Saturday, September 25, 2010

Diddly Poo

I'm not sure where to begin, so I've asked former NFL head coach Jim Mora to make a guest appearance on BS and let us know what he thought of the Boilers performance. Coach?

I see. I think that's pretty much fair. Of course, let's not focus too much on Coach Mora's comments about the second half. In fact, replace "second half" with "first half" and you're a lot warmer. It wasn't a top to bottom shitty performance, though, as certain defensive players showed up. Right Coach?

Okay. So we've established that you shouldn't blame that game entirely on the defense. And I think there are some guys on the defense you can't blame it on. Like Ryan Kerrigan. But that said, I don't think the defense tackled particularly well, more than once letting what looked like a sure wrap-up slither away from their grasp. That should really never happen, no matter who your opponent is. But when you're playing a MAC team, well, let's go back to some of the things we said last year about the Northern Illinois game. MAC athletes are smaller and should not be able to push around Big Ten athletes. It just shouldn't happen.

As Coach Mora says above, quite simply, Purdue couldn't do diddly poo today. They did almost nothing well. And we here at BS don't really feel like you can put a whole lot of it on the players. They sure looked like they wanted to win, getting very excited when it looked like they might come back, for example. The issue appears to be with coaching, something else we've discussed before. And today the team looked horribly ill-prepared.

There was no flow to the offense for most of the game. Even early -- which is when Purdue looked good last week -- the play calling was horrible. Draw plays, bootlegs, predictable runs and passes.... nothing exciting. No stretching the field. No taking advantage of the -- again -- athletic differences. Purdue's skill players should be able to walk over a MAC team. Oh, especially a MAC team that coming into the game was the worst offense in the nation. The worst. That team just put up 31 points on Purdue. At Purdue. As I said to Boilerdowd when we talked after the game, can you imagine if the Purdue-Oregon series was taking place this year? Purdue would give up 50. Or maybe 60. And as he responded back to me, look at the points that teams like Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin are rolling up on teams this year. That 50 or 60 might well still be hung on our boys this year.

This game was bad news all around. I know Purdue started very slow last year, with the 1-5 start, and then roared to the finish. Well, let me ask you this: Do you think this year's team can match last year's team's Big Ten record of 4-4? Because if they do, that only gets them to 6-6 and barely into a bowl game that the school will probably lose money on. And that's if they manage to beat four Big Ten teams. Do you see four Big Ten teams that Purdue can beat? I sure don't. I'm not sure I see any teams that are automatic wins anymore. Sure, they'll surprise us and pull out one or maybe two, but beyond that, unless something significant changes, this season is in serious jeopardy.

In one of the posts I linked to above from last year, I challenged the team last year and said that the season was slipping away -- at 1-2. But I think this year's team, even though they're 2-2, looks far worse. Last year, the way they played at Oregon and at home versus Notre Dame at least gave you reason to believe they could hang with anyone. That's what made an otherwise mediocre season a lot of fun. This season? Not looking fun right now.

What went well

Sure, we have to have a section on what went well, don't we?  Not much. It might be funnier to just leave this section completely blank, but that might be mean. Because there were some guys who were working hard:

Ryan Kerrigan, once again, was a beast. Every time the defense did make something happen, it was Kerrigan in the middle of it. He was again constantly in the backfield and constantly being held. Kerrigan is one of those guys who you feel bad for if he has to waste his senior year on a team going no where.

Dan Dierking has become Boilerdowd's most trusted guy. On the offensive side of the ball, who else would you trust? Dierking isn't flashy and he doesn't do much spectacularly, but he's steady, fundamentally sound and a hell of a hard worker. His touchdown in the second half was pure will.

Jared Crank had one of his better outings, rushing for 43 yards on just four carries and a score.

Rob Henry, while I don't think he's ready for prime time, definitely grew up a little bit in the second half. Whereas for much of his time he looked absolutely lost out there throwing the ball, in the second half a few passes here and there began to connect and his confidence seemed to grow. He almost led the Boilers all the way back, something no one here thought he could do when the score was 17-0. 

