Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
After mostly struggling offensively in their first five games, a stretch that reached a low-point with a shut out loss to Northwestern, the Minnesota Golden Gophers found their formula for success against Purdue.
The 326 rushing yards they had in a 41-13 win on Saturday was the most the Golden Gophers have had in a Big Ten game since 2005, and freshman tailback Shannon Brooks led the way with 176 yards (including a 71-yard touchdown run) on 17 carries.
More importantly, quarterback Mitch Leidner had an efficient performance against Purdue. He went 8-for-12 for 59 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, along with a rushing touchdown and a reception on a trick play. The Minnesota offensive line played better all-around, as some pieces returned from injury while others sat out, but it’s clear a shift in offensive philosophy has rightfully taken place with impact of the quarterback as a passer greatly minimized.
More from Gold and Gopher
- Must-have Minnesota Golden Gophers items for football season
- Minnesota Golden Gophers Father’s Day Gift Guide
- Minnesota Golden Gophers Gift Guide: 10 Man Cave must-haves
- Get Golden Gophers News, in the New FanSided Android App
- Gold and Gopher Madness: Win $500 or an Apple TV from RetailMeNot and LockerDome
Freshman quarterback Demry Croft has seen action in each of the last two games, with the result not in doubt in either case. He clearly has a long way to go as a passer, going 7-for-16 for 34 yards combined against Northwestern and Purdue, but Croft has shown some ability as a runner with long runs of 11 yards against Northwestern and 34 yards against Purdue.
I know the schedule now gets tougher for the Golden Gophers, but what they need to do to succeed offensively is clear. Leidner finds his way into the end zone as a runner about every other game, but in terms of yardage production he’s not doing much so far this season. Croft would offer some spark as a runner and provide an element defenses have to account for, and as he gains experience he can’t be any worse as a passer than Leidner has mostly been through six games.
Croft should see action before the fourth quarter next Saturday against Nebraska. Leidner will surely start, but even if it’s a close contest it’s not guaranteed he will be the quarterback that finishes the game.
More from Minnesota Football
- Golden Gophers Football: Matt Limegrover and Jim Zebrowski Fired
- Golden Gophers vs. Iowa: Game Time, Odds, Broadcast Map, Announcers
- Golden Gophers Football: Tracy Claeys Named Permanent Head Coach
- Golden Gophers vs. Iowa: 5 Players to Watch
- Golden Gophers Football: Tracy Claeys May Have Interim Label Removed