SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Together they have totaled 168 tackles this season, the Gophers’ top two tackles and mainstays for a defense that ranks fourth in the country for lowest yards allowed.
Mariano Sori-Marin and colleague linebacker Jack Gibbens both weigh 245 pounds and have spent the season defeating running backs as physical and talented as Wisconsin Braelon Allen and the state of Ohio TreVeyon Henderson. Sori-Marin, a senior eligible for 2022, and Gibbens, a transfer graduate from Abilene Christian, have a lot in common. And they share a guilty pleasure.
“Romantic comedies? That’s right,” Sori-Marin said with a smile but no hint of embarrassment on Sunday on the Gophers’ media day ahead of Tuesday’s Garanti Rate Bowl against West Virginia. “We’re also roommates on the road, so every once in a while we’ll be cast on the TV.”
Sori-Marin quickly dropped his favorite romantic comedy. “Oh, ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’ adding he’s a Reese witherspoon fan. “‘Fool’s Gold’ is another good one. He’s trying to put me on ‘Crazy, Stupid Love’, but I haven’t seen him yet. ”
When asked about romantic comedies, Gibbens laughed and ranked his favorite as “Wedding Crashers”.
Sori-Marin said he and Gibbens were chatting one day over a pre-game meal, and the topic of romantic comedy was brought up. “We just got connected at this level. “
Gibbens is getting married to his high school girlfriend this summer, and Sori-Marin has learned that Gibbens will have 13 groomsmen.
“I got the invitation and I will be there, but I had no idea he had 13 groomsmen,” he said. “Hey, he’s the romantic comedy guy. I guess the romantic comedy guys have a lot of groomsmen at their wedding.”
The first down comes first
West Virginia Coach Neal brown listed two keys for Tuesday’s game against the Gophers: protecting football and limiting Minnesota’s offense on the first down.
“If you watch them offensively, when they were productive on the first down, they really are in control,” Brown said. – medium, they have the option of calling up shooting games or they can keep running it for the first few tries. ”
The Gophers, fourth nationally in possession at 35:10 per game, have allowed their last six opponents an average of 53.7 offensive games. West Virginia averages 70.1 offensive games per game, and that concerns Brown.
“Efficiency is going to be important,” he said. “You’re reducing the look of your game plan from an offensive standpoint, because you have a pretty good feeling before the game that you won’t get 80 snaps.”
WVU DL relishes the challenge
West Virginia Defensive Lineman Dante Stills is the Mountaineers’ career leader in sacks with 18, including six this season. He is eager to take on the challenge presented by the Gophers’ offensive line.
“They’re a very well-trained squad and work really well together,” said Still, 6-4, 280 pounds. “It’s a good challenge for me to prove that I can compete and play with anyone in the country.… It’s something as a ‘D’ lineman that you dream of. I really need it. to prove myself. ”
Stills is also impressed with the physical play of the Gophers.
“Their main objective is to kick the ball,” he said. “Some Big 12 teams do this, but it’s the heart of their team.”