RB Bennett wasn’t 100 percent for USC

Josh Katzenstein

Junior running back Duane Bennett saw little playing time in the Gophers 32-21 loss to then-No. 18 Southern California because he was not 100 percent, coach Tim Brewster said Sunday.

Bennett averaged 145.5 yards rushing the first two games this season, but only had seven carries for six yards Saturday, including no touches in the second half.

Brewster said he sprained his ankle at some point during a Sept. 11 loss to South Dakota, but Bennett was productive even toward the end of that game.

“He was kind of gimpy throughout the week,” Brewster said. “You could see he wasn’t hitting it like we want him to.”

Junior DeLeon Eskridge and freshman Donnell Kirkwood filled in for Bennett, with Kirkwood being the more productive back. He ran 10 times for 40 yards while Eskridge went 31 yards on 13 carries. Eskridge did score, though, on a one-yard run.

Brewster said he’s been impressed with Kirkwood, who ran over a USC safety on a 15-yard run in the second quarter. Brewster said the run sent a message, which backs have to do from time to time.

If Bennett is healthy for Saturday’s game against Northern Illinois, he will still be the feature back. Expect an update on Bennett’s status from Tuesday’s press conference.