aftFort Lauderdale, Fla. - The University of Minnesota football team woke up to temperatures in the high 60s, but also blustery winds and a steady drizzle. Since arriving in south Florida on Thursday afternoon, the Golden Gophers have yet to see the sun. With temperatures below zero back home, there were few complaints about the conditions.
Saturday's practice at Pine Crest High School was moved along at a quick pace as the drizzle began to let up midway through. After working on special teams, Minnesota's offense went through the two-minute drill as both the first- and second-team were given their share of reps.
The Minnesota defense spent time working against the demo team which used a variety of formations that the Golden Gophers expect to see from the potent North Carolina State offense next Thursday at Pro Player Stadium.
Following practice, a group of players from both Minnesota and North Carolina State will visit area hospitals to give gifts and sign autographs for children. Representing the Golden Gophers will be Florida natives, Clorenzo Griffin and Trevis Graham, as well as Justin Hall, Karon Riley, Sean Hoffman and Ben Hamilton.
For Christmas Eve, the team, as well as the official party, will gather for a holiday dinner at the hotel. Minnesota will practice again on Christmas Day later in the afternoon.
Head Coach Glen Mason:
(on spending Christmas in Florida)
The Christmas Party tonight at the hotel doesn't fill the void of being away from home, but it helps. You can lose sight of the fact that it is Christmas when you are down here. I felt that I had to remind the guys. From where we're from, we're used to having snow on the ground. Our seasonal clocks are all out of whack.
(On practicing on Christmas Day)
I have mixed feelings about practicing on Christmas Day, but it's an important day for us because of the game being played on Thursday. I've played bowl games on Christmas Day before.
Defensive End Karon Riley
(Being away from home for Christmas)
Christmas is in our hearts and that's what is important. Plus, I'm spending Christmas with my second family.
(On today's practice)
I thought it was a really good practice. The guys were really into it. I think the team has a real sense of urgency. We know it's time to get serious.
Defensive Back Clorenzo Griffin
(On playing in home state)
I'm very excited to play my last college game in my home state in front of my family and friends. It's not Pasadena, but it's home so it's the second best thing. I've got 65 tickets for my family and friends, but I still need some more