of smiling, posing, dancing and humming when the Minnesota women's basketball team took over Williams Arena for their video shoot Wednesday afternoon. The Gophers shot clips for their intro video that will be played prior to each game and also shot videos that will play on the new LED scoreboard in The Barn on game days.
Here is a sneak peek of some of the behind-the-scenes action from the day, with more to come following head coach Pam Borton's video shoot set to take place on Monday afternoon. Can you guess what song Leah Cotton and Sari Noga are humming?
I can't wait to view the finished products on that gorgeous scoreboard when the Gophers open the season!
Don't forget that you can buy season tickets and single-game tickets for the 2012-13 season on mygophersports.com so you can see the videos as well.
It has affected everyone in the world one way or another and it is something that hits extra close to home for Gopher head coach Jerry Kill, as he himself is a cancer survivor.
On Saturday, when the Gophers host Syracuse, there will be 7,500 wristbands distributed to benefit the Coach Kill Cancer Fund. Donations (a $2 donation for each wristband would be appreciated, but any donation will help) will be accepted for the Maroon wristbands, which say "Tackle The Tough Times" in Gold. There is also a Gold Block M on the wristband and the acronym CKCF, which stands for Coach Kill Cancer Fund.
Wristbands will be available at Block G before the game and will also be available at the Benton county entrance before and during the game. They will also be available at gates A, B, D and E when the doors open at 5 p.m.
Donations will be accepted in Gopher-branded boxes at tables at the distribution locations. Those distributing the wristbands will be easily identified as they will be wearing Coach Kill Cancer Fund t-shirts.
Following the debut of last season's highly successful "All Star Friday Night" event, the Gopher men's basketball team wants fans to save the date of Friday, Oct. 12 for the 2nd iteration of this fun event.
Going to Saturday's football game at TCF Bank Stadium? We'll be there too! Stop by Block G before the game and visit with the 2012 MacNaughton Cup champions.
The Minnesota men's hockey team will sign autographs and pose for photos with the MacNaughton Cup and the NCAA semifinalist trophy from 5:45-6:45 p.m. at Block G in front of Mariucci Arena. The Gophers will also be honored for their WCHA regular-season title and Frozen Four run during Saturday's game.
Can't make it to TCF Bank Stadium and Block G on Saturday? You can still catch the Gophers on KFAN. Members of the team will join Kevin Falness during the KFAN's pregame show starting at 5:15 p.m.
The Golden Gophers have been featured both on the national scale as well a here in the Twin Cities recently. Minnesota volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon was featured on ESPN, written by Minneapolis-based Patrick Borzi. ESPN article can be found here.
In the Minnesota Daily, Gopher volleyball also has a human interest story in defensive specialists/liberos Lindsey Lawmaster and Kalysta White. Called "chickens" to the team, the duo discusses their instant bond as teammates. Find out why they are called the chickens here.
Minnesota opens the 2012 Big Ten Conference season this weekend against Illinois and Northwestern. Watch the Minnesota/Illinois match live on the Big Ten Network.
Single-game tickets for the 2012-13 University of Minnesota women's basketball season are on sale now. Fans can purchase tickets by calling the Golden Gopher Ticket Office at 612-624-8080 or online at mygophersports.com.
Ticket prices for each game will be $15 for chair back seats and $8 for bleacher seats.
The Gophers are scheduled to play 18 games at Williams Arena this season, including contests against Virginia in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Denver, Ohio State, Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue and Penn State. Minnesota will also host a pair of tournaments in the Best Buy Class and the Subway Classic in early November.
Fans will also be able to get a glimpse of Williams Arena's new center-hung LED scoreboard and LED fascia boards, and will be able to take in the sounds of The Barn's new sound system when the season gets underway.
WASHINGTON (Sept. 18, 2012) -- President Barack Obama welcomed the Minnesota Lynx to the White House today in recognition of the team's 2011 WNBA Championship. The President honored the team's memorable 2011 season, as well as the efforts of the Lynx to support health and wellness programs through its WNBA FIT and Breast Health Awareness initiatives.
The Lynx had a historic 2011 season, setting a franchise record with 27 wins and outscoring opponents by an average of 7.9 points per game, matching the fifth largest single-season point differential in WNBA history. Minnesota went 7-1 in the postseason, including sweeping the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA Finals to win the team's first championship in franchise history. Lynx guard and Olympian Seimone Augustus was named the 2012 WNBA Finals MVP for her play against Atlanta in the Finals, averaging 24.7 points per game in the series, including scoring a single-game franchise postseason high 36 points in Game 2.
Jerry Kill and the Gophers met the media today to preview this weekend's game against Syracuse. You can read a transcript of Kill's entire press conference here. If you want the cliff notes version, then check out the video above or read the highlights below. Also be sure to check out some audio clips from Mike Rallis, Drew Goodger and Derrick Engel.
"They're explosive. They're very explosive. They've got a receiving
corps, athletic skill set. They're different than a lot of people we'll
play even the rest of the year. They've got very good skill sets and
are very gifted at wide receiver and quarterback, and they can go
vertical with the football."
About playing a night game...
"As far as the kids and the fans and those kind of things, I think a lot of people like going to a Saturday night game.
Again, from a standpoint, when you have 12 opportunities, the time you play them, when you play them, you don't worry about, you just play good when you play them."
About MarQueis Gray...
"I talked to him yesterday, and I said your goal is to try to be a backup on Saturday and be prepared to play.
Now, that's a pretty drastic goal, but you've got to have something to shoot for, so we'll see how it works out.
He was very sore yesterday, and I think Ed is going to try to move him
around a little bit today. I don't know. So I'll be very honest, I'll
get to see Ed at practice and certainly ask him, and if he's moving
around I'll let you know."
About Max Shortell...
"I can't control injuries or what happens tomorrow or the next day. I can control what we have today. If we're playing tomorrow, Max Shortell is our guy that we're playing, and Philip has to be the backup, and Mitch Leidner has got to be ready to play.
"I think Max has been through some of those trials and errors as a freshman last year, and his preparation, he came in with the mindset, hey, I'm going to try to be a starter, and he's kept that mindset.
We have kind of a motto here, the next man up. We talked about depth, the way we practice is a little bit different than most people, and right now it's paying off because the next man up has done a pretty good job. Max stepped in, did a pretty good job, and now we expect him to go in and play well and be ready to go against Syracuse.
I think you always play to somebody's strengths and weakness. I think everybody quarterback has his strengths and weaknesses, even the best ones do, and we'll play to his strengths a little bit, but we don't have to start something all over again.
I've been blessed with coaching good quarterbacks. That's why I have the opportunity to be in the room today and coach. I mean, everywhere I've been, we've had good quarterbacks, and they've all made pretty good decisions or I wouldn't be in the room."
About A.J. Barker...
"He's got good speed, he's a good athlete, he's been able to catch the ball, but again, I've never really seen him full speed because of all the hamstring trouble. Once he's gotten healthy, gained some confidence, caught some balls, and he's doing a great job for us, and we need people to step up in that area, and so far that area has played pretty good." About having a quarterback plan...
"Yeah, we'll have a plan. That's probably why I'm dressed up like this and haven't shaved yet, but we'll have a plan."
The University of Minnesota women's hockey team had an
eventful Saturday as they participated in two aspects of the Gopher football
game day experience with signing autographs before the game and receiving their
2012 National Championship rings during the game.
At 10:15 a.m. on Saturday, the 2012-13 team went into Block G and signed autographs
for fans of all ages up until 15 minutes before kickoff. Following the
30-minute long autograph session, the Gophers entered the game to cheer on
their fellow student-athletes.
At the end of the first quarter, the National Championship squad met near in
the field in preparation for the ring ceremony. And during the first TV timeout
of the second quarter, the squad walked out on the field and was presented
their championship rings in front of a gold-out crowd of 44,921 Gopher
To top off the fun-filled day had by the Gophers, the team was able to cheer on
the football team to a victory and a 3-0 start to the 2012 season.
A.J. Barker had three touchdowns on five catches in a win against Western Michigan.
By Michael Molde
Junior wide receiver A.J. Barker is no stranger to putting up impressive numbers on a football field. After all, the 6-foot-1, 197-pounder out of De LaSalle High School holds Minnesota prep records for career receiving yards (4,018) and touchdown receptions (50).
On Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium, Barker came up with a huge game for the Golden Gophers, catching three touchdowns in the opening half of Minnesota's 28-23 win against Western Michigan. The victory improved the Gophers to 3-0 for the first time since 2008, and increased Minnesota's winning streak to four games dating back to last season.
Barker hauled in five passes for 101 yards and the three touchdowns, which were all career-bests for a single game. He entered the 2012 season with just one career catch, and that came during his freshman season in 2010. This season, he has team-leading totals of 10 catches for 231 yards and four TDs.
Asked after the game if he felt he was capable of such a great performance, Barker showed no lack of confidence in his ability.
