Baseball and football are different for me- I can generally watch about any football game with about anyone and enjoy it...I can especially enjoy watching my alma mater play. But as I looked ahead to tonight, the game wasn't what I was looking forward to. I looked forward to seeing some great friends before it and watching it with one of my oldest friends. The trappings were there, but I didn't think Purdue belonged on the big stage.
Well I was right about one thing- Everything around the game was pretty great- the tailgate was fun, catching up with friends is always great, the weather was perfect, the Goodyear blimp reminded all of us that this game was being seen by everyone...once again, I didn't love this idea. I figured if my favorite squad was gonna get lambasted, I'd prefer the smallest-possible viewership.
Like J said though, just after kickoff, it was pretty obvious that Hazell's boys weren't there just to participate. They marched down the field and scored...the defense stopped UND, again and again and again. The game was 10-0, it was the middle of the second quarter, and my prediction was already very wrong- and I was loving it. We sat in 103...and that section earned some respect from me. We stood almost the entire game with no bitching from curmudgeons. The old and young alike were on board and all in.
At the half, I was pretty stoked that the good guys weren't competing, but winning.
From all the way across the field and up 43 rows, I could see Coach Hudson (DC) working hard- the defense reflected his energy...played hard...looked prepared...looked fast and athletic. But, kind of like what we saw in the past few weeks, they lost some steam as the game wore on. The differences were that this was a motivated ranked opponent and the collapses that happened didn't occur until very late in the game.
I don't think Hudson, Shoop, Hazell or the players would call today a success. I'm positive that most, if not all, would call it a step in the right direction. The way I look at this season is the process matters. Rebuilding the psyche of the team matters. Making progress matters.
Purdue didn't fold when they could have late in the game, Henry made better decisions today, the offensive line played much better in facets today, the linebackers were pretty damned good today, and the WR pups seemed to learn a lot today.
Now, I will be critical of one player's play...only because he has said multiple times that his goal is to dominate and be one of the best players at his position in the nation. Ricardo Allen simply must step up against one of the premier programs on the schedule in order to take the next step. He's dominated smurfs on the schedule and made big plays versus nobodies... but bluebloods typically end up picking on him successfully at important junctures in the game. Today was no different. He had a great strip in the fourth, that was important and showed some fight, but as a cover corner, he simply has to be better if he wants to get close to his self-set goal. AND if Purdue's defense is going to get better, his role within the defensive backfield can be something they can build around.
So why was this loss more than a mere moral victory? Because it renewed faith in the Hazell's rebuilding process among the fans AND, it showed what might be in the future for this program to a TON of recruits. A few very important cogs in Hazell's plan were in the house tonight (as well as a bunch of Matty's guests). Those guys needed to see a full-ish Ross-Ade and hear from a fanbase that's absolutely starving for a team that consistently beats ranked opponents. For the first time in Hazell's short stint at Purdue, a glint of bright light peaked through.
I can't speak for you, but I can tell you that I needed to see something from the team today just so I didn't have such a negative perspective about this young season. The next step in this process is for the Boilers to finish out, and beat one of the good teams that they'll play in the next four or five weeks. Traveling to Madison to go toe-to-toe with a gaggle of angry Badgers, is a tall order....we'll see how quickly they can take this next step.
This was no moral victory. Why aren't we running a read option when the second fastest guy on the team is the QB (who does not have enough of an arm/accuracy to throw in a spread formation)? We actually have 4 games of recent film of where read option QBs are being forced into being pocket passers by their teams' poorly designed offensive scheme; Redskins under RGIII getting blown out the past two weeks and Purdue under Rob Henry getting blown out one week while losing to an over-rated ND team this past week. And yes, this is also no moral victory because it is unlikely that ND will remain in the top 25 for long as well; they lost to an equally over-rated Michigan team that should have lost to Akron this weekend (thank the refs for that Mich win). Welcome to 1-11/2-10 boys......
Proud of the team Saturday. Hazell bought himself some more fanbase excitement, too. All good things, but we couldn't close the deal. Big plays are made by big players. ND has many more big players....
Speaking of which, the review of Allen was right on...he has been torched in the big games. That needs to end.
After watching the playcalling I have to believe that Hazell had a come to Jesus talk with Shoop about utilizing his QB's skill set. I'll be the first to say that I STILL wish Rob weren't under center (insert rebuttals here if you like, but it's a different conversation), but if you're hellbent on using him, at least use his skill set...
Did anyone else catch Musburger saying that after talking with the Purdue coaching staff that Etling was the QB of the future for Purdue? I find it hard to believe that the coaches would have said that, given how close the battle for the #2 QB spot was.