Henry's pass attempt to Cortez Smith on the right side of the end zone that got broken up was something I view positively. Sure, he should have gotten it to the outside but he didn't do badly. The pass was high, where only Cortez could possibly come down with it and it was nicely lofted. It was in Smith's grasp but he couldn't hold on.

Henry's zip pass towards OJ Ross in the fourth quarter on 3rd and 10 that would have tied the score at 24 had a little too much sizzle on it, but otherwise wasn't a bad try. Point is, I like where this kid is heading. That said, I don't think he's ready to lead this team and I think they need to seriously consider spending the next two weeks getting Justin Siller ready to play quarterback.

BTN Terrible

I need to point this out because I think it's necessary and I am not impressed. The Big Ten Network's coverage of the Purdue game today was awful. Some items:

-- There were two "sideline interference" calls made in the first half, one on both teams. As B-dowd put it, "that's like a technical foul on the sideline."  But it seemed to more or less confuse the BTN broadcast team and almost no explanation was given and zero replays were shown. Of either violation. Now, if something is called a penalty, standard practice is to go back and show what the penalty was. It's something the viewer likes to see. And they failed to do that on both occasions a rare and strange penalty was called.

-- The Rob Henry horsecollar/personal foul. He runs left, goes out of bounds and is hit late. Personal foul. But behind the play, Purdue is called for a chop block. Also a 15 yarder. Confusion ensues in the BTN booth as the play by play man (whose name escapes me right now) says, "Sooooo... do they mark it off backwards?" Or something idiotic like that. And neither man seems to have any ides what happens. Play resumes and it is never discussed.

-- In the fourth quarter, Purdue is going for it on fourth down. The BTN sees fit to show us a promo of tomorrow's NFL games on Fox and leaves it up onscreen long enough that we miss the fourth down play and come back to see a pile of players on the ground. No idea what they ran (well, we all know they ran a draw because evidently Jim Colletto was calling the plays from Los Angeles), no idea who had the ball, no idea if they made it.... just atrocious. Seriously, promos over a fourth down play? That's a joke.

Coaching Decisions

People have hammered on Danny Hope before and we're beginning to come around to their side. Some of the decisions are real head-scratchers. The one that bothered me most was the fourth and two in the first half when Purdue called time out to think about it and then decided to go for it....with a DRAW PLAY! CLEVER!  But more than the lousy play call, what were they doing going for it down 7-0 on their own side of the field? I get that you want to fire up your team somehow, but they'd shown nothing -- absolutely nothing -- to that point that would lead you to believe they could pull off that conversion. And why take risks on your own side of the field? You're not an elite team with an elite offense. There are times when the choices are easy and that was one of them. You punt the ball and play field position until your offense starts to wake up, hoping your defense can keep it close when given good field position.

This was just one recent example. Stay tuned for Boilerdowd's more detailed commentary on the coaching situation.

What's Next?

Normally we (and especially me) preach for everyone to be patient and to give players, teams and coaches a chance. Judging on a small sample size, like a few games, is not usually a good idea. But the issues this team has are beginning to become clearer. And it's been a couple of years now. Similar issues keep cropping up. Slow starts, guys not looking prepared, questionable coaching decisions.

Purdue should be 4-0, let's be honest. Notre Dame is not good and Purdue hung with them even while playing a poor game. But even with that loss on the ledger, there is no way it is excusable to not be 3-1 right now. And as I mentioned earlier, now you're in need of a 4-4 conference season in order to reach bowl eligibility -- and I don't think 6-6 could be viewed as a good season, honestly. This team has too much talent to be settling for 5-7 and 6-6 seasons.

Today was a big step backwards and one that may be felt for a while.


Scott said...

Danny Hope took over an EKU powerhouse and delivered more losses in his first 5 years than the school had seen since the Great Depression.

This guy is taking the program down a rat hole that will make the Colletto years look successful

Ryan said...

I won't be surprised if I take crap for this, but if Danny Hope is still in West Lafayette come January, I am going to be very, very disappointed. At this point this season is already lost, because as you said, there is no way this team gets two Big Ten wins, much less four so we can spend December at the freaking Little Caesars Bowl again. I would almost rather not win another game, because I'm sure if we go 4-8 or something the school will play it off as a rebuilding year and continue to support Hope.

