Marcus Jones returned his first kick-off for a touchdown this week after having one called back last weekend against Michigan. This is a major plus for the Gophers who are looking for someone to energize the team. If Jones can continue to get loose on kickoffs on a consistent basis it would give the Gophers a new weapon to exploit.
The Bad: The Gophers defense was often on the wrong side of the field position game with Purdue taking over early due to drives starting in Minnesota territory. The Gophers were able to generate a pass rush this game but Boilermakers were able to take advantage of the Gophers aggressive front seven and score on a couple of screen passes.
The Gophers tackling was very shoddy at times with the Boilermakers breaking arm tackles and turning plays that would have gone for minimal yards and losses into bigger gains and first downs.
The Ugly: The biggest issue for the Gophers today happened to be field position and turnovers. The Gophers in the first quarter had three turnovers which the Boilermakers were able to convert for 17 points. Purdue's average starting position for the first quarter was the Gophers' 41 yard line while the Gophers averaged starting at their own 18 yard line. If the Minnesota wants to be competitive in their remaining games they will need to hold onto the ball and force opponents into longer drives.
My Take: Quarterback Max Shortell was given just two drives before Jerry Kill turned the reins back over to junior MarQueis Gray who returned after missing last week's game due to a toe injury. Gray looked much more composed in the pocket this week and made some good throws, though this did not coincide with completions as the receivers had a few drops.
The biggest thing that Gopher fans can take solace in from this game is that the team did not quit after falling behind big very early in the game. It's painfully obvious that this team has some glaring holes but the fact that they hung in there and didn't give up as they did last week is a big step forward at least in the players' mindset.