MINNEAPOLIS -- Neither Minnesota coach Glen Mason nor Ohio coach Jim Grobe will be surprised on Saturday if the Bobcats and their triple-option offense jump out to an early lead.
"I think that's not necessarily something that's unusual," Grobe said. "When you're an option team, sometimes your offense has the edge because they run the thing every day and the defenses they face ... sometimes it takes them a little while to adjust."
The last time the Gophers faced an option team was in the 1999 opener, when Minnesota scored 33 unanswered points after the Bobcats (0-1) took a 7-0 lead.
Mason had his scout team run the option in practice this week, but it won't be the same on Saturday.
"It's hard to simulate that type of attack because we never do that," Mason said.
Ohio's offense is a hybrid of the wishbone, in which the Bobcats will line up with either one, two or three backs and also use play-action passes.
Speedy quarterback Dontrell Jackson, an 18-year-old sophomore in his second season as the starter, directs an offense that trailed by only 10 points late in last week's 25-15 loss to Iowa State. Ohio's specialists are young -- halfback Chad Brinker and fullback Joe Sherrill both started as redshirt freshmen last year -- but they have had plenty of time to master the finer points of the triple option.
Defensive end Karon Riley, who was second in the nation with 16 sacks last season, said he's definitely not looking forward to playing against the triple option, since figuring out how to defend against the extra blockers can be confusing.
"They're pretty dangerous with that wishbone," Riley said. "It's not fun. It's not fun at all. It goes against our style of play, which is attacking and playing fast. Against the option, you have to slow down a bit and be more disciplined."
While Minnesota's defense will have some difficulty adjusting to the Bobcats' option, the bigger question is whether Ohio will be able to handle Minnesota's potent offense.
Asad Abdul-Khaliq, who threw for 161 yards and three touchdowns last week before leaving the game with a concussion, will start at quarterback again.
Abdul-Khaliq was leveled in the second quarter last week, but he was back on the practice field on Wednesday.
Thomas Tapeh makes his much-anticipated debut at tailback after being academically ineligible last year and sitting out last week with an injured foot. Tellis Redmon, who rushed for 101 yards on 27 carries in last week's 47-10 win over Louisiana-Monroe, will also get some carries since Mason plans to limit Tapeh's work at least until the Big 10 opener Sept. 23 at Purdue.
"Why go out there and run him 40 times the first time he's going to play?" Mason said.
Redmon looked like strong in his first collegiate start and although it was assumed the tailback job was Tapeh's to lose, Mason said he'll give Redmon ample opportunity to show he can perform consistently.
"Nothing would make me happier than if we had a competitive dog fight at running back," Mason said.
The Gophers know they can't overlook Ohio because Mason said Toledo's 24-6 upset of Penn State last Saturday proves the Mid-American Conference isn't full of patsies.
"I've got a lot of respect for the teams in this conference," said Mason, who coached in the MAC in 1986 and '87 with Kent. "I think they're very underrated."
Report: Gangelhoff might agree to plea deal in federal probe
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The woman who reported academic fraud in the University of Minnesota's men's basketball program might plead guilty to her role in helping students cheat and become a key federal witness, according to a report.
Former tutor Jan Gangelhoff admitted in March 1999 that she completed more than 400 pieces of course work for about 20 players. Her revelations led to an investigation that has so far resulted in former coach Clem Haskins' ouster, university-imposed sanctions and inquiries by federal authorities and the NCAA.
KSTP-TV reported Thursday night that, according to sources the station did not name, Gangelhoff faces mail fraud charges because some of the work she completed included correspondence courses.
The sources told the station that federal prosecutors would likely use the charges as leverage to get Gangelhoff to testify in a possible federal case against Haskins and former academic counselor Alonzo Newby.
Gangelhoff would likely plead guilty to at least one count, receive leniency in sentencing and agree to testify before a federal grand jury, the sources told the station.
KSTP-TV said the plea agreement would be finalized this week.
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