Disclaimer: I did not actually see the game today. Why? I'm not sure whether to blame this on Comcast or BTN, but I'm guessing probably BTN. I have freaking FIVE BTN channels. There were FIVE games on today. Each one of the channels says Bowling Green at Michigan OR Toledo at Purdue OR ...etc. Yet apparently it makes sense to show the Wisconsin and MSU games on two channels, and Michigan on the other (I'm in Detroit). So screw you whoever messed that up.

I look forward to reading everyone's ranting.

The OX said...

Let's face it, Hope is going to get a pass on this season because of the injuries alone, but that shouldn't mask the fact that his teams consistently look one step slow against out of division cupcakes no less. Judging by the fact that Morgan Burke doesn't fire coaches early means we have what...3 more years of this idiot after this year? If you think the team sucks now, just wait for 3 more years of utter devastation that Danny Hope will bring.

Morgan Burke is usually spot on with his coaching he hired Hope is a mystery to me. in with me?

greg said...

Ryan, I don't think you'll take much crap. I don't know what evidence anybody can use to say that Hope will move this program in the right direction in the near future. There is no way that we should lose to MAC teams year in, year out. If we don't show any signs of progress by the end of the year, it's time to cut our losses and get coach hopeless out.

U-P Boiler said...

I thought danny hope was an EXCELLENT choice. I watched his fire as the offensive line coach and thought he had the daring that Tiller lacked.
That said, I am SORELY disappointed in the defense. Offensive playcalling is VERY suspect, but mitigated by the injuries.
However, Purdue should NEVER, NEVER, EVER lose to a MAC team. I don't care HOW many injuries there are - it's inexcuseable.

boilerdowd said...

Ox, Burke does usually make good hires...his record is pretty great. But, his failure, in this case was keeping JT involved in the process. Tiller chose one of his guys who he wanted to see succeed. The way Tiller acted and seemingly held the athletic department hostage during his final few seasons should have earned him nothing more than a ceremony after his final game...not a say of who his successor would be.

All that said, I'm positive Burke liked Tiller's suggestion...afterall, Hope was inexpensive- one of Burke's most-important characteristics of a new coaching hire.

Mark said...

I think you all are being too hard on the coaching staff. Spring ball had nearly half the offense on the shelf with injuries.

We are without our starting RB, who was the BT's 2nd best rusher last year. We are without our best WR, the best of the BT last year. Our second RB is out. Our THIRD string RB is hurt with rib injuries, and our 4th string RB practiced FOUR times (all this week) in the last year. Add to this the starting QB has been dinged with an ACL, was knocked out of the last two games, and looks out for the season.

Imagine OSU not having Pryor, any RB's, their best WR, and replacing 3 of 5 OL spots. I don't think OSU could do that well, and we don't have half the talent of OSU.

As to the defense, I'm baffled...except to say that Purdue hasn't had good LB play since 2003. They were put into bad positions (the fumble, a long KR, etc.), but why our LB's can't wrap up a MAC RB is beyond me.

I said LAST year that this year would be a tough year saying 5-7 would be a success...and that was before the injuries. Youth, injuries, and lack of quality depth is, IMHO, the big issue.

Hope and staff (sans the SP coach) have proven themselves last year. I think we need to cut them some slack.

Btw, the first poster was erroneous. Hope inherited a sinking EKU program and brought it back up.

boilerdowd said...

Injuries happen...I didn't give Tiller a ton of wiggle room toward the end of his time at Purdue because of circumstances, and out of fairness don't think it's right to judge Hope through a different prism.

Look at Houston- they lose their first string...and second string QB for the season. With a third-string QB, they scored 42 points this week.

Fairly, a poster brought up to me that this was Hope's third recruiting his guys should be pretty well in place...and at minimum we should see signs of a program on an upward trajectory. At this point, I see little-to-no evidence of this.

Do you really think a 5-7 record is proof that a coaching staff is capable and warrants leniency? I think it's pretty fair to be critical, at least of some parts of what we're seeing.

