Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Point/Counterpoint

Another blogger from Smartfootball came over here this weekend a few times and told J to "stay on message" following the NU game. First off, our site isn't dedicated to Xs and Os like his, so I have a problem with that point. We write about sports, mostly Purdue sports, and we're Purdue grads. We get emotional, and we really don't care if it's viewed as biased from time-to-time. We are biased- It tears us up when Purdue loses. That said, we're not school children who don't understand the game. So when I see that he's guest posting at a site and making statements about Purdue saying that our fans won't or can't answer questions about Purdue's offense, I get bothered. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I didn't see him giving TMill the chance to answer the question, and don't remember him asking this of us...So, while Chris' cerebral look at Purdue is appreciated, it is simply not as accurate as he might think in my opinion. For instance:

"The run game had become predictable, and the downfield passing game, which so often would shred inferior competition, would become completely stymied against good teams because (a) they could man up on all of Purdue's receivers, and (b) via the four down linemen and various blitz schemes, they could take target practice on Purdue's quarterback. "

Is he inferring that Purdue's downfield passing game is now better than previous seasons? Really? Purdue's downfield plays are created by the simple fact that Purdue receivers this season are all large and strong. When given the opportunity, they break tackles...so some plays have showed as long passes in the stat log. But in actuality, they're nothing of the sort. Purdue has no vertical passing game at all- regardless of the opponent. Much of this is due to play calling, but most seems to be due to Elliott's inability to throw a deep ball. Case in point: Elliott threw for 300+ on Saturday, and on the stat sheet, the 67-yarder to Valentin might jump out. But, if you watched the game, you know that Elliott threw a simple out to Valentin (and quite high, mind you). After the great catch, Valentin, stiff-armed the NU defender and headed down the sidelines.

This point goes hand-in-hand with Purdue's running game becoming less-and-less productive as the season's progressed. No one respects Elliott's long ball ability at this point...so safeties seem to be getting closer and closer to the line of scrimmage as the season progresses. Granted, Bolden's not in perfect health, but he's still an elusive back. Problem is, he doesn't have the power in his legs right now to break the first tackle. A perpetual annoyance of mine this season is the simple fact that we're not seeing more of the other running backs. If his knee isn't allowing him to play close to 100%, he should be rested for a game or a half (at least), in my opinion. Heck, I heard it from the coach's own mouth time and time again that Purdue was loaded at RB...but all we've really seen is Bolden and a dash of Taylor all season.

Chris also keeps talking about fumbles as a probability and something that's seemingly random. My beef here is the fact that guys that fumble, specifically at key junctures on special teams keep getting the opportunity to do it again and again. Some guys are more prone to fumble than others...and those guys shouldn't be put back in the exact same situation over and over.

This Purdue offense, while statistically noteworthy, has quite a few Achilles heels. They've had long lapses each game (with the exception of Toledo) in which they seem to not be able to move the ball. Now, that's either play-calling or quarterback play. I think it's a bit of both. Another huge issue, especially when a team is in close games as Purdue's been in nearly every game is they cannot run a 2-minute offense...let-alone a hurried 1.5 minute offense.
Chris closes this post with another flaw in judgment, in my opinion. He says,
"I think it's pretty obvious that the only player right now that can inspire any serious fear among other Big 10 teams is running back Ralph Bolden, who is currently ranked second in the Big 10 in rushing yards per game."
I think what a lot of coaches might instead see at this point is that Bolden had 2.9 yards/carry v. NORTHWESTERN...NU couldn't stop anybody from running the ball, before Purdue of course, but made Chris' Superman look like Clark Kent.

I like Ralph Bolden, but to say he's the only Purdue player that is tough to prepare for is not correct. When Smith is given the opportunity to run with the ball after the catch, he's extremely hard to tackle. Plus, he runs very good routes and can block...out of the backfield (as he as in the FB position) and from the slot or flanker position. He's not the typical burner, but he's a hybrid- I compare him with Dallas Clark- he's got good hands, runs clean routes and doesn't shy away from contact. Plus, for his size, he has great body control.

I'm positive that Chris understands the intricacies of football much better than I- This is probably why I take such umbrage with this post today.

7 comments:

Purdue Matt said...

I think the biggest obstacle to Bolden's productivity lately is the fact that the Purdue offense doesn't have the ball.

J Money said...

There's a lot wrong with the analysis, but I'm less inclined to go after him.

Also, he was telling YOU to stay "on point" I think. My post had nothing but positive love.

