Sunday, October 10, 2010

Boilermakers Beat Northwestern In Only One Statistical Category: Points

"You get what you deserve in football, and Pat Fitzgerald's team had this coming."
- Adam Rittenberg

What do we say about this one?  The Boilermakers found a way tonight in Evanston, beating the Wildkittens 20-17. The disturbing trend of winning games people don't think they'll win and losing games they're expected to win continued for this team.

Let's not sugar coat this. It was an ugly win. Let's also remember that Northwestern wasn't exactly a powerhouse 5-0, ranked team. However, they were 5-0, they were ranked and they were at home. In recent years, winning road games against undefeated and ranked teams has not been part of Purdue's bag of tricks. I'll let someone else look that one up, but it hasn't happened many times.

The somewhat hilarious irony of it all is that Purdue's offense is still a shell of what we thought it might be in 2010. Sure, some of that -- a lot of it -- has to do with the injury issues. But now we're looking at a team that really just runs the ball -- and doesn't have any true running backs available other than Dan Dierking.

This is a team whose QB was 6-of-18 for 47 yards and a pick. Yikes. I mean....yikes.

That said, Rob Henry continues to grow up before our eyes. No, he's not yet confident with the throws. But let's also remember his receivers didn't do him a whole lot of favors tonight. The pick in the end zone was pretty clearly an underthrown rainbow and yet OJ Ross simply watched it sail majestically into the arms of a NU defender. No, I'm not blaming OJ. But he could help out a little there. And on that subject, too many times when Henry did throw the ball, the receivers reacted like Wile E Coyote had just thrown a lit stick of dynamite at them.

But Rob Henry led this team tonight. They believed in him; that much was clear, at least to me. And Rob ran for 132 yards on 16 carries, including a TD. Best of all, he never looked panicked. He never looked spooked. He never made critical bad decisions.

Purdue was once again outplayed. Let's state that as well. But a solid defensive effort and some special teams magic can make special things happen. But let's look at the numbers. Purdue only had 279 total yards in this game. Northwestern had 305....passing. Purdue had 13 first downs; NU had 23. Purdue held the ball for eight fewer minutes than Northwestern.

But Kawann Short got his paw on a FG attempt by NU that would have made it 20-13 and, I think it's safe to say, effectively ended the evening's festivities. Purdue then looked like they had more life than we've seen in a long time -- perhaps all season. Henry led an inspired drive that made me proud of the boys all over again.

Earlier in the game, things looked as bleak as they have recently. Predictable, boring play calls, too many draws...the usual. The amazing thing was that there were flashes of excitement when Coach Nord did get a little creative. Mind you, I'm not talking about wild and crazy plays.... I'm talking about an end around, some creative misdirection on an option play, that sort of thing. These aren't nutty, crazy play calls...but compared to the boring crud we've been witnessing, they were refreshing. Let's see a few more of these and maybe a really fun play mixed in here and there.

I know that winning this game might lead the coaching staff to think they should keep doing what they're doing -- but let's not kid ourselves. Purdue was outgained and out played for much of this game. They took care of the ball, though, and NU missed a game-tying FG and had the aforementioned one blocked. For a change, the Boilermakers were the recipients of the kind of good fortune that seems to always land on teams like Northwestern.

Let's enjoy this one. 1-0 in conference. Can't be better than that.


Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan said...

My casual research (for road ranked wins) says 2003 @Wisco? And we were ranked similarly at the time. Could have missed one, though.

Bringing this over since I didn't see the new post:

Well, that was interesting, but a win is a win. J wins the prognosticating prize of the week.

And yes, holy crap, the clock thing annoyed me. I recognized right away that 0:55 with 2 timeouts isn't going to get you out. The fact that the crappy announcers didn't doesn't bother me, but the fact that Hope didn't until what would have been final knee does immensely.

Safe runs would have been fine. I probably would have went with the "take a knee, but have Henry stand there and don't take it until they make you" approach.

Jeffobocko said...

In their defense: on the first down play, Henry went back (still standing up) and the refs blew the whistle immediately. I'm not sure he ever actually took a knee on that play, the refs just counted his as down for some reason. I love it when games end on a stupid play by the other team. Pushing Henry right after he took a knee was a great way to end it.

dozer8589 said...

I'm not drinking the Koolaid yet, but I am trying to remember where I left my cup.

Nice to see the defense step up. I saw the first three minutes and the last 10 - was it me, or are Hope's underclassmen faster and better tacklers than the upperclassmen?

For one week, things are looking up...

The OX said...

Congrats to the boys. A win on the road in conference is tough no matter where you play. The defense actually looked decent tonight, but the offense...good lord. Teams are going to figure that out quickly. Coach Hope gets his feel good win this year. I don't think this is going to slow the drumbeat for his dismissal after this season is over.

Jamie said...

lets give some credit to that d line tonight- it allowed 84 yards rushing tonight; pretty impressive if you ask me

Jason Speicher said...

how bout rushing yards, we won that battle.. Not sure why I come to this website with so much negativity even after a win.

Purdue Matt said...

"And on that subject, too many times when Henry did throw the ball, the receivers reacted like Wile E Coyote had just thrown a lit stick of dynamite at them."

hahahahaha, good one!

Purdue Matt said...

Anyone else notice how generous the refs were with the spots for NU? And I don't recall them ever measuring anything? I thought that was strange. There were several close calls where they quickly gave NU a first down and quickly gave Purdue 4th and 1's.

BoilerUpAT said...

If Rob figures out this whole "passing" thing and the receivers help him out in that regard, we might win some more!

Great game from the entire team and especially the coaches.


zlionsfan said...

In a game between teams with bad defenses, you wouldn't normally expect low scores. Kudos to Purdue's defense for breaking very infrequently.

The Boilers did a good job of staying close the entire game; keeping it a one-score game on the road meant that a single play could turn the game around. They broke a couple of long runs on offense, capitalized on some special teams mistakes (one of which they caused themselves), and came away with a win. Finally, Webster had a great night: the 79-yard punt was good fortune, but it still counts, and his net was still over 40 yards: no punt returns allowed.

However, Persa still hit about 75% of his passes. Six different Wildcats had a reception longer than 10 yards. They were also 8 of 18 on third downs (can't get off the field) ... and of course Purdue's passing game looked like it was being run by a bunch of backups. It wasn't yet good when the starters were healthy, and it's quite a bit worse now. Unfortunately, there are several teams with good run defenses remaining on the schedule. The potential for disaster awaits.

Fortunately, next week is as close to a bye as you can get. Minnesota at home ... that had better be a win. Unfortunately, the way Purdue has been playing, that could be the last win of the season. I'm not sure the Boilers can stop any of the other offenses on the schedule.

Anonymous said...

Purdue won two out of the three phases of the game (defense and special teams). That is usually enough to win most games. There are way too many back-handed, whiney compliments from posters! Pulling this win off is an outstanding coaching job considering the inexperience of most of the team now starting. So, fair-weather fans go away. I'll bleed old gold and black with Hope and the guys.

Mark said...

Fire Hope!

The sky is falling!

We won't win a game!

Great win for the coaches to shut the critics up.