Duane Bennett Ready For Big Sophomore Year

Duane Bennett, a 5-foot-9, 195-pound soon-to-be-sophomore running back, is expected to carry an even bigger role this season with the graduation of Amir Pinnix and Jay Thomas recovering from a knee injury. Bennett is one of just two healthy running backs for Friday night's spring game. GoldenSports.Net recently caught up with Bennett to learn about his thoughts for the upcoming season.

Duane Bennett earned freshman All-Big Ten honors from The Sporting News last season as he appeared in 10 of 12 games. He was the Gophers' starting running back in seven contests, including six starts during Big Ten play. Bennett finished the year ranked second on the team with 107 carries and third with 442 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.

Bennett said that the team is ready to get over the disappointment of the 2007 season, when they went 1-11.

"We are not the team that we were last year," Bennett said. "We need to hit people in the mouth. I think that we are better than people think we are."

Bennett said that he is looking forward to the spring game.

"Players take advantage of the spring game to prove that they should play this fall," he said.

Bennett and R.J. Buckner are the only healthy running backs. The Gophers coaching staff will be mindful not to overwork the two, but they also want to get the running game to show signs that it can be counted on during the season. Bennett is not worried about getting overworked Friday.

"It is not a burden or hassle," he said. "We are going with the same mind set. We want to show that we can carry the ball 30, 35 or 40 times. I think it is good since it allows coaches to define the running game."

Bennett is hoping that an improved running game leads to an improved record this upcoming season.

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