Barber injured during Spring Game

The hearts of Gophers fans throughout the Metrodome skipped a beat on Saturday when they saw their star running back writhing on the ground in pain.

Marion Barber III, the junior-to-be who has many experts talking about the Heisman returning to Minnesota for the first time in half a century, left the Gophers' Spring Game Saturday with a hyperextended left knee. He was hit and twisted in the pile during a run in the third quarter.

Barber, who had three carries for 21 yards on the day, left the field limping and was iced down by trainers on the sideline. He did not return to the game, but don't expect this injury to linger into August training camp.

"Luckily, after a first examination (team doctor) Pat Smith said it was just a minor knee sprain," said Gophers coach Glen Mason. "I said, 'What would it be during the season? Would we lose him for a week or two?' And he said probably not that long. So he'll be fine."

The injury marred what was an otherwise impressive game by Minnesota's running backs. Sophomore Laurence Maroney scored on a 54-yard burst and totaled 65 yards on eight carries. Freshman Amir Pinnix had 17 carries for 74 yards and a score, and fullback Justin Valentine scored the winning touchdown on a 3-yard pass from Bryan Cupito in the game's final minute.

Mason said that the Gophers had been unusually healthy this spring and he was afraid the team's luck was due to change.

"I was more nervous before the game today," Mason said. "Why? Football is a contact sport and we've literally gone through spring practice without any injuries. Going into this game there wasn't anybody on our injury list. You're against the odds there. I just hoped we would get through the game today."

Other than Barber, the Gophers came out of the game healthy.

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