The Gophers have found their nemesis in the Michigan Wolverines, who denied Minnesota with a…
Did you learn from last year that a loss to Michigan is not going to knock you out of the Big Ten race?
"One loss is not going to hurt that bad, especially with the competition in the Big Ten right now. Anyone can win on any given day. That's just the way the Big Ten is going. Looking at Ohio State losing to Northwestern. The Big Ten is wide open. One loss is not going to hurt that bad."
Does watching the other Big Ten games re-enforce that notion?
"Oh yeah. You always look at the other people who are playing. You are always looking around at who is playing in the Big Ten."
You got banged up a little in the Michigan game. What happened?
"I just got twisted up a little bit. One guy had my leg and another guy hit me up high in the ribs. I'm feeling all right. Not big deal. I'll be back out there. "
Last year, after losing to Michigan, the Gophers came up flat for the Michigan State contest. Any concerns of that happening again this year?
"I really feel it is completely different. Last year, we dwelled on that loss for way too long and we were kind of hung over for that Michigan State game and it showed. I think that we are over it, we're moving on. Watching Michigan State film and getting ready for the Spartans."
Last year, was the team thinking too much about the loss to Michigan?
"Last year, I know for a fact that a lot of players were thinking about what we could have done better in that Michigan game. We kind of thought about it too long and the next weekend, just thinking about that, we were not really focused on the Spartans. It just kind of caught up with us during the game. We came out flat."
Has it been frustrating, not getting as many opportunities in the passing game so far this season?
"Our running game has been going so swell. It has been working, so we really have not had to throw the ball that much. Last week, we threw that ball around a little more, got me into the game along with Ernie Wheelwright. It works better when we use both the pass and the run."
Coach Mason says that you are one of the most underrated players in the Big Ten.
"I think that he probably says that because I don't get a chance to show what I can do that much, because we run the ball so well. A lot of what I am doing is blocking. I have no problem with that, because it is working and we are winning. When he says underrated, I think that is what he means."
Do you take a lot of pride in your blocking?
"You've got to, because I know that with the running backs we've got in Laurence (Maroney) and Marion (Barber III), that they can break a run in any second. If I'm not blocking downfield, my guy will make the tackle to stop them from scoring a touchdown that we could need."
You are the experienced wide receiver on a team that has a lot of new faces at that position. How do you view your role?
"I am the older guy with the most experience right now. But, Ernie, Jakari and Paris know the system and what they have to do. Basically what I try to do is keep the tempo up. Keep them in the game. Keep them motivated. Keep them going and work hard. Because I know that it is hard on them sometimes that they do not get the ball that much too. Just try to keep them motivated and let them know that when their time comes, to make the play. We will get a chance."
Is it hard to stay focused when you are not getting the catches with the rushing attack going so well?
"Not really, because we were winning. It is easy when we are winning. When we are running the ball well, I don't have to worry about my personal performance."
You started the season with four night games in your first five contests. You had a day game last week and this week, you play at 11 against Michigan State and will face Illinois at 1 next week at home. Is there a big difference in playing days games versus night contests?
"I don't think that it is that big of a difference. The change is that we get to play early. I think a lot of guys on the team like to play earlier, because those night games are so long. We are just sitting around in the hotel or sitting over here, watching other people play, that we get anxious. We probably start to think too much at the night games. I like the day games better."
Was that tough, though, having to play in the day, when you were used to playing at night?
I don't really think that that affected us. I don't think that had anything to with it. I think that we are pretty much done with the night games. I think that everyone likes to play those noon or 11 o'clock games. It feels more like college football, really, playing during the day."