"I'm probably one of the crazy people out there that did think that," he said. "It's a credit to the coaching staff to put me in the positions to make the plays. I don't know if Western Michigan was ready to cover me or not, but I just took advantage of the opportunities given to me."
Barker's first touchdown of the afternoon opened the scoring for the Gophers, as he caught a 10-yard pass from MarQueis Gray to give Minnesota a 7-3 lead with 2:00 remaining in the first quarter.
Then, when Gray left the game with an injury late in the opening half, Barker gave the Gophers the spark they needed. Max Shortell replaced Gray at quarterback and completed his first three passes, with the third being a nine-yard strike to Barker in the corner of the end zone to give Minnesota the lead for good, 14-10.
Then, after the Minnesota defense forced a three-and-out, Shortell found Barker on a crossing route, and Barker used his speed to outrace WMU's defenders down the home sideline for a 53-yard scoring play with 0:30 left in the half. That score gave Minnesota a 21-10 lead at the break.
"The quarterback just makes their reads, and they found me today," said Barker.
The three touchdowns on the afternoon marked the first time a Minnesota receiver scored three times since former Gopher Da'Jon McKnight grabbed three TDs at Michigan State on Nov. 5, 2011. Barker becomes one of just 10 Minnesota players to have three or more TD receptions in a game.
Barker and the Golden Gophers will attempt to continue their successful start to the season next Saturday night, as they play host to Syracuse at TCF Bank Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m.
In 2011 at USC, Minnesota junior quarterback MarQueis Gray left the game with cramps and true freshman Max Shortell took his first snaps as a Golden Gopher. Shortell nearly led the Gophers to a comeback against the Trojans. He started twice last season, and played in the second half last week, making him even more prepared for when he was called on again today.
Today Gray left the game late in the second quarter, sustaining an injury when he was tackled on a rush. Minnesota led, 10-7. Shortell entered the game on second-and-long and immediately completed a 32-yard pass to Derrick Engel. The Gopher back-up was locked in from the first snap he took.
Shortell threw for a career-high three touchdowns.
"The game experience I got last year really helped me," Shortell said. "I've gotten in a few times this year and it's clear that the coaches giving me a chance last year has really helped me to extend what I can do on the field and help me to be a better player."
On both his initial drive and the next possession, Shortell threw touchdown passes to A.J. Barker. The second was a game-long 53 yards. Shortell added another touchdown pass to Drew Goodger midway through the third quarter.
Shortell set career highs in both passing yards (188) and passing touchdowns (three) today. With Gray in the game today, the Gophers focused on the running game, including 11 rushes from the starting quarterback. Western Michigan had likely focused its preparations on Gray's running threat. So the Gophers took advantage of the changeup created when Shortell, a more passing-centered quarterback, came into the game.
Shortell completed eight of his first 11 passes, showing great poise for a quarterback thrown into a close game.
"That's a credit to Max," head coach Jerry Kill said. "That's one of those things where he was ready and his opportunity came. ...He was prepared for his opportunity and took advantage of it."
Shortell felt that he when he came off the sidelines, he "had to step up and get the offense rolling." He did just that. The Shortell-led drives down the field electrified the crowd at TCF Bank Stadium during the 28-23 victory, but the Gopher quarterback treated it like just another day in the office.
"We've all played in so many games that it's almost second nature to go in there and do what you need to do," he said. "It's a game so you go in there and try to have fun. Whatever happens, happens."
Minnesota honored Gopher Great and World War II veteran Ed Lechner today during the first quarter of the Gophers' game against Western Michigan.
Lechner grew up on a farm in rural North Dakota and was an all-state football player at Fessenden high school. After high school, his brother set up a meeting with legendary Minnesota coach Bernie Bierman. Lechner's brother thought he would be a great addition to the Golden Gopher football team and, as it turned out, he was right.
Ed Lechner holds one of his many newspaper clippings from his Minnesota playing days. Lechner will turn 93 in December.
Lechner played for the Gophers in 1939, 1940, 1941 and 1943 and he helped lead the Gophers to two National Championships.
He was a 210-pound tackle who played on both sides of the ball. Lechner blocked for All-American halfbacks George Franck and Bruce Smith, who also won the Heisman Trophy in 1941.
In 1941 in a showdown against nationally ranked Northwestern, the Gophers trailed 7-2 in the second half. Lechner broke through the line and blocked a Northwestern punt giving the Gophers the ball in Northwestern territory. His block helped Minnesota secure an 8-7 win and also helped preserve an undefeated season.
Lechner signed a professional contract with the New York Giants in 1942 and played six games before he decided to go back to Minnesota to continue his studies in dentistry and be near his wife. A new rule allowed Lechner to play for the Gophers in 1943 while he was in medical school and he served as a team captain.
Lechner suffered a knee injury in the third game of the 1943 season and then retired from football so he could concentrate on his dentistry degree. Late in 1943, he was commissioned by president Franklin Delano Roosevelt to serve in the Navy on the USS VICKSBURG during World War II. Dr. Lechner proudly served his fellow seamen and also helped identify war casualties through dental records.
Upon his return to Minnesota in 1947, Dr. Lechner set-up a dental practice in Highland Park. He and his beloved wife Evelyn were married for 68 years before she passed away last December.
Right now John Rabe's name may not hold the same recognition as past Minnesota tight ends like Matt Spaeth and Ben Utecht. But at the end of the season it might.
Because Rabe played two seasons at junior college, his Golden Gopher career will only be half as long as those past Gopher greats. Additionally, he does not say much to try to draw attention to himself on or off the field. According to his quarterback, MarQueis Gray, Rabe is just a "cool, chill, mellow guy."
However, that "cool, chill, mellow guy," has shown a knack for making important catches, evidenced by the fact that five of his nine career catches have gone for touchdowns. Rabe's work ethic and dependability have also earned the respect of his coaches and teammates. In his own quiet way, Rabe will do as much as he can to help the Gophers win.
Before he could score touchdowns at Minnesota, Rabe had to start smaller. He spent two years at Ellsworth Community College gaining experience to work his way toward playing at a higher level.
"You're not given a whole lot," Rabe said of his junior college days. "You've just got to work your way up. You're bused 10 hours to a game, and then you play in front of maybe 200 people."
Rabe's hard work led to a spot on the Junior College All-America roster after his sophomore season. He graduated from Ellsworth that semester, and was ready to move on.
Rabe had planned on playing for Jerry Kill at Northern Illinois, and he followed Kill to Minneapolis when he took the Gophers' head coaching job. Rabe said that Kill has a similar style to his junior college coach, Mike Virden--both coaches know when to give "tough love" and when to be a little softer. But Rabe's new environment required more of an adjustment.
"It's Big Ten, so everyone's talking about it," he said. "There's so much attention towards it. And being in Minneapolis, it's a big city compared to where I came from. So there's just a lot more people that know, and they always are watching you. You're kind of in a microscope."
All eyes were certainly on Rabe after his performance during crunch time of the Gophers' 2012 season opener at UNLV. The game was tied at 13 at the end of regulation.
In the first overtime, the Rebels opened the scoring with a rushing touchdown. The Gophers had to answer to keep the game alive. On a second down, Rabe ran a route up the middle of the field. Gray looked from side to side and saw Rabe's big frame in traffic. The Gopher quarterback delivered a pass that Rabe caught few yards from the end zone. He leaned toward the goal line as a pair of Rebels tackled him.
"I thought it maybe was a yard short," Rabe said. "But I looked over at the ref when I put my head up and he had his hands up. I was excited and I knew that we had to go back down on offense and play again and score another touchdown right after that."
They did just that. Again, it was Rabe on the receiving end of a Gray pass. This time, there was no doubt he would score. Gray's first look on the first play of the second overtime was to Rabe, who scampered down the wide open right side and into the end zone.
Those two plays--one 10 yards, the other 25--were Rabe's only two receptions of the night. When the game ended in a Minnesota victory one overtime period later, his career reception total stood at six, including four touchdowns.
Rabe added three receptions--one of them a touchdown--against New Hampshire last week. He may not always appear in the box scores, but when he does, it is wise to check the scoring summary. Going back to last season, Rabe has scored touchdowns in three straight games.
"It is kind of funny that's the way it's worked out," he said. "It's nice scoring touchdowns. It's a big deal and helps the team win."
Even when Gray does not target him many times during a given game, he knows that he count on Rabe when needed.
"He's got good speed for his size, and he's been making plays for us ever since he's been here," Gray said.
Tight ends coach Rob Reeves credits Gray for getting the ball into Rabe's hands, but also acknowledges the work done on the receiving end.
"He does a good job of executing his routes and getting open when he needs to and makes the most of his opportunities, and that's all you can ask of him," Reeves said. "He can run and he can pose a little bit of a mismatch on linebackers and things."
Reeves said that Rabe's junior college season helped him get ready for Division I football, but that he is still learning just like any other second-year Big Ten player. Collin McGarry's graduation last year opened up a spot for Rabe to do more learning on the job this year.
