Running QBs for both teams keep at it

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 4, 2007 - 12:10 AM

The Gophers' Adam Weber and the Illini's Juice Williams don't shy away from getting hit.

Gophers freshman quarterback Adam Weber said this past week that his body feels "surprisingly OK." His counterpart Saturday night, Illinois' Juice Williams, said he also has the typical bumps and bruises but nothing too serious.

Both quarterbacks have taken their share of hits as runners this season, but each said he isn't about to shy away from contact.

"Quarterbacks are football players, too," Weber said. "We're not known as the big hitters. But I've always felt like if I can get those extra yards, I've got shoulder pads and a helmet on, too."

The two quarterbacks have been both effective and durable as runners in their respective spread offenses. Weber, who entered Saturday night's game with a team-high 111 carries for 430 yards, finished with 30 yards rushing and one touchdown in a 44-17 loss at the Metrodome.

Williams finished with 133 yards rushing and one touchdown on 18 carries.

"I take a bunch of hits, and it gets pretty tough on the body, especially at the end of the season," he said this week. "It's all about conditioning and keeping my body intact."

Weber has taken a pounding this season, but he said he does not like to slide to avoid a hit. Instead, he prefers to lower his head and take on tacklers. He said he believes that tactic is less dangerous than sliding.

"I've always watched quarterbacks and I wondered why they slide," he said. "There are times when you should run out of bounds. I trust how I run. I know if I go weak at all into a hit, that's when you get hurt. I've always been taught to run as hard as you can and bring all your momentum into the guy."

Getting adjusted

Gophers junior Kevin Mannion made his second consecutive start at weak-side linebacker in place of John Shevlin, making six tackles Saturday. Mannion started three games at safety last season, but he made his first career start at linebacker at Michigan last week and finished with seven tackles.

"Mentally, I feel like a linebacker now," said Mannion, who switched positions this season. "It took some time. When I first started, I was still thinking like a defensive back. But I think I've made the transition. Once you're out there, you're just playing football."

Etc.

• With the score out of hand, Gophers junior quarterback Tony Mortensen made his season debut and completed three of four passes for 34 yards in the fourth quarter.

• Senior center Tony Brinkhaus started but sat out most of the game. Gophers coach Tim Brewster said Brinkhaus "got nicked up." Brewster said he didn't know the exact nature of the injury.

• Gophers wide receiver Ernie Wheelwright posted career highs in catches (nine) and receiving yards (123) and had one touchdown.

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