StaFort Lauderdale, Fla. - The University of Minnesota football team held its first official practice in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in preparation for next week's Micronpc.com Bowl against North Carolina State. On the campus of Pine Crest High School, head coach Glen Mason ran the Golden Gophers through a full workout.
With temperatures in the 70s and under cloudy skies, Minnesota began practice working on the special teams before separating into offense and defense. The squad was dressed in pads and shorts.
The team departed Minneapolis on Friday morning with temperatures below zero and arrived at Fort Lauderdale Airport in the afternoon with temperatures in the mid-70s under cloudy skies. After checking into the Radisson Bahia Mar Resort located just across the street from the Atlantic Ocean, the rest of the day was spent exploring the area.
Following Saturday's practice, the team will meet up with North Carolina State for the first time at the U.S. Army Team Reception. The Golden Gophers will be sent by boat to the Riverfront at Las Olas for the event.
Tomorrow on Christmas Eve Day, Minnesota will hold another two-hour practice. Following the workout, a group of players from both teams will visit area hospitals to visit with local children. The hospital visit will be followed by a special Christmas Dinner and Holiday Party back at the hotel. Christmas Day will be an off day for the Golden Gophers.
Head Coach Glen Mason:
(On benefits of extra practice)
Obviously if you don't go to a bowl game, practice ends at the end of November. The next time you practice is not until April. That's a big layoff and right now, we're still working on football in December. While you are preparing for the game, you also get a chance to work with the younger guys.
I think it's a benefit because we get more exposure and we have kids from down here so I think it helps. A lot of high school coaches stopped by today to watch practice. By the way, these are great facilities, the best I've seen in preparing for a bowl game.
Junior Jack Brewer:
(Being in Florida)
I love Florida. I want to live here. We leave and its 10 below and then you get off the plane and the people down here call it bad weather (70, cloudy)
There are distractions down here, but there also there when we are back home. You have school and other issues such as family or friends. But were men, not little boys. We can switch it on when we put the helmets on.
Senior Karon Riley:
(on playing in final game)
It hasn't really entered my mind because I know I have a lot of football ahead of me. I look at it as a positive thing. Life is about moving forward, about moving on. It's just another transition in my life. It's just another game for me, another opportunity to help my team get a victory.