Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Somber Recap of the Win

The threat of rain was large in God's country, but it held off with the exception of some spitting showers in the second half, so Hope was able to approach the game with his intended gameplan...but that didn't matter. This one was filled with surprises...and most weren't the type that you like to see as a fan.

Purdue escaped South Bend with no injuries of note...but versus the smaller Western Illinois Leathernecks, Purdue left the game battered, bloodied and bruised. The most-costly and noteworthy injury was that of All BT WR, Keith Smith. While there's no official press release of the extent to his right knee, the video, look of the play in person and reaction from officials and the WIU bench makes you think that Smith's season is over. Obviously, that is a season-changer. While Purdue offense has yet to get into rhythm, Smith was most-assuredly going to profit from the system once things solidified. Now, the sure-handed, solid route running Senior will probably not be a part of whatever happens from here out. Keep in mind, there's still no official injury report...but whatever comes of this, it's not good.

Brandon Taylor, Gerald Gooden, Albert Evans and Robert Marve were all also injured in the game in varying degrees...none as serious as Smith's it seems...but Taylor's forced him out of the game as did Gooden's and Evan's.

Hope said the game wasn't about the final score during his post-game interviews and the coaches needed to see what the young guys could do...and while I think that's important, I think it to be much more important to get the ones and twos to the point where they look like finely-tuned units. In my opinion neither does...and much of that can be blamed on coaching.

The offensive play-calling is still vanilla. Dink-and-dunk passes seem to be the norm for Nord thus far this season. Only one deep ball was thrown today by Marve...and it was incomplete. And the three-and-out possession was much more commonplace for the Boilers than their DI-AA opponent. That's very disheartening. Atop of that, the linebackers seemed to be out of position for much of the day as the zone Purdue was running was leaving gaping holes for dump passes to TEs and running backs. Purdue's defense against interior runs has been solid for both games, but on sweeps and pitches, the linebackers and ends tend to be in poor position to make tackles more than not.

On a day that saw another very-respectable D-I program (VaTech) fall to a lower-division team...and another mediocre D-I program (Minny) lost to an FCS team, I guess it's good that Purdue left Ross Ade 1-1. But, this wasn't that great of an opponent that Purdue played today, and our Boilers simply couldn't separate themselves. GBI was worried all week that Purdue might have a let down (after a loss, I thought that'd be difficult) and judging by what I saw, I'd say that's true. But, that in itself is a coaching problem. Simply because the fanbase is bored by the opponent (which we here at BS all were coming in), doesn't mean the players should be. And honestly, Purdue looked lethargic, uninspired and unemotional for much of the contest today. That's the hardest thing to swallow for me.

I am not saying the sky is falling. I am definitely saying there's a ton to work on in the next two games before the BT season begins- but it's not all on the players. I expect to see more out of the coaches in the coming weeks. If things don't improve from the coaches and players alike, this season might be very long.
Positives
Ryan Kerrigan led the team in tackles and TFLs. Plus, he forced yet another fumble, had a sack and was involved on nearly every play in one form or another...all while being held, double-teamed and triple-teamed. He's a monster. He hits hard, is very quick, doesn't take plays off and I think can get even better. With all of the great DEs we've seen in the last 15 years at Purdue, I think he could be the best...that says a ton. Along with Kerrigan, Kitchens, Gaston and Short also played very well at times...and the young guys' consistency should improve as they get more comfortable. Short already is looking vastly improved from last season.

Josh Johnson was very active, was second on the team in tackles and gave us a ton of reason to believe (for the second-straight week) that the DBs will be fine as the season progresses.

Dan Dierking finished every run very well, ran patiently and was reliable, yet again. Sure, this wasn't the most-athletic defense, but he had over 100 yards and averaged an eye-popping 7.3/carry...without a really long run (33 was the longest). His backfield mates also played well. Particularly, ATM, who only ran the ball 5 times, but definitely took advantage of his opportunities and finished with 81 yds rushing. One of the plays might have been what J was referring to on the Handsome Hour a week ago as ATM was able to have the wherewithall to keep going after rolling over a would-be tackler and galloping to a 40 yard touchdown. I'm still hoping the offensive line will be able to create more space in the middle, especially against teams that are undersized...but I might be dreaming at this point.

