Though the final score may have been 41-13, Purdue stuck around Saturday’s game longer than expected. It never challenged for a lead, per se, but a couple of fumbles deep in Michigan territory set it up to stay in the game until the third quarter.
That’s when Semaj Morgan struck.
The true freshman has been teasing at a breakout game all season, but on Saturday he made it clear he was on the scene to stay. He totaled 71 yards on three touches and produced a long touchdown that serves as this week’s turning point.
Michigan trotted out a heavy formation. Six offensive linemen, Bredeson at tight end, Corum in the backfield, plus CoJo and Morgan split to either side. It was clear to the defense that this was a run all the way, and Purdue stacked the box with eight defenders ready to get violent up front.
But Sherrone Moore has something slightly different in mind. Instead of running into the teeth of the Boilermaker defense, he called a changeup. Moore sent true freshman Semaj Morgan in motion across the formation before the snap and handed him the ball on a jet sweep. The Purdue defense was caught flat-footed. The linebacker in the charge of setting the edge crashed down instantly, hoping to stuff Corum three yards in the backfield. He only realized Morgan had the ball about three yards too late. Duped.
From there, it was all lightning. The flashy freshman turned upfield once he hit the numbers and accelerated, leaving two defensive backs doing nothing more than cardio. Morgan’s white towel flapping in the wind served as a fitting metaphor for Purdue’s emotional surrender following the touchdown.
Morgan didn’t go untouched, however. Purdue’s deep safety, standing 15-20 yards off the ball, was able to shove Morgan in the back as he crossed the plane. Morgan was so quick that even a player with a 20-yard head start was reading the name “Morgan” as he crossed the goal line for six.
Look for Morgan to get more touches as the season goes on. He has looked the part of a legitimate college receiver thus far and may have a role carved out next week against Penn State.