If the defensive coaches still wanted Jaycen Taylor to move to their side of the ball, they can likely now kiss that wish goodbye.
The running back, whose been coveted by the defense almost since his arrival on campus, turned in his best game as a Boilermaker Saturday, helping Purdue to a 27-21 victory over Minnesota.
Taylor picked up 90 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown, while also nabbing another score on one of his two pass receptions.
Most of his damage came in the fourth quarter. First, his 18-yard TD gave Purdue a 27-14 lead with 11 minutes left. Later, his 37-yard rush on Purdue's final drive helped the Boilermakers run out the clock and preserve the victory.
The sophomore's been a hot commodity the last few weeks, as defensive coordinator Brock Spack has made no secret of his desire to move Taylor into the secondary, where he might be a natural to help a struggling unit.
Although the transfer from L.A. Harbor Community College, who attended a J.C. only to try to prolong his career as a running back, may have reluctantly switched sides if asked, his heart is on offense.
"As much as they've been thinking about moving me to defense and having it in the back of their heads," Taylor said, "I'm hoping today's performance kind of took it out of their head in general."
He can consider that mission accomplished.
"Yeah, we can't move him," Coach Joe Tiller said. "I mean the guy is a tough guy, a smart guy, he's a good football player."
In addition to Taylor's production, the Boilermakers got another solid performance out of fellow running back Kory Sheets.
Although he was held without a score for the first time this season, the sophomore collected 76 yards on 19 carries.
The two helped the Boilermakers gain 178 yards on 32 rushes, a 5.6 average.
After sustaining a hip pointer last week against Ball State, wide receiver Greg Orton did not start. He played, but in a limited capacity, after practicing on Wednesday and Thursday.
Tiller said Purdue didn't start Orton as it wondered how a young player who'd never been hurt before would react come game time.
"I'd suspect he'll play next week," Tiller said afterwards.
Orton saw only sparse action. He had a deep ball thrown to him — it was incomplete — after which he came up holding the back of his leg.
In Orton's absence, Jake Standeford started and caught two passes while drawing two pass-interference (or holding) penalties. One was offset by a Purdue penalty, but the other came on third down and was a key play in the Boilermakers' key 93-yard TD drive.
Everyone asked following the game about whether they were surprised that Minnesota took to throwing the ball inside the 5 at the end of the first half said they were not.
"That's what they'd been doing (in previous games)," Tiller said.
Upon Further Review
Two calls were overturned by review on Saturday, both times with the officials apparently ultimately getting the call correct.
The final review — and the most important — came in the game's closing minutes, when Curtis Painter fell on a fumbled snap on third-and-one for no gain of significance. Originally, he was given the first down, but the officials overturned it after taking a second look. The reversal set up fourth-and-one, but it didn't matter, as Purdue converted on the next day.
In the first quarter, Anthony Spencer hustled to trip up from behind a Gopher ball-carrier on a reverse on third-and-three. The play was originally dubbed a four-yard gain, but further view determined the runner's knee was down after a gain of only one, forcing Minnesota to punt.
Linebacker George Hall didn't start the game, but saw substantially more action this week than he did last. He made eight tackles, with the interception just prior to halftime.
Hall missed most of the preseason, and the first two games, after undergoing surgery on his leg in August. He says he's now 100-percent healthy.
"I've been 100 percent for three weeks now," Hall said. "The coaches wanted to go easy with him, but I just said, 'I'm here to play football."
• Freshman safety Keith Smith played on the kickoff and kickoff-return teams, but saw just a snap or two on defense in the tight game.
Tiller praised the play of fellow safety Brandon Erwin, suggesting the true freshman starter is growing up on the field. Erwin broke up a deep ball over the middle, having his chances of intercepting the ball undercut by the receiver cutting in front of him.
"He's starting to play the ball," Tiller said, "instead of playing the receiver."
Additionally, Erwin had three tackles and recovered Alex Magee's blocked field goal.
• Linebacker Cliff Avril saw extended, every-down action at defensive end in the fourth quarter as Minnesota took to the air in hopes of scoring quickly.
Between linebacker and end, Avril finished with 10 tackles.
This and That
• Purdue's 93-yard touchdown drive was its second 93-yard series of the season.
• Dustin Keller's 119-yard game marked the second time in as many weeks he's eclipsed the century mark.
• Minnesota has now lost seven straight games in West Lafayette. Tiller is 7-1 against Gopher coach Glen Mason.
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