Gophers prepare for Brees’ Boilermakers

by Michael Dougherty

By the end of the week anyone associated with Gophers football is probably going to grow tired of hearing about the Boilermakers’ record-setting quarterback Drew Brees.
But that’s what Brees does. He’s an annoying and monotonous weapon who likes to destroy defenses. Last year he dismantled the Minnesota defense with 522 yards and six touchdowns.
Gophers coach Glen Mason wants to make sure people know that Brees didn’t single out his defense for a walloping.
“It’s not just our defense,” he said. “It’s everybody’s defense.”
Brees, a junior from Austin, Texas, is the perfect fit for Boilermakers coach Joe Tiller and his spread offense.
Tiller brought the ball-control-by-passing offense from Wyoming in 1997. He took over a team that was 3-8 and in his first year Tiller led Purdue to a 9-3 record. His quarterback in 1997 was Billy Dicken. Dicken threw for 3,136 yards and 21 touchdowns. Brees played sparingly behind Dicken, but took over at quarterback when Dicken graduated.
Last season, Brees broke Big Ten records with 361 completions, 569 attempts, 3,983 yards and 39 touchdowns.
Now compare that to the all-time records for the Gophers. His 3,983 yards would put him just three yards shy of fifth place on Minnesota’s career list. And his 39 touchdowns are just one behind the Gophers’ career leader, Cory Sauter, who threw 40 touchdowns during his four years.
Where did this guy come from and why is he at Purdue?
Tiller said he was recruiting Brees while he was at Wyoming but Brees had no desire to play there. And a handful of Texas colleges have often been criticized for letting Brees leave the state.
Tiller said once he moved to Purdue, Brees’ high school coach contacted Tiller to let him know Brees had an interest in playing for the Boilermakers.
“It came down to Kentucky or Purdue,” Tiller said of Brees’ final decision. “Probably, if Tim Couch wasn’t at Kentucky, Brees might’ve gone there.”
Fortunately for Tiller, Brees decided to attend Purdue, and Mason said he’s not thrilled with that.
“I’ll tell you who I’m really mad at — John Mackovic,” Mason said.
Mackovic was the coach at Texas that failed to recruit Brees, thus enabling him to go to Purdue.

Carter up for honor
Minnesota senior strong safety Tyrone Carter is a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which honors the nation’s best defensive back.
Carter is one of 12 finalists that also includes fellow Big Ten players David Macklin of Penn State, Aric Morris of Michigan State and Ahmed Plummer of Ohio State.
The list will be trimmed to three finalists on Nov. 22, with the winner is announced Dec. 9 at the ESPN College Football Awards Show in Orlando, Fla.

Michael Dougherty covers football and welcomes comments at [email protected]