"Mentally he's smart," Reeves said. "He can play both Y and H. He understands the offense better now. Now he just needs the actual physical experience of playing 50, 60 plays a game."
During the rest of his senior year, Rabe wants to do whatever the team needs in order to win. He hopes his part will include a bigger number of receptions--including, of course, some touchdowns. Based on what has happened already this season, the prospects look good.
"We'll continue to try to push the ball that way because he's been successful, and that will help open up the outside receivers, as well," Kill said.
Reeves said that one of Rabe's main contributions is leadership by example. Rabe gives a full effort in all aspects of the team's activities, from the weight room to the field to the film room.
As a senior, Rabe is hoping to fulfill the role of a leader and a playmaker more than ever. Every game brings him closer to the upcoming end of his college career. And he has his eye on one game in particular: the Gophers' conference opener.
As a youngster, Rabe dreamed of playing in the Big Ten. But he ended up a little more North than he originally thought. The Iowa Falls native grew up a Hawkeye fan, but turned in the black and yellow for the maroon and gold when he arrived at Minnesota in January 2011. Rabe no longer even names any favorite former Hawkeyes.
"I've moved on from that stage of my life," he said.
The Gophers will travel to Iowa later this month to kick off Big Ten play. Rabe got a taste last year of beating his home state's team to retain the Floyd of Rosedale rivalry trophy. He looks forward to battling to bring the bronze pig back to Minnesota once more.
"That's going to be a really exciting game going into Iowa City," Rabe said. "I'll probably have a lot of friends there that are rooting against me in that game. I'll be amped up. They won't have to tell me much for that game. I'll be ready to go."
Unlike most of his teammates, Rabe will only experience the Minnesota-Iowa duel twice instead of four times. That is the career of a junior college transfer. At times, it still seems to Rabe that he just arrived in Minneapolis.
"It's definitely gone fast," he said. "This season will probably go fast because it's my senior year. You've got to make every little bit of it count and remember it."
It's hard to think of many things more memorable for a senior than a trophy game against his former rooting interest--on the opponent's home turf, no less. And the last few matchups between the Gophers and Hawkeyes have been close ones. Who knows? Maybe John Rabe has a few more timely touchdowns up his sleeve.
Western Michigan visits Minnesota this week. We spoke with Bronco beat writer David Drew about Western Michigan and he filled us in everything you need to pay attention to on Saturday. You can read more of Drew's stories and learn more about the Broncos here.
GopherSports: David, thanks for speaking with us. We certainly appreciate your time. Can you give us an overview on the Broncos and what their identity is this year?
David Drew: It's a little bit of a change-up this year. Traditionally in years past, when you think Western Michigan, you think high-powered offense and a defense that really has to keep up with the offense. But this year, it's really kind of been established that it's more of a defense-first team, and the offense has tried to keep up with that defense, mainly because Western's got a large crew of new receivers. They don't have Jordan White anymore, who really was a superstar by all means over the last few years. Now there's a bunch of receivers still trying to find themselves, kind of getting used to the Division I atmosphere. It's been an offense by committee. It's been where the Broncos have relied more on their defense to keep them in the game. It's a little bit of a change for Bronco fans and people who know a little bit about Western Michigan football.
GS: The Broncos still have Alex Carder back there at quarterback. He can provide offense any time in the game and he has thrown the ball all over the field this year. They still provide that offensive threat that they can put up a whole lot of points in a hurry.
DD: That's what scares you. This offense by no means is firing on all cylinders, but yet you've got a superstar quarterback there who knows this offense like the back of his hand. You're waiting for that one game where both he and his receivers get on the same page, and you get a defense continuing to play like it has been through two games. You kind of have to get a little excited about what you might see when that happens.
GS: Gopher fans will look at that Illinois game and look at the 24-7 score, but that game was a lot closer than the score indicated, correct?
DD: I think that game itself was a lot closer than the score. Illinois led 17-0 in the first quarter, and the Bronco offense really the whole game could not sustain any rhythm. They couldn't really sustain any long drives. There were a lot of first game nerves and frustration kind of set in after a while. Alex Carder, I think, started to do a little bit too much, made some bad throws. Essentially, though, what I looked at in that game is, Illinois scored 17 in the first quarter, and their offense didn't score again the rest of the game. They got their final touchdown on an interception return. Western's defense pitched a shutout for three quarters. That's what I took away from that game. Obviously the offense was not firing, but you've got a Mid-American Conference defense that shut down a Big Ten offense for the final three quarters.
GS: Jerry Kill is very familiar with Western Michigan, having coached against them four times. Has coach Cubit talked about that at all? These teams have not played since the 1970s, but the coaches know one another.
DD: A little bit. Coach Cubit isn't really one to talk a whole lot about other coaches, other programs. He has mentioned it a little bit. He seems to have a lot of respect for Jerry Kill and the way he conducts and leads his program. I know at NIU, Coach Cubit had a lot of respect for what he did. I think he sees a lot of similarities in Minnesota's program as far as how Coach Kill is going about it. Coach Cubit isn't one to sing a whole lot of praises, but I think there is a good deal of respect there for Coach Kill.
GS: From reading all the stories this week, it looks like Western Michigan will focus on trying to limit MarQueis Gray and make him throw the ball.
DD: I'm sure that's been said for a number of years. Yeah, that is kind of the game plan with MarQueis, to keep him in the pocket and make him beat Western with his arm. It sounds so simple, but you've got a quarterback that has linebacker size and strength. You just don't know it's going to go until you see it.
GS: Can you complete the following sentence for us? Western Michigan will win if...
DD: Western Michigan will win if they can contain MarQueis Gray. By contain, I don't mean limit him to five yards rushing. I mean make Minnesota drive the ball methodically down the field. Don't give up a long 65 or 70-yard touchdown. And Western has to move the chains. They don't have to have big plays, but I think they have to move the chains against the big, physical Minnesota defense.
GS: David, thanks again for your time. We certainly appreciate it.
To show appreciation for the great student turnout at last Saturday's Gopher football home opener, head coach Jerry Kill will be walking around campus Friday, Sept. 14 distributing tickets, "No More Minnesota Nice" t-shirts and other treats to U of M students in preparation for Saturday's game against Western Michigan at TCF Bank Stadium.
Coach will be out and about on the East Bank campus from approximately 10:45 to 11:30 a.m. in the following locations:
- Starting near the Knoll Area (traffic circle of Pleasant St. SE) about 10:45 a.m. - Work towards the Northrop Mall/Plaza area - Finishing near the Washington Ave. Bridge pedestrian plaza outside Coffman Memorial Union
U of M students and Gopher Football fans are all encouraged to stop by and say hi to Coach Kill!
Single-game tickets for the 2012-13 University of Minnesota women's basketball season are set to go on sale Sept. 19 beginning at 9:00 a.m. Fans can purchase tickets by calling the Golden Gopher Ticket Office at 612-624-8080 or online at mygophersports.com.
Ticket prices for each game will be $15 for chair back seats and $8 for bleacher seats.
The Gophers are scheduled to play 18 games at Williams Arena this season, including contests against Virginia in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Denver, Ohio State, Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue and Penn State. Minnesota will also host a pair of tournaments in the Best Buy Class and the Subway Classic in early November.
Fans will also be able to get a glimpse of Williams Arena's new center-hung LED scoreboard and LED fascia boards, and will be able to take in the sounds of The Barn's new sound system when the season gets underway.
The No. 17 Minnesota men's cross country team competes in its first road event of the year this Friday at the Autumn Classic in Orem, Utah. The two-day competition features 10 races spread between college and high school programs with the Gophers running in the four mile collegiate event at 6:00 p.m. CT on Friday at Cascade Golf Course.
No. 3 BYU hosts the event while San Bernadino Valley College, Idaho State and Utah Valley University are also scheduled to compete in the men's collegiate race.
The Gophers will send a full travel roster to Friday's competition after the team placed fourth last Friday at the Oz Memorial in Falcon Heights, Minn. Redshirt freshman Alex Brend paced the Gophers with a 6th-place finish and a time of 19:23.40. Sophomore Blayne Dulian (12th, 19:40.61) and redshirt freshman Christian Skaret (14th, 19:47.25) also posted top-15 finishes for Minnesota.
Results for the Autumn Classic can be found here or by checking Gophersports.com following the race.
The University of Minnesota's 2012-13 women's hockey team will be making an appearance before and during the Gophers' football game this Saturday against Western Michigan.
Before the football game kicks off at 11 a.m., head coach Brad Frost and the 2012-13 team will be located in "Block G" signing autographs. They will be positioned right in front of Mariucci Arena from 10:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.
Following their autograph session, the 2012 National Championship team will be honored during the first TV timeout of the second quarter. During this short intermission, the Gophers will be presented with their championship rings on the field.
As the 2012-13 season approaches, we'll chat with each of Gopher Hockey's nine freshmen starting this week with forward Ryan Reilly.
