Ugly Day and Ugly Win for Minnesota

Ugly Day and Ugly Win for Minnesota
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Ugly Day and Ugly Win for Minnesota

It was an ugly day and ugly win for Minnesota as they took down Purdue on the road, 20-13. In heavy rain, on a sloppy field, the Gophers responded from last week’s disaster against Bowling Green exactly how one would hope. It was a mature, focused effort in every phase of the game.

Offense:

A week after completing five of 13 pass attempts for 59 yards and two interceptions, Tanner Morgan bounced back with a 169-yard, interception-free outing, throwing a touchdown pass to Chris Autman-Bell. His 50% completion rating was lackluster, but given the conditions, can be overlooked. Morgan completed two beautiful passes to Mike Brown-Stephens for 54 and 51 yards. All this without leading receiver Dylan Wright, who was injured against Bowling Green.

Ironically, the Gophers had less success than normal running the ball. Treyson Potts ran it 15 times for 78 yards and a touchdown. Give credit to Purdue’s defense; they have some good players up front and were prepared for what Minnesota does on the ground. Defensive end George Karlaftis had a very good game.

Minnesota has added a new wrinkle in the last few weeks, with backup quarterback Cole Kramer coming in in short-yardage situations. Kramer ran the ball eight times for 32 yards against Purdue, with a long of 14 yards. Teams will adjust to it, now that it’s on film, but it certainly worked in this game.

Defense:

This was an excellent effort defensively. Middle linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin was injured and left the game early, and the team didn’t miss a beat. All Jack Gibbens did in his place was lead the team in tackles and get his hand on three separate Purdue passes. Freshman Jaqwondis Burns was seemingly everywhere, and took down Aidan O’Connell for his first collegiate sack. The Gophers sacked O’Connell four times in total, and harassed him all afternoon. Clemson transfer Nyles Pinckney was another of several players in the front seven making life miserable for the Purdue offense.

In the backfield, freshman Justin Walley made a huge play on 3rd-and-four in the fourth quarter to hold Purdue to a field goal attempt, which they missed. But arguably, the biggest play of the game was Tyler Nubin‘s interception as Purdue was driving for the tie with under a minute to go.

Special Teams:

It’s amazing how much better Minnesota is on special teams than they were a year ago. Matthew Trickett nailed both of his field goals, both over 40 yards, while Mark Crawford averaged 51.3 yards per punt. Even defensive back Phillip Howard got in on the action, downing a fourth-quarter punt at the Purdue two-yard line.

In Summary:

It was an ugly day and an ugly win for Minnesota, but the ugly ones don’t count any less. After last week’s implosion, this one may count even more. Here are head coach P.J. Fleck‘s thoughts on the game.

Up next: a bye week, followed by Nebraska, and the Bits Of Broken Chair Trophy currently held by the Gophers.

 

Main Image courtesy Kathleen Martinus; Purdue Exponent