Friday, October 05, 2012

Purdue-Michigan: The Conference Season Begins

It's predicto time around these parts. This weekend, at a special 4 PM start time, the Boilers take on Michigan at home.

I think it's safe to say this is the most hyped the fan base has been going into a conference slate in quite a while. As Boilerdowd said on his video vignette, the question now is whether this is going to be an '06-'07 kind of team that folds when competition gets serious or an '03-'04 team that actually has the chops to compete against the meat of the schedule.

What do we think? Well, I'm so glad you asked. Let's go there now.

J says:

I know I've become the resident cynic, but I just haven't seen enough from Danny Hope-coached teams to believe -- just yet -- that they're going to be different than previous years. Yes, they did what we asked/hoped for in the pre-con, for the most part. And if they'd pulled out a very winnable game against Notre Dame, the Boilers would almost surely be a ranked squad, 4-0 heading into conference play.

I do remember guys like Ricardo Allen saying that the ND game was their "one slip up" and that it wasn't happening again. I like that mentality. I like the resolve. As I've said before, I really like the makeup and focus of this team.

That said, I don't know what to think about this week. Michigan isn't as good as was originally thought, which shouldn't be a complete shock, really, since they're only two years removed from being pretty terrible under RichRod. However, they're also not as bad as some are starting to suggest. Whether you think it was the result of a big lead or what, Purdue's defense gave up a lot to Marshall. This Wolverine defense is not the Herd defense, so as much as I'd like to say Purdue can outscore them, I'm not so sure about that. Yes, I know Alabama put an offensive whipping on Michigan, but let's not kid ourselves into think Purdue's offense is similar to Alabama's. There was also a fair amount written over at MGoBlog and elsewhere about the number of missed assignments by the Michigan defense against Alabama. One might think they've had the time to sort that out. And then, of course, there's always the Denard factor. The guy finds ways to torment defenses. Of course, his passes look worse than mine in a flag football you go boys, go up and get it!

The problem, of course, is that Michigan's prototype receivers often can go get them, and while Purdue's secondary looked great last week, they're not huge guys. Josh Johnson seems as though he'll be consistent against anyone -- consistently good. Ricardo thus becomes the wild card here -- does he continue developing in the positive direction? Or does he get worked over like he has against talented receiving corps in the past?

I do think Purdue's defense is capable of causing Denard trouble. I think the line will have a good day and force him to move around and not have tons of time to throw the ball. I feel good about this, because I think it could lead to mistakes that the Purdue secondary has begun to show they are more than willing to capitalize on. But then my emotions swing back to remind me that Purdue has beaten three truly dreadful defenses. I do believe that you shouldn't be penalized for who you've played because you can only beat who's in front of you, though, and again as discussed, Purdue probably should have handed ND their only loss thus far.

I want to continue to pick Purdue to lose the games I actually think they'll lose, but when I look carefully at the matchup here, I keep thinking Purdue really does have a better-than-average chance. If they lose, I think it will be either because the coaching staff made some questionable decisions or they jerked around Marve and TerBush all day, since reports are indicating that Marve will be available. I guess what I'm saying is that coaching in general is what might undermine the Boilers tomorrow.

I was wrong last week and let's hope I'm wrong again. Boilers show well, but lose painfully.

Michigan 34
Purdue 27

Boilerdowd says:

Perhaps it's the wings on the helmet that give me nightmares or the memory of last year's game that resounds in my thick skull...but I haven't felt great about this game in spite of UM's two losses.

Sure, their two losses come to two of the better teams in the nation, according to early polls...but even in victory versus lousy teams, UM hasn't looked great.  I think most people in America came in to this year thinking as I did- it was logical that with a Senior QB that was a legit Heisman candidate last season, and the same coaches all returning, the Wolverines would be world beaters this season.  But, my eyes have told me a different story when I've watched them and the stats agree with my LASIK-improved organs.

UM doesn't sustain drives with great regularity this season and doesn't overwhelm in any one area.  Their pass efficiency and overall passing offense is in the bottom third of the league, they're last in the league in first downs and their rushing offense is in the middle of the spite of returning two of the leagues best running weapons in Toussaint and Robinson.

On the defensive side of the ball, there's good news and bad news- They're 12th in the league in sacks BUT they one of the best passing defenses in the league.  Plus, they're one of the worst rushing defenses in the league (that number is a bit skewed due to 'Bama's day v. UM).

On top of that, their kickoff coverage has been pretty lousy at times...and it kind of feels like Mostert is due to make a bit of noise.

Purdue did an OK job containing UND's Golson when they had to, but he was able to dump it off to his tight ends all day...and UM doesn't tend to use the tight end with a ton of regularity.  But, Robinson is a very rich man's Golson.

Josh Johnson has looked rock solid for the Boilers all year...and Allen, when not nicked up has played well too.  But, Gallon and what's-his-name have torched Purdue in the Johson and Allen will need to play large for Purdue to win.

My biggest fear comes from Toussaint, Robinson and other UM backs getting on the outside v. Purdue's linebackers.  Michigan will have trouble manufacturing hard yards on the inside v. Gaston and Short...but teams quickly find Purdue's weakness when they have to, and UM is filled with capable skilled position players to exploit Purdue.

Earlier in the week, it looked like it was going to be like UM's last visit to God's country- gray, cold, rainy...but now it's going to be cool (lower 50s) and clear.  That's good- I don't like TerBush without good footing.