In my mind, Marve didn't take a step forward today. You can still see he has tools and his athleticism buys him time when there simply isn't any protection...but I want to see him progress which I'm positive he's capable of. That said, I believe the play calling left something to be desired. Henry played pretty well as Marve was trying to shake off the effects of a shot to the shoulder. In fact, he seems to have lost the odd throwing motion that bothered me so much in the spring. But, he missed OJ Ross on a slant route that most-definitely would have ended with Ross in the endzone had the pass not been thrown at 4's feet.

And speaking of Ross, he looked great on a kick return and showed some of the speed & quickness we had heard about on offense...can't wait to see more of him. And, like it or not, he'll be playing a lot more due to K. Smith's injury and C. Smith being a bit dinged up as well...honestly though, I think it's imperative to have his speed on the field if nothing else it'll keep DBs honest.

The kickoff coverage was much better than it was versus UND and the team was gang tackling all day on special teams coverage. Dierking and Johnson both played well on special teams coverage units.

Reason for Hope?
Joey Elliott ended last season strong and had over 3,000 yards, and 22 TDs once the dust had settled. But, his first three games left a ton to be desired...especially as his TD/INT ratio was not good.

Toledo 17/28 220 yds 3TD/3INT
NIU 20/31 188 0/0
Oregon 24/41 266 1/2

The rest of the season, he averaged 261 yds/gm, 2TD/1INT and completed over 60% of his passes.

I think Marve is naturally more talented than Elliott...so hopefully he can get more comfortable and the coaches can put he and the rest of the offense in a better position as the season progresses. But as I said before, there is a ton of room for improvement.

Looking Ahead
The cupcake jaunt continues as our Boilers play Ball State (who is coming off of a loss to Liberty), then Toledo, who ranks 100 or higher in almost every major statistical category...both teams, like Purdue are 1-1.

15 comments:

zlionsfan said...

I think this is one of the problems with scheduling a I-AA team: the only outcome that is really acceptable if you're planning to be a bowl-bound team is a thumping. Some teams just aren't the type to deliver a beating like that, and Purdue may be one of them.

I didn't see much of the game yet - I saw the first few possessions and drove to a friend's house for a long bike ride and refreshments afterward - but what I saw and heard was extremely unimpressive. The loss at ND is understandable, but the result alone today wasn't a good sign, and without Keith Smith ... Purdue isn't a deep team in the first place, and losing their top RB and top WR, well, that's going to affect most teams to a certain degree.

The nice thing about weaker MAC competition (if that is indeed what is next) is that it gives the coaching staff two more games to tune things up before Big Ten plays starts. There's still time to right the ship and make it to a bowl. Drop one of those, though ... Minnesota and Indiana should be home wins, but I don't think there's another game on the schedule that right now says "Purdue wins". There are several toss-ups and two long-shots (OSU and Wisconsin) ... this team hasn't yet shown they can win a toss-up game. Good thing they have until the 9th to prove they can.

The OX said...

Purdue gave up 21 points to a 1AA school and their best receiver on a struggling offense is likely out for the year. This team will be lucky to go 5 and 7 this year if this is what we can expect from the Boilermakers.

It's getting pretty clear that the coaching staff doesn't have a clue as to what they're doing.

Ben C said...

I'd like to think that the conservative play-calling yesterday was due, in part, to Marve's shoulder. The pessimist in me says that even with a healthy shoulder, Marve wouldn't have been given too many opportunities to go deep. Hopefully we'll see more of that against Testicle Tech. My biggest concern with Marve right now is that he seems to be allergic to throwing the ball away. That might come down to coaching as well.

I certainly haven't given up on a bowl yet. I hate to see Smith get hurt like that, but if we had to lose a starter, I think he's the most replaceable. We still have plenty of receiver options (although none as good as #8).

As for Dan Dierking: I don't think he's the #1 RB you'd hope for, but he has been solid for us. He's really stepped up in the first two games, and shown a spark that I'd love to see become contagious.

MrAnonymous said...

Ox, it's pretty clear you have no clue what's going on...

