When Gophers coaches addressed the media on Tuesday afternoon following Minnesota’s 39-38 victory against Purdue on Saturday, they uttered the same phrase multiple times: “teaching moment.”
The Gophers were favored to beat the Boilermakers by double digits heading into the game, but they trailed by 11 at halftime, and big plays punctuated the entire game.
A minor scrum in the second half of the contest could have resulted in suspensions after senior defensive back Derrick Wells ran from Minnesota’s bench in an apparent attempt to confront a Purdue player that had illegally hit Cedric Thompson.
“Give Purdue credit,” head coach Jerry Kill said. “I said throughout the week that we’d have to [score 30 points] to win because of what they did to Michigan State. That being said, there’s a lot of things that we need to clean up.”
The Thursday practice heading into Minnesota’s game against Purdue wasn’t as clean as it should have been, Kill said.
And it showed on the field in the first half.
Boilermakers receiver Danny Anthrop ripped past Gophers defensive backs for a 55-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter.
On the next drive, Boilermakers running back Akeem Hunt ran the ball 31 yards into Gophers territory to set up another Purdue touchdown.
“The way they played … it was going to be a whole lot of one-on-one situations, so if a guy missed, [Purdue] would bust for 60 yards. So we just had that happen a few times,” defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun said. “We were able to point out the problem.”
Immediately after the game on Saturday, reporters asked Kill about the adjustments the Gophers made at halftime to flip the script and hold a dynamic Purdue offense to just seven points in the second stanza.
On Tuesday, defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys downplayed any adjustments. But he took the blame for Minnesota’s defensive lapses in the first half.
“People aren’t probably going to believe this, but adjustments are overrated,” Claeys said. “At every level, it’s all about getting kids comfortable [and] having good players. They run and chase the football. I mean, that’s really what it is. A couple of [Purdue’s] motions caused a little bit of confusion at first, and they took advantage of that.”
• After missing the past two games due to a concussion, offensive lineman Foster Bush should play this week at Illinois, Kill said.
• Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner has started to gain momentum, completing longer passes and playing efficiently over the past few weeks. Chris Streveler is still Minnesota’s No. 2 quarterback, but freshman Jacques Perra has cemented himself as the third-stringer.
Perra looked good in fall camp, and offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover seems to be impressed by his maturation.
“Really over the course of the summer, [he] did a lot of work on his own and that really benefited him,” Limegrover said. “There’s a real confidence about him, and he’s a darn good player, too.”