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News, Notes, Tid-Bits and Quotes from Gophers Dominating Win Over Purdue

10/27/2012, 9:45pm CDT
By U of M Athletic Communications

Michael Carter had the defensive play of the game with the second half pick-six.

SERIES NOTES
• Today’s game was the sixty-ninth all-time against Purdue, with the Gophers leading the series, 34-32-3.
• Purdue won nine of ten in the series during 1996-2007, but Minnesota is 3-2 during the past five seasons.
• The Golden Gophers’ record in games played versus Purdue in Minneapolis improved to 29-12-3 all-time.
• This was the second game in the series played at TCF Bank Stadium, with the Gophers improving to 2-0. Minnesota defeated Purdue, 35-20, here on October 10, 2010.
• The 44 points scored marked the most by Minnesota against Purdue since a 59-56 win at home on Oct. 9, 1993.

TEAM NOTES
• Minnesota reached five wins for the first time since going 6-7 during 2009. The Gophers reached five wins in their eighth game, the fastest they’ve reached five victories since it took just six games during 2008.
• Minnesota improved to 12-14 in games played at TCF Bank Stadium, and is 11-8 there since the start of 2010.
• The Gophers improved to 4-1 at home this season with their first home B1G win since last year’s season-ending 27-7 win versus Illinois. The 4-1 start at home is Minnesota’s best since also starting 4-1 at home during 2008.
• Of head coach Jerry Kill’s eight wins at Minnesota, seven have taken place at home.
• Kill’s career record in home games improved to 82-30 (.732).
• Minnesota finished with 458 yards of total offense, just short of the season-high 478 yards it accumulated in the season-opening overtime win at UNLV. It’s the most yards against a B1G opponent since the Gophers had 415 yards in last year’s 31-24 loss at Michigan State on Nov. 5, 2011.
• The Gophers’ four TDs on four-straight drives during the first and second quarters marked the first time Minnesota has accomplished that feat since scoring TDs on five consecutive drives during the second and third quarters of a 49-48 overtime loss at Northwestern on Oct. 13, 2007.
• The 34 points scored by Minnesota in the first half were the most since scoring 35 points in the opening half of the 44-41 Insight Bowl loss to Texas Tech on Dec. 29, 2006. It was the most points scored in a half versus a Big Ten opponent since the Gophers scored 35 points in the first half of their 63-26 win versus Indiana on Nov. 4, 2006.
• The Gophers’ defense entered today’s game without a defensive interception or fumble recovery in Big Ten play, but came up with an interception in the win. Two potential INTs by Minnesota were overturned by replay reviews.
• Minnesota recorded three sacks and had 10 pass breakups.
• Minnesota wore Maroon pants with Maroon jerseys at home for the second time this season. The Gophers wore that combination during their 17-10 win against Syracuse on Sept. 22.

INDIVIDUAL NOTES (OFFENSE)
• True freshman quarterback Philip Nelson made his second consecutive start for the Gophers after having his redshirt removed last week.
• Nelson completed 13 of his first 14 pass attempts, including a streak of 12 consecutive completions.
• Nelson completed 15-of-17 passes for 246 yards and three TDs in the first half. With as much as a 37-point lead early in the third quarter, the Gophers went to a running game to eat up clock. Nelson finished the game 15-of-22, while also rushing nine times for 37 yards.
• Redshirt junior wide receiver Derrick Engel caught his first career TD, a 34-yard strike from Nelson, in the opening quarter. Engel had nine touchdown receptions during the 2009-10 seasons at Winona State.
• Senior MarQueis Gray made his second start this season at wide receiver and caught four passes for 53 yards.
• Sophomore running back Donnell Kirkwood rushed 22 times for a career-high 134 yards, including 14 attempts for 90 yards in the second half.
• Freshman running back Rodrick Williams Jr. scored his first career touchdown for the Gophers on a four-yard run in the first quarter. Williams had career-high totals of nine rushing attempts for 43 yards and the TD.
• Junior wide receiver A.J. Barker caught his team-leading sixth and seventh TD passes of the season, hauling in a 38-yarder from Nelson in the first quarter and then breaking free for a 63-yarder in the second quarter.
• Barker, who left the game due to an injury on the 63-yard TD, tied his career-high with five receptions for a career-best 135 yards and two TDs. It was Barker’s third 100-yard receiving game this season, and his third game with five catches. Barker’s career-best for TDs in a game was three against Western Michigan on Sept. 15.
• Barker leads the Gophers with 30 catches for 577 yards and seven TDs this season.

INDIVIDUAL NOTES (DEFENSE)
• On Purdue’s first drive of the third quarter, senior cornerback Michael Carter broke up three passes and then intercepted a pass during a six-play span. It was Carter’s second interception of the season, and he returned it 43 yards for his first career touchdown.
• The pick-six by Carter was the first for the Gophers since Traye Simmons returned an interception 23 yards for a TD versus Northwestern on Nov. 1, 2008.
• Carter tied a single-game record with six pass breakups in the game, giving him 13 for the season. Michael Lehan also had six pass breakups versus Michigan State on Oct. 20, 2001.
• Senior defensive end D.L. Wilhite increased his team-leading sack total to 6.5 by recording one sack for a seven-yard loss.
• Sophomore defensive end Ben Perry notched his first sack of the season, while also forcing a fumble and breaking up a pass attempt.
• Freshman defensive end Thieren Cockran recorded his first career sack.
• Senior cornerback Troy Stoudermire tied for the team lead with seven tackles (six solo) and added a pass breakup.
• Junior safety Brock Vereen tied Stoudermire with a team-high seven tackles and had two pass breakups.

