Minnesota Versus Purdue: What Went Right

What went right and wrong for Minnesota versus Purdue, as the Gophers held off a late comeback attempt in the 38-30 victory.

Minnesota Versus Purdue: Overview

Minnesota versus Purdue has been a favorable matchup for Minnesota of late. This year was no exception, as they came away with their fourth victory in five seasons over the Boilermakers. The Gophers opened conference play with what was clearly their best effort to date; they led 38-17 after three quarters and held off a late rally by Purdue for the victory. The team has now won six straight, as well as four in a row on the road or at neutral sites, for the first time since 2003.

What Went Right: Offense

Well, basically everything. Tanner Morgan completed 21 of 22 passes for 396 yards, four touchdowns, and no turnovers- by far his best game as a Gopher. Receiver Rashod Bateman had six catches for 177 yards and two touchdowns, and will almost certainly hit the 1,000-yard mark for his career next week (he’s at 993 after today’s game). Bateman is less than halfway through his sophomore year. Chris Autman-Bell only caught three passes, but one was a catch-and-run that went for 70 yards and a score. Tyler Johnson was his usual reliable self.

Running back Rodney Smith had a big day as well, with 115 yards and a touchdown. Shannon Brooks had five carries for five yards in his first game back from an ACL tear last October.

What Went Right: Defense

Like Morgan, linebacker Kamal Martin had what was probably his best game as a Gopher. Martin had five solo tackles, six total, and more importantly, snagged two interceptions. Corner Coney Durr had two pass breakups, including one on third down in the red zone. Sam Renner had a big first-down sack for a loss of 11 yards, followed immediately by a Carter Coughlin pass breakup; that possession ended in a Purdue punt. As a team, the defense made a big stand late in the game when the Boilermakers got the ball back down by eight with 1:47 to play.

On special teams, cornerback Phillip Howard made a beautiful play to down a Jacob Herbers punt at the two-yard line.

What Went Wrong

Time to nitpick. Kicker Michael Lantz missed a field goal after Martin’s first interception. In his defense, a fifty-one yarder is a big ask for a true freshman. There were only two seconds left in the half after the miss, so no harm done.

Morgan, despite his big day, was sacked four times. That’s fifteen times in four games, and that’s too many.

The defense could have played a bit better on Purdue’s second- and third-to-last possessions. Early in the fourth quarter, the Boilermakers went 99 yards in six minutes and fifteen plays to make the score 38-24. They followed that up with an onside kick, which they recovered near midfield. That drive, too, went for a touchdown.

It should be noted that Purdue lost both their quarterback and their star wide receiver on the same play in the first quarter. Quarterback Elijah Sindelar, in his first start since being concussed in week two, suffered what appeared to be a shoulder injury on a (clean) hit. Receiver Rondale Moore looked to injure his knee on a fluky, non-contact stumble downfield. The groan from the Ross-Ade Stadium crowd was audible as their two most important players left the field; neither returned to the game.

Minnesota Versus Purdue: In Summary

What went right for Minnesota versus Purdue? A lot. If they can carry this momentum forward, and perhaps gain some more when they face Illinois this week, they stand a fighting chance in their first true test against Nebraska on the 12th.

Don’t forget to check out all of our college football coverage, including Week Four Heisman Rankings, here at LWOS.

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