West Lafayette– 15.4 points per game. That’s what the Minnesota Golden Gophers offense averaged through the first five games of the season. However against the Boilers, Minnesota was able to find an offense again, after ranking near the bottom in most statistical categories.
The Boilermakers first drive of the game looked crisp and appeared to be some good fortune as DJ Knox was able to cap off the drive with a one yard touchdown run. Paul Grigg’s kicking issues continued however as he missed the extra point, giving the Boilers a 6-0 lead. That would be the only time during the game that the offense seemed effective at all.
It would be a lot of ugly football through most of the first half, but the Gophers took advantage of Ja’Whaun Bentley not being in the game. After the game Head Coach DarrellHazell revealed what was wrong with Bentley. The true sophomore captain suffered a torn ACL during practice Wednesday on a play that seemed, “innocent” according to Hazell. This is the same ACL Bentley tore in high school.
The Gophers were effective towards the end of the first when the Boilers couldn’t get any movement on offense, and the defense wore down. Minnesota led the Boilers 10 to 6 at halftime.
The third quarter is when the game got away from the Boilers, as Minnesota took the opening second half drive for a 71 yard Shannon Brooks touchdown run. Purdue would go three and out again, and the Gophers would score once again. This time embattled quarterback Mitch Leinard would find Brandon Lingen for a three yard touchdown give the Gophers a 24-6 lead.
The Boilers would hang on to the ball a bit longer but would again be forced to punt. The ensuing Gopher drive resulted in another connection between Leinard and Brooks, this time from 17 yards out. On the Boilers next drive David Blough was attempting to throw the ball away and it went right in to the hands of Jalen Myrick, who returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. Purdue gave up 28 points in the third quarter.
The Boilers had 207 yards in the air and 68 on the ground as Blough went 21 for 49 one touchdown and three interceptions. As a team the Boilers had only 275 yards of total offense. Gopher QB Leinard did not have to do much, and it showed as they only threw for a total of 82 yards. The Boilers however gave up 326 yards on the ground for a total of 402 yards of total offense given up.
Hazell and the rest of the players in the post-game press conference said the loss was about execution. It was a matter of not executing. Hazell said the entire team is going to need to go back and see what’s going on and how to fix it. Hazell said the Boilers were behind the sticks too often and weren’t effective on first down.
On defense, Hazell said the Boilers missed too many tackles in the second half. It was also obvious with the offense not being able to do anything, that the defense began to wear down. The loss of Bentley, who has no timetable for a return according to Hazell, could be catastrophic for the Boilers. It was obvious the void that was left in the middle of the defense. Jimmy Herman replaced Bentley in the middle of the defense.
Purdue is going to need to do a lot of soul searching over the next week. The Boilers’ next opponent is a road test against Wisconsin, a place that have won at since the early 2000’s
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