The son of Gopher Hockey alum Mike Reilly (1979-81) and one of three Reilly brothers on the Minnesota roster this season, Ryan Reilly joins the Gophers after helping the Penticton Vees (BCHL) to the Royal Bank Cup in 2012 as the top team in Canadian Junior A. Reilly's brothers Mike and Connor (Connor and Ryan are twins while Mike is just under two years younger) also skated for the Vees last season and helped the team to BCHL and CJHL titles before taking home the Royal Bank Cup.
Starting his prep career at Holy Angels in 2009-10, Ryan Reilly tallied 56 points (21 goals, 35 assists) in 25 games before joining the Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) the following season. Last season with Penticton, he set career marks across the board with 73 points, 32 goals and 41 assists in the Vees' championship season.
We caught up with Ryan earlier this week at Mariucci Arena.
You'll wear #9 with the Gophers this season. Is there a story behind that?
I actually wore it in high school at Holy Angels and wanted to wear it last year with Penicton, but I wore #8 instead. #9's always been a number that I really liked, so I asked Gres (Gopher Hockey equipment manager Lee Greseth) if it was available and luckily it was.
Do you have any pregame rituals?
I normally put my left skate on before my right skate. I also like to tape my stick as soon as I get to the rink -- I'll get my undergear on and then tape it up. Those are basically the only two. I like to play soccer before games also, but I'm not very good. I'll play for maybe five minutes.
Growing up in Chanhassen, Minn., what does it mean to you to be a Gopher?
It means a lot. I've been waiting two years for this experience. I'm really excited to finally be a Gopher and to be part of such a rich tradition here. It's going to be a lot of fun.
How are the first few weeks of freshman year going?
I'm really looking forward to getting the season started here in a couple weeks. We've got our first practice pretty early this Saturday, and I'm excited to get on the ice with the guys. It's always a good time.
What's one thing that people don't know about you?
Probably that I really like to read books. I like to read science fiction and a lot of economic books. The one I just read was called "Boomerang."
Last one, what's it like playing on the same team as your brothers?
I'm really looking forward to it. It was obviously a great year playing with them last season in Penticton, and we're all excited for this year too. It's really special being able to play with them. I don't think many people get that opportunity in their lifetime. All of us being freshman together...it's going to be a great experience.
After overcoming an ACL injury Marcus Jones is still one of the fastest players on the team.
Sophomore Marcus Jones is one of the fastest players on the team. We got the speedy receiver to slow down for a few minutes and share some of his thoughts with us.
GopherSports: Marcus, what does being a Gopher mean to you?
Marcus Jones: Being a Gopher to me means being uncommon. I think that has kind of become what Minnesota is. We are trying to build a program and it is an exciting time to be a part of it. You feel like you are the change that is about to happen. So for me, it is really special to become a part of it and trying to become a leader on the team. For me it is such a great time to be part of Gopher football. Whether you are playing or not it is just a great time to be around it.
GS: You talk about being uncommon and you are pretty uncommon yourself. Not many people would be back 100 percent from the ACL injury you suffered last year. How did you deal with that?
MJ: My ACL injury was a tough injury to deal with and it came during a tough time in the season. The rehab was tough. It was a challenge every time I walked into the training room. You are not quite sure what you are doing every day and you wonder if you are going to get any stronger from the day before. It is definitely a fight, but our trainers Ed Lochrie and Chris Ashton did a great job. They had me in there twice a day and made sure I did every rep right. That became a big part of why I was able to come back so fast. We did not waste time. Everything was efficient and everything had a purpose to it.
GS: How would you describe coach Kill?
MJ: I would describe him as hard nose. The reason for that is because that is what everyone sees. They see the hard-nose coach. He is the old-school coach who demands respect and gives that respect back. But inside the office he is a totally different guy. When it is away from football, he is the nicest guy you have ever met. He is fun to be around and tells a lot of jokes. There are two sides to coach Kill. There is the football side and there is the family side. I have seen both and I think he brings both sides out when necessary.
GS: There is a lot of talk about whom the fastest player on the team is, but who do you think it is?
MJ: I am taking Keanon Cooper every day of the week. He is the fastest guy on the team.
GS: Where do you rank?
MJ: I would say I am top three or top five. I am definitely in there. We have some fast guys. With the addition of some guys last spring, like Martez Shabazz and others, it added some new challengers. Shabazz is pretty fast and we already have some fast guys in Steve Montgomery, Troy Stoudermire, Keanon Cooper, MarQueis Gray and myself. We can put some fast guys on the field, so it is exciting when we get to talking and then start racing.
GS: If you played defense, what position would you play?
MJ: I would play cornerback. I played cornerback in high school, so if I had to get moved to defense that is what I would play.
GS: You ever miss hitting somebody?
MJ: All the time. That was my favorite part about defense. Hitting people is the best part about defense. There are times I think about it. There are times when I am blocking that I just want to run at somebody and take a shot at them, but I would probably miss so I do not waste my time.
GS: Why do you wear No. 15?
MJ: It is the number my brother wore in high school. When I got here I originally had No. 8, but I did not like it so I changed to 15. I grew into it and like it. It has a little more meaning for me.
GS: What is the best part about playing at TCF Bank Stadium?
MJ: The best part is that feeling you get when you walk into that stadium every Saturday. No matter what happened last Saturday or what they think is going to happen that Saturday, it is like an electric feeling. You walk out there and the fans are so excited to be there. It is different than playing in any other stadium. I have only been here a year and played in some pretty good stadiums last year, but nothing has the feeling like TCF Bank Stadium. There is something about walking through that tunnel and hearing the fans screaming right on top of you that makes TCF Bank Stadium so special.
GS: Coming back from injury, what are your goals this year?
MJ: My goals are to fulfill my role on the team and exceed that goal. If they want me to be the No. 1 receiver then I will be the No. 1 receiver. If they want me to strictly block, then I will strictly block. But coming back from the injury, I am just excited to be back and enjoying every day. At the same time I understand I have a job to do and have to attack whatever it is they want me to do. Last year, the receiving corps was not the strongest group on the team. Our goal as receivers this year is to be the strongest group on the field.
GS: There are a lot of trophy games here at Minnesota. What trophy do you want to win the most?
MJ: The trophy I want to win the most is the Axe, but probably for a different reason than a lot of guys because I am not from Minnesota. But I was not able to play in the Wisconsin game last year and had to watch it and watch how they celebrated. So there is still a fire burning in there for Wisconsin.
"I'm very appreciative of the support that we had in the stadium and the
students and so forth. It was a good atmosphere. Everything I heard,
it went good, and so we hope to continue to build off that because that
certainly helps the program, helps enthusiasm, and more people, more
juice in the stadium, better the players play.
"They're a top tier team in the MAC Conference. Offensively under Coach Cubit, they've always been tremendous, throwing the ball for over 300 yards a game, a football team that's going to be aggressive, attack you and stretch you on the perimeters and do a great job. He's a great play caller, and we have a great deal of respect for them.
"I think they're starting to understand where we're at and what you have to do. I think they understand we have no room for error because we've still got a lot of work to do.
"The more pressure you can put on a quarterback, the more uncomfortable they're going to get. We never let anybody get comfortable last Saturday. I worry about this because Coach Cubit is a smart coach. That ball is going to come out in a hurry on Saturday, so I mean, he's going to get the ball out. They're a quick three, quick five. He's played us, so he's got a good cue on what he needs to do to get that ball out.
"D.L. has improved his athleticism, Ra'Shede has certainly learned to play defensive tackle, and his best years are way ahead of him. He's still learning, but he's continued to get better, and athletically he's gifted, a gifted young man. Roland Johnson coming in, junior college, a part of a junior college that's won all the time. He's used to that. So I think as a group they're playing well at this time, but they still have a lot of work to do, and we'll need that pressure this week and actually over the next two weeks
"We've felt like we needed to get better at corner from a week ago at UNLV, and the guys, Troy and Michael Carter both got a lot better. They had a good ballgame on Saturday. And then you throw the other kids in there, and we feel like that group is certainly improved, and it's critical they continue to play well with what we do, and we've got to continue to be able to rush the passer.
"We have a lot of people that are very similar, so if you've got people similar and you play different situations, why not play them, and they'll play faster. Your morale stays better. There's a lot of good things to that.
"Right now we're still learning about our team. It's a very young football team. We got better from UNLV, sure, but now we've got to continue to get better. That's how we're going to have to be because we're still, in my opinion from watching film, evaluating where we're at, we have a long, long way to go, and our kids understand that.
"If you physically get whipped, there's nothing you can do about that. You play somebody and they physically whip you, then you'd better get stronger and faster to be able to play the game. But when you mentally, for instance, drop a snap from a quarterback or you jump offsides or you drop a ball or you line up wrong or you blow a coverage, then you beat yourselves, and that's what you can't live with as a coach.
"We have no room for error. We have to play really, really good, clean football to have a chance to be successful with anybody on our schedule. That's just the way it is right now.
"You can't hide from the video. You get that little red pointer, and you go, hey, what's this, explain this to me, and you teach them. This is not what we're looking for. Again, we've got 17 to 22 year old kids, and there's definitely a lot of mental mistakes and things that we need to clean up.
