Troy Stoudermire's shot at an NCAA record is being ruined, in part because of the defense being played by Troy Stoudermire.
Well, by him and his friends.
Stoudermire expected to have long ago surpassed Tyron Carrier's record for most career yards on kickoff returns. Carrier piled up 3,517 yards at Houston through 2011. Stoudermire came into this season with 3,102, or just 415 yards short of football history and, at his career average of 75.7 return yards per game, figured to need five games, perhaps six or seven, to make the record his own.
But the Gophers don't return nearly as many kickoffs as they used to and their defense is part of the reason. Stoudermire's run at the record was always a little bittersweet; he got a lot of chances to return kicks -- a combined 85 during his freshman and sophomore years -- because opponents were scoring so often.
Eight games into his senior season, however, the cornerback from Dallas has returned only nine kickoffs, and he remains 229 yards short of Carrier's record. Not only do opponents kick off less frequently, but new rules have moved kickoffs up by 5 yards, and touchbacks go to the 25, not the 20. The result is 12 touchbacks so far, taking away return chances.
"You see a lot of deep kicks now, and we don't bring them out," Stoudermire said.
And there is one more reason for his lack of chances.
"Teams aren't letting me get the ball. As you can see, teams are kicking it to the other side of the field," Stoudermire said, which explains why teammates K.J. Maye and Marcus Jones have combined to return 16 kickoffs, nearly double his total.
"Our rule is, if the ball goes on the other side of the hash, that player takes it."
As it should be, he said.
"The coaches and I are more focused on the team, on getting wins," said Stoudermire, who already holds the Big Ten record for kickoff yardage and is second to Minneapolis native David Gilreath of Wisconsin in total return yards.
"The record is important to me, but it's a personal thing. I'd rather get to a bowl game than get that record."
Well, maybe he can get both. Is the record still reachable? Stoudermire needs to average 57.3 yards in the Gophers' four remaining regular-season games, or 45.8 if they play a bowl game as well.
"I feel like I'll get there," Stoudermire said. "Somewhere around that Nebraska game, maybe even Illinois, I'll crack it open."
The Gophers play at Nebraska on Nov. 17 and at Illinois the week before.
• Gophers coach Jerry Kill said left tackle Ed Olson is unlikely to play Saturday.
"He's still limping around pretty good," the coach said. "He can't play left tackle on a leg that's not real quick, and certainly not against the University of Michigan, so I don't think we'll have him."
• Stoudermire on safety Derrick Wells, who has played the past two games with a large laceration on his hip that's stitched up each week:
"Derrick is a really tough player for playing with that. I looked at the gash in his leg -- I don't know if I could do it. It takes a lot of courage to go out there with that injury."
• A.J. Barker has not practiced yet this week, and though he will test his sore ankle Thursday, Kill sounded cautious about using his team's leading receiver against Michigan.
"If he's gimpy, we've still got a lot of football to be played, [and] I don't want him gimped up," Kill said of Barker, who suffered a sprain in the back of his ankle while scoring a touchdown last Saturday against Purdue. "With MarQueis [Gray], we pushed him a little bit and he gimped up."
• Nat Godwin, a safety from Freedom High in Tampa, Fla., announced Wednesday via Twitter that he has told Kill he plans to accept a Gophers scholarship next season. The 6-1, 190-pound Godwin had offers from a 16 Division I schools, according to the Tampa Tribune, including West Virginia and South Florida.