WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Tanner Morgan’s family waits in front of a large group of Gophers fans outside the metal gate of Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday.
After the Gophers’ quarterbacks showered, changed clothes, and met members of the media, they were welcomed by some of their loved ones, who had made a three-hour drive from their hometown, Ky. Tyler Morgan clapped as his younger brother approached.
They were able to hug and hold talks briefly after Morgan returned from a three-turnover, 59-yard passing performance in a 14-10 loss to Bowling Green last week. It was his worst performance in 30 collegiate starts.
Morgan’s stat line didn’t jump off the page on Saturday – 9-for-18 passing for 169 yards, a touchdown and no turnover in a 20-13 win over Purdue – but the successes were there as he started as a starter. Had improved in 21-10.
“At the end of the day you have to celebrate the things you do well; That’s something I probably don’t do best,” shared Morgan.
The Gophers were more inclined to broadcast it to Morgan on Saturday. He scored big completions of 32, 51, and 54 yards, and those big passing plays scored 17 out of 20 for Minnesota.
While Morgan had a tough game against Bowling Green, head coach PJ Fleck and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford Jr. were investigated earlier this season for their conservative play-calling. It came to a head against the Falcon.
“I thought we mixed it up really well,” Fleck said of the run versus the pass. “When those safes are tucked in there, you have to make those plays. We didn’t do enough with the planned part of it to create a one-on-one matchup, but our wideouts could use our momentum and Can be run by people. He did a good job making the play.”
Morgan said, “It was offensive. Coach Sanford did a great job of giving those guys a chance to make plays. We probably batted 50 percent on them. But those plays were huge, from getting those explosive pass plays to.” The game made a big difference.”
Fleck pointed to passing security first. Minnesota dropped a season-worst four sack versus Bowling Green, but Purdue, and projected NFL Draft pick George Karloftis, had no Saturdays.
“I thought we did a really good job of pass-pro,” Fleck said. “We put number 5 on hold. I think he is one of the best players in the country and has wreaked havoc throughout the conference.”
Dylan Wright (personal reasons) and Chris Autman-Bell (ankle) Without limited, Michael Brown-Stephens had two catches for 105 yards. Both came to the play-action.
“We had a good game-plan coming in,” Brown-Stephens said. “We saw a lot from those guys on film. They were kind of flat-footed, and we knew I had the speed to go behind the defense. It wasn’t just me; it was all of us.”
With a first-drive touchdown strike to Autman-Bell, Morgan became the fastest quarterback in U history to reach 50 touchdown passes. He did it in 727 pass attempts, besting Asad Abdul-Khaliq’s score of 736 from 2000–03.