Friday, October 12, 2012

Purdue-Wisconsin Predicto: Danny Hope as Street Fighter Edition

If you hadn't seen the above .gif from the Michigan game, well, there you go. MGoBlog posted it and then a commenter on EDSBS added the energy ball or whatever that is (I haven't played Street Fighter in a long time). Yes, we can laugh at ourselves, although the comments on MGoBlog about this are as douchy and predictable as you might imagine. Yes, your all-world QB is now 3-2. Bully for you.

Now the Boilers amble on to Wisconsin. And while fans of Michigan, Wisconsin and even Purdue have questioned whether or why these are "statement games" for Purdue, the fact remains -- like it or not -- that these are pretty important in the overall state and direction of Purdue football. Will they move towards relevance or will they continue the backslide towards apathy?

On to the predicto.

J says:

A lot has been written about Purdue's ability to win this sort of a game, particularly in the past week by us and others. I keep coming back to a few points that I can't shake, but I'd love for you to tell me how I can.

Point 1: Purdue simply doesn't win these games. It's kind of all-encompassing statement, I realize, and sounds like a generalization, but it's true. Purdue has not won a game that could vault them into serious conference contention since 2004, when they began the season 5-0, won on the road at Notre Dame and Penn State, and had GameDay in town prior to the infamous Wisconsin game. And while we've talked at length about that game, Purdue actually played well in it, too, leading by ten in the second half. But since then, it just simply doesn't happen. It's no more complicated than that. And I understand all the limitations on Purdue's program -- that doesn't mean you can't compete in big games anymore.

Point 2: Have the tables turned by 45+ points in one year? Purdue lost 62-17 last year in perhaps the most embarrassing defeat I can remember a Purdue team sustaining. Danny Hope has been beaten three times by Wisconsin by a combined score of 133-30 (37-0, 34-13, 62-17). What indicators are there to suggest that the differential has not only be closed, but turned around? No, Wisconsin is not as good this year as they were last year. But let's stop saying they're "a bad Wisconsin team," something I've actually seen in a few places. Just stop. They're not bad. They're 4-2, with losses at Oregon State (currently ranked #10) and at Nebraska. (Speaking of Oregon State, if you want an example of how things can turn around at a middling program, take a look at how bad the Beavers were last year and now note how they are making a run and are now a top ten team -- yes, it may be fleeting, but it's happening and can you imagine how you'd feel as a fan in their position?)

Point 3: I don't trust the coaching staff in general. This is where I've landed. I do think these players are good enough. I do think they've got the talent, drive and determination to make big things happen here. I honestly think they can run with anyone on the schedule and based on the players' talent and experience alone, I do think a division title and Rose Bowl run feel like reasonable goals. But when your leadership is as stubborn and difficult as Danny Hope has shown himself to be and your OC is as uncreative and overrated as Gary Nord has repeatedly demonstrated he is...what do you expect? The players are talented but they can't overcome bad play-calling and poor preparation from the coaches. Do I think this staff can out-coach any of the staffs on the schedule? Not really. And for those who would point out the win over Ohio State in 2009, let's remember that 2009 was due to a superhuman effort from Ryan Kerrigan. He made Terrelle Pryor look like a skittish kitten and manhandled the OSU offensive line. That was not a triumph of Danny Hope over Jim Tressell.

All of this gets put into the hopper for me and leads me to where I just can't see Purdue winning. Oh, you know I want to be wrong and as I've said again and again, I agree that Wisconsin is vulnerable (esp on the road) and that Purdue has the talent to take it to 'em. But I just don't trust the decision-making from the sidelines. Caleb TerBush will start and if he's not good, the coaches will wait until the team is down three touchdowns to put in Marve, who will then be blamed in press conferences for making too many mistakes or not being "efficient." It's all nonsense. Put the guys on the field who give you the best chance to win and then be inventive in the plays you call. Let's not make it any more complicated than that.

Purdue definitely could win...but won't.

Wisconsin 31
Purdue 23

Boilerdowd says:

Well, the problem of managing expectations is once-again handled.  Purdue's fanbase didn't feel like we had a ton to be optimistic for, coming into the season...after harvesting some fool's gold in the first few games, some of us (read as me) thought Hope's squad was nearly ready for primetime.  Late-afternoon kickoffs are not primetime...and UM is no world-beater.  But they beat the crap out of my Boilers on a medium stage.

