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.
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.
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.
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.