Gophers replay Gophers 38, Purdue 31
Tanner Morgan only missed one of his 22 throws, spurring the Gophers receivers to an impressive showing in the team's victory at Purdue on Saturday. The passing game piled up 396 yards and four touchdowns, including a two-touchdown, 177-yard performance from sophomore wideout Rashod Bateman. "He got the ball to all the receivers we needed," Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said. "I thought our pass game softened the run game a little bit [Saturday]. We needed to be able to open it up a little bit. That was the whole plan." While the Gophers needed fourth-quarter comebacks to secure wins in their first three games, this one they needed to preserve. A 28-10 halftime lead gave way to a single-touchdown victory.
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• Carter Coughlin's injury update: The senior rush end started training camp with an undisclosed injury Fleck described as "tightness." While he hasn't missed a game, the injury has limited him. But at Purdue, he posted five tackles and two pass breakups. "This is the first game where I haven't had a setback injury-wise," Coughlin said. "I had the same thing kind of recurrent. But this is the first game where I didn't feel it get messed up again. So it's huge. So that bye week was really helpful. And now I can just focus on playing and don't have to worry about the injury."
• Special teams ups and downs: Receiver Demetrius Douglas dropped a punt, punter Jacob Herbers' first punt went only 31 yards, receiver/quarterback Seth Green had an onside kick deflect of his facemask — just a few of the Gophers' special teams blunders against Purdue. There were also shining moments, such as two of Herbers' punts backing Purdue up to its end zone, but that unit has been inconsistent all season.
• Smith's haul: The receivers outshined the senior running back, but Rodney Smith quietly stockpiled 115 rushing yards on 22 carries plus a touchdown, his first game of more than 100 yards this season. He also caught a 20-yard pass.
Up next: vs. Illinois
2:30 p.m. Saturday, TCF Bank Stadium (BTN)
The skinny: The Gophers will face a refreshed Illinois for its homecoming game, after the Illini drew a bye this past week. They are 2-2, including 0-1 in the Big Ten Conference, dropping a close one to Nebraska 42-38 in Week 4. This will be a bit of a rematch game for the Gophers. Illinois trounced them last year 55-31, marking the end of defensive coordinator Robb Smith's tenure. But with current DC Joe Rossi at the helm for the last four games, the Gophers won three of them with a vastly improved defense. Illinois' own defense is also a weak spot. The Illini allow opponents an average of 407.8 offensive yards per game. Nebraska tallied more than 300 yards on the ground and in the air against them. Offensively, they have Michigan graduate transfer Brandon Peters at quarterback, who is 69 of 117 for 765 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. Running back Reggie Corbin has 314 yards on 44 carries with three touchdowns.