Now, things are back to manageable. UW has underwhelmed many in their fanbase this season with bad QB play and a defense that isn't what they expected either.  The injection of a walk-on QB and all has been solved it seems...But, this Wisconsin team, while the favorite to go to Indy, is no where near that of '11.  Does that change anything?

Wisconsin has the best set of LBs in the conference, if not the nation...that would matter if Purdue passed to the TE or across the middle of the the good guys are OK there.

Wisconsin doesn't score with a ton of regularity, and they're dead-last in total offense, but their defense is in the top-3rd of the conference for points allowed...Their rushing offense isn't great by any stretch, but their defense's ability to stop the run is solid...their pass defense is just OK...but Purdue has the tendency not to test anyone with the pass.  So where's this all leave us?

Well, it seems pretty clear- If Purdue's coaches actually gameplan for the team that they're playing this week, Purdue has a puncher's chance.  If Marve is healthy enough to play, he can stretch the field; that seems to be what will be needed to open up the running game.  All that said, Nord has to call vertical passes to make that happen...because the coaches don't like to see Marve shooting from the hip.

So here's what I see when I gaze into my murky crystal ball: a low-scoring, old school game.  You've got a QB that isn't very good for UW and a coaching staff that refuses to mix things up for Purdue's offense.  Sounds like a lot of 3-7 play drives to me.

A couple more question marks- Will Gaston and Russell be close to 100%? This might be the defining issue in Purdue's ability to stop the run. A healthy Gaston and Nord's play-calling from a few seasons ago versus this Wisconsin team and I'd say the good guys win homecoming going away.  But with the way things are going, here's what I see:

Purdue 23
Wisconsin 17

Wouldn't that be the Danny Hope way??
Get 'em Boilers!


Boilergal said...

I think we get taken to the woodshed again. The coaching staff just can't allow this team to take the next step... actually, doesn't have an idea of how to get this team to the next step. What a shame, because I feel there actually is some talent on the team. 35-10 Wisky.

zlionsfan said...

Have the tables turned by 45+ points? Well, perhaps something close to that - of course final scores can be deceiving, and Bret Bielema is the kind of guy who'd do an onside kick in the fourth quarter just to get in the practice.

Anyway, last year, Football Outsiders' S+P+ (the ones based on play-by-play, excluding plays once the game is no longer competitive) ranked Wisconsin's offense first, and it wasn't that close. This year, they're way down at 68th, behind such luminaries as Purdue and Indiana. (Keep in mind that this takes into account opponent strength, so Purdue's stats look better now that Notre Dame apparently doesn't suck, for example.) Unfortunately, Wisconsin's defense has improved, to 31st from 59th.

In rough terms, they're worse - remember, this is the team that axed their OL coach before non-conference play was over, the team with a potential Heisman candidate who was jumped before the season and hasn't been 100% since.

So unlike last season, the teams are more closely matched. (Sagarin makes Wisconsin about a 3-point favorite; Massey has them by 1.5. I've seen lines in Vegas that have Purdue favored. ??????) And unlike last season, intangibles don't necessarily favor Purdue. Wisconsin nearly pooped the bed against Northern Iowa and rolled up 7 points on an Oregon State squad that may be pretty decent but is no Oregon.

This, more than any other game, can be the defining game in Hope's Purdue career. A win would effectively drop Wisconsin two games back of Purdue for the East lead (Purdue with one conference loss, Wisconsin with two, the first tiebreaker being head-to-head), and with Illinois looking terrible and Indiana still not ready to compete, no remaining game will have the impact this one does.

I would love to see this play out like LSUFreek's updated GIF (in it, he has health bars for Purdue and Wisconsin, and what Hope launches knocks out Wisconsin in one shot). I don't care if it's a deflected pass or a blocked kick or Robert Marve gingerly heading for the corner as the entire Wisconsin defense dives into the line.

But the problem is that now it's Wisconsin's offense, not their defense, that is unimpressive. The defense could play like they did at Notre Dame ... but I don't see Nord pulling out any tricks to get the points they'll need to win a game like that one.

Wisconsin 16
Purdue 7

zlionsfan said...

er, that should say "unlike last season, intangibles don't necessarily favor Wisconsin".

