Sunday, November 11, 2012

Progress?

Three fumbles, two of which led directly to Iowa touchdowns. Ten penalties, all in the second half (!!), including personal fouls on what would have been 4th and 16 and 3rd and 6 for Iowa. The usual array of questionable coaching decisions, including an inexplicable timeout on Iowa's final drive that nearly gave the Hawkeyes a chance to win (but ironically ended up saving time for the Boilers' winning FG).

And yet the rest of the game was a solid Purdue effort, aided in no small part by a punchless Iowa team that no doubt has its fanbase scouring the internet for desirable coaching candidates. (You know, that Corso guy on TV sounds really smart. Note: see comments below - even if Iowa fans want a new coach, Ferentz isn't going anywhere.) A strong performance by a Purdue quarterback ... was it a coincidence that Gary Nord was nowhere to be seen? The defense holding Iowa to 10 points outside the turnovers and preventing a score on that final drive. Special teams almost looking respectable, with the winning 46-yard kick making up for the 20-yard miss at the end of the first half. A gutsy call on fourth-and-one in Purdue territory that paid off.

This game, to me, is what makes Hope such a frustrating coach. For the first time during the Big Ten season, we saw both the talent we know Purdue has and the results we should be expecting from that talent ... but mistake after mistake by the Boilers let a lackluster team with an ineffective QB hang around for the entire game, and only a no-win situation for Ferentz gave Purdue the chance to steal victory from the jaws of Hope at the end.

1:08 on the clock, Iowa pinned deep thanks to yet another Cody Webster cannon, and with just two timeouts left, not much of a chance to get in scoring position ... but Hope promptly hands the Hawkeyes a chance by calling one after the first-down stop, no doubt expecting three straight stops that would give Purdue the ball with no timeouts, probably 25-35 seconds left, and 40+ yards to go for even a long field goal attempt. A better call is to let the clock run; maybe you don't get a final chance in regulation yourselves, but you don't risk the opponents converting and taking advantage of the time you left for them, which is exactly what Iowa did.

Ferentz also chose the aggressive option, going for it at the 35, knowing that a first down would give the Hawkeyes a couple of shots to set up the game-winning field goal with the timeout they had remaining. But they failed, and Purdue promptly drove 37 yards in 16 seconds to give Griggs the chance to win it.

It's rarely easy to win on the road in the Big Ten. There are only two places I don't think are particularly challenging for visitors, Evanston and Bloomington, and of course the latter means the Bucket, so it's always a big game there, and Pat Fitzgerald has a pretty good team every year at Northwestern ... so a conference road win is something to acknowledge. But where was this effort against Minnesota? Will it be present in Champaign next week? How is it that a team that can take undefeated Notre Dame and undefeated Ohio State to the final minutes on the road can't get out of their own way against bottom-of-the-pack teams? (Minnesota's improving, but not there yet, and Iowa's seemingly on the way down.)

The hallmark of Tiller's best teams was beating Purdue's peers, the teams not in the top tier but wishing they could get there. Tiller was 6-2 against Illinois, 10-2 against Indiana, 8-2 against Minnesota, 9-3 against Northwestern. Hope is 7-5 against that same group. Struggling against Michigan and Ohio State and Penn State was acceptable as long as it was part of 8- and 9-win seasons with bowl appearances; when it's accompanied by struggles against the other guys, then it basically makes us Indiana. (Except, of course, Wilson has Indiana improving rapidly, notwithstanding the Wisconsin rout.) And not the Bill Mallory-era Hoosiers, but the DiNardo Hoosiers.

Hope has two games left against those peers. I hope.

12 comments:

ATL_Boilers said...

The penalties were crushing yesterday, to some extent and I still felt the offense worked in fits and starts, but did look a little better.

I saw that they were out scored (barely, but still) in the 3rd quarter again. I feel like this happened quite a bit early in the year and in the non-blowout league game(s). For what ever reason this team doesn't like that period.

At the end of the game I thought the coaches were going to stop coaching at or about the 58 minute mark (and to some extent they stopped thinking) again and Iowa was going to take their first lead at the final whistle.

Dustin Blythe said...

First and foremost, I am glad Purdue won. However, let's no overlook the fact that it was against a mediocre Iowa team and we definitely should not overlook the blowout losses earlier in the season. I hope we win out, but the Iowa game and the games against Illinois and IU are games we should win in any scenario. Here's hoping Burke is not placated by a Phyrric three game winning streak.

Unknown said...

Disagree completely with about ripping Hope for trying to save time if we hold to a 3 & out on Iowa's last drive. Especially with the good work our D was doing, you gotta try to win in regulation. You know if Iowa went three and out and ran the clock down to zeros, fans would be killing Hope for not using his timeouts.

conk said...

