Sid Hartman: Mason likes Gophers defense but wants more from Gray

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 9, 2012 - 1:33 AM

Former coach-turned-TV analyst Glen Mason liked what he saw out of the Gophers defensive line in rushing the passer.

Glen Mason, the former Gophers football coach who did the color commentary on the Big Ten Network's telecast of the Maroon and Gold's 44-7 victory over New Hampshire on Saturday, liked what he saw out of the defensive line in rushing the passer, a big weakness for the team last year.

"I was impressed with the job that [defensive coordinator] Tracy Claeys and their defense did against New Hampshire's offense," Mason said. "I watched them on film. They're very difficult to defend. The tempo. All the plays that they do. He got them lined up right. They made big plays. They didn't give up any big plays.

"... Typically, that's what New Hampshire will do. They'll get you driving and get you back on their heels. They did that one drive and that was it."

The Gophers have been picked to finish last in their division, but Mason said he wouldn't be surprised if they surprised some teams.

"Sure they can. And I say that because they're getting better defensively," Mason said. "They have a really good defensive line. [D.L.] Wilhite impresses me. [Ra'Shede] Hageman impresses me. They've got three good corners now. I think [Michael] Carter is playing well. [Troy] Stoudermire is good. The [Martez] Shabazz kid, I thought, played really well today. The safeties are good tacklers. So, if you've got that mix on defense, if you can play good defense in the Big Ten Conference, and you've got that type of skilled player in MarQueis Gray that can give you fits, you can compete with anybody."

Last year, the Gophers had one sack in their four nonconference games. Now in two games this season, they have six.

A week after missing a number of open passes at UNLV, Gophers quarterback Gray completed six of eight passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns Saturday while rushing 17 times for 109 yards and two more scores. But Mason wasn't particularly impressed with Gray's passing.

"You know MarQueis Gray is an exceptional athlete," Mason said. "I watched him practice Tuesday, I was really impressed with how he threw the ball in practice, not so much impressed today. For them to accomplish the things that Jerry Kill wants to accomplish in his second year, let's face it, he has got to be a better passer."

Commenting further on Gray, Mason said: "He's an exceptional athlete. I mean, let's face it. I mean, he's a guy, that, when I was coaching, would scare the heck out of me because he can take a bad play and turn it into a great play. He's 245 pounds, 250 pounds. If you get him in the open, no one catches him. He's a tremendous athlete."

Watch out for Western Michigan

Mason said the Gophers can't overlook Western Michigan, next week's opponent at TCF Bank Stadium.

"[The Gophers are] off to the right start and they're going to build some momentum. Build some confidence," he said. "They're 2-0. Can't be any better start than that. Let's not look past Western Michigan next week. A Mid-American foe. Jerry knows all about those guys [from coaching at Northern Illinois]. And if they're successful there, then play Syracuse, a team they'll match well with. If they start undefeated going into Big Ten play against Iowa, that's as good as can be.

"I think it's a work in progress. I think it's better than last year. They're still young. They're not near as consistent. They can't rely on Gray just running the football. They've got some good running backs. But the greatest running back in the world, without a good offensive line blocking, is not worth a darn, the line's got to block better.

"I think it's critical, though, that you win the games that you should win. They should have beaten UNLV, they beat them. They should have beaten this outfit today, they beat them. They should win next week. They should beat Syracuse at home. If you do that and get in Big Ten play, anything can happen."

Vikings offense ready

Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is very high on quarterback Christian Ponder and looks for the 2011 first-round draft pick to lead the team to an opening victory over Jacksonville and to do well the rest of the season.

"Yes we've had a good preseason with Christian, a good offseason," Musgrave said. "Our entire offense is ready to really make some strides from where we were in 2011."

In fact, Musgrave, who coached outstanding quarterback Matt Ryan at Atlanta for three years before joining the Vikings last year, said Ponder can do some things better than Ryan.

"Both of them are very sharp. Christian can run faster and throw it farther than Matt, Matt is a little bit taller, but they both are tremendous leaders," Musgrave said.

And Musgrave likes what he sees from third-team quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, whom the Vikings decided to keep instead of veteran Sage Rosenfels.

"He's got a good future ahead of him," Musgrave said. "He has some developing to do, like our whole team does. He's a good athlete, has good movement, smart, can process things he sees, and he has a good strong arm. He can throw it all over the field."

Jottings

• Forbes Magazine wrote that the new Vikings stadium made the team 22 percent more valuable, up to $975 million, still ranking 22nd in the NFL. The Vikings rank near the bottom of the league in stadium revenue ($7.2 million last year), but the new building could generate another $40 million a year.

 The turf at the new Siebert Field will be put down next week, and Gophers baseball coach John Anderson hopes to hold his first practice there Oct. 1. The ballpark will be completed by next spring, but the Gophers will play 20 games in the Metrodome after opening the season at UCLA on Feb. 15. The Dome games include three with national power Texas on March 22-24.

• Recently released quarterback Sage Rosenfels had a two-year contract with the Vikings calling for $1.5 million. The Vikings had to pay Rosenfels the $500,000 that they guaranteed him.