"We did exactly what we needed to do to play against New Hampshire. Could we have thrown it eight or nine, ten more times, possibly, but at the same time didn't want a no huddle team to get on a roll, wanted to try to control the football a little bit, and we seemed to be moving the ball fairly well when we didn't make a mistake or two.
"We don't sit there, try to force feed the ball to somebody. We try to take what the defense gives us. Again, we're playing some young kids in there. That's really been a surprise to our football team. I think our productivity, we've been able to get behind people, we've been able to do some things there. I think we've got some good kids and we're going to throw to the open guy. But so much of our offense is built off of the run and the play action passing game, and you take what they give you.
"That's a big thing on our football team right now for us to be successful, we've got to control field position, and our punter punted it into the wind, and we had 42 net average, which is very good into the wind, and we also had a very good job of catching the punts and returning, which we weren't very good the week before and haven't been very good since I've been here. So to me those were big improvements because that's what I call hidden yards, and we picked up a lot of yards in the punt game and the punt return game, which is important. It's a lot easier to score on a shorter field."
Golden Gopher fans won't believe their eyes when they walk into Williams Arena this fall for the women's basketball team's exhibition game vs. Concordia, St. Paul on Oct. 31. After announcing plans in May to install a new center-hung LED scoreboard, LED fascia boards and a new sound system in Williams Arena, construction of the scoreboard and sound system are now complete.
The new scoreboard and sound system will enhance the gameday fan experience for the Minnesota faithful with more videos, sound bytes and fan prompts.
The scoreboard and fascia boards were built and installed by Daktronics, Inc., while Minnesota-based Parsons Electric supplied the new sound system.
The new scoreboard screen is 11'7" tall and 13'8" wide and features an LED ring above and below the main video board.
The university also added a state-of-the-art control room in TCF Bank Stadium. The control room, designed and installed by Minnesota based Alpha Video, will run the videoboards in Mariucci Arena, TCF Bank Stadium and Williams Arena.
Isaac Fruechte has always dreamed of playing football for the University of Minnesota, and now that dream is flourishing.
The redshirt sophomore wide receiver transferred from Rochester (Minn.) Community and Technical College in January after earning second-team All-Minnesota Junior and Community College Conference honors in 2010. He's a graduate of Caledonia High School, where he earned all-state recognition and helped his dad Carl win state titles in 2007 and 2008.
Fruechte had one catch for seven yards in the season-opening win at UNLV, and Saturday afternoon he caught his first career touchdown for the Gophers as he played in front of numerous friends and family members. Fruechte's touchdown covered 27 yards and gave the Gophers an early 9-0 lead.
His dad and uncle are longtime season ticket-holders, and Isaac used to attend Gopher football practices and games as a kid. Now he's suiting up for the team he always wanted to play for and is making a difference for the undefeated Gophers.
Shortell Shines in Limited Action
Sophomore quarterback Max Shortell made his first appearance for the Golden Gophers on Saturday, entering the game early in the fourth quarter and leading the team to its final touchdown.
Shortell was very efficient in his time on the field, completing five of his six pass attempts for 72 yards and his third career TD. He added 17 rushing yards on three carries as the Gophers scored more than 40 points for the first time since a 42-34 win versus Michigan State on Oct. 31, 2009.
The 6-foot-6, 237-pound signal caller from Shawnee Mission, Kan., played in eight games and made two starts for Minnesota in 2011, completing 26-of-54 passes for 309 yards and two TDs.
Wilhite, Hageman Anchor Stout Defensive Line
Minnesota's defensive line was stellar once again, as the Gophers limited New Hampshire to 68 yards rushing, while recording four sacks and nine tackles for loss.
"I think the most impressive thing for me from the defensive side of the ball is, I think, our defensive line was really getting off the football."
Most notable was the play of senior defensive end D.L. Wilhite and junior nose tackle Ra'Shede Hageman. Wilhite finished with five tackles, including 1.5 sacks for 12 yards in losses and 2.5 tackles for loss. Hageman led the Gophers with two sacks for 15 yards in losses and had three tackles overall.
Wilhite credited Gophers strength and conditioning coach Eric Klein for having the team ready to go after last week's triple-overtime win at UNLV.
"Where it shows and where Coach Klein really shines is like last week when we had to go into triple overtime," he said. "Coach Klein really does a great job of making sure everyone is in great shape. There's really no slow down... everyone needs to come out with that same kind of energy and we can do that because of Coach Klein."
For the season, Minnesota has already recorded six sacks, and the Gophers' defense has now limited its past three opponents to less than 300 total offensive yards. Last year, Minnesota's first 11 opponents all accounted for more than 300 yards of offense.
- Article written by Minnesota staffer Michael Molde
"I feel like everyone was more calm," tight end John Rabe said in comparing the Golden Gophers' 44-7 win today with the season opener against UNLV.
That certainly appeared to be true for quarterback MarQueis Gray. He struggled at times in Las Vegas, but came back with an impressive performance against New Hampshire today. Gray accounted for four of Minnesota's six touchdowns, including a 75-yard run, and surpassed 100 yards both passing and throwing. And he did so without making any major mistakes.
Gray scored a career-high four touchdowns.
"He showed on tape last year and this year that he is a good football player," New Hampshire head coach Sean McDonnell said. "He made some plays. The 75-yard run after you score a touchdown, it cuts you at your knees. We were okay on him, but he is a good football player that makes their offense go."
The bulk of Minnesota's offense today came on the ground. But when Gray did take to the air, he completed six of eight attempts for 100 yards and two touchdowns. His 17 rushes tied Donnell Kirkwood for the most in the game, and he gained a game-high 109 yards with two more touchdowns.
"It doesn't matter if I'm running the ball or throwing the ball as long as we can find that rhythm that really helps out any quarterback," Gray said.
The Gophers put their first touchdown on the board when Gray found an open Isaac Fruechte for a 27-yard touchdown. With less than a minute remaining in the first quarter, Gray rattled off a 75-yard to the end zone at the open end of the stadium.
In the second quarter, Gray added a second passing touchdown, connecting with tight end John Rabe for the third straight game. Minutes later, after Minnesota recovered a fumble, Gray ran it in for another six points.
Today was the third time Gray passed for multiple touchdowns in one game and the second time he rushed for multiple touchdowns. His 75-yard score was the longest rush of his career and the first 50-yard-plus play for Minnesota since Duane Bennett's 61-yard rush against Northern Illinois in 2008.
"I feel like last week if I would have made those throws we wouldn't have gone into overtime," Gray said. "We won the game. That's all that matters, but I knew that I was able to make those throws and the defense did a really great job for us getting the ball back. I was down, but I picked myself up this week and continued to play throughout this game."
During his junior season in 2011, Gray had to grow into the role of signal caller after playing primarily at receiver the year before. He improved as the season went on and retained that spot through spring and fall camp in 2012. Performances like today's show why Jerry Kill continues to express confidence in Gray as his starting quarterback.
Keanon Cooper wore No. 51 at UNLV to remember the late Gary Tinsley.
Story by Justine Buerkle
Laughter was one of the things that brought Keanon Cooper and Gary Tinsley together. They would pull pranks, make goofy videos and crack jokes constantly. Anyone who stopped to visit their university apartment would likely leave with a smile. Roommates since 2010, the pair of Golden Gopher linebackers had an ability to turn any ordinary situation into a funny and memorable moment.
But on April 6, 2012, tears took the place of laughter. Cooper felt that something was wrong when he heard Tinsley's alarm clock going off for longer than usual. He found his roommate unresponsive in the apartment, called 911, and watched as paramedics arrived minutes later.
"It definitely felt surreal," Cooper said. "I kept asking myself, 'Is this really happening?'"
The paramedics could not revive Tinsley. He was pronounced dead that morning, at age 22, just weeks away from graduating. His death--later determined to be caused by an enlarged heart--sent shock waves through the Gopher football family. Tinsley had inspired teammates, coaches, and others in the community through the turnaround he made during his time at Minnesota. After some off-field troubles early in his career, Tinsley learned from his experiences, applied himself in the classroom, and matured into a leader and a beloved teammate.
"In my opinion, it's a success story, because Gary stood for everything that you do when you come to school as a young person," Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill said. "You're going to have trials and errors in everything you do in life, but Gary just continued to get better and better and better."
The Gophers took some time off from spring practice to spend time bonding and remembering their former teammate. The next weekend, they flew to Florida to attend his funeral. Cooper was one of the speakers addressing about 1,800 mourners who were there say goodbye to Tinsley. With Kill at his side, Cooper told anecdotes that brought back some of the laughter that characterized Tinsley's relationship with those who knew him.
Weeks later came another ceremony that celebrated Tinsley's accomplishments. Cooper and Tinsley were supposed to graduate together, and in a way, they still did despite Tinsley's passing. The University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development awarded Tinsley his business and marketing degree posthumously on May 10, the same day that Cooper received his degree in sport management.
