2011 Purdue Football: Minnesota Golden Gophers (with An SBNation Survey)

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With that out of the way, we now look forward to Minnesota because we can only look forward. I know I have taken some flak for still believing something can be salvaged from this season, but I have to. Otherwise, there is little point in being a Purdue fan right now.

Fortuantely, we get Minnesota at home this week. The Golden Gophers might be a worse team than Rice and Middle Tennessee State, so it has to be a win. I don't think anyone thinks that beating Minnesota at home is impossible. In fact, I think more people are concerned about the health of Robbie Hummel. Remember, he had his first tear at Minnesota and second when the Gophers came to town last year. Therefore, the mission of the weekend is not to win a football game, but to protect from sabotage. Some tips if you're a student:

  • Please clear Robbie's path if you see him walking on campus. It is early fall, so there is bound to be leaves and branches.
  • Gophers are excellent tunnelers, so inspect the grass for any unusual tunnels.
  • Last year Rob got hurt at the first practice, which is still a week away. Be wary of any Gopher like anuimals near the nearly completed Mackey complex.
  • Protect Robbie's computer if he starts transferring files via the Gopher protocol.
  • Gopher towns can quickly take over large areas and have been known to disrupt fiber-optic cables, so be aware. They could take down the entire school network.

So yes, the primary focus of the weekend is to protect Robbie from the Varmint Cong. As far as football, this could get ugly. Both teams looked awful last weekend, but at least we scored. As bad as we have been, we haven't been as bad as Minnesota.

Quarterbacks:

So was yesterday a bit of a mutiny? Robert Marve spoke his mind on Twitter about  being told he was playing outside the system. He later came back and hopped on the team bandwagon:

@RMarve 9: People r looking way to much into things. Reread what I first said. I'm all in and these players r very close together!!!

I like Caleb TerBush and what he has done for us, but I agree with many others that Marve is the player that gives us the best chance of salvaging something from this year. He needs to be on the field. If playing outside of the system makes us less predictable on offense that's a good thing, but the coaching staff doesn't understand that. It means we get more double QB madness this weekend with TerBush starting.

On the other side the Gophers have their own controversy. Max Shortell earned the start last week and it mattered little. He's 24 of 50 for 300 yards, two scores, and two picks so far. Of course, MarQueis Gray, and Indianapolis native, was the previous starter, but he has been ineffective as a passer. Gray has thrown for 521 yards, three scores, and three picks. The Gophers complete less than 50% of their passes, while we're closer to 60%. Advantage: Purdue

Running Backs:

So far Minnesota's ground game has most been Gray running around, with 351 yards rushing. Duane Bennett is next, but the running back has only 197 yards rushing in five games. Once again, we have a major advantage on the ground with Ralph Bolden, Akeem Hunt, Akeem Shavers, and others. The Gophers give up 156 yards per game on the ground and as long as you take out Gray, they don't run well. Clearly, this is an edge we have based solely on the different options we have and their production when we have given them the ball. Unfortunately, we likely won't take advantage of it. Advantage: Purdue

Wide Receivers:

The Gophers have Da'Jon McKnight, and that's about it. Their stats aren't as skewed as a few eyars ago when they had Eric Decker doing all their catching, but McKnight has 22 catches for 291 yards and a score, while the next best receiver is Malcolm Moulton with 11 catches for 150 yards. Eric Lair and Marcus Jones have over 100 yards receiving, but the gopher passing game is ineffective when the quarterbacks can't get the receivers the ball. We've had a nice balance between Antavian Edison, Justin Siller,a nd O.J. Ross. Edison has been our best big play threat (especially since we refuse to give the ball to Bolden). Waynelle Gravesande and Gary Bush have been solid, consistent performers, while I still like Crosby Wright. I give us the edge based solely on our number of options. Advantage: Purdue

Offensive Line:

