First things first.
A week after being completely defeated in all three phases of the game and shutout against Northwestern, the Minnesota Golden Gophers football team bounced back in a big way, defeating Purdue in what was by far the greatest offensive performance for the Gophers on the season. It was so nice that GopherSports.com decided to have two recaps. The first recap is the normal recap. There were lots of stars of the game, but two of them are the focus of the second recap, Shannon Brooks and Jalen Myrick. Below are my top three.
(Before we get to the stars, let me present some mood music for your enjoyment as you read the rest of this article.)
Star #1: Shannon Brooks, #27 (Freshman, Running Back)
BOOM! 71 yards and a cloud of dust. That run wasn't Brooks's first big play of the game or his last, but it was the spark that ignited the firestorm.
That 71-yard touchdown run by Brooks was the longest rushing play since a 75 yard run by @MarQueisG against New Hampshire, Sept. 8, 2012.— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) October 10, 2015
Minnesota ran for 326 yards in total that game with 176 yards coming from Shannon Brooks. Out of a total Brooks would have four runs of over 10 yards (71, 25, 23, & 12), those are explosive plays. He has been named Co-Big Ten Freshman of the Week for his efforts.
Star #2: Jalen Myrick, #5 (Junior, Defensive Back)
The last four weeks Minnesota has not been doing good in terms of the turnover battle. Jalen Myrick fixed that with two interceptions including a pick-6. Myrick also had some breakups including one in the first quarter that I believe ended the Boilermakers second drive.
Star #3: Cody Poock, #12 (RS Sophomore, Linebacker)
Watching the game yesterday, the first player I thought about giving a star to was Cody Poock. Poock was everywhere making tackle after tackle, especially in the first half of the game.
Tyler Moore (starting at center as a true freshman), Brandon Lingen (two touchdowns), and Mitch Leidner (8/12 passing, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception (a freak interception) , & 16 yards RECEIVING). See them all in the play below.
Jack Lynn also likely deserved a star for his strong effort which included a fumble recovery on a Purdue punt return.
Not a good start as the Purdue Boilermakers would go 75 yards on 13 plays for a touchdown, but Purdue would miss the PAT to go up 6-0. On that drive the Minnesota defense could not get off the field as Purdue would convert two 3rd downs and one 4th down (3-6, 3-9, & 4-1). After that the defense tightened up forcing Purdue to punt on their next two possessions. The offense didn't help either as they would start the game with two 3-and-out drives and continued their trend of not scoring in the first quarter (the only score this year in the 1st quarter was a field goal vs Kent State).
The Gophers actually ended the first quarter driving the ball down the field, going 39 yards on 6 plays (with a 4-yard false start). Highlights were an amazing catch by Drew Wolitarsky for 20 yards and a 7 yard rush by Mitch Leidner as the quarter expired. Minnesota would start the 2nd quarter on 3rd down with 3 yards to go at the Purdue 15 but would get a false start penalty by Tyler Moore followed by an incomplete pass to Brandon Lingen. Ryan Santoso kicked a 37-yard field goal to make it 3-6 Purdue. The defense forced Purdue to punt on the ensuing drive but Minnesota would again go 3-and-out on their next drive. Luckily, Purdue would fumble on the punt return and Jack Lynn would recover. Minnesota would then attempt a field goal but missed the 50-yard attempt. The defense then stepped up again when Myrick got his first interception on the day. Minnesota would go 37 yards on 6 plays and score on a Mitch Leidner 1 yard QB sneak. Minnesota would take the lead and not look back. Mitch would throw a 24 yard interception (Purdue would start at their own 2 yard line), but it was a sort of freak interception). Purdue wasn't able to do anything for the remainder of the half, punting on their last two possessions.
Jerry Kill has the ability to see the future.
Minnesota would start of the ball in the second half and it would only take two plays to but the game out of reach for Purdue. Starting on their own 24 yard line, Shannon Brooks would start things out with a nice 5 yard run. The next play Brooks would go 71 yards for the touchdown with the help of some great blocks at the line and downfield, including by Mitch Leidner. Purdue would lose 2 yards on the next drive and punt. Minnesota would then keep on the heat going 10 plays and 57 yards, mostly on Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks runs ending in a nice pass from Leidner to Brandon Lingen. Next Purdue would get desperate and go for it on 4th and 10 (incomplete pass). Minnesota would then go 60 yards on 7 plays for another Leidner/Lingen touchdown. The defense decided finish Purdue by getting their own touchdown on a 27 yard pick-6 by Jalen Myrick.
The entire fourth quarter was garbage time. Purdue would start the quarter by throwing an interception to De'Vondre Campbell. Minnesota would put in the backups with Demry Croft at quarter back and Rodrick Williams Jr. as running back. Minnesota would punt on their first drive followed by a punt by Purdue. Minnesota would then go 47 yards on 8 plays and get a field goal. On that drive more backups got to play including Berkley Edwards who had a nice 21 yard run (along with a 2, 0, and 1 yard runs). Demry Croft had a pass to former backup QB and now backup wide receiver Chris Streveler for 4 yards. Next Purdue would save some face by going 75 yards on 5 plays for a touchdown. Minnesota would punt and Purdue would go 57 yards on 11 plays but ultimately turn the ball over on downs. End of game.
Lots of Gophers got a chance to play today, including everyone's favorite backup quarterback Jacques Perra. Seven Gophers would record rushing stats, seven more would record receiving stats (plus at least two more were targeted but dropped very catchable balls). On defense three Gophers would get a turnover, allowing Minnesota to win the turnover battle 4-1. It was a great game to watch as a Gophers fan.
This actually comes from my dad. In the first quarter the Minnesota offense couldn't get started against a horrible Purdue defense that had just lost one of their stars. This was very concerning. Slow starts are killing the Gophers this year. How can a team only score 3 points total over 6 games in the first quarter?
The Gophers are showing that they have true grit. Having to start true freshmen and players who weren't on the two-deeps to start the season is tough. Bouncing back after the worst loss in years is even tougher, but the Gophers did it.
Don't call it a comeback. Seriously, don't. Minnesota had a great game and we should celebrate it but its not time to talk about winning the West again. As some said last week, the Gophers could still not win another game this year. To be clear I think they do, and I think they go to a bowl game, but let's not count all of our victories until they happen. The Gophers still have problems with depth due to injuries and the passing game. Mitch was 8/12 while Demry was 2/5; both should have been better if not for dropped balls by the receivers (Woz & Holland stand out). To make it worse, some of those completions were not the best thrown balls (while others were great).
The defense seemed to tackle very well against Purdue. I enjoyed that, please keep it up.
This one isn't about the Purdue game, it is about Northwestern. I just could bring myself to write about that game. If I had, the stars would have been Eric Carter, Jack Lynn, and Cody Poock.
That was a good game. Now get ready to take on Nebraska and don't even let them snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, just put them away (actually, it should be a tough game, Nebraska is going to be looking for blood). #GoGophers. #SkiUMah.