"He definitely had the option not to graduate, but he knew what was important," Cooper said of Tinsley. "GT was definitely a man on a mission. His mission was to leave Jacksonville, come up here, play football, get an opportunity at the NFL and get his degree. He did all of that. He came up here, he played his butt off, and in the process he had a couple hardships along the way. He learned from it. He became a better person, not only on the field but off the field as well."
Tinsley's parents, Ronda Evans and Gary Tinsley Sr., traveled to Minneapolis to accept their son's degree. Cooper, a Dallas native, understood how difficult it must have been for Tinsley and his family to be apart while he attended school so far away from home. He said that he thought of the family immediately that April day in his dorm, and he keeps in contact now. He often sends text messages to Tinsley's mother to let her know he is thinking of her.
"They're some strong people," Cooper said. "But I know day in and day out, they think about their baby boy and how much they miss him."
The past several months have not always been easy on Cooper, either. But through it all, he said he has never found it difficult to talk about Tinsley and about what happened. From the eulogy in Florida to numerous media interviews to everyday conversations, Cooper has been willing to share his friend's story.
Tinsley's death had come during the Gophers' spring practice period. When the Gophers returned to the field afterward, they had to play through grief. Cooper's closeness to Tinsley and role in the traumatic situation gave him reason to feel this grief even more acutely than others. But Cooper turned out to be one of the emotionally strongest Gophers in the aftermath, impressing teammates and coaches alike.
"I think he's handled it tremendously," Kill said. "I know inside it's got to be very difficult, but he's a very mentally tough kid. I couldn't imagine what he goes through from day to day, but he's handled it about as maturely as you can. He's been kind of the rock of our team in that situation."
A redshirt senior, Cooper is important to the Gophers' on-field success as well as their emotional well-being and togetherness. An injury kept him on the sidelines for a bit during spring practice, but he used that time as an opportunity to help coach his younger teammates. Cooper has fully recovered and is ready to contribute on the field as one of the veterans of the linebacking corps.
He and the rest of the Gophers are playing this season with Tinsley's memory on their minds and on their uniforms. Each jersey bears a circular patch with Tinsley's initials and the number 51, which he wore during his playing career. The patch is just one of many visual reminders of the Gophers' beloved teammate. Images of Tinsley adorn various places in Gopher football facilities, including a large mural in the entry way to the team locker room at Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex.
"It's going to definitely be an emotional season, but in a good way," Cooper said, who wore No. 51 last Thursday in Minnesota's triple-overtime win at UNLV to honor Tinsley. "It's been great to see how close our team has become, how much the players have gotten to know other players, even know our coaches. ...Even though he's not here, he still is bringing people together. A lot of guys will be playing with a lot of emotion. I think it's going to definitely raise a lot of players' games. They have that extra motivation to succeed, with playing for GT."
The team has created a new annual award named after Tinsley. It will go to the Gopher, who took on Tinsley's "underdog" attitude the most, to the player who worked hard every day and gave everything to the team. A scholarship fund has also been established in Tinsley's memory.
Cooper will also have a constant reminder of his friend with him at all times this season. In April, Cooper was packing some of Tinsley's things to send to his family when he came across Tinsley's backpack tag. Each of the Gophers has one of these personalized tags with his name and number on it. Immediately after finding Tinsley's No. 51 tag, Cooper attached it to his bag to go with his own No. 4.
"It's only fair that I have that constant reminder of GT put on my backpack to represent him everywhere I go," he said.
The conscious effort to remember Tinsley rather than to push tragedy out of their minds has been beneficial to the Gophers. They have been inspired and taught by his life and death.
"I've seen a lot of guys grow up so much since that situation happened," Cooper said. "It's definitely made me a stronger person. Just to talk about him is great. I know GT as a person. For people that don't know him, I'm more than willing to share with people stories about GT. I'm honored to have known him as long as I did."
Sometimes the memories bring sadness, but usually now the Gophers are able to smile and laugh again while thinking about Tinsley. They have returned to the gridiron a little older, literally and emotionally, and boosted by their teammate's memory.
Tinsley's name and image live on in patches, murals and awards. But most importantly, his legacy lives on through the people who knew him.
"A youngster like that, you always want him to be a part of you," Kill said. "Sometimes it goes away. This won't go away."
Certainly Cooper will never forget, even when he is long gone from the University of Minnesota. Meanwhile, he still lives in the same dorm during his final season in the Maroon and Gold, and he will honor his former roommate the best way he knows how--continuing to tell his story, and playing every practice and every down for Tinsley.
What do you know about New Hampshire football? Not much? Don't worry. We have you covered. We talked with Allen Lessels, who covers the Wildcats for the New Hampshire Union Leader. He filled us in on everything New Hampshire football. You can read Lessels here.
GopherSports: Allen, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. What can you tell us about the Wildcats? We hear they like to play at fast pace.
Allen Lessels: UNH does like to play at a fast pace. They have done that for years now. They come up to the ball quickly and run plays and spread things out. A lot of that came from Chip Kelly, who is the coach at Oregon now. He was a UNH assistant for many years. He was a New Hampshire native and most people thought he was going to stay in New Hampshire. He was happy doing what he was doing and he was the offensive coordinator, but he ended up getting lured out to Oregon to become the offensive coordinator there and then he became the head coach. Since then he has turned their football games into track meets, but UNH has kept that style. They like to keep the pressure on offensively if they can and do a lot of things.
GS: Minnesota fans are familiar with some of the FCS schools that are close, but New Hampshire has a rich football tradition. What can you tell us about that?
AL: UNH has gone to the playoffs eight years in a row, which is currently the longest streak in the nation. Montana had a much longer streak, but lost it last year. UNH plays in the Colonial Athletic Association, which many consider to be the best conference in the country with Delaware, James Madison, Villanova and William & Mary and teams like that. UNH has never been past the quarterfinals of the FCS tournament, which is one of their goals each year.
GS: The Wildcats have also certainly had success playing against larger school.
AL: They have had some success in stepping up a level to play FBS teams. They had a string of five straight wins over FBS teams. They beat Rutgers in 2004 and beat Northwestern in 2006. In 2007, they beat Marshall and beat Army in 2008. In 2009, they beat Ball St. Usually they pick their spots a bit as far as scheduling goes and they do not play Florida State or anybody like that, but they play an FBS game and they have been pretty competitive. The last two years they lost. They lost to Pittsburgh in 2010 and to Toledo last year in another game that was pretty fast-paced.
GS: What about this year? What are the expectations for the Wildcats this year?
AL: As for this year, the expectations coming in, like they have been for the past decade or so, are pretty high. They came into the season without a proven quarterback, which is unusual for them. Over the past decade they always knew who the quarterback was going to be, either a backup who had played or a returning starter. This year, they do not have anybody like that. They have guys who have played a little bit but nobody under that kind of pressure. They had three guys competing for the job and the redshirt freshman Sean Goldrich won the job. That was a pretty big question mark and you cannot base anything on one game, but through one game they are happy with how that went.
GS: Goldrich had impressive numbers running and passing last week? Is that his style of game or was the running out of necessity.
AL: They like the quarterback to be able to run and expect him to move. They like a quarterback who can get out and run. That is part of their offense. But traditionally, they have been more of a passing team. They have some good receivers in guys named R.J. Harris and Joey Orlando and a couple of the younger guys are well. They tend to pass more, but this year their running game looks like it should be better. The offensive line is veteran. Goldrich throws the ball well and they like to get it into some playmakers hands. They do not want him rushing a ton, but they want him to be able to get out of trouble.
GS: What about the Wildcat defense?
AL: The quarterback was one question mark entering the season and the other was the defense. They went to the playoffs last year and came within a point of beating Montana St on the road. If you look at UNH's defensive numbers, they were not good at all. They were last in the league in offensive yards allowed. They were last in the league in points allowed. They gave up a lot of big plays. On the flipside of that is that they have some playmakers. They played pretty well last week and hope they turned the corner. They had some issues in games where there were some tackling problems, but they feel like are going to be better in that area this year.
GS: Goldrich is the leader on offense. Who is the leader on defense?
AL: The big name of defense is Matt Evans, who is the senior linebacker who had 165 tackles last year. He was the Buck Buchanan award winner as the national defensive player of the year in the FCS. He is back and flies around and seems to be in on every play.
GS: Coach Kill has worked his way up the ranks and has been the underdog coach in many games. He calls today's game a bowl game for New Hampshire. Is that how the Wildcats feel?
AL: They view it as a chance for them to prove what they can do at that level. It certainly is a big game that way. And it is against a Big Ten school. They play a lot of MAC teams although they did play Northwestern and Rutgers at the start of this whole thing. But they mostly play MAC-level teams, so they certainly see this as a step up playing in a bigger league with bigger players and a bigger stadium. So yeah, they get excited about it. The seniors also view it as their last chance. They took a lot of pride in the run they went of previously.
GS: The Gophers have lost two straight games to FCS schools.
