Senior fullback has one more game after five years at Oregon

Soon after the Sun Bowl, Matt Floberg plans to disappear 'with an open-ended ticket.'

Actually, he will simply be leaving the continent, traveling to Europe Ñ an extended break of more than a month after five rigorous years of school and football at the University of Football. He deserves it, Floberg figures.

A Portland native who prepped at Jesuit High School, Floberg has not taken one term off in the last five years, except last summer when he served an internship. After this week's final exams in business strategy and modern industrial organization, he officially enters the real world.

His brother, Kyle, who attends William & Mary College, has been studying abroad in the Czech Republic capital of Prague. Floberg can stay with him and travel around Europe. A big World War II buff, he wants to visit Normandy.

'See what I want to see for as long as I want,' he says. 'Then I'll come back and get a job.'

Floberg has another job to do -Dec. 31. The dependable fullback, UO's starter for most of the last two years, wants to help the Ducks close out their improbable season with a victory against Minnesota. Back in '99, Oregon beat Minnesota 24-20 in the Sun Bowl, but Floberg, a redshirt, did not play.

'Feels good to have a lot of people cast you off and think you're down for the count, then achieve a pretty good bowl,' says Floberg, referring to UO's midseason swoon and three consecutive wins to finish the regular season.

Floberg has been in the middle of Oregon's offense, both in good and bad times. When he and others block well, the Ducks run the ball effectively, such as when they amassed 218 yards against Oregon State. When they don't block well, often because of injuries, the Ducks struggle. It's a blue-collar duty that gets little recognition.

'I think of myself as an offensive lineman,' he says. 'Everything's based on blocking. I accept that as my role. I've got enough (touches) to satisfy me.'

Floberg has touched the ball eight times this season Ñ one carry for three yards, and seven catches for 44 yards and two touchdowns. In contrast, hotshot freshman Dante Rosario, who has started two games ahead of Floberg and factored into UO's offense, has 16 carries for 58 yards and a touchdown and caught nine balls for 95 yards and a TD.

Jealous? No, it doesn't bother Floberg, who sees the same potential in Rosario as everybody else does. The Dayton High product probably will be doing a lot more than just blocking for Duck tailbacks.

'He has the ability to really do something with the position here,' Floberg says. 'He will open a door that they've never opened here.'

Floberg missed one game Ñ unfortunately, it was Michigan Ñ after injuring his neck against Arizona, but he's been relatively healthy this year. Last year, he had cortisone shots in both shoulders to alleviate pain from bursitis and had two torn rotator cuffs.

He and five other Oregon seniors make their second trek to El Paso, Texas, for the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31. Way back when, in '99, 'It was fun. We were treated well down there,' Floberg says.

'It was my first bowl experience, and I didn't know how to compare, but I think we have been treated the best down in El Paso.'

Sure, the Sun Bowl will be his last time on the football field, playing alongside good buddies like Erik Cheney, but Floberg doesn't get too sentimental. He will have played in the Holiday Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, the Seattle Bowl (well, maybe not a highlight) and the Sun Bowl. 'It's almost surreal right now,' he says of his career ending.

After the game, Floberg will put his business degree to use Ñ he won the team academic award this year, carrying a 3.1 grade-point average Ñ and probably back off the weight training and eating.

'Shoot, I would hope to get down to 205 or 215,' says Floberg, who weighs 242. 'I plan on doing some running Ñ jogging Ñ which is easier on my knees.

'Actually, I think I'll stay pretty active. My family belongs to Multnomah Athletic Club. No more power lifting Ñ don't want that kind of weight on my joints. I don't want to hurt going up stairs.'

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