INDIVIDUAL NOTES (SPECIAL TEAMS)
• Senior kicker Jordan Wettstein made 3-of-4 field goals in a game for the second time this season. Wettstein opened the season by making 3-of-4 field goals at UNLV on Aug. 30. He had two field goals versus Northwestern on Oct. 13.
• Wettstein made a 40-yard field goal in the second quarter, added a 35-yarder right before the half, and then made his longest attempt this season from 44 yards in the third quarter. He missed a 45-yard attempt in the fourth quarter.

 

Minnesota Head Coach Jerry Kill

On his perspective of today’s game…
“In the first half, I think we played well together as a team. We didn’t start the game very well. I was disappointed with the way we started, but after we got some momentum it was kind of like how we’ve been on the other side of it. Everything just seemed to fall into place and we executed well. We made some big plays, which we needed to do, and we played good football. As for the second half, I don’t think our team is used to being out in front like that. We held on a little bit more. I’d like to see us have more control of the game in the second half. That being said, we didn’t turn the ball over and we created some plays. Losing A.J. Barker in the second half was big. He scores a touchdown and gets tackled there late. That was a critical injury and I’m certainly concerned about that.”

On Philip Nelson’s play…
“He took step one last week and he took another step here at home. I thought he played outstanding. We were able to move the chains and score touchdowns, and he was accurate on the deep ball. We actually dropped a couple, which was unfortunate or he would have had an even bigger day. There was good timing and, again, when your quarterback doesn’t turn over the football, moves the chains, and puts points on the board, and he’s a freshman, that’s a good sign for the future.”

Minnesota Players

Minnesota Quarterback Philip Nelson

On if he thought he was going to play early this season
“I never really changed my mindset during the season. I always prepared like I was going to play, so my opportunity would not embarrass me.”

On What the key was on the scoring drives
“I think everyone needed to get the nerves out (early in the game). Right away after that, things seemed to be rolling pretty well.

On the team’s mentality coming into the game
“We definitely wanted to come out and win. We played pretty well in the first half and that pushed us to our goal of winning the game.

On the game plan featuring more pass plays
“In our preparation coming into this one, we noticed that Purdue’s corners liked to bite on some short game stuff. We put in some double routes and caught them jumping early.”

Minnesota Wide Receiver MarQueis Gray

On his thoughts of Philip Nelson’s play
“He did a great job today. He showed a lot of character, poise, and confidence. He was out there having fun today.”

On his diving catch
“I did not know I caught it until I came up with the catch. Now that I am playing wide receiver, I know I will not be touching the ball on every play. I need to make sure my plays count.”

On the transition back to wide receiver
“(The transition was) not difficult. The routes are different and I need to get back to the huddle faster, but it is not really a problem.”

Minnesota Cornerback Michael Carter

On his mindset for the first possession of the second half
“I will take it back to game planning with coach Sawvel and coach Claeys working on route concepts and different situations. I took advantage of that and I felt that I was in the zone.”

On if he was surprised to see the ball thrown his way multiple times
“Yeah, I was. It really does not matter. I like the ball thrown my way so I can make a play.”

On what he saw on the interception
“The fans. I just ran (towards the end zone). I just saw daylight and ran towards the fans so I could score.”

On what changed this season
“I came back into school and I was more mature. I stopped talking about just football, and I began to think about school and other important things.”

Purdue Head Coach Danny Hope

On the game…
“We didn’t play very well in the first half, obviously. We didn’t do a very good job of protecting our quarterback. He was on the run some throughout the course of the first half. We had some dropped passes, which really negated our progress offensively. We kept putting their offense on the field. We didn’t manufacture near enough pass rush on defense, and we tackled poorly at times. We bit on some double-breaking moves. We bit on the slant-and-go back in the secondary. They made a huge play out of it. We bit on a post corner and they made a huge play out of it. Next thing you know, we were far behind.”

“We came in at halftime and got together as a team, and we recommitted ourselves to play as hard as we could in the second half, hoping we could score enough points to get back in the ballgame. But we couldn’t get near enough done to get the ballgame close in the end.”

On this game as a step back from forcing overtime against Ohio State last week…
“It’s a setback regardless of where we were at at the end of last week. It’s a huge setback. We have struggled to regain our confidence as a football team. We opened the season with a lot of confidence and a lot of fire as a football team and played well for the most part. Then we had two ugly games at home and obviously lost some confidence as a team in some ways. I thought coming back and playing Ohio State like we played them last week would add some fuel to our fire, if you will, but that didn’t seem to be the case today in the first half.”

On scoring on the first drive in each of the past three games…
“Yeah, we’ve started well. We practiced well. They come out every week and they work hard and they put a lot into it. They put a lot of extra time into it. We just didn’t have what it took to get it done in the first half today, and that’s disappointing, even though we did start well.”

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