So, why don't you just shut the hell up.

JW said...

Two questions:

1) After the interception right at the end of the 1st half, why in the world wouldn't you take a shot at the end zone. Instead, Hope kicks a field goal and leaves WIU with time left on the clock.

2) The radio guys made reference to "looking forward to seeing Jason Werner playing on Sundays." Do they see a different game than the rest of us or are they just doing "Harry Caray-level" drinking in the booth?

Adam said...

I have no doubt the play-calling will get better by the start or at the start of big ten play. The secondary is going to play young and inexperienced as expected, showing flashes of brilliance and incompetence. But since when did Purdue have a secondary anyway? The concern on defense is LB play and thus run stopping ability. If this doesn't improve we are in for a long season. I am positive the current crop of players, even w/o smith, at the skill positions can get the job done as long as the OL improves which I have no doubt that Hope, being a former OL coach, will work to improve. So basically, if OL and LB don't improve before big ten season, which is a month away, we are in for a long season.

No reason to be doom and gloom 2nd game into the season.

Purdue Matt said...

It seems like Marve, although he has great physical tools, has trouble seeing the field. That is troubling.

Why not throw the ball downfield? If the line can't protect Marve against WIU and the receivers can't get seperation vs WIU, then that is very troubling as well.

Would like to see ATM get more carries.

Time for Ross, Bush, and Siller to step up.

MrAnonymous said...

Hard to make a downfield throw when you're always on the run.

I think as the O-line gets better, we will see more things from Marve.

Chad said...

You neglected one positive that I am definitely pleased about at this point: 0 lost fumbles after 2 games. If I remember correctly we had 3 against Oregon and about 40 in the first 6 games of last year.

boilerdowd said...

Great point Chad, I do agree...that's a big deal.

Matt, I tend to think that Marve's ability to look down field has a lot to do with coverage too. He's running for his life quite a bit...but seems to keep his eyes down field, which is a pretty impressive skill that we haven't seen since Brees was at Purdue. All that said, there's not much to show for it yet.

PWS said...

LB play was, in my opinion, most troubling. We weren't getting beat long... we are getting beat at the intermediate depth. LBs loooked extremely out of position and slow to react and sometimes having difficulty wrapping up WIU players (troubling for BT play)...As you all saw, This leads to short 2nd downs and even shorter 3rd downs...making it even harder to make a stop...I agree with JW, and would add that Jason Werner (does JW stand for Jason Werner? Hopefully not) is showing signs of age...Also, is it just me, or does Joe Holland look soft too? Maybe CK3 will come back and play a little LB....Toughen up our boys

boilerdowd said...

I'm a huge fan of Werner...and other than him not making the interception late (that was a gimme), I really liked the way he played. That said, I think there's a systemic issue with the position of the linebackers. They're perpetually in position to make tackling difficult and covering receivers even harder. This defensive scheme, in my opinion is not sound at this point.

PWS said...

Please don't get me wrong. I like Werner alot too. Great leader and smart player, but there were too many times where he wasn't even on the screen when a pass was caught in the flat or inside of 7yrds over the middle. I'll buy the scheme argument for now, but it was our biggest hole on Saturday. WIU noticed and took advantage.

The OX said...

MrAnonymous,

You seem to be in the know then, please enlighten me as to how this team is going to compete in the Big 10 without it's most physical receiver, an offensive line that leaks like a sieve, a quarterback that for a career has thrown as many picks as he has touchdowns, and a defense that gave up 21 points to a 1AA team.

Seriously...you have all the connections. When you talk to Coach Hope maybe you can find out just what Purdue football stands for these days. It's hard to tell.

dozer8589 said...

Ox

After two disturbingly similar offensive performances, I have to concede that you have a valid point or two. But I think most of it - Marve's performance, tired defense, predictable play-calling - is caused by weak offensive line play. We can't seal the ends on running plays to the outside, forcing us to run up the middle. We can't pass downfield because Marve is running for his life, or throwing with a hand in his face. That leaves us with runs up the middle and short dump passes. Three-and-outs are common and our defense wears down.

We have two weeks to fix things before we enter B10(12) play. I will keep the faith that this line can gel by then - but it is an issue.