What's OK for you? 4 or 5 wins? Just curious. Without Marve at QB, I'd agree the number drops for me...but he hadn't given us too many reasons to think a ton of success was coming this season even with him at the helm.

rhiles2760 said...

I try to be optimistic. We have 2 weeks to get organized. 2 things I would like to see, offensively, using more of the spread option attack with Henry as the QB, and defensively, versus spread attacks, using nickle and dime packages with DB's replacing LB's. For what it is worth, that was my 2 cents.

boilerdowd said...

Good input...I think Henry might look much better as he takes snaps with the ones for a few weeks. I already like his composure...just needs to work on accuracy and being on the same page as the receivers.

The Accidental Expat said...

Um, guys, don't look now but Brock Spack's Illinois State team is 3-1 and ranked #25 in 1-AA (sorry, can't get used to saying FCS), with its only loss to 1-A Northwestern. Not that Brock is the right man for the job, but I think Burke would be sorely tempted to give him a ring when Hope's seat heats up a bit. I said it at the time, why Purdue didn't give Larry Coker a look is beyond me.

I do agree to a certain extent that the injury bug is partially to blame, but I really don't see a lot of adjustments to accommodate the new and different players and play up their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. I was willing to give Nord the benefit of the doubt last season, but what I'm seeing is a lot of vanilla-- and infuriatingly predictable vanilla at that.

Can the season be saved? Hey, stranger things have happened, and I'll cheer on my Boilers until the final whistle of the final game. But what I've seen so far-- supposedly the cupcake portion of the schedule-- doesn't bode well for the B10 slate.

Mark said...

Well, Henry is our 3rd string QB, who is a Frosh, and as you put it...

Our REAL 1st string QB is now a WR. Our other QB is quite possibly a headcase, and now he is out. Our 3rd string is out with grades, and our 4th string is now playing.

Again, I know of NO team in the nation that could lose what we've lost and not struggle. Nord is doing just fine.

Landhold pissed me off early season last year. He's pissing me off early season this year. Tackling must be somehting they don't teach until it gets bad enough (are we there yet?).

Gibboney needs to be fired, and to answer your question: 5-7 was always the benchmark for me this year, but that will be much harder now.

Purdue Matt said...

I'm not afraid to say that I turned the game off early in the 2nd quarter. Would rather enjoy a beautiful Saturday than watch that playcalling and get angry.

Purdue Matt said...

@ Mark,

"Our other QB is quite possibly a headcase, and now he is out."

WTF makes you say that about Marve? He has done nothing but work hard and say the right things since he's been at Purdue.

BoilerUpAT said...

He's said the right things, done the right things, but when he gets the football in his hands I swear he doesn't think well under pressure. I just don't get him. I thought he was going be our savior but he wasn't. I'm almost happier with Henry in to be honest.

I'm so pissed off at this team and the coaching staff. For the past few weeks and the year previous I was on their side, giving the benefit of the doubt, realizing the struggles of injuries and new players, etc, but I've had enough. Our defense should NEVER give up that many yards and points to a MAC team, let alone a bad MAC team. Props to Toledo for exploiting our weaknesses and playing hard. I wished we played that hard. I can't describe how upset I am at this program, we have guys like Kerrigan busting their ass out there and they get virtually no support. And why, why can none of our WR's ever get open????? I've had it, I'm off the wagon now and am pissed.

Ben said...


It is simple. You cannot take a kid who commits to U of Miami and transplant him to the middle of Indiana. The cultures are different. Yes, we're all a part of the U S of A....but no, this is not a match that fits. He says the right things, sure. Saying and doing are two different things. Leading and winning are expectations from the QB. Marve has been HIGHLY disliked since his highschool days at Plant City...and on to Miami...and I would expect that sentiment would rise exponentially in the confines of the Midwest....and most certainly that would be the case in our beloved, West Lafayette, Indiana.

I never want to see someone hurt. But never once have I bought into Robert Marve as the future of Purdue football. I believe, for the most case- with some JC transfers the takes being recruited- loving the school, and spending a career in the culture to be an impact player. Robert Marve choose Miami first. Not Purdue. That will never change.

IndEY said...

