Ducks and Gophers have lunch together.

Run, run and run is how Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti describes the Minnesota offense. <br><br> Bellotti answered questions prior to the 2003 Sun Bowl join team luncheon held by the El Paso Rotary Club on Tuesday. Oregon will face Minnesota on Wednesday in the Sun Bowl, in a game that will be carried live on CBS with kickoff scheduled at 12:15 Mountain Standard Time.

"It is strength versus strength," observed Bellotti regarding the running game of Minnesota and the run defense of Oregon. Oregon allowed only 95.9 yards per game during 2003 and Minnesota rushed for 293.2 yards per game.

Minnesota boasts two running backs with impressive rushing stats. Marion Barber III, averaged 103.4 ypg, 5.9 yards per carry and seven touchdowns. Meanwhile his teammate Laurence Maroney averaged 94 yards per game, a 6.9 yard per carry, and scored seven touchdowns.

Minnesota headman Glen Mason joined Bellotti at the podium. Mason echoed Bellotti's appraisal of the upcoming game and indicated that the Ducks have great team speed particularly at the receiver position. Both head coaches and several members of both teams had visited nearby Fort Bliss on Tuesday morning to present game tickets to members of the US Army Reserve, who are training and preparing to deploy to Iraq within the next few weeks. Both coaches were impressed and taken by the army personnel who will soon be seeing potential combat in Iraq.

"It was an eye opening experience," said Mason. "Their (the soldiers) spirit and attitude was infectious."

Both men were struck by the fact that many of the soldiers who will soon be placed in harm's way are the same age brackets of their players. Bellotti thought the visit to Fort Bliss will be one of the highlights for him of this year's Sun Bowl experience.

During the luncheon both teams starting lineups were introduced. The biggest surprise for Duck fans will be Justin Andrews starting at linebacker in place of Jerry Matson. No decision on Matson's playing time has been made according to Bellotti. Another injury question was not yet answered today, and that is regarding Kyle Weatherspoon. As it stands now, quarterback Jason Fife could be the No. 3 receiver behind Samie Parker and Demetrius Williams in Wednesday's game.


Bellotti would not say that this year's recruiting class is shaping up to be the best during his time at Oregon, but he did acknowledge the Ducks are making headway in filling several key areas including the offensive line. Bellotti thought the Ducks might recruit for 24 positions.

Mason took issue with a local report that indicated he was disappointed with the Sun Bowl invitation and that he (Mason) failed to make a joint news conference last week with Bellotti. Mason said while it was true that he was not at the news conference it was because he was unable to make connections from a prior commitment in New York the previous evening of the news conference. Mason also said he was very happy for his team to be participating in the Sun Bowl.

The luncheon was held at the El Paso Convention Center and was sold out. The CBS broadcast crew headed by longtime announcer Vern Lunquist said that the Sun Bowl is the second longest running event for CBS. The longest affiliation that CBS broadcast is The Masters golf tournament.

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