KevinB said...

My prediction last week was getting beat by Michigan (not necessarily getting thrashed, but losing), and then coming out strong against Wisky and coming out with a victory. The thrashing has changed my opinion, but I almost feel that nothing went our way against Michigan, and thus we will play better against Wisconsin.
Purdue 31
Wisconsin 24

Also, other than the fact that he seems to be a Lions fan, I would recommend you add zlionsfan as a regular contributor to Boiled Sports. Great job on the column earlier, and he seems to put a lot of effort into writing up comments that are insightful. Just my suggestion. Boiler Up!

Purdue Matt said...

Wisconsin 27
Purdue 17

CaryNW87 said...

Wisconsin 38
Purdue 10

Include one pick-6 for CTB to keep his shot at the B1G season record intact.

L2F said...

Wisconsin's white board: Rose Bowl or Bust.

Purdue's white board: Have Fun, Try Hard.

UW: 28
Purdue: 10

CaryNW87 said...

Unless Nord writes it, then it's

Be safe out there.

Kevin said...

Purdue wiill cure what ails ya!

Wisky 52
Purdue 3

Rob said...

I second the comment about LionsFan being added as a contributor!

Wisky 24
Purdue 10

ATL_Boilers said...

40 lb box of oysters 0
Me eating them 1

Yeah, the game will be on but I'm not going to invest myself emotionally like I have for 10 years. Call me a bad alumni, that's fine. I'll have the game on in the background but my main priority is going to be the fresh Apilachicolas I'm picking up and eating tomorrow.

Great content this week - I appreciate the effort (and zlionsfan obviously knows his ish). It has been a good place to come to in order to deal with my frustration.

(and who am I kidding, I'll probably watch the whole game and angry tweet throughout).


BoilerWhat said...

ATL_Boilers, I'm in with you. Love my school and will continue to support it, but the emotion is gone.

Baaadgers, ya knoh, 37
Boilermakers 14

Nord Fired.

Vegas Hilton has us at -1.5, lol

Dridge said...

Apparently "efficient" means 3 and out to Danny Hope...

zlionsfan said...

Coming into the game, Purdue's offense was 55th overall in FO's S&P+, 55th running ... 97th on standard downs and 15th on passing downs (second and 8 or more, third or fourth and 5 or more).

So coming into the game, what that suggests, and what we all would probably agree with, is that Purdue's offense is predictable on early downs, particularly on first down, and that we've been lucky to get enough out of the passing game to convert in obvious passing situations.

Here's the first-down results from the first half:

at Purdue 47 - pass, 52-yard gain
at Wisconsin 1 - run, TD
at Wisconsin 42 - run, 5-yard gain
at Wisconsin 32 - run, 1-yard gain
at Purdue 27 - pass, incomplete
at Purdue 38 - pass, incomplete
at Purdue 28 - run, 2-yard loss
at Purdue 38 - run, 5-yard gain
at Purdue 33 - pass, incomplete
at Purdue 31 - pass, incomplete
at Purdue 41 - pass, incomplete
at Purdue 26 - pass, incomplete
at Wisconsin 32 - pass, incomplete

That's 12 first downs (the first-and-goal at the 1 is a different situation), 7 incomplete passes, 2 unsuccessful runs, 2 successful runs, and 1 successful pass. (Success on first down meaning that you get at least half the yards you need.)

This seems like an inability to adjust to me. (No surprise, right?) Nord and Hope knew coming into this that Wisconsin would be tough to run against, but their game plan is generally runs + short passes. Occasionally they'll mix it up a bit, but I don't see that happening often. (I don't have BTN, so please correct me if this is not how the game is actually going.) So they ran what they had, it didn't work, we got one TD because of one play that actually did work, and in the third quarter, we're going to see the exact same thing, and it isn't going to work then either.

Ball seems to be running well; the defense is doing what it can to mitigate the damage. (383 yards and only 17 points ... that's about all you can ask from them. We know this isn't a top-10 defense we have.) It's too bad the OC and head coach don't have anything more than this to help them out.

Kevin said...

Holy cow. I haven't watched the game, just checked the score. It doesn't matter how it happened. Danny Hope is done. You get creamed at home, twice, and one of them is Homecoming. Wake me when Basketball starts.