• Twins first-round pick Byron Buxton struggled out of the gate in the Gulf Coast League because of injuries, hitting only .216 with 14 RBI and 17 runs in 27 games. But the outfielder finished the season better after being promoted to Elizabethton, hitting .286 over 21 games with 16 runs and six RBI to end his first minor league season.

• Former Gophers hockey standout Rob McClanahan was named one of the coaches for the first CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects game on Sept. 29 in Buffalo, N.Y. McClanahan, who is now a businessman in Minneapolis, scored the winning goal in Team USA's gold medal victory over Finland in the 1980 Winter Olympics. South St. Paul's Phil Housley will serve as the other coach.

 Former Gophers coach Tim Brewster has seen good results so far as receivers coach at Mississippi State. In beating Auburn on Saturday, the Bulldogs threw for 222 yards, with wide receivers catching 11 passes for 142 yards.

  • related content

  • Gophers safety Brock Vereen, left, and defensive end D.L. Wilhite celebrated following a New Hampshire turnover Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium. Vereen had four tackles and Wilhite had five, including 1½ sacks, along with a forced fumble.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 6:00 PM
Orlando
Charlotte 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Brooklyn 6:30 PM
Cleveland
Washington 6:30 PM
Miami
Minnesota 6:30 PM
Boston
Toronto 6:30 PM
Detroit
Chicago 7:00 PM
Memphis
Portland 7:00 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Denver
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Tampa Bay 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Anaheim 6:30 PM
Ottawa
NY Islanders 6:30 PM
Detroit
Boston 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Dallas 8:00 PM
Calgary
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 41 2nd Half 5:57
Tulane 47
Siena 5:00 PM
Radford
Stillman 6:00 PM
Alabama
Case Western Reserve 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Niagara 6:00 PM
Buffalo
SD Christian 6:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Concordia (MI) 6:00 PM
Central Mich
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Dartmouth
North Florida 6:00 PM
Florida A&M
Hiwassee 6:00 PM
Gardner-Webb
Tennessee St 6:00 PM
Hampton
NC A&T 6:00 PM
Kent State
Central Penn College 6:00 PM
Liberty
Bethune-Cookman 6:00 PM
Mercer
Eastern Ky 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Morehead State
Northern Ariz 6:00 PM
Norfolk State
MD-Eastern Shore 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
St Johns
Clemson 6:00 PM
South Carolina
Tenn Tech 6:00 PM
Tennessee
Washington-MD 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Furman 6:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
South Dakota St 6:30 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Milligan 7:00 PM
Lamar
LSU-Alexandria 7:00 PM
ULM
Southern Utah 7:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
Chattanooga 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Seattle 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Lipscomb 7:00 PM
Princeton
Winthrop 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Dickinson State 7:00 PM
North Dakota
New Orleans 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
Creighton
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Denver
Alabama A&M 8:00 PM
Marquette
Ark-Pine Bluff 8:00 PM
Texas Tech
Eastern Wash 9:00 PM
California
Idaho State 9:05 PM
Utah State
Arizona 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 10:59 PM
Chaminade
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Louisiana 1:00 PM
Alcorn State
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Denver 47 2nd Half 6:53
Wright State 62
Blue Mountain 16 2nd Half
Central Arkansas 37
Texas State 16 1st Half 7:14
Bethune-Cookman 8
Albany 3:00 PM
Pepperdine
TX-San Antonio 3:00 PM
Houston
Yale 3:30 PM
Bucknell
Northern Colorado 3:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Belmont 4:00 PM
Mercer
Massachusetts 4:00 PM
Georgia State
George Mason 4:05 PM
Winthrop
Portland State 4:30 PM
Princeton
UCLA 5:00 PM
Samford
Mobile 5:00 PM
Alabama State
Nicholls 5:30 PM
Texas Tech
Toledo 5:30 PM
Nevada
UMass Lowell 5:30 PM
(13) Duke
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
Virginia
McNeese State 6:00 PM
Rice
McMurry 6:00 PM
Houston Baptist
NJIT 6:00 PM
Seton Hall
(6) North Carolina 6:00 PM
Maine
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Siena 6:00 PM
Binghamton
Longwood 6:00 PM
Clemson
Savannah State 6:00 PM
Florida State
(19) Syracuse 6:00 PM
(9) Baylor
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Manhattan
Ohio U 6:00 PM
La Salle
Canisius 6:00 PM
Michigan
Davidson 6:00 PM
NC State
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Delaware
Saint Louis 6:30 PM
Austin Peay
(25) DePaul 6:30 PM
(2) Connecticut
Florida Atlantic 7:00 PM
Long Beach St
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Tulane
Miss Valley St 7:00 PM
Memphis
Ark-Pine Bluff 7:00 PM
UAB
Bowling Green 7:05 PM
Illinois State
Arkansas State 7:05 PM
Missouri State
ULM 7:05 PM
Wichita State
(16) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Southern Ill
Utah Valley U 8:30 PM
Montana
Pacific 9:00 PM
New Mexico St
No Dakota State 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Utah State 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Bethesda (CA) 9:00 PM
Fresno State
LSU 9:30 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

<
Gophers Football Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How much do you like the Gophers going to the Citrus Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close