MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota fans got their first look at coach Tim Brewster's Gophers during the spring game Saturday, one day after three players were jailed in connection with a sexual assault investigation.
Hired in January to replace Glen Mason, Brewster has worked tirelessly to build interest in a moribund program that has long been overshadowed by the pro sports teams in the Twin Cities market.
He has preached positivity since first setting foot on campus, displaying an endless enthusiasm that has started to resonate with fans.
But the feel-good story hit a major road block Friday night when defensive end Alex Daniels, cornerback Keith Massey and running back E.J. Jones were taken into custody after an 18-year-old woman told police she was raped.
"Right now, there are allegations out there," associate athletics director Tom Wistrcill said. "We have to wait and see if there are charges filed and go from there."
The three players have not been charged with a crime, but they remained in jail Saturday. Bail was set at $100,000 for each player. Brewster immediately suspended the players, and he spoke about the situation briefly after the Maroon team defeated the White team 38-0 on Saturday.
"Obviously, it's a disappointing situation that's been presented to me," Brewster said. "There's an investigation that's ongoing that we're going to cooperate fully with, and we're going to support these three young men, absolutely."
It's the first true adversity Brewster has met in his four months on the job.
"Situations are going to come up and we're going to handle them and move on and we're going to represent this state in a great way," Brewster said.
The news took some of the focus off what was supposed to be a day of celebration for Brewster, who unveiled his Gophers to about 7,000 fans at the Metrodome.
"We all feel for them," quarterback Adam Weber said of his jailed teammates. "It was hard news to take last night. But today was a day to celebrate and it was our spring ball game, and that's how we looked at it. We just worried about the game."
About three times as many fans turned out Saturday compared to last year's spring game, curious to see what the first-time coach has up his sleeve to improve a team that progressed in Mason's 10 years but never was able to challenge for a Big Ten title.
Brewster is installing new offensive and defensive schemes and insists his expectations are "to win the Big Ten championship and play in the Rose Bowl," two things that haven't happened here in more than 40 years.
On Saturday, Weber and Tony Mortensen began their competition
for the quarterback job in earnest. Both gave up-and-down performances while taking turns with the No. 1 offense and showed that they are still getting the hang of coordinator Mike Dunbar's complex spread offense.
Mortensen showed the stronger arm, making a nice throw on the run to hit Eric Decker in stride on a 48-yard touchdown pass. Mortensen completed 9 of 13 passes for 103 yards.
Weber struggled out of the gates while working with the second team, throwing an interception and losing a fumble in his first two series.
But he was the more mobile of the two quarterbacks and moved the No. 1 offense fairly well against the second defense, finishing 8-of-15 for 75 yards.
"We respect each other and it's a good competition we have here," Weber said. "There's no hard feelings, so that's pretty good that we get along with each other. But when you get your chance, you still want to do your best."
Decker caught four passes for 80 yards.
The defense, which has long been a weakness for the Gophers, continued to show promise after dominating most of spring practice.
Dominique Barber had seven tackles and a forced fumble, and the defense forced five turnovers.
"The defense did a nice job, the quarterbacks really handled themselves well, and I thought it was a good day," Brewster said.