I'll be writing more about this later in the week, but I get the feeling after listening to coach Tim Brewster today and talking with some players is that Saturday's game with Cal is just the sort of game they all want to have, at least once a year, in nonconference play.
The Gophers will be big underdogs. The line I saw today had Cal favored by two TDs. But, to a man, the Gophers say they'd rather have this challenge than play some directional school from some also-ran conference. As fans, I would imagine you'd rather go to a game like this, with a good national audience, than watch Louisiana-Lafayette. The Gophers think, win or lose, this game will better prepare them for what awaits them in the Big Ten Conference slate, particularly against teams like Ohio State and Penn State. We'll see. Anyway, here are a few items from Brewster's Tuesday press conference. First, the weekly awards:
Offensive player of the week: Adam Weber, who grabbed the school record for completions last week.
Defensive player: Nate Triplett, naturally. He only had about 342 tackles.
Special teams: Kicker Eric Ellestad
Hard hat hit: Linebacker Lee Campbell, who dislodged a helmet from an Air Force fullback's head at one point Saturday.
Lunch pail player: Defensive tackle Eric Small, who had five tackles and a sack.
Extra effort: Defensive tackle Brandon Kirksey, who shed a guard then caused the fumble Triplett returned 52 yards for a touchdown.