Carter shows growth with career day

Michael Carter had six pass breakups, tying a team record, and added a pick-six for good measure.

Dane Mizutani

Michael Carter said he likes it when quarterbacks throw to his side of the field.

He showed why Saturday.

Purdue received the opening kickoff of the second half trailing the Gophers by 27 points. Carter quickly squashed any thoughts the Boilermakers might have had of coming back.

In that possession, he broke up three passes in the first four plays, but Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush kept throwing his way.

Carter said he was surprised TerBush kept targeting his side of the field after his series of pass breakups, but he said he didn’t mind.

 “I just felt like I was in the zone,” Carter said.

He sure was — and he finished his absurd defensive sequence with a pick six that stretched the lead to 41-7.

“I’ve coached for 30 years, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a corner have things go like that,” head coach Jerry Kill said.

Carter said his performance stemmed from speaking with the defensive coaches throughout the week to understand offensive tendencies of Purdue. He also spoke to his older cousin Tyrone Carter the Friday before the game.

Tyrone Carter, a former All-American safety for the Gophers, said the two speak weekly, and he quizzes his little cousin about formations and route combos for the upcoming opponent.

“This time talking to him seemed like I was talking to myself, and that let me know that he’s growing as a player,” Tyrone Carter said. “We were on the same page.”

Michael Carter’s success this season can be traced to a conversation even further back.

Michael Carter broke out on the scene as a freshman cornerback for the Gophers, but he struggled to find playing time his sophomore and junior seasons.

This year, he won the starting job in his final year and said he’s tried to establish more balance in his life.

Carter admitted he put all his focus into football previously, and after he got his priorities straight, it made a difference on the field.

Kill said he’s seen the senior mature, but he wouldn’t take any credit for it.

“I’d let you know that Tyrone has a lot to do with that,” Kill said.

Michael Carter said before this season his cousin sat down and talked to him “from a man-to-man perspective” and told him to prioritize what was important in his life.

“I told him, ‘What are you here for?’” Tyrone Carter said. “He told me he was here to get an education, make a name for himself and go to the next level.

“I told him if he was going to do that, he needed to cut all the other [expletive] out.”

Michael Carter said he was like a sponge and soaked in everything his cousin was saying to him. He tried to transfer that to the field.

“I was just like, ‘This is my last year. I’ve only got one more shot,’” Michael Carter said.

He’s made the most of his shot this season, and that was especially evident  Saturday. Carter finished with six pass breakups in the game, which tied a team record set back in 2001.

“I’m really comfortable when I look on the other side [of the field] and see Mike over there,” fellow cornerback Troy Stoudermire said. “I know it’s going to be shut down just like it is on my side.”

Tyrone Carter said he saw a lot of room for his cousin to improve in Saturday’s win. He said the performance didn’t surprise him.

“I’ve seen this before from Michael,” Tyrone Carter said. “He could have been doing this for his whole career, but now his head is in the right direction, and look what’s happened.”

Notes

-Minnesota scored more points Saturday against Purdue — 44 — than it did in its first three Big Ten games combined. It was also the Gophers’ highest point total in a Big Ten regulation game since Nov. 4, 2006. Minnesota scored 49 points in an overtime loss to Northwestern in 2010.

-The Gophers scored on four consecutive drives Saturday. It was the first time since Oct. 13, 2007, that they scored touchdowns on four consecutive drives.