Is Ferentz really on the hot seat up there? That'd be crazy. Seems like it's just a lapse in talent. They have had solid teams and are always well-prepared for bowl games. If they run him out, I'd love to have him in West Lafayette.

Anyways, I missed the game because I was being a good boyfriend to my IU grad girlfriend and tailgating with her crew at Bloomington (she was gracious enough to excuse me from her friend's wedding so I could go to Ohio State a few weeks ago) Don't worry I was wearing my Ricardo Allen jersey, and even found some others with black and gold scattered throughout the campgrounds. Fist-raising, high-fives, and encouragement like "stay strong" and "Boiler Up" were exchanged between us few and proud. Great win for us though. I still think there needs to be some changes though. This just further assures us how we always have the talent but not the preparation game-in and game-out. Boiler Up!

conk said...

Also, I ALMOST had SOME pity for a couple in our tailgate who actually seemed to care about IU football. Given what they could've had at stake by beating Bucky.....they were like " biggest game for us in years, and we get completely smoked"......I was like "son you don't even know the beginning of that pain" Of course, they play the "we don't really care" card since their basketball team is #1 preseason. Just when I was starting to feel some pity, they remind me of that and that we lost to Bucknell the other night. I say bring that crap into Mackey right now and we'll settle it. BTFU!!!

ATL_Boilers said...

In other news, Tennessee is reportedly done with the Dooley experiment and is now also shopping for coaches... Have a feeling we might be late to the party, as usual, and end up dancing with the girl in headgear wearing too much make up.

zlionsfan said...

Purdue's been outscored in the third quarter in six of ten games this year, and outscored each of the Easterns 7-0. (They were even with OSU and outscored Minnesota 14-10 in a game that was arguably over at halftime.) I think the theory is that Hope and his staff do not adapt their gameplan based on first-half results, whereas their opponents seem to do so frequently.

I wouldn't mind Hope calling timeouts once it's clear Iowa will struggle to move the ball ... but I don't think second-and-7 is that situation. As much as you may want to win in regulation, you can't do that if you don't have the ball, and the last thing you want is to help the other team by keeping time on the clock. (This is why it's not uncommon to see a late series where each team calls timeout - the offense after first down when they have a chance to convert, the defense after second and/or third down.) Purdue's four previous drives had been fumble, punt, punt, punt, so it wasn't as though the offense was still hot, and Iowa had just driven 74 yards to tie it - if anything, the wrong team was on a roll. Still, I understand why you might want to see a timeout there.

Ferentz got a vote of confidence from the AD a couple of weeks ago, but Iowa could well finish 4-8 after two Insight Bowl appearance. This has happened before in Iowa City - 2005-07, followed by Outback and Orange Bowl appearances - and Ferentz survived that run, obviously, but Iowa hasn't lost 8 games since Ferentz's second season, 2000, and the AD may look at things differently if Michigan or Nebraska puts a Wisconsin-style beating on the Hawkeyes.

I don't think it's as much that we're late to the party. We're just not driving a fancy car ... and whoever we find will have to settle for Taco Bell afterward. (Is that blouse machine-washable?)

J Money said...

Ferentz is going nowhere. Insane buyout, the specifics of which I don't have at the moment.

zlionsfan said...

Try $250K per month through 2020.

I stand corrected. For him to leave, Iowa would have to get Matthew Bucksbaum interested in a new coach.

Kyle said...

Wikipedia says his annual salary is $3.65 million, through 2020. My guess would be an insane buyout is on the table. Besides, no way would I want Ferentz here.

I want what we had with Tiller when he first started. An exciting offense, a good defense, and the ability to compete with the big boys despite our lack of talent, comparatively. If we end up in the Outback Bowl 90% of the time, GREAT. If we're able to put it together with the right talent to go to the Rose Bowl at least every decade, AMAZING.

While we won't be able to get the same talent that OSU, UM, UND, Alabama, etc., we can be on the par of Boise State, TCU, Louisville, Cincinnati, etc., with the right coach. We're not some tiny podunk university, we should be in decent bowls and the occasional big bowl.

ATL_Boilers said...

Z,

I like your analogy a little better as I think you're right about the nicer car, etc,(although one could argue we were an entire year late to the Sumlin party - man that was tough to watch TAM beat 'Bama on Saturday night).

Also, the 3rd quarter scoring, while not necessarily as bad the last few weeks shouldn't be happening as the year progresses, especially against supposedly weaker competition.

CaryNW87 said...

Late to the party as usual, but I noticed this morning that Nord is down with a back injury, and that the WR coach ran the offense in Iowa. There were new looks, better blocking, and a tighter roster. Higgins is going to run the offense again this week.