Saturday, October 8, 2011
At the half: Boilers stomping Gophers
By Adam Rittenberg
Jerry Kill has talked repeatedly about building a foundation at Minnesota on concrete, not sand.
The first-year coach better hope rock bottom is made out of concrete. Because that's where the Gophers are living after the first half at Purdue, which leads 31-3.
We thought the Gophers had hit rock bottom last week in Ann Arbor, when Michigan whipped them 58-0 in the Jug game. But no. This is rock bottom. Has to be.
No disrespect to Purdue, which is making plays on both sides of the ball and capitalizing on most of Minnesota's many errors. Purdue's defense has smothered Minnesota, getting terrific line play from Kawann Short, Ryan Russell and others, as well as a pick-six from star CB Ricardo Allen.
That said, the Gophers are the worst major-conference team in America. It's amazing to think they opened the season with a near upset at USC. Feels like years ago. Time will tell where Minnesota ranks among the worst teams in Big Ten history. The Gophers aren't there yet -- not close -- but they have to get this turned around.
Freshman Max Shortell started his second consecutive game at quarterback but quickly exited. Junior MarQueis Gray, who missed the Michigan debacle with a toe injury, entered the game and had his first pass attempt picked by Allen and returned to the end zone.
Minnesota's first-half offensive numbers: three turnovers, three points, six first downs, 6-of-13 passing, 35 rush yards on 16 carries. Ugh.
Purdue's offense has looked decent, and coordinator Gary Nord made a great call against a Minnesota blitz as Robert Marve hit O.J. Ross on a bubble screen for an easy 12-yard touchdown. Marve stepped in for Caleb TerBush, who completed 9 of 14 passes. The Boilers' rushing attack hasn't been great, although Akeem Shavers is providing a bit of a spark.
One area Purdue must cut down is penalties. The Big Ten's most penalized team already has been flagged five times. It will cost Purdue later in the season.