Holiday Bowl grades: CB Jalen Myrick, running backs lead Minnesota in win

Highest-graded players and top takeaways from Minnesota's 17-12 victory over Washington State.

| 5 months ago
Jalen Myrick

(Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Holiday Bowl grades: CB Jalen Myrick, running backs lead Minnesota in win

Minnesota Golden Gophers 17, Washington State Cougars, 12

Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Golden Gophers’ 17-12 win over the Cougars on Tuesday:

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Quarterback grade: Mitch Leidner, 64.0

In a game that was dominated by defense, neither quarterback had a much success throwing the ball, but Mitch Leidner was able to provide a couple of important runs that where able to extend drives. As a passer, Leidner was under pressure on 57.7 percent of his dropbacks, and was only able to complete 36.4 of his passes on such plays; when he was kept clean, that completion rate shot up to 77.8 percent. The ironic thing about Leidner’s performance was that his worse throw of the night was tipped by a defender into RB Shannon Brooks’ hands for a touchdown; while the stat sheet looks good, the throw should have been intercepted.

Mitch Leidner vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

RB Rodney Smith, 80.3

RB Shannon Brooks, 73.8

WR Drew Wolitarsky, 68.4

TE Bryce Witham, 66.1

WR Rashad Still, 59.3

With the Gophers struggling in the passing game and the offensive line not opening many holes, Minnesota’s offensive production sat on the shoulders of running backs Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks. While neither back set the world on fire, they where both consistent in putting the Gophers into good down-and-distance situations, even with the O-line struggling in front of them. The Gophers’ offensive line was able to give the RB-duo 1.3 yards before contact, though, and Smith and Brooks were able to gain 3.0 yards after contact.

Top defensive grades:

CB Jalen Myrick, 85.3

LB Blake Cashman, 83.7

LB Jaylen Waters, 76.7

CB Adekunle Ayinde, 76.3

ED Kamal Martin 76.3

With multiple players out due to suspension, it fell on the shoulders of senior cornerback Jalen Myrick to lead the team against Washington State head coach Mike Leach’s passing offense. Myrick surrendered just 0.29 yards per coverage snap, and broke up two passes. He was targeted nine times, but only surrendered four catches for 17 receiving yards, as the Gophers’ defense was able to suffocate the Washington State offense into 5.1 yards per passing attempt.

Washington State Cougars

Quarterback grade: Luke Falk, 62.5

While Luke Falk’s counterpart, Minnesota QB Mitch Leinder, was under pressure most of the night, the Cougars’ offensive line was able to supply Falk with enough time to make plays (was under no pressure 67.8 percent of the time). However, he was unable to make much happen downfield, as he only completed five of 17 passes over 10 yards for 92 yards on such throws. While Falk wasn’t able to make much happen in the passing game, he also didn’t make any huge errors; his only interception came from a desperation throw on fourth down late in the game when simply trying to make something happen.

Luke Falk vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

C Riley Sorenson, 81.0

T Andre Dillard, 80.6

G Cody O’Connell, 74.8

HB Gerald Wicks, 70.3

T Cole Madison, 68.9

With the Gophers’ defense providing very little room for the Cougars’ passing game to work, Washington State needed a wide receiver to step up and make some plays. However, the only wideout who had any success was Robert Lewis, who caught six out of eight targets for 86 yards—one of those targets was the aforementioned desperation heave late in the game that was picked off. Outside of Lewis, no other player gained over 33 receiving yards.

Top defensive grades:

LB Isaac Dotson, 83.7

DI Robert Barber, 82.0

DI Hercules Mata’afa, 79.7

DI Daniel Ekuale, 77.3

S Shalom Luani, 75.3

The Cougars’ defense was able to hold its head up high after this game, especially the front-seven, as the unit was able to control the line of scrimmage and force the Gophers’ running backs to change their point attack often. When Washington State’s defensive linemen had a chance to go after the quarterback, they did so with gusto, as the Cougars recorded four sacks, a QB hit, and 14 QB pressures.

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. 

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