Gophers look to rebound in Purdue

MarQueis Gray is questionable with a toe injury while Max Shortell waits in the wings.

Adam Richard

The Gophers head to West Lafayette, Ind., this weekend to battle the Purdue Boilermakers and try to redeem themselves after getting steamrolled by Michigan last week 58-0.

 

Minnesota is 1-4 this year and looked completely overmatched in its first Big Ten game under head coach Jerry Kill.

The Gophers played at Purdue last season and were defeated 28-17 in Tim BrewsterâÄôs final game before his dismissal.

Kill spoke about the teamâÄôs lack of toughness and discipline this week.

âÄúYou recruit them tough. You canâÄôt make them tough,âÄù Kill said. He also said he has had to do more babysitting than coaching.

Purdue has yet to play a Big Ten game this year, and is 2-2 on the season. The Boilermakers were beat handily by Notre Dame last week 38-10.

Purdue has consistently produced NFL caliber quarterbacks including two NFL Hall of Famers Bob Griese and Len Dawson. They also produced three quarterbacks currently starting in the NFL: Drew Brees, Curtis Painter and Kyle Orton.

The current Purdue team has a quarterback controversy after would-be starter Rob Henry tore the ACL in his right knee a week before the season began.

Junior Caleb TerBush has stepped into the starting role and has been pushed by senior Robert Marve. Against Notre Dame, TerBush was benched late in the first half in place of Marve, who started the second half.

Head coach Danny Hope said TerBush is still his starter after practice Sunday, but that may change by SaturdayâÄôs game against Minnesota.

âÄúWe intend on playing both quarterbacks. I hope both these guys play so well I canâÄôt decide which is best,âÄù Hope told reporters at his weekly press conference. âÄúWe are committed to having two quarterbacks ready to play.âÄù

The GophersâÄô defense has allowed long strings of completions and gobs of yards to all opposing quarterbacks. They have allowed almost a 70 percent completion rate, more than 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.

Even in MinnesotaâÄôs lone win, Miami (Ohio) quarterback Zac Dysert threw for 325 yards.

âÄúDefending the run, defending the pass, all three levels of the defense have a lot of improving to do,âÄù Gophers linebacker Mike Rallis said.

Minnesota quarterback MarQueis GrayâÄôs toe injury prevented him from starting last week.

Gray didnâÄôt participate in full practices last week, but was able to practice this week. He will be a game-time decision again this week.

âÄúIâÄôm improved a lot. I couldnâÄôt put pressure on it Saturday. It feels better each day. I feel fine, but itâÄôs up to the coaches [whether I play],âÄù Gray said.

The Gophers have a bye next week, so he may sit one more game in order to take two weeks to rest his toe.

In GrayâÄôs absence, true freshman Max Shortell started against Michigan. Shortell has performed admirably in relief appearances this season, but playing a full game against Big Ten competition exposed his inexperience.

Shortell may have to start for the second straight week on the road if Gray isnâÄôt able to start due to injury.

âÄúMarQueis is going to have to practice at full speed. ThereâÄôs no question heâÄôs progressed, but is it enough to go out and play a game? I just donâÄôt know,âÄù Kill said.

Minnesota will look to establish an offensive rhythm on the ground against a Boilermakers team that lost All-American defensive lineman Ryan Kerrigan to the NFL this offseason. Last week Purdue allowed 287 rushing yards to Notre Dame at an average of 7.18 yards per carry.

The Gophers were missing two starting offensive linemen last week in Ed Olson and Jimmy Gjere. Olson was able to practice this week and looks to play Saturday, while Gjere suffered a mild concussion and has to pass the proper baseline tests in order to get back on the field.

Running back Donnell Kirkwood had to take himself out of the game Saturday because of a hamstring issue for the second time this season. He practiced this week and looks to play Saturday.

Troy Stoudermire will not return this week after missing last weekâÄôs game with a fractured left wrist. He had his arm in a sling at practice this week.

Minnesota will try to get its second win of the season and KillâÄôs first Big Ten win.