Every year, I look forward to the Black/Gold game...and this year was no different. Since 1994, I've been to about every one- good teams, lousy ones, horrible weather and beautiful, this is an event that is kind of a lock on my calendar.
As we approached this year's game, the mounting injuries concerned, if not bothered me. From guys waiting until right before the game to have surgeries, to players needing new surgeries, to serious, season-threatening injuries, this spring wasn't ideal for anyone...except for a few guys who are hoping to see the field a little early. So, what did this year's game show us?
For me, not a whole lot other than the obvious that if you lose half of the starters, you're in big trouble. Thank God the season doesn't start in a few weeks.
Robert Marve talked about "putting on a show" for the fans. Quite simply, he didn't...But how could he with this format? He threw a couple of good balls (for instance, a long pump and go to Cortez Smith for the longest TD of the game), showed the burst of speed that Hope had bragged about...but never got into rhythm for multiple reasons...and just plain missed on quite a few throws. But, he does have an arm. Let me make a poor analogy, for a second.
If you've ever played a football game with the neighborhood kids, you kinda know what he had to deal with today. One play, your pal from school is open, so you fire a pass at him, and he catches it. The next, you see one of your teammates break into the clearing, so you fire another...but this time, it's your little brother. He can't handle that pass, no matter where you put, so it goes through his hands. There was a lot of that. And there were a lot of guys playing who had simply never received passes from an arm like #9's.
TerBush looked good on a few drives, mostly on stuff underneath, but, in my opinion, he had the best drive of the day...granted, most were with short fields. Henry looked good with his feet, very good, in fact, but with the down-by-contact rules for QBs in place, we didn't get to see all of his athleticism. We also got to see 15, in his green jersey, covering (lousy) kickoffs and on the punt coverage teams. Kinda odd. But, to me, his throwing motion still seems very odd, probably the least-orthodox of any of the QBs we saw play today...and we saw a few of them. Tyler also played for a few possessions. He looks like a football player, is big and strong, but really seemed apprehensive. Granted, he's been practicing behind at least three other guys, so his reps have been limited. Finally, Skylar Titus played QB a bit. The lefty got to throw a pass to my son earlier in the day too during community day, but didn't get to do a whole lot behind the center with the shuffled rosters.
It was pretty hard to learn anything. No BT running backs saw significant action. Could be because I wasn't paying attention, but I don't remember seeing Crank having a noteworthy carry, who I wanted to see...and the same goes for Keith Carlos. Perhaps I missed him in the pre-Spring Game 100-page injury report?
Eric Williams had the best play of the day, by far, in my opinion as there really wasn't much that would draw "oooohs" and "aahhhhs" from the crowd. He went up for a high, slightly-short pass from, Henry, I believe, and ripped it down from two defenders. Cortez Smith also had a good comeback catch, from TerBush, I believe.
Javeare White had a couple of nifty moves at RB, Antavian Edison showed some of his quickness and R1/L1-type moves. KK Short had the most-memorable tackle of the day on an attempted wide receiver pass play. The kickoffs were pretty awful. Not much else to say about the game.
Off The Field
Had a chance to talk to some players, always enjoy that. But I didn't get to talk to Marve. I kinda just wanted to get a snapshot of his personality...maybe in the fall sometime.
Jason Werner, who I kinda consider a pal, was running by me outside the stadium before the game, and stopped to talk to me. Said he feels really good and is doing everything but full-contact. When I talk to him, I can't help but remember how thin he was as a Frosh...and how physically imposing he is now. But, like 5 years ago, he's still a good dude.
Joe Holland was really great to my son as was Ryan Kerrigan and Antwon Higgs. Holland said the team's really getting quicker and seems faster overall than the other teams he's been on at Purdue. While they didn't really look like it today, I think that can be attributed to a number of factors.
I talked to Albert Evans about how he's become a poster child, of sorts, for the Purdue football program this off-season as he's featured on the website, in mailers and on posters. He said, "I guess they're expecting big things from me...so am I." I like that.
Carson Wiggs said he's got a few goals for this season- get more consistent and hit some more really long field goals. He said he loves having the opportunity to crush the near-60 yarders and wants to hit one from 60-plus this season. He continued that Coach Hope enjoys the long field goals as much as anybody in the stadium, in his opinion.
Final Spring Thoughts
Yeah, I know practice is not officially over for Purdue, but here are a couple of parting shots from what I saw.
-I'd like to see Henry on the field in the fall...not as a QB. I'm one of the guys who really liked his potential when he came in, but I think it'd be a pretty big waste for him to stay back there. Plus, I think his legs are way more impressive than his arm. This is just my take.
-I also want to see Tyler moved...not sure where yet. Perhaps it can be done based on need. Maybe over to LB a la Jon Reeves? Safety? Regardless, with Robinson arriving on campus in a few months, Purdue will have 4 quarterbacks...plus Siller, maybe. Just makes sense to me from the outside.
-I'm still hoping for big things from Eric Williams in the fall. Maybe he can wiggle his way into some reps...I like his potential, but also think with the flood of speed that's about to come into the skilled positions makes it important for him to make his presence known soon.
-My daughter had her first visit to campus today...she slept for most of it. LBD was having allergy, then bloody nose problems. Mrs. Boilerdowd and I had an argument at McDonald's between community day and the game. Much like the team, our Spring game wasn't ideal...but at the end of the day, I think we're all happy that we're closer to football season...and just like the team, we promise to have better outings this fall.