AL: I imagine the coaches at UNH would rather just assume that Minnesota had not lost two straight to FCS schools the last two years. Coach McDonnell's line as it has been before is, "They are going to have their antennas up." UNH knows that Minnesota has lost a couple of games to FCS schools and they know they are not sneaking up on anybody.
GS: What does New Hampshire have to do to win the game?
AL: They certainly need to hold onto the ball. Last year they had some turnovers. It was not a major issue but in recent years they have had a pretty good plus-minus margin in turnovers. They also need to find a way to slow down MarQueis Gray while running the back and hopefully force him to pass. That is a major focus for UNH, to try and contain him and maybe make him thrown it a little more than he wants to.
Hundreds of U of M students came to Coffman Memorial Union Friday afternoon for the first-ever "Party on the Plaza" pep rally event to preview Saturday's Gopher Football home opener against New Hampshire.
Students were treated to free food, giveaways and much more, as well as a short presentation featuring Coach Kill, new athletics director Norwood Teague, U of M president Eric Kaler and the U of M Marching Band.
The proposed bronze statue of Goldy Gopher set to be built in front of Coffman Union on campus.
"Other Big Ten schools have a great reputation for having great student sections," said Teague to the assembled students. "We've got to get there... It's so important for the university experience and for college football."
"We need you," Kill told those at the union. "Have a great day today and get ready for tomorrow at 11 o'clock!"
Friday also saw the unveiling of the prototype of a 7-foot tall Goldy Gopher bronze statue set to be built in front of Coffman. Paid for via student donations, the Office of Student Unions and Activities is trying to raise $50,000 to erect the landmark. More details on how you can contribute can be found here and via http://sua.umn.edu/goldystatue.
The Minnesota men's cross country team opens the 2012 campaign on Friday afternoon with the Oz Memorial Run at the Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Minn. The Gopher men kick off the event with a 6K race at 4:30 p.m. before a 6K follow-up by the Minnesota women's team at 5 p.m.
Six collegiate programs will compete in the men's race on Friday as Drake, Minnesota State, Mankato, Minnesota Duluth, Northern Iowa and South Dakota State will join the Gophers. Approximately 80 runners including six Gophers are expected to compete in Minnesota's first competition of the season.
The preliminary line-up for Minnesota will be redshirt freshman Alex Brend, sophomore Jeffrey Cottrell, sophomore Blayne Dulian, senior Nick Hutton, redshirt freshman Christian Skaret and junior Erik Truedson.
The Oz Memorial Run is named after Gary Osborn, the longtime Drake women's track and field and cross country coach who died in 2000. Osborn was a longtime friend of Minnesota women's head coach Gary Wilson.
The Gopher women's cross country team will participate in its first race of the regular season when it hosts the Oz Memorial Run on Friday, Sept. 7. The event will start with a men's 6K race at 4:30 p.m., followed by a women's 6K race at 5 p.m.
In addition to Minnesota, other participating teams will be Drake, Minnesota State Mankato, Minnesota Duluth, Northern Iowa and South Dakota State. In all, 144 women are expected to cover the course at the Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Minn.
The Gophers competed in the annual intrasquad race last weekend, and are looking forward to officially kicking off the season this weekend. "I feel like we all feel really good after
intrasquad," said Laura Docherty, the winner of last week's intrasquad meet. "We shook some dust off, and I think people
are remembering how to race and are excited for the Oz."
Because the intrasquad race last weekend covered a 5K course, the Oz Memorial Run will be the team's first chance to compete on a 6K course this season. Another change from last weekend's intrasquad meet was that the team wore training shoes, but will wear flat race shoes this week at the Oz Memorial.
The Oz Memorial Run is named after Gary Osborn, the longtime Drake women's
track and field and cross country coach who died in 2000. Osborn was a
longtime friend of Minnesota head coach Gary Wilson.
Minnesota hockey legend and Gophers alum Rob McClanahan will be one of two head coaches for the first-ever CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on Sept. 29 in Albany, N.Y., according to a release today by USA Hockey. South St. Paul native Phil Housley will also serve as a head coach.
From USA Hockey...
The event, which will feature 40 of the top American-born prospects eligible for the 2013 National Hockey League Entry Draft, will be staged at the First Niagara Center, home of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres.
Both Housley and McClanahan were key members of legendary U.S. teams -- Housley helped Team USA win the 1996 World Cup of Hockey championship and McClanahan contributed to the gold-medal effort at the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. Each also played for the Buffalo Sabres.
McClanahan is famously known for his role in helping the U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team capture the gold medal at the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. Following its victory over the Soviet Union in the "Miracle on Ice," Team USA beat Finland to garner the gold medal. McClanahan notched the game-winning goal against the Finns and had five goals in seven Olympic contests. The 1980 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003.
Additionally, McClanahan represented the United States at the 1979 International Ice Hockey Federation Men's World Championship and the 1982 Canada Cup.
Selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1978 NHL Entry Draft, McClanahan spent parts of two seasons (1980-81) with the Sabres. He also skated for the Hartford Whalers and New York Rangers during his NHL career, which concluded in 1984.
A native of St. Paul, Minn., and an alumnus of the University of Minnesota, McClanahan is now a businessman in Minneapolis.
A member of the Gophers hockey squad from 1976-79, McClanahan racked up 108 points (45 goals, 63 assists) in 121 career games. The forward helped Minnesota capture the 1979 NCAA title -- the third in school history and third for coach Herb Brooks -- in a 4-3 win over North Dakota before joining Brooks' U.S. Olympic team.
Ed Olson wears No. 58 because that was his father's number when he captained the Gophers.
Redshirt junior Ed Olson anchors the left side of Minnesota offensive line. We went Under The Helmet with Olson and talked about his family's history with Gopher football and how nice it is to have his brother, Tommy, on the offensive line as well. Olson also tells us what position he would play on defense and describes Coach Kill for us.
GopherSports: How does it feel to play football at the University of Minnesota?
Ed Olson: It's been a lifelong dream. I've been coming to games ever since I was little. It's an honor and privilege to play here. I love every minute of it.
GS: Coach Kill instituted some new procedures this off-season with the training regimen and instituting some competition into it. How did that bring the team closer together?
EO: The competition was been great for us. We competed every day. That winter off-season helped us immensely. We had competitions every day and ended with a big "Rose Bowl" win from Team Accountability, which was my team. It was just a great time. It helped us compete in the weight room, on the field running, in the classroom, in the locker room, everything. It's still helping us every day.
GS: How much pride do you guys take in that "Rose Bowl" win?
EO: We take a lot of pride. We're still talking about it, Team Accountability. It's a lot of bragging rights for the whole year. It's helping the whole team push each other--that next goal, that next day, next minute, everything. It's helping us a lot.
GS: How nice is it to have your brother Tommy on the team?
EO: It's a dream come true. We've been playing together since we were in middle school, even elementary school, and dreaming about it in the backyard. Now playing here is just a dream come true. We talk about it every day, just live it up like it's our last day. That's what we've been doing, and that's what we hope to do this year.
GS: You're taller than Tommy, but who is stronger between the two of you?
EO: We're on and off. Tom's got me in a couple things, I've got him in a couple things. Like I said, we're always competing. Everyone's always competing in the weight room and on the field for the speed and strength. We'll see.
GS: If you played defense, what position would you play?
EO: I'd have to go with middle linebacker, just because they're the quarterback of the field. I actually played in seventh grade. I always take pride in that. I wish I could, and it would be a tough position. Mike Rallis always talks about it being a tough position, and I have a lot of respect for him playing there.
GS: Why do you wear No. 58?
EO: My dad was 58 when he came here. He was captain in 1982 when they opened the Metrodome, actually, and he had a ton of pictures when we were growing up. All through elementary school, every sport I played--hockey, basketball, baseball--I always tried to be No. 58 just like my dad. I wanted to come here and follow his footsteps, and that's what I'm hoping to do right now.
GS: Does Tommy care that you always have No. 58?
EO: Yeah. I got to high school first, so I had to take No. 58. So when I left his junior year, he took over No. 58 his junior and senior year. So he's saying he wants to take No. 58 when I leave college now.
GS: Your dad comes to a lot of practices. How nice is that?
EO: It's great. It's like pretty much having another coach, another friend on the field. Sometimes he's able to stay the whole practice, so we come off and talk to him. It beats a phone call, beats a text message, and it's just nice seeing your dad after practice to talk to him about practice, his day, just how life's going.
GS: How would you describe Coach Kill?
EO: He's an honest, hard-working guy with an old school mentality. He loves the game of football, loves the players, and I have the utmost respect for him.
The team captains for the 2012-13 Gopher women's hockey season have been announced. Serving as captains this season will be senior defenseman Megan Bozek and junior forward Bethany Brausen.
Bozek, a native of Buffalo Grove, Ill., earned All-America and All-WCHA honors last season. She was Minnesota's top-scoring defenseman in the 2011-12 campaign, and ranks fourth on the Gophers' all-time top scorers list among defensemen. Bozek played with Team USA at the World Championships in April and helped the U.S. to a silver medal.