Chris said...

Chris from Smart Football here. The "stay on message" was in poor form, and I apologized (and apologize again). I didn't mean it to come off that way; it was really just me being upset with Purdue and looking for answers. Writing about Purdue is very difficult for me since I enjoy getting into the down and dirty, but Purdue is my alma mater too so it's hard to stay unbiased. The stay on message came out of the blue and was the wrong idea -- I think I was just referring to focusing on stuff we might be able to improve. But again, sorry. As I said in a different comment, you all do an amazing job on this site and it is much, much appreciated. Dowd, Jmoney, etc, everyone.

Anyway a few brief responses but I don't really disagree with your analysis. First, Graham Filler of the Rivalry is a friend and he asked me to do a Big 10 Q&A awhile ago -- I wasn't trying to avoid anyone. I don't write about Purdue much for my site because, well, I'm biased, which is not supposed to be the point of my writing for my site, Yahoo, the NYT, etc. Anyway:

- By "downfield passing" I really just meant stuff not off a 3-step drop or behind the line like screens. I'm not just including bombs and big 25+ yard plays. I guess "intermediate" would be just as useful of a term, but against the very good teams like Michigan, OSU, and Penn State, Purdue would transform from a 350-500 yard passing team to a sub-200 yard passing team. Look at Painter's stats for winning vs. non-winning and conference vs. out of conference passing numbers.

The question was just what is Purdue doing differently, so I said this is what they are trying to do. The jury is still out, obviously, as you pointed out. I don't know what the verdict will be. I sure hope it is positive.

- The fumbles point is perplexing. I just pointed out that there is a lot of evidence saying it is random. But I also pointed out that the culprits -- Elliott, Valentin -- have been turning it over a lot, and there are clearly coaching points you can do to work on them. (QB keep both hands on the ball, etc. Compare Kurt Warner in the NFL who was a fumbling machine with, say, Peyton Manning who always keeps two hands on the ball except when he's throwing.)

- The Ralph Bolden point was in response to "who gives you hope for the future of Purdue," i.e. beyond this season. Bolden is clearly the brightest young star. I like Smith a lot but I'm not as high on him as others are -- that's a point of preference. I see little flaws in his game, but there's no question that he's been the brightest star of the last couple of weeks. If nothing else he's the one guy you absolutely know is playing with a passion right now, and Purdue needs more of that.

---

Anyway I just really want to emphasize that I think you guys do a great job and I didn't meant to get on you. I'm a frustrated Purdue fan too. I'm just giving yet another outsider's view on what I'm seeing. If I have a bias it's probably too much hope. After last weekend's game I sincerely wonder why I watch so that the team can break everyone's heart again. Yet most of the other national pundits dismiss Purdue out of hand, and I do think there are signs of life. Whether they grow into anything is anyone's guess.

Again though, I really enjoy the site and I'll let you guys be. Many apologies.

boilerdowd said...

Chris, I appreciate you stopping by again...and apologizing again. In fact, you deserve an apology from me for not letting it die...but I was wound up again today- I'm sorry for letting it go; I won't bring it up again.

There's been a certain rhythm to the season for me...and each Wednesday, I've been pretty frustrated as I've gathered info from Tuesday practice notes on GBI, general stats and things have simply set in.

I know you know football...and am glad to know you're a Purdue guy...I just wanted to respond to your post. And honestly, the guys at Esq rub me the wrong way- no real reason other than the fact that they are all over eachother in UM and aOSU hats. Your association this morning didn't help!!

I hope you understand I'm half-kidding about that, but just wanted to respond. It sounds like you've either coached or played at a high-level. My college roommate played small college ball and coached high school. I only played a year in high school...his name's Chris, by the way, and he's very handsome. Sorry, I drifted a bit. But you guys can both get into details that I can't- I appreciate the knowledge, but I see things differently than you in this case.

Thanks again for weighing-in; I hope you understand that I don't think it's a bad thing to disagree- I disagree with J on about everything...except the fact that we both think Queen Latifah's smokin' hot.

Chris said...

dowd: No worries at all. If nothing else I'm just glad people are still talking about Purdue. Not an easy thing for a 1-4 squad.

The last point I tried to make in the Q&A is really the major thing: I like conjectures, stats, breakdowns, etc. But ultimately Danny Hope will be judged based on his won/loss record, and he's eventually going to have to start winning. Preferably soon.

All the best. Keep up the great stuff.

boilerdowd said...

Thanks Chris- you too.

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