Wolverines’ Perry dangerous when receiving, too

by Aaron Blake

Heisman Trophy candidate and tailback Chris Perry caused problems for the Minnesota defense Friday night.

But the Gophers couldn’t have expected Perry to do so much of the damage as a pass receiver.

Perry had 207 yards of total offense, including 11 catches for 122 yards and a touchdown on screen passes.

“We didn’t have a way obviously (to stop him on the screen plays),” Gophers coach Glen Mason said. “I know a lot of people will say, ‘They went to a prevent defense.’ We did not go to a prevent defense. We just had trouble getting pressure on (Michigan quarterback John) Navarre.”

The Gophers shut down Navarre for most of the day despite the lack of pressure.

But Navarre found that his best receiver was coming out of the backfield late in the game, and he went to Perry seven times for 77 yards in the final quarter.

On the ground, Perry had just 11 carries after the first quarter.

Barber sets TD mark

Minnesota sophomore tailback Marion Barber III rushed through Michigan safety Marlin Jackson and into the record books with his 20-yard run in the first quarter on Friday.

Barber bowled over Jackson inside the 10-yard line and cut right for his 14th touchdown of the season. The 14 scores move him past Jim Perkins (1976) and Darrell Thompson (1987), who each had 13.

He is also tied for fifth on the career touchdowns (21) list with Chris Darkins and Thomas Hamner.

Isom pick goes for naught

Senior safety Justin Isom’s interception in the third quarter could have been a turning point for the Gophers’ offense. It briefly gave them momentum, but Michigan responded on its next possession with the hurry-up offense that took over the game.

The Wolverines got the ball at their own 15-yard line with the score 21-7. On the first play of the possession, Navarre threw to his left where Isom stepped in front of Jason Avant at the 34-yard line.

“There were points in the game when we were super high,” Isom said. “But we kept telling ourselves that it was Michigan on the other sideline.”

Offense does its part

The 35 points scored by the Minnesota offense represent the Gophers’ highest output versus Michigan since Oct. 16, 1937, in a 39-6 victory – a span of 63 games.

Abdul-Khaliq gets 1,000

Minnesota quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq became the fourth active Gopher to rush for 1,000 yards in his career. With his career-high 106 yards, Abdul-Khaliq now has 1,036 and ranks 35th in school history.

The other 1,000-yard rushers are Barber, Terry Jackson II and Thomas Tapeh.

Navarre shows versatility

Navarre recorded the first punt, first reception and first receiving touchdown of his career Friday.

Navarre lined up in the shotgun formation on fourth-and-two from the Minnesota 45-yard line in the first quarter. Minnesota didn’t have anyone deep to catch the punt, and the ball rolled into the end zone for a touchback.

In the third quarter, Navarre threw the ball laterally to wide receiver Steve Breaston. Breaston turned around and fired back across the field to Navarre, who had a flurry of blockers in front of him and ran 36 yards for the Wolverines’ first score.

“We’ve been working on that play,” Navarre said of his reception. “We needed a spark, and we’ve used that play in the past when we needed a spark. The play was very well executed.”