If Purdue (read as Marve and TerBush) stays patient and doesn't try to test UM over the middle, and on defense, Purdue's front can contain Robinson, this could be a slugfest...but if it comes down to a field goal, I don't like Purdue's chances too much.

That said, I kind of feel like UM is still a better team than they've shown...and they'll be ready coming off of the bye week.  Plus, I really like Hoke as a coach and think he'll have the corn and blue dialed in. Purdue struggles as we watch too many QB changes...

UM 31
Purdue 20


Scruffy_P said...

I will be there wearing my lucky Purdue cowboy hat, and I really think Purdue can wrangle some wolverines tomorrow.

Purdue - 27
meechigan - 23

Or at least I hope so, it'd be nice to go back to work in Detroit on Monday with a smirk...

KevinB said...

I agree with J and B. I think Michigan will end up pulling this one out, and it will be due to our offense not being able to put up points. I have seen this script before, (See Painter Years), where we roll over bad teams, but then hit a decent defense and are stopped in our tracks.
UofM 24, Pur 17

But I do see some good coming out of the loss, and that is we come back hungry in next weeks game against Wisky. And we take it out on them and have a good chance at the Leaders division. We shall see.

boilerdowd said...

I'll take that scenario, Kevin!

ATL_Boilers said...

I've read more prognostications on this game than I care to admit (and way more than usual) and I've had such a range of thoughts and feelings as a result. The opprotunities are there for the taking but I have also had so many let downs over the years because of heightened expectations. I think we'll know within the first 2 possessions how this game is going to turn out; good or bad. I honestly hope that we don't see Marve in this game - I'd love to see him in the IU game but I think nothing good can come from his appearance at this point the season (not his talent I'm questioning, but TerBush needs the the time and consistency).

Hoping I'm wrong but:
Good guys 13
That whore 24


zlionsfan said...

Once again, Purdue gets a marquee name on the schedule; unlike the last one, it's on home turf ... uh, grass. Once again, it's against a team that isn't as good as the talking heads think, but isn't as bad as in recent years, either.

I really hope this isn't another one that gets away from Purdue. I know the division sucks, but that doesn't mean they can go 6-6 and win it. Conference games against the outcasts count; even if they can't win the division, they can knock out other teams, and let's face it, Danny Hope isn't exactly the type of coach you'd associate with seizing opportunities like this.

I predict three-plus quarters of solid football; unfortunately, the other half-quarter will be the first 7:30 of the third quarter, during which Greg Mattison will dial up something just slightly different from the first half. Nord will do exactly what he always does, not change a thing, and I will be mad.

And they will miss another extra point, and I will be mad that the offense isn't good enough to just go for two every time (uh, especially not when the defense can score), but it's OK, because Short will block yet another XP himself. Too bad he can't block everything.

Michigan 23
Purdue 16

Hopefully the weather will be better than it was today. ugh. Cold and rainy. Hello, fall.

Hawaii_Boilermaker said...

I agree with the postings above. Of course there's a chance but Michigan has played some tough teams (Alabama, ND) so it is biased to look at their record and think they're not very solid. Plus they're comIng off a bye week so they have had 2 weeks to prepare for Purdue...I think Michigan wins it 24-21

However I feel this game pales in comparison to next weeks game against Wisconsin, which in my eyes is a must win if our boilers are to have a shot at winning the B1G. Hopefully a loss this week leaves a salty taste in Purdues mouth and they take it out agains Whisky next Sat...or a win over Michigan provides a huge confidence boost and added momentum which leads to a thrashing of the Badgers...o what dreams may come...

Either way, BOILER UP!!!!!

zlionsfan said...

good point. Wins against the West are nice, but not requirements - wins against the East are, especially against eligible teams. We already got a bonus from Nebraska beating Wisconsin; losing to the Badgers would mean UW would need to drop two games Purdue didn't.

BoilerBloodline said...

Just left the game after the first half in the hopes we would make a miraculous comeback. I know you guys don't like picking on players but I am so sick of watching Terbush poo (for the kids reading:)all over himself when faced with ANY formidable challenge. The kid just DOESN'T HAVE what most refer to as IT. I truly believe a one legged Marve would double any numbers Terbush has put up this year. This of course is a coaching decision and should not be placed on a kid. Danny Hope and his positive posse need to sneak out of town under cover of night like the Baltimore Colts did in the early 80's. I'm sick of him and I'm sick of his lackluster mediocre teams. WE HAVE THE ATHLETES to compete, but all good athletes need a coach. I don't know what the answer is while MB is still running the show, but Hope & Nord have indeed worn out their welcome in god's country. As I am now watching the 2nd half from my parents West LA abode, the announcers just said Marve will be in next series. With 3 mins left in the 3rd. I doubt even Marve has enough to dig us out of a 31-10 hole we are in.....we shall see.

BoilerBloodline said...

Okay...I know I just left a long ranting comment, and afterwards I was interested if there was a OR a No dice on the first one....but oddly enough when I type in it takes me to the Purdue Office of Marketing & Media. Very interesting indeed.

kgruber-boilermaker said...

Pathetic... it wasn't even competitive. So happy TerBush is gone after this season, I hope we can say the same about Danny Hope. Marve should start the rest of the season if he's crazy enough to do it.