I really hate to be so negative, but 2 straight seasons with MAC losses is a huge cause for concern with coaching. For 2 straight seasons, fundamentals are an issue. There was crazy fumbling last year. This year, it is blocking and tackling.

Go back and watch the past 4 games and count how many O-line breakdowns happen. On Marve's injury play yesterday, both Plue and Drey stood and blocked nobody while the DT ran right between them, and there was no blitz coming (they were looking in opposite directions, so neither even saw him somehow). Count up how many tackles have been broken by the opposition's WRs and RBs. It is pretty sad.

On offense, the coaches don't seem to know quite how to utilize all the speed guys they are so good at recruiting. Why would Ross only have 2 touches on offense? Good offensive teams find ways to get their athletes the ball in space and let them use their talents. This offense is predictable, even with Marve, and favors roll out passes that cut the field in half.

It was encouraging to see Edison and Carlos both run well yesterday. Dierking is a great leader by example. Henry seemed to improve over the course of the game.

I'm really hoping the new guys get lots of playing time and learning experience the rest of the way. That is pretty much the only silver lining I can come up with.

zlionsfan said...

I don't think Hope deserves a pass on injuries in terms of the Toledo game. What this tells me is that Purdue doesn't have Big Ten-caliber depth beyond the first string at certain positions (leaving aside questions of the first-string quality at other positions).

Compare that depth to what we've seen from other schools. Michigan's third-string QB was either 12 of 12 for 110 and a TD (if you go by depth chart) or 7 of 10 for 85 and a TD (if you go by experience) against Bowling Green. Ohio State put up 21 points on Eastern Michigan with its second-string offense. Wisconsin's backup RB ran for 145 and 4 TDs against I-AA Austin Peay. Michigan State's backup got 92 and three scores on Northern Colorado.

Yeah, maybe it's more on the coordinators than the players, but that's Hope too. Maybe he should get a pass this season, given that it sometimes takes a year or two to figure out who'll work with you well and who won't, but if there are problems with, say, the offense, then what we ought to see is more involvement from Hope in the coming weeks.

I hope they don't make any midseason changes - that never really works out well - but sadly I wouldn't expect changes for a while. Hope's contract pays him up to four years' severance (the number of months left or 48 months, whichever is less) at his current base salary. (Hey, it could be a lot worse: his base salary in 2009 was $220,000. His guaranteed compensation was $825,000. I doubt most of the bonus clauses kicked in.) Will Burke write a million-dollar check to correct this mistake? I don't know.

Based on what's happened so far, I'd say OSU, Wisconsin, Michigan, and MSU are losses. Minnesota and Indiana are winnable and at home: I think Hope has to get Ws in both games. Northwestern and Illinois are also winnable, but on the road. I'd like to see a split but am not confident it could happen.

It's sad to say that 3-9 seems reasonable, but that's where I think things stand now. There is too much talent in the Big Ten to take a mediocre team with an inexperienced head coach into conference play and come out .500 or better, and even if they come out at .500, three of those four wins will come over coaches who are on the hot seat themselves, and of course Fitzgerald can probably coach as long as he wants at Northwestern.

dozer8589 said...

For all those jumping on to the "fire Hope" bandwagon:

and hire who?

I think the coaching carousel does more damage to a program than a one-dimensional OC, a porous offensive line or a rash of ridiculous knee injuries.

I am intrigued by an earlier post- We now have two weeks to put Siller back behind the center.

Row Boilers said...

Forget about injuries to QB, RB, WR. Yes, those hurt, but if you put Brees, Alstott, and Stubblefield in this lineup they would be mediocre because this line is pathetic. They have to block somebody and they don't.

The D has no injury problems and are the worst we have seen pre-Tiller. LB are seldom in position on runs or passes and don't make many plays when they stumble into one. D-line has flashes but way too much time in general for QB to pass and too many giant holes on running plays. That leaves pass coverage where we continue Spack era technique of starting 8-15 yards off the ball and sprinting back so we can have receivers running free 15 yards downfield, catching a pass with no defender in view.

boilerdowd said...

Dozer- Sumlin...but I'm not a proponent of firing him at this point. 1.25...or Two seasons and three recruiting classes is a bit too soon.