University of Minnesota junior running back DeLeon Eskridge was able to make his mark with a big day rushing the football in Saturday's 29-28 loss to Northwestern on Saturday.
Eskridge finished the game with 119 yards rushing, his highest total since he ran for 124 yards against Illinois on Oct. 13, 2008. Eskridge handled the bulk of the Gophers carries. His 22 rushing attempts gave him a solid 5.4 yards per carry average.
"Everygame, [Donnell] Kirkwood, [Duane] Bennett and I feel like you are going to get some plays," Eskridge said. "Coach [Brewster] always says he is going to go with the strong hand. I was having a good game, so he just let me continue to carry it out."
The ability to run the ball effectively was also a big part of the Gophers being able to open up the offense for some bigger plays as shown by Bennet's 38-yard touchdown reception, and Eric Lair's 42-yard reception.
"You can't run the ball and get eight yards every single time," quarterback Adam Weber said. "But by running the ball and by showing similar looks, it makes them commit more to the run and when they do that it opens up some big plays for us. Some of those big plays we got wouldn't have been so open if we had not stuck with the run game."
Eskridge also acknowledged the offensive line being a big part of his production.
"Just the blocking," Eskrdige said. "The whole offensive line just did a tremendous job blocking and the holes were there."
Eskridge's 100-plus yard production marks the third time already this season that a Gopher running back has hit the century mark in rushing yards with Duane Bennett rushing for 187 and 104 against Middle Tennessee State and South Dakota, respectively.
With seven games still remaining on the season, the Gophers already have three 100-yard rushing performances. They had none last season and just two by Eskridge in 2008. The Gophers had four times over the century mark in 2007 when Amir Pinnix hit the mark twice along with Jay Thomas and Bennett each recording one.
-Athletic Communications Assistant Keith Beise