Saturday, September 15, 2012

Boilers Start Slow, Then Roll: 54-16

The Boilers -- for the first time in a while -- were predictable in a good way on Saturday. We all expected them to control Eastern Michigan pretty thoroughly and they did it. The 54 points is a high for the Danny Hope era against FBS schools, and perhaps the only flaw to point out today is that the team took a while to get rolling, then scored in bunches.

In the first quarter -- and into the second -- I felt like this had some of those dreaded markings of the annual Danny Hope home snoozer against an inferior opponent. I've been saying for a while that I fully expect the Marshall game to be that game this season, but this one did show signs early. The Boilers had something like six yards on their first seven plays. Also, it was 0-0 three-quarters through the first quarter and only a 13-9 game halfway through the second.

EMU's ability to stop the run was, shall we say, less than strong. So after a 50 yard TD on a pass play to Akeem Hunt, Brandon Cottom got serious and broke off an 87 yard rumble for a score. The Boilers had three rushing TDs of 40 yards or more -- Shavers had a 40 yard scamper to start the scoring, and Hunt had a 56 yard dash in the third quarter (which the Boilers won, 7-0; baby steps, I guess).

As mentioned, this one essentially went as expected, though I will admit I didn't foresee the Boilers rolling up 54 points. It would have been 56, but McCartney had some trouble on a couple of PATs. Something to be concerned about? I think it's worth keeping an eye on, as the kicking game is a lot more likely to be the difference if Purdue hopes to pull out wins over the cream of the Big Ten next month.

Caleb TerBush got the bulk of the work and wound up 16/24 for 158 and two TDs (plus one rushing) and an INT. While those are not exactly eye-popping numbers, Caleb continues to throw for a reasonable completion percentage, and we'll take three TDs out of our quarterback against the one pick. Not sexy, but we'll take unsexy 38-point wins anytime.

Rob Henry was unspectacular -- likely due in no small part to continued rust -- in going 2/6 for 26 yards and Hope and Nord continued their strange insistence on using three QBs, getting Austin Parker in there for a single pass as well.

The Boilers looked solid after the slow start and what they're doing to you, dear reader, is upping the expectations around Boilerland....and also beyond. Boilerdowd got a text today from an IU fan friend of his who stated flatly, "Purdue is winning their division this year." We're also hearing those murmurs elsewhere, as Wisconsin has not looked good at all to this point.

While we're not quite ready to go that far, as you know, winning the games you're supposed to win was something we've railed about many times. In addition to that, we've also discussed that good teams -- or teams that aspire to be good -- have to crush bad teams, not just sneak by them. Purdue did that today, taking care of business against a MAC team.

The Boilers get a bye next weekend and then welcome the Thundering Herd to town in a game I'm very concerned about but B-dowd feels the Purdue lines will have a significant positive impact in. Time will tell, as always, but if Purdue pummels Marshall as well and heads to Big Ten play 3-1 with only the three-point loss at ND on the ledger, the excitement will only be that much more pronounced.

Is the train coming? I just might be. Choo choo, muthas.


PurdueBill said...

My favorite part of the game, other than Cottom's TD? Getting to be in Hail Fire on the field!

Joe said...

Cottom is a beast. Id like to see him more. A nice change a pace... He's one end of spectrum, hunt on the other end and shavers right in middle.

A solid running game combined with the way the defense had been playing and who knows. That usually is a good combo for success.

The Accidental Expat said...

I'd say that beating a weak D-1A team in week 3 showed more about the Boilers than beating a fairly decent 1-AA team in week 1. For one, the team is more settled, everybody knows their roles a bit better, and the team leaders are emerging. The defense looked pretty darned impressive, and even the 2nd and 3rd string guys looked good (Anthrop, for example, had some nice runs, and more Freytag please coach-- dude reminds me of a midsize Alstott). I won't buy in to the Division Champion chatter quite yet, but today we saw another limp performance from Bucky (not to mention OSU in a dogfight and Minny losing its premier player) that showed that all Leaders teams are beatable by a motivated opponent. Our boys are hungry and motivated, and showed an intensity that was mostly steady throughout the game. EMU is a pretty lousy team, but I saw an improved Purdue squad today. The D was stifling, and when it got into a rhythm, that offense was humming.

Regarding the QB controversy, well, it's Terbush's team now (though I read reports that he was ill and not guaranteed to start), and it was good to see him put in 2+ straight quarters. He's a good enough game manager, and other than the avoidable pick-6 his decision-making has improved. For better or worse, he's not a gunslinger like Marve, and does what the coaches tell him-- but that's OK, as there's plenty of QB's in this league that are very successful in that role (see: every Iowa quarterback of the last 15 years). I think Nord put in Parker just because he wanted the kid to get in some game-time snaps, and I don't necessarily see it as a slight towards Henry... though I wish they did keep Rob in, as he could use the time to shake off his rust-- maybe the coaches are so superstitious and were so snakebit by injuries to key players that they pulled him early???

zlionsfan said...

The defense does seem to be pretty solid this year: a number of things seem to support that, including Notre Dame's win at Michigan State, which suggests that maybe ND is pretty good (and also MSU is perhaps not what people thought). Marshall throws a lot, so the 29th should be a good test for the D before the Big Ten season starts.

The East Division does seem to be a giant turd. OSU struggles to win at home, Illinois is about MAC-level, IU isn't even that, Wisconsin is running the same offense as always but with an OL about a third as good as normal, and Penn State is playing like the NCAA hoped it would. If the defense is solid, we have a shot in every game on the schedule, which is not something I would have said two weeks ago. Even if it's just Tiller-caliber performance (ability to beat lesser/equal teams regularly), that's an improvement.

The offense is still troubling. Fortunately, Ron English hasn't found enough guys who can tackle, otherwise it might have been a closer game ... and yeah, missing two extra points is a bad thing. (Will Griggs be the kicker against Marshall?) And another kickoff out of bounds, although at least the game was safely put away at that point. One decent kick return, meh punt returns, and what looks like poor coverage on kickoffs ... special teams seem to be something of a concern, except for punting itself.

I almost wonder if it wouldn't be better to focus more on the running game. It isn't as though we could magically turn out an option-based offense in two weeks, but at least focus on something we seem to be doing well (rushing) and not that other ball-in-the-air crazy thing.

BoilerRick said...

"The 54 points is a high for the Danny Hope era"
didn't they get 69 against SEMo last year or was that a dream?

jay.westfall said...

So if Purdue does win their division, will anyone be able to read about it in the IU Star? :)

J Money said...

I stand corrected, Rick. It wasn't 69, but it was 59... still more than 54. I wasn't a math major, though.

Also, I wasn't really thinking about non FBS schools.

Shadow300z said...

"Is the train coming? I just might be. Choo choo, muthas."

You call yourself "the train?" Weird.

BoilerRick said...

J Money - yeah after I typed 69 that seemed crazy but I'm old and forgetful. But anyway 54 against Eastern Michigan is better than 59 versus SEM in my opinion

tippet523 said...