Three Stars of the Game: Nortwestern

For the fourth week in a row, the Gophers left TCF Bank Stadium with another devastating loss. The shootout between the Wildcats and Gophers came down to the last minute of the game before Northwestern came up with a key stop. Three players in this game played well enough to earn one of the three stars of the game.

The first star of the game for Northwestern had more total yards than the entire Gopher offense. Quarterback Dan Persa had a dominate performance today, picking apart the Minnesota defense. Persa had 99 yards on 18 carries to go with 309 passing yards and two touchdowns for a 23-30 passing performance. Throughout the game, Persa used his arm and his legs to bury the Gophers. When his receivers were covered, Persa took off and made defenders miss with his speed and agility.

Brewster said of Persa, "Persa really hurt us. Persa really hurt us with his feet. His scrambles, and we knew coming in that was exactly his M.O." Persa was also very impressive throwing the ball. He found his receivers when they were open and hit open tight ends or running backs if nothing was open downfield. Persa made the difference in the game and led Northwestern to victory.

The second star of the game was an unlikely star for the Gophers in this game. Running back DeLeon Eskridge played a great game and help Minnesota to establish a solid rushing attack throughout the game. Eskridge had 121 yards on 22 carries for a touchdown to go with one touchdown. Eskridge ran hard on every play. Some plays he would get hit but keep his legs moving to pick up extra yards. Eskridge also hit the holes well, being patient and making quick cuts to find open space.

Coach Brewster said, "I thought he was excellent. You know, I mean he had 22 carries for 121 yards and really did some good things. I thought he had some really strong runs, really good cuts, had a really good feel for getting behind the defense on the cutback on the zone plays. And, you know, I thought he did a nice job." The play of Eskridge led the Gophers and gave them a chance to win at the end of the game.

The last star of Saturday's game was Minnesota tight end, Eric Lair. Lair did not have huge numbers but made plays when it mattered. Lair had three catches for 75 including a touchdown reception from running back Duane Bennett and a 25-yard reception score from Adam Weber. Lair also caught the ball in open spaced and used his speed to break down the sidelines for a 42-yard gain. Lair was also a target on a few different pass plays but he and Weber were unable to connect. Lair's size and pass catching ability made him a big target on the Gophers' offense.

Not only did Lair make plays with his hands but he was also part of the unit that opened up holes to establish ground game. Lair and the offensive line continually opened space for the running backs which helped Weber and the offense establish the passing game. Expect Lair to continue to make plays and become a more involved part of Minnesota's offense.

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