Time to find out more about Minnesota
Originally Published: September 24, 2003By Herb Gould | Special to ESPN.com
It's still hard to say how good the unbeaten Gophers are because of their no-contest nonconference schedule. But they turned up their defense a notch in a 48-14 rout of Louisiana-Lafayette after being chided by coach Glen Mason for poor tackling in last week's 42-20 win at Ohio. "We played a lot better than we've been playing,'' Mason said of a defense that forced two turnovers while holding Lafayette to 204 yards, including only 50 rushing yards.
One thing that Minnesota has after pounding its four nonconference victims
by an average of 34 points a game is confidence heading into Big Ten play.
"As long as we keep our heads on straight and keep practicing the way we have
been, it shouldn't be a big change,'' receiver Jared Ellerson said.
The Gophers know the bar will be raised significantly at Penn State this
week. But they are looking forward to measuring themselves against their first
quality opponent. "We still have a long ways to go,'' Mason said. "Penn State
will be more talented than anybody we've faced, and we're going into a
hostile environment. But I'm looking forward to going there.'' Minnesota has won its
last two meetings with Penn State, beating the Nittany Lions 25-16 in
Minneapolis in 2000 and 24-23 in 1999 at State College.
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