I will echo others in the belief that this team showed guts against UND where they didn't the first two weeks; except for Ricardo Allen. I think he is still on fire from how badly burned he got. Allen looked like a future CFL player. Which if you ask Cory Sheets, isn't really that bad. But, his being scorched the whole game prevented Hudson from stacking the box on the final drive, and UND bulldozed the remaining time away. If you think I am being too harsh on Allen, think on this: the unknown UND corner was able to pick off the same exact pass that the much hyped Allen could not. Very telling.
I started to feel a lot more optimistic watching Meechigan struggle with Akron. I think it's hilarious that the 2 yuppies' big rivalry shows it doesn't have quite the national prominence that they think it does. Felt awesome seeing that Ross-Ade is BACK! Hopefully this isn't just that one good game like Ohio State last year. Knauf is a beast and somebody I really see becoming a leader and a fan favorite. BTFU!
I did want to touch on something that I believe helped Henry play better last night. The removal of Holmes at TE for a wrist "injury" was key. Gabe Holmes may look like an NFL TE but after watching Sinz do the right thing time and time again. I realized that Holmes may not be injured as bad as we've been told. Sinz looked like he belonged. He blocked well, he ran crisp routes and got decent YAC. It appears Holmes may have lost his starting position. And I think it had A LOT more to do with his play...or lack thereof than his wrist injury. I mean...really...what is the longest pass we've seen Holmes receive? Do you remember him getting decent yards after a catch? I remember more drops than I do catches from Holmes. He's got perfect size...I just don't know what's going on upstairs. Just a thought? What do you all think?
I think I can speak for a lot of people around here that were utterly disgusted with Rob Henry's play and the new coaching staff. But after watching that game in person in one of the best atmospheres I've felt at Ross-Ade since "The Fumble" game, I believe in Hazell. The guys are finally playing like Hazell has talked them up to be like all fall. Dare I say it, I like Rob Henry. Sure, he's got worse quarterback footwork and mechanics than my dog, but that kid has heart. I can see why he's a captain and the leader of that offense. Yeah, he threw a pick six, yeah we lost, yeah 75% of the ND fans there will be wearing crimson and cream in the winter, but I was proud to wear old gold and black last night. We might win one or two more games. But this is the team we wanted and we finally got it, even if only for 3 quarters. If they can play like this every game, then the future is as bright as we all think. Maybe I'm being too positive and optimistic.
I don't begrudge you for claiming "moral victory" but it's really just a loss. The 6th straight loss to ND. Purdue has lost 23 out of the last 28 to ND. Doesn't getting a moral victory assure you that better times are ahead? Wasn't last year's loss to ND a moral victory? Where's the real victory? Do you really think it will happen next year in South Bend? It won't. Maybe in 2015. Yes, Purdue will finally beat ND in 2015. I can barely contain my excitement.
@BoilerRob Plus, I think Blough will be very involved in the battle for starter next year. Etling shows promise, but had trouble recognizing defenses and going at full game speed...he'll get better, but hopefully his competition does as well as next season approaches.
@boxercr CFL is a tough place to land for a DB...the motion of that game is ridonkulously advantageous for WRs...I think they just assume corners will get toasted...now is the time where you insert your own obvious joke.
@Haylard Loved the crowd...loved Knauf's play
@BoilerBloodline I think Holmes' struggles while blocking limit him and the offense...he's not a true tightend, but really is a gigantic H back (in my amateur opinion)
@CalTravelGuy And I thought I was pessimistic.
@CalTravelGuy I agree that moral victories against the Domers keep adding up, and yet the wins haven't. However, after watching Purdue slip by Indiana State and get blasted by Cincinnati, handling Notre Dame for 3 Quarters was definitely a glimpse of good things coming.
I have been following Purdue longer than most have been alive on this board. If we had comparable talent at every position every year I could understand your argument. However where purdue might have 5 nfl caliber players ND has about 20 to 25. Most of the years we have beat them in the last 30 years they have been down in talent. So what our kids did last night was nothing more than play their rear off. They played against all the obstacles and gave themselves a chance to win. If you want to win more games buy a ticket and show up and stop complaining. Purdue fans want success however most dont get off their butt and support the program. If you want better players show up for games. If a good recruit sees we pack the stadium whether we win or lose we have a better chance of securing their committment. Or perhaps we should start cheating like the big boys
@CalTravelGuy Back away from the ledge. Consider that this is a new coaching staff that's looking to build with a Danny Hope roster. It will take time.
@BoilerOfLegend @CalTravelGuy LMAO!! I was on "the ledge" before watching a team that didn't look as if they belonged on the field at all compete with the tarnished domer fake religious zelots we call "those guys". I don't really believe in moral victories per se, but what I saw was a group of guys buying in to what what they're being coached. This was a pleasant sight to say the least. I didn't believe yet the team did. And I was proud to witness it.