Running Gophers

Sep 062005
Authors: Trevor Edy

Minnesota running back Laurence Maroney and the Golden Gophers ran over Tulsa in their opener Thursday night in Tulsa, Okla.

On the first play of the game, Maroney broke free for a 67-yard run to begin his career night of 203 yards on the ground. Minnesota ended the route with a 41-10 win versus the under-matched Golden Hurricanes.

The Gophers lit up the stat sheet for 529 total yards, 301 of which came on the ground.

Along with Maroney's 203 yards and two touchdowns, second-year back Gary Russell added 67 yards on six carries and two touchdowns. Sophomore Amir Pinnix also ran for 46 yards on eleven carries.

This is nothing new under Minnesota Head Coach Glen Mason. Last year Mason's backs ran for more than 3,000 yards, 1,348 of them came from Maroney. Marion Barber III, Maroney's running mate last year, ran for another 1,269 yards making them one of the most dangerous running duos in the nation.

Maroney's performance Thursday night was the 19th time a Minnesota running back has rushed for more than 200 yards in a game.

"The offensive line did a great job blocking. Anytime I get the ball behind those guys there is a chance to go all the way because of how well they block. I told them to give me some great blocking and I would take it to the house," said Maroney in a post-game interview Thursday night with the Minnesota Daily.

The Gophers have ranked among the best rushing offenses in the country the past two seasons, finishing the 2004 season fifth-nationally at 256.8 yards a game and third in 2003 at 289.1 yards a game.

Since 2003, Minnesota running backs have only lost seven fumbles over a 26-game span. That's one fumble lost every 140 carries.

Maroney and Barber III combined for 23 of Minnesota's 29 rushing touchdowns last year.

With Barber III gone, Coach Mason is counting on Maroney to have another breakout year, but according to Mason, Russell and Pinnix are expected to carry about 25 percent of the load.

The Gophers are looking to set up the running game by keeping the defense honest through the air.

The Gophers pummeled CSU's run defense last year by rushing for 360 yards on 52 attempts. Maroney had 132 of those yards.

"There are a lot of programs that strive all year to rush for 300 yards. We rushed for 300 yards and I think we did a very good job," Mason said.

CSU Head Coach Sonny Lubick knows what Maroney can do as he witnessed it last year at Hughes.

"Their back is so damn good, he makes you miss," Lubick said. "They're extremely tough to tackle."

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