Purdue You Want to Hurt Me?

Posted: October 10, 2011 by Kodi in Gopher Redemption, NCAA


Do You Want to Make Me Cry?

It’s Okay the Gophers have done that to me enough this year. . .

“If lesson’s are learned in defeat our team is getting a great education” Head Coach Jerry Kill used the famous former Gophers HC Murray Warmath’s quote to explain the current status of Gopher Football. The Gophers were back at it again on Saturday facing Purdue on the road in their second Big Ten game of the year. Minnesota is coming off of their worst game in Gophers Football history, a 58-0 shellacking that left Jerry Kill’s team deflated and mentally defeated.

Purdue is a team that lost its starting QB during the summer, got blown out by Notre Dame, lost to Rice and barely beat Middle Tennesse state. They are facing a Gopher squad that just hasn’t lived up to the expectations one may have for a Big Ten Football program. Purdue has a top 20 rushing attack in College Football and have run for over a hundred yards in every game except for their loss against the Fightin’ Irish last week.

There is also a Minnesota connection with the Purdue Boilermakers. Over the summer Sean Matti, a walk-on RB/LB at Purdue, was partying during the 4th of July weekend when he disappeared. Matti had been enjoying himself with some friends and went out for a swim in the afternoon. His friends didn’t report him missing for 6 hours but it took nearly a day for Indiana authorities to find Matti’s body in a lake 30 yards from the shore. Matti was a stand-out High School athlete from Shoreview, Minnesota and Purdue has dedicated this season to Sean and the entire Matti family.

Purdue has fared well in Big Ten openers and luckily for the Boilermakers they were facing a team who has been absolutely atrocious defensively. The Gophers have allowed over 33 points a game and over 175 rushing yards in their last 4 losses. On Saturday Purdue ran for 217 yards and was led by the two Akeem RBs, Shavers and Hunt. Shavers had 10 rushes for 52 yards and a TD and a receiving TD while Hunt was the team’s leading rusher with 60 yards on 9 carries.

Max Shortell started the game but threw just 3 passes, completing 2 for 9 yards, before he was replaced by MarQueis Gray. Gray came in and completed his first pass but his next attempt was Intercepted by Ricardo Allen and returned 37 yards for a TD and allowing Purdue to jump to a 24-0 lead before the end of the 1st quarter. When Kill was asked about it he said that “the first quarter was just one of those things where it just hits you in the mouth”.

Minnesota had allowed 96 unanswered points and a total of 103 points in the last 7 quarters and converted a single 47 yard Field Goal attempt. Kill told the media that “I think our kid’s went ‘oh no here we go’”. Carson Wiggs kicked the extra point for Purdue then he lined up to kick the ball off to Gopher’s return man, Freshman Marcus Jones. Jones is the replacement return man for an injured Troy Stoudemire and the 5’8” 170 pound jitterbug returned the kick 92 yards for Minnesota’s first TD since a 4th quarter TD catch by Eric Lair against North Dakota St. It was the longest kick return for a TD since 2006 when Dominic Jones returned on 99 yards.

The Gophers were able to score their second TD of the game when MarQueis Gray ran it in from the 1 yard line in the middle of the 4th quarter. Surprisingly this was Gray’s first rushing TD of the year but the QB has struggled with his accuracy in the passing game. Gray was 8-20 with 104 yards and the INT that was returned for a TD. “Our coaches had been stressing all week that their corner had great speed, unfortunately, I just held onto the ball too long” MarQueis Gray admitted in his postgame comments.

The QB situation has become quite the conundrum in Dinkytown simply because of the lack of depth and talent but enough is enough.

I am taking a stand, Jerry Kill needs to make the full-time switch to Shortell and play Gray at WR when he isn’t battling turf toe. Kill has said that Gray hasn’t been able to practice because of his injury but pulled Shortell minutes into the game to allow Gray to take hit after hit. What’s with the cover-up? Is there an injury or not? Gray looks hobbled but why risk making it worse?

Is it that Kill is so disappointed in his Offensive Line that he is putting Gray in simply because of his mobility? I understand that the O-Line has been decimated by injury and there is literally no depth, most of the guys starting now shouldn’t be getting so much playing time. “We can’t change that today, we can change it over time” Kill explained the process in developing a solid line.

Gray is an unbelievable talent but realistically he hasn’t show the ability to put touch on the ball and hit his receivers in stride. He can run the ball, but it feels like teams are honing in on him because they know he can’t beat them with the pass. He is a playmaker and deserves to get the ball but it may be more beneficial to the team if he went back to WR.

Teams know that the Gophers struggle to pass the ball and know that when they do throw it Da’Jon McKnight is their biggest weapon. The problem is that McKnight is constantly blanketed with double teams and if Gray was out there on the opposite side of the field it will open up the field. “It’s a tough job for tough people in tough times” Kill explaining his philosophy on the Coaching situation he signed up for in Minnesota.

Kill will turn this program around as long as Gopher Nation doesn’t give up on him before he’s had the chance. He knew the situation he signed up for wasn’t good, he admitted that “ I don’t have a press conference long enough to tell you what’s been going wrong,” but also said that “there are a lot of kids doing good things”. Kill knows that there are already doubters but clarified “I just have to tune all that out. . . take care of those kid’s and make them men”.

Ultimately the situation isn’t going to get much better for Gophers Football and the final answer is that “we didn’t do very well and maybe we got an education” which is exactly what Warmath would have argued.





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