Cupito throws for career numbers in Saturday’s loss

Despite losing 45-31 to Ohio State, Bryan Cupito passed for a career-high 396 yards.

Matt Perkins

For the first time all season, Minnesota’s football team can truthfully say it got the job done through the air.

Problem is, it didn’t on the ground.

But quarterback Bryan Cupito completed 26 of 35 pass attempts for 396 yards and a touchdown, and wide receiver Jared Ellerson caught five balls for 113 yards and a score.

More importantly, Ellerson led the way for a flawless performance from the Gophers’ receiving corps, something they haven’t had all season.

The reason?

Cupito returned to the Gophers lineup after three weeks of rest following a concussion at Michigan, and he looked rested and ready.

“I thought Bryan Cupito played well today,” coach Glen Mason said. “We’ve been looking for this passing game. I’ve always said that we are not one-dimensional, but we haven’t been very consistent in the passing game. I thought we were more consistent today.”

Kicking themselves

For the second game in a row Gophers’ kicker Jason Giannini missed a first-quarter field goal.

Both misses came on the Gophers’ first offensive drive, failing to capitalize on an early attempt to get on the board.

Against Wisconsin, it was a 37-yard field goal that sailed right. Against Ohio State, it was a 32-yarder from the left hash-mark, also wide right.

Giannini is now six of 10 for the season on field goal attempts 30 yards or longer.

Sherels returns to split time

Gophers linebacker Mike Sherels returned to the Minnesota starting lineup this week, but found his playing time reduced in his first game back from injury.

The Gophers rotated their linebackers to fit Mario Reese into the defensive front seven, who played well in Sherels’ absence.

But they needed Sherels back to help contain Buckeyes quarterback Troy Smith, who was a threat to run Saturday.

And the Gophers held him.

“You can’t make as many moves as you want to with a guy like that,” Gophers defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery said. “You get out of your rush lane, and he’s so dangerous he can take off at any time.”

The Gophers were able to hold Smith to 25 yards on 11 carries.

Sherels had a career-high two tackles for a loss.

Secondary strength

The Gophers’ running game was shut down by solid tackling from Ohio State’s defensive secondary.

The run support of the Buckeyes’ secondary was led by junior cornerback Ashton Youboty. Youboty registered nine tackles, including five stops on Minnesota rushing plays that resulted in gains of four yards or less.

The Buckeyes said that’s nothing new; they don’t have a single guy on defense who can’t make big plays.

“A lot of teams, if a guy breaks it to the second level, their corners are finesse,” Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter said. “But our guys can come up and make a hit.”