Looking back at a big win

Even though the Gophers were expected to pummel Tulsa in Saturday's season opener, head coach Glen Mason looked back fondly at the 49-10 victory as the team prepares for Game 2 against Troy State.

Among the many positive points in the victory was the performance of senior quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq, who got his last year on campus off to a flying start by going 13 for 17 for 204 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

"You know, the quarterback is only as good as your last game," Mason said. "I thought he played well against Tulsa. His decision-making was very good. It's not just that game. We've been pleased with the way he's operated the offense all during the two-a-day camp, going back to the spring practice, going back to the Arkansas game."

The Gophers got a surprise boost to their kicking game when the NCAA clearinghouse declared Rhys Lloyd eligible. The junior transfer from Dover, England, by way of Rochester CC, was perfect on five extra-point kicks and recorded a rare touchback on one kickoff. Not bad for a guy who Mason wasn't even counting on to play this year, let alone this week, because of a snafu getting his juco credits transferred to the U of M.

"My sense of urgency as a coach to get a player doesn't have the same sense of urgency that someone may have in the registrar's office," Mason said. "They have their own stuff to deal with. So last week as we were practicing, I didn't know if we were going to have him for Saturday night or not."

And multi-talented senior Ben Utecht continued to impress with his athletic ability, not only at tight end, but at punter, where he made his debut with three kicks for a 38.0-yard average.

"Ben Utecht is a very talented athlete," said Mason. "He's a very talented human being, not just a good athlete. He's a fun guy to be around. He blocks like a tight end and he runs like a wide receiver. He gives us a different dimension. The average fan always asks me, ‘Why don't you throw to him more?' Well, you know the other people that are playing have figured out that he's pretty dangerous too. Sometimes we kind of lick our chops when we're watching film getting ready to prepare for someone and they don't defend the tight end the same way they defend us. But I just keep my fingers crossed that he can stay healthy the whole year because I don't think we've really seen the complete package of Ben Utecht."

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