ruening uses foot, Tapeh injures his

Sarah Mitchell
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., —The name Preston Gruening seemed to be mentioned over the Ross-Ade Stadium PA system as often as the name Drew Brees on Saturday.
Not nearly in the same context, of course.
Brees’ name seemed to follow a Purdue touchdown in which the quarterback marched the Boilermakers downfield with ease.
Gruening’s followed a failed attempt by the Gophers offense, forcing the sophomore to punt the ball away. Gruening booted the ball eight times against Purdue and averaged 48.3 yards per punt. His long was 59-yards.
With Saturday’s performance, Gruening boomed his way to the top of the NCAA. He leads the nation in punting, averaging 48.63 yards per kick.
Maryland’s Brooks Barnard is second on the list, averaging 45.82 yards per punt.
“Foot”ball
After earning last week’s Big Ten offensive player of the week award for his 183-yard, two-touchdown effort against Baylor, Gophers running back Thomas Tapeh didn’t float off the field this time around. He limped.
The redshirt freshman injured his other foot, spraining the right one in the fourth quarter. Tapeh missed the first game of the season after breaking his left foot.
“He should be okay,” Mason said of the running back. “I list him as probable.”
Mason said he saw Tapeh on Sunday walking and sporting regular shoes.
“If he had to play today, would he play? He probably could play,” Mason said. “I don’t think he would be 100 percent.”
Freshman fun
Freshman wide receiver Tony Patterson made an impression Saturday hauling in not only his first catch of his career, but also his first touchdown.
Patterson finished the game with three receptions for 33 yards.
“If the ball is there, you got to catch it,” Mason said. “And Patterson has good hands.”
Right guard rotation
Ryan Roth started at offensive guard against the Boilermakers after being benched for lack of performance before Minnesota’s Sept. 16 game at Baylor.
On Sunday, Mason didn’t assess Roth’s performance against Purdue, saying he hadn’t heard all the position reports, yet.
“I didn’t notice any glaring errors, I’ll tell you that,” Mason said.
Senior Erik Larson got the starting nod at right guard against Baylor. Despite a solid showing against the Bears, Larson didn’t play Saturday due to a sprained ankle.
“He was available in an emergency case,” Mason said. “He could have played. He was cleared to play.”

John R. Carter and Sarah Mitchell cover football and welcome comments at [email protected] and [email protected]