This will be a battle of who sucks more. The Gophers have given up 14 sacks and we have given up 11. Ryan Orton and Ryan Wynn will have to guard the interior of the line against Bruce Gaston and Kawann Short. We're getting what little pass rush we do get from the interior. One of our biggest mysteries is why Ken Plue is still on triple secret probation. He's possibly our best linesman, but his absence has made our line struggle with all the necessary shifting of positions. Maybe Plue is Hummel's personal bodyguard? Advantage: Even

Defensive Line:

Neither team has had much of a pass rush. In fact, I doubt either team could put pressure on an Old Country Buffet during a senior's early bird special. D.L. Wilhite has one of just two sacks in five games for Minnesota. Purdue has four sacks, led by Robert Maci with two. A major shortcoming of this Purdue team has been the lack of a pass rush. It is safe to say we desperately miss Ryan Kerrigan. Advantage: Even

Linebackers:

Joe Holland and Will Lucas are very active against the run and can get into the backfield. As I have said all year, we're good on the edges, but awful up the middle. Minnesota's linebackers haven't been doing as much tackling as its secondary, which is the sign of a bad team. Mike Rallis has 27 stops, but starters Gary Tinsley and Keanon Cooper are still behind their secondary in tackles. They don't get into the backfield as much as Lucas and Holland, so we're slightly better. Slight advantage: Purdue

Secondary:

I thought that Ricardo Allen could handle Michael Floyd last week or at least challenge him. I was wrong. Unfortuantely, we never tried to adjust when that became evident. I'd rather attribute it to Floyd just being that good. Both guys are excellent, but Floyd is just better. Josh Johnson also dropped a sure interception and long return that could have greatly chanpart of Minnesota's trouble probably comes from the fact that Jerry Kill has missed nearly two weeks of practice while undergoing treatment for seizures. ged the game. In the end, out safeties were exposed even more than usual. Kim Royston and Brock Vereen are their leading tacklers, while Troy Stoudermire has two of their three interceptions. This should be an interesting matchup because they have had an awful passing game, but we have given up way too much over the middle. In return, they have been absolutely shredded by teams (1,300+ yards and 11 touchdowns) and our passing game has been much better than theirs. Advantage: Purdue

Special Teams:

Cody Webster is officially the best punter in the nation, leading with a 48.7 yard average and seven downed inside the 20. 14 of our 22 total punts have been downed inside the 20, and given their offensive struggles that is a huge edge. Carson Wiggs has struggled a bit since the block at Rice, but his range is a lot better than Chris Hawthorne. On returns, Gravesande has been effective on punts and Ross on kickoffs. Bennett has returned one punt for 30 yards and a score for them, but that is their only return of note. Stoudermire is merely average on kick returns, and they get lots of practice at them since they give up so many points. Advantage: Purdue

Coaching:

Part of Minnesota's struggles may come from the fact that their coach has missed nearly two weeks of practice while battling seizures. My own feelings toward Coach Hope have been made clear. He has failed to prepare us for any team not named Southeast Missouri State and refuses to take advantage of an opposing team's weaknesses or of our strengths. He continues to insist on this insane two quarterback system while refusing to give the ball to Bolden, our best offensive threat. Defensively, we have zero pass rush (our strength for years) and the middle of the field is still a gaping hole.

Basically, it is very sad that a team has a coaching advantage when said better coach is battling major health issues. Advantage: Minnesota

Final Analysis:

This has to be a win, right? We've been bad, but Minnesota was so bad that the Daily Gopher wrote about shutting down the program, then had to post a retraction when too many people believed it. If we play to our strengths and their weaknesses we should have little trouble, but that's what we thought against MTSU and Rice. That likely means a close game.

Minnesota has shown nothing that alludes to a Big Ten victory. Their lone win was the result of a dropped fourth down pass in the end zone against Miami (OH). They have failed to stop an FCS team and one of the worst FBS teams in the country. They did absolutely nothing against Michigan last week, and based on what we have seen so far, the loser of this game is likely the worst team in the Big Ten. If that is us, coach Hope should be fired immediately.

At leas with a win we can lay claim to first place in the Division.

Purdue 31, Minnesota 21

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