"I am very honored to be named a captain of the defending national championship team," said Bozek. "It is a great privilege to wear the M, and we have a lot of depth this year that will make us successful, on and off the ice."
Brausen hails from Little Canada, Minn., and was the 2010 Ms. Hockey award winner. She played in every game for the Gophers last season, scoring nine points. Brausen is a top performer when it comes to academics, earning WCHA Scholar Athlete and Academic All-WCHA honors last year.
"Being a team captain for the University of Minnesota is something far beyond what I could have wished for," explained Brausen. "What means the most to me is not the patch on my jersey, but to have been nominated by a team full of captains. Every member of this team is a leader, and no matter who wears the captain's patch, we all have a role in leading this team. I am so honored to have been put in this position with such an amazing team."
The defending national champions will start the 2012-13 season with a home series against Colgate Sept. 28-29 at Ridder Arena. The Gophers return 17 letterwinners from last year's squad, including three players who have earned All-America acclaim. Minnesota adds six freshmen and a sophomore transfer to its roster for the season.
Head coach Brad Frost returns for his 13th season with the Gopher women's hockey program, and sixth as the head coach. Assistant coaches Joel Johnson and Nadine Muzerall also return to the coaching staff.
The University of Minnesota's Ridder Arena will serve as the site of the 2013 WCHA Final Face-off and the NCAA Frozen Four, giving the Gophers the opportunity to defend their WCHA Tournament title and NCAA title on their home ice this season.
"We have a great group this year and everyone knows what is at stake," said Bozek. "There is a target on our backs, but we are willing to sacrifice and work hard to perform at our best all year. Everyone is very excited to get the season rolling in just a few weeks. It is a great time for our freshmen to put on the jersey for the first time, and for the the returners to come back with the drive to improve and defend our national title."
"I see this as being another great year, building off the momentum from last year and the national championship," said Brausen. "My hope is not that we not only remain as good as last season, but get better. It is a new season and we will treat it that way. The expectations will be to strive to be better players and people."
Gopher Football Weekly with Jerry Kill will premiere on Sept. 6 and will air weekly on Thursdays throughout the University of Minnesota football season. The show will be broadcast live on KFAN (100.3 FM) from Noon-1 p.m. from Joe Senser's in Roseville (2350 Cleveland Ave.).
Gopher fans are invited and encouraged to attend the live show at Senser's.
The show will be hosted by Mike Grimm, who is in his first season as the Voice of Golden Gopher Football on the Gopher Radio Network. WCCO Television and KFAN Radio personality Mark Rosen will be the co-host of the show.
Gopher Football Weekly Schedule Sept. 6 - Noon-1 p.m., Joe Senser's (Roseville) Sept. 13 - Noon-1 p.m., Joe Senser's (Roseville) Sept. 20 - Noon-1 p.m., Joe Senser's (Roseville) Sept. 27 - Noon-1 p.m., Joe Senser's (Roseville) Oct. 4 - No show due to bye week Oct. 11 - Noon-1 p.m., Joe Senser's (Roseville) Oct. 18 - Noon-1 p.m., Joe Senser's (Roseville) Oct. 25 - Noon-1 p.m., Joe Senser's (Roseville) Nov. 1 - Noon-1 p.m., Joe Senser's (Roseville) Nov. 8 - Noon-1 p.m., Joe Senser's (Roseville) Nov. 15 - Noon-1 p.m., Joe Senser's (Roseville) Nov. 22 - No show due to Thanksgiving holiday Nov. 29 - Noon-1 p.m., Joe Senser's (Roseville)
Rachel Banham made herself known in a big way as a rookie last season for the Minnesota women's basketball team. The guard broke the Gophers' freshman scoring record with 580 points and scored the third-most points of any freshman in the country. Minnesota fans know that Banham was a Full Court Freshman All-American and the 2012 Big Ten Freshman of the Year a year ago, but the sophomore shares 25 things that fans may not know about her.
I LOVE to sing!
I want to be a police officer when I'm older, just like my parents.
I'm dating Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade and Chris Brown!
I'm deathly afraid of planes.
I'm afraid of sharks.
I'm afraid of the ocean.
I'm afraid of needles!!
I love watching Law and Order and C.S.I.
Growing up, I played football with my brothers all of the time and really wanted to join a team.
I have a German Sheppard named Bailey! Shes the cutest puppy on this earth!
I've met Adrian Peterson. We're pretty much best friends! ;)
I want to play for the Lynx one day.
I love lying in the sun and getting tan.
I never wear make-up unless its a very special occasion.
I love to dance!
When I'm older, instead of just being a cop, I want to be a hip hop dancer on the side!
I don't like to sit still very much!
My older brother plays football for the U.
I hate losing.
I'm not a morning person. At all.
I hate running long distances.
I'm a jokester.
I like making things awkward!
I like making weird faces. I'm the master at them.
Tuesday marked the first day of the academic school year at the University of Minnesota. But for the Gophers hockey team, it also meant the unofficial start of the season.
Minnesota held its first organized team activities on Tuesday with a conditioning test in the morning, a team meeting for players, coaches and support staff in the afternoon and a student-athlete compliance meeting to close out the day.
In what was arguably the most grueling of the day's events, the morning workout consisted of 16 timed 200 meter sprints with strength and conditioning coach Cal Dietz noting that the test results were"the best we've had ever."
"We've been very pleased with the work the guys have put in over the offseason," Dietz said. "I can't say enough about the attitude the team has shown. Every single guy is working hard to maximize the potential of the team."
Minnesota players will continue to skate and workout informally throughout the week before the first captains practice on Saturday. The Gophers open the 2012-13 season with an exhibition game on Oct. 6 against Lethbridge before kicking off the regular season the following week with a two-game series at home against Michigan State.
The first day of school always had a certain feel about it when I was growing up, so it seems weird that even today, seven years after my last first day of college, that it still has that feeling.
Maybe it's a nervous feeling as to what is to come for the year, maybe it's the excitement of knowing the goals you want to reach, but whatever the feeling is or was, I always know to embrace it.
Members of the Minnesota women's basketball team enter the 2012-13 academic year with the same feelings I've always felt, I am sure. Coming off a WBI Championship a year ago, the squad knows that expecations are high for this season, not only from its coaching staff and supporters, but for the Gophers themselves.
Though Minnesota is a young squad that boasts just two seniors on its 2012-13 roster, the Golden Gophers return nearly 68% of their point production. A large portion of that production came from 2012 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Rachel Banham. The point guard led Minnesota with 580 points, which was the third-highest total among the nation's freshmen, and the most points scored of any freshman in the six power conferences.
The Maroon and Gold also returns its top-four rebounders from 2011-12. Katie Loberg is Minnesota's top returning rebounder, averaging 5.7 rebounds per game last season, followed by Banham, Kionna Kellogg and Micaëlla Riché.
Add in the return of Kayla Hirt, who was forced to redshirt her freshman year due to a knee injury, and the addition of a trio of freshmen in Mikayla Bailey, Jackie Johnson and Shayne Mullaney and the Gophers have the supplies needed to have a successful year.
On top of making the trek to their first class this morning, Minnesota will also take part in its first day of skill instruction, so not only is it back to school for the Gophers, but it is also time to go back to work on the hardwood.
With Day One holding many happy, excited and even nervous feelings, it seems that no matter who, where or how long ago you last experienced the spirit of the first day of school, it always brings about a fresh start and the beginning of something really great.
Derrick Wells was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.
The awards keep coming for sophomore safety Derrick Wells.
On Monday, he was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after his breakout performance in a 30-27 triple overtime win at UNLV last Thursday.
Wells, who made his first career start against the Rebels, grabbed two interceptions and tied for the team lead with eight total tackles. His six solo tackles were a game high.
Wells first interception set up a Minnesota field goal that put the Gophers up 13-10 in the fourth quarter. His second interception came on first down in triple overtime and helped secure the season-opening win for Minnesota.
Wells, who also led the Gophers with two pass breakups, is the first Minnesota player to earn Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors since Kim Royston was recognized on Nov. 28, 2011. Royston made 13 tackles and also had one sack and one pass breakup.
On Monday, Wells was also named the College Football Performance national Defensive Back Performer of the Week.
On Tuesday, Wells was named the FWAA/Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week for games of the weekend of Sept. 1. The award is named after Minnesota legend Bronko Nagurski, who played for the Gophers from 1927-29. Nagurski dominated college
football at Minnesota as a bruising fullback and defensive tackle and
could have been an All-America at any position. He then became a star
for professional football's Chicago Bears in the 1930s.
Wells will be added to the 2012 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List. Five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy will be announced by the Football Writers Association of America on Nov. 15. The winner will be revealed on Dec. 3 during a banquet that the Charlotte Touchdown Club sponsors at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, N.C.
The FWAA has sponsored a National Defensive Player of the Year award since 1993 and has named a National Defensive Player of the Week since the 2001 season.