Saturday, October 03, 2009

Season Over?

I told Boilerdowd I didn't want to be dramatic, but that final drive against Northwestern today was, in my mind, one that makes or breaks our season. Score and you salvage something and have things to feel good about. Do what they did do... and it's probably time to fold the tent.

I hate to be a defeatist, but this might have finished me off, just five games in. I said Friday that Purdue finds new and creative ways to turn themselves into the coyote.

Blowing a 21-3 lead on Homecoming?
Six turnovers?
Another questionable late-game call (the first-down spike with a timeout left)?

Yeah, sounds about right.

I'm now with those of you who want to blame coaching. I'm fully on board. There is no excuse for this. And when a team looks like world-beaters one quarter and like they've never seen a football before in the very next quarter... well, that's on the coaching staff. There is no consistency out of this team and it's infuriating. The offense slices through teams sometimes -- and then takes a couple of quarters off. The defense makes great stops at times -- and then forgets how to tackle.

Let's also make no mistake here -- Northwestern is not very good. Kafka's a good QB, but their defense looked very porous for much of the game. And yes, I know they shut out the Boilers in the second half, but half a dozen turnovers help that sort of cause. This was a beatable team, a very winnable game and one that, frankly, should have turned into a laugher. And yet Purdue found a way to cough it up. Inexcusable. I don't care how inexperienced some of these guys are. Taking care of the football is something you CAN coach.

And let me also mention that terrible decision on first and goal from the 8. Joey Elliott comes to the line with one timeout remaining and...spikes the ball? I have a HUGE problem with this. Purdue needs every down possible to get into the end zone there. This wasn't a field goal game. Either run a play or call a timeout. Do not give away a down. And it wound up mattering, too, didn't it? Simply an awful decision, either on Joey's part or on that of the coaching if they instructed him to do that.

The wheels are coming off, folks.

10 comments:

Chris said...

Very disappointing game, I agree with most of what you said, etc. The only positive is that this was Elliott's best game by far, and on the interception I blame Keith Smith for at least not making it an incompletion -- he just faded away and then fell down, inexplicably.

And I completely agree about the spike. Game ends on 4th down with a few seconds left -- we should have had another shot. It also makes Hope's very plausible explanation about his timeout last week, which I bought, that of course you wouldn't waste a down by spiking, how ridiculous! And then Hope does it? (And Elliott and the staff had been quite efficient getting the plays going during the last drive.)

Ugh. What a weird game. I seriously think they had a problem with slick balls or something with all the fumbles. (If you've ever been on the sidelines of a game, each team's offense provides the balls used when that team has the ball. Often new ones are very slick, and managers will scrub them down. This is my wacky and maybe incorrect theory, but seriously something was going on with all those fumbles.)

Irish_cowboy said...

So I don't get how this works... do I like bring a paper bag to the next game? I'll have to call some Cleveland fans and get some tips.

How do you overthrow the game winning TD wide open and hit the goalpoast?!?!?!

Is it basketball season yet?

I'm so gosh-darn angry!!!

J Money said...

Chris -- are you saying NW managers are better ball-rubbers? Errr...

Seriously, though, yes, I'm sure the conditions contributed to the slippery ball -- but you still have to take care of it, right? Doesn't change things.

irishcowboy -- that whole last play looked busted to me.... awful.

Chris said...

JMoney I wasn't trying to absolve anyone, and if anything that is a coaching detail, but just speculating. Bottom line is you don't often see a non-option team fumble it literally every time they get the ball on possession after possession. I mean guys like Valentin are born fumblers -- sort of the give and take with that guy -- but I was just speculating. Yes, the onus falls on the coaches/players to take care of the ball.

Nate H said...

The weather contributed absolutely zero to the fumbles.

It didn't start raining until the fourth quarter.

Disgusting display Saturday. Absolutely terrible.

T-Mill said...

Conditions are not to blame. Northwestern wasn't fumbling.

boilerdowd said...

The pass by Elliott was horrible- he telegraphed it so badly, and the play fake was not convincing. The play call was pretty lousy too...but I'd blame Keith Smith last, in this case.

Chris said...

dowd: For the record, you can disagree with the call, etc but I stand by my assertion that Smith screwed up on his route by not attacking the ball. When Elliott threw it Smith was inside the DB, and the DB came over the top to intercept it, which should never happen if you attack the ball.

Hope confirmed this: "We had a pick, throwing out of the goal line that was the result of a poor route," Hope said. http://bit.ly/1iyvSi

Again, you can disagree with the call, but in terms of what happened on the field that one falls on Smith. This isn't a knock on the guy he's played amazing -- one of the few true bright spots this year -- but he has made his share of key mistakes this year, like drops vs. Oregon and this play. He's emblemmatic of this team: marked signs of improvement marred by key, glaring mistakes.

Not trying to argue, just trying to clarify the criticism. You don't go 1-4 by doing a lot of things right, but you have to have a degree of sanity about the criticisms rather than just bench the QB, bench the coach, bench the fans. This team has managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory every week, so better to focus on what went wrong. Purdue lost to NW because of turnovers, period. There's little to criticize apart from the rather glaring and incredibly inept fact that the Boilermakers turned it over six times, an incredible number. Some fumbling is just random -- it happens.

But Purdue has a turnover problem that largely explains their losses. Before the Northwestern game Purdue was already 90th in the country in turnover margin and 103rd in giveaways. After the game Purdue is 116th in giveaways per game and 110th in turnover margin. http://www.teamrankings.com/college-football/stat/turnover-margin-per-game

Obviously part of this is Elliott's seven interceptions, but if you want an explanation for why the season isn't to a Purdue fan's liking, this number is basically it, right there. (I'm not even sure it counts Valentin's muffed punts.) Again, there is a degree of randomness with turnovers. If any of you have read Phil Steele's stuff he shows pretty demonstrably that teams who have mediocre records due largely to poor turnover margins tend to bounce back because those turnovers even out. Bill Belichick has done studies, with Jim Schwartz, current Lions coach, about how fumbles are basically a random occurrence.

This isn't to say that they can't be worked on -- I mean Valentin is a turnover machine, and anyone with eyes can see it is tied to how he carries the ball. Every fan is allowed to vent about their team when they sit a pathetic 1-4, but let's stay on message.

J Money said...

"Let's stay on message"?

Well...sir, yes, sir!

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