In Minnesota’s 42-35 double overtime win over Purdue on Saturday, the Gophers’ No. 1 rushing offense in the country exposed the Boilermakers’ No. 1 rushing defense.
Minnesota racked up 301 yards on 67 carries, still its lowest single game rushing total of the season.
But Laurence Maroney had 46 carries for 217 yards – career highs in both categories. Gary Russell picked up where Maroney left off with 16 carries for 75 yards and three touchdowns – two on the ground and one in the air.
Purdue coach Joe Tiller said after the game that it is nearly impossible to prepare for Minnesota’s rushing attack, because it cannot be duplicated.
“It’s kind of like playing an option team in the sense that your scouts during the week can’t come close to simulating what these guys are doing,” Tiller said. “We don’t have anybody on our team that can pull the way their center can pull.”
Defending the option
The Gophers prepared all week for a Purdue team that was expected to run the option early and often.
Outside an 88-yard option run from Purdue running back Kory Sheets in the third quarter, the Gophers defended the option well.
With the exception of Sheets’ long haul, the Gophers held him to just 13 yards on nine carries.
Giannini changes form
Minnesota kicker Jason Giannini missed a first quarter field goal, giving Gopher fans more to worry about than his previous five missed extra points.
But Giannini came through on two other attempts (35 and 44 yards) in Saturday’s game, and made all of his extra point attempts.
“They were just extra points, and I know those haven’t been gimmes the past couple games,” Giannini said. “But we worked on it a lot in practice the last couple of weeks, and it wasn’t that I couldn’t make extra points before; it was that I got one blocked and my mind went crazy on me.”
Giannini said he worked on his mental composure, and also changed his form.
Coach Glen Mason said he isn’t worried about Giannini’s early misfortunes because his attitude has always been top shelf.
“The one thing I like most about him is that he doesn’t hide behind the water cooler,” Mason said.
Gophers return to lineup
Junior tackle Joe Ainslie was back in the uniform this week after missing two games following surgery on his right hand, but sophomore Steve Shidell started the game and Ainslie didn’t see any action.
Fullback Justin Valentine also returned for Minnesota after missing the Gophers game against Florida Atlantic, and was effective in helping create running room for Maroney and Russell.