Pinnix makes strong showing in defeat

Tyler Rushmeyer

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – In the midst of a performance that many would like to forget, Amir Pinnix turned in one of his most memorable games so far as a Gopher.

After racking up a career-best 221 all-purpose yards in Minnesota’s 27-21 defeat, Pinnix might have reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the Gophers’ rushing attack that many had foreseen him in before the season began.

Pinnix rushed for 174 yards on 28 carries – more carries than his first three games combined. He has 421 rushing yards on the season, putting him on pace to join the long list of 1,000-yard rushers Minnesota has seen in recent years.

Alongside his ground game, Pinnix caught three passes for 47 yards, the first receptions of his career.

“Amir played well,” quarterback Bryan Cupito said. “I don’t think there’s anything positive to take away from this game, aside from Amir. He got an opportunity to carry the load, ran hard and made plays, something I think he’ll do the rest of the year.”

In a game where dropped passes, an interception and sacks consistently stalled Minnesota drives, Pinnix led an efficient Gophers rushing attack that picked up 211 total yards.

“We lost the game,” Pinnix said. “It’s not an individual sport, it’s a team sport. So whatever I did from a running back standpoint means nothing if we don’t get the win.”

Bryant contained

One of the Gophers’ goals coming into the Purdue contest was containing junior wide receiver Dorien Bryant, who tore through Minnesota’s defense last season.

Aside from a second quarter 27-yard touchdown reception, the Gophers’ defense held Bryant in check, limiting him to five receptions for 32 yards and one rush for 12 yards.

In the process, however, the defense allowed senior tight end Dustin Keller to have a career day, collecting six receptions for 119 yards, with a 55-yard catch, all career highs.

“(Bryant is) a great player and anytime you got a great player like that on the field, you try and do things to contain him and I feel like we did that,” junior linebacker Mike Sherels said. “But it’s a tough offense to play against. Anytime you got that many people moving and throwing to that number of receivers, it’s difficult to stop all their options.”

Coach Glen Mason agreed with Sherels’ sentiment.

“They’re a sophisticated pass offense, you can’t just gear in on one guy or they’ll look for someone else,” he said. “Bryant’s an exciting football player. He can take the ball the distance every down. He got one on us, but for the most part, I thought we did a good job containing him.”

The Boilermakers got 350 yards aside from Bryant’s contributions in the contest.

Questionable calls

Many disgruntled fans could focus on two play calls that may have swung the game over to Purdue’s favor.

The first was sophomore Jason Giannini’s 51-yard field goal attempt. Although he has improved in his first three games this season, the Gophers might have been better off trying for a first down or kicking the ball away.

Giannini’s kick was blocked and Purdue quickly turned it into seven points for their first lead of the game.

Another call that was brought into question was the decision to punt with only 2:28 remaining in the fourth quarter in a fourth-and-13 situation.

Coach Mason decided to rely on the defense and it allowed Purdue to run out the remainder of the game.