WEST LAFAYETTE, IND. – Gophers coach Jerry Kill wasn’t exaggerating this past week when he said 20 players missed practice because of injuries.
The full extent of the injury woes became apparent in Saturday’s 41-13 win at Purdue.
Four linemen didn’t make the trip because of unspecified injuries — offensive tackle Josh Campion, center Brian Bobek, defensive tackle Scott Ekpe and defensive end Gaelin Elmore.
Kill said Ekpe and Elmore will be back but said he’s not sure whether Campion and Bobek will return this season.
Junior safety Ace Rogers tore an anterior cruciate knee ligament Wednesday, ending his season.
Defensive backs Damarius Travis (hamstring) and Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee) made the trip to Purdue but remained out with their respective injuries. Kill said the team should have Travis back next week against Nebraska but was unsure about Boddy-Calhoun.
Others who did not make the trip because of injury, as reported earlier, were tight ends Lincoln Plsek and Duke Anyanwu, wide receiver Jeff Jones and punt returner Craig James.
All told, the Gophers took the field without 11 players who would have been in key roles: Ekpe, Boddy-Calhoun, James, Travis, Elmore, Rogers, Bobek, Campion, Plsek, Anyanwu and Jones.
“I said we had to have depth to survive,” Kill said. “And our depth saved us today.”
Offensive line update
The Gophers did get two players back from injury Saturday: left tackle Ben Lauer (broken hand) and left guard Jon Christenson (knee surgery).
Joe Bjorklund started at left guard, but Christenson split snaps with him. Kill had talked about platooning along the offensive line. He did that at left guard and right guard, with Connor Mayes and Foster Bush.
With Lauer healthy, Jonah Pirsig moved back to right tackle.
With Bobek injured, Tyler Moore made his college debut at center.
“We moved Jonah Pirsig to right tackle because his shoulder’s screwed up,” Kill said. “Ben Lauer needs to get in shape, so we were able to play him. And then Tyler Moore — a true freshman center — I hadn’t done that in 32 years, never started a true freshman center. All the calls he had to make. And he really stepped it up for us.”
Purdue came in with the Big Ten’s fourth-ranked passing offense (233 yards per game), but the Gophers made quarterback David Blough’s life miserable. Cornerback Jalen Myrick had two interceptions, including a pick-six in the third quarter.
“That is how he plays, and he has no fear,” Kill said.
At the other corner, Eric Murray spent the day blanketing Purdue’s DeAngelo Yancey, who came in ranked eighth in the Big Ten with 63.6 receiving yards per game. Murray held him without a catch.
“Eric Murray locked down their best receiver like I’ve never seen anybody,” Kill said, before referencing the senior’s NFL draft stock. “Eric Murray made a lot of money today.”
• With injuries depleting the secondary, true freshman Antonio Shenault made his first career start as the nickel back.
• Robert Ndondo-Lay started at defensive tackle, in place of Ekpe.
• True freshman Jacob Huff made his college debut, playing on the kickoff team. He joins his brother, Julian Huff, as players who’ve had their redshirts burned this season.