2014 Black Gold Game Wrap
I've been going to Purdue's Spring game for a long time...but I don't think I can remember one in which there was so little offense on display. If a defensive end wasn't in the backfield harassing a QB, a WR was dropping a pass. Etling and Appleby started for the gold and black teams, respectively...but neither really showed any separation from the other. But, the running backs did show some promise.
Raheem Mostert looks to be the clear #1 on the depth chart. Even when he's hit behind the line of scrimmage he seems to fall forward for a yard or two. He still seems a touch apprehensive at times, BUT, he's vastly improved from the RB we saw last fall in very limited doses.
I talked to both he and Hunt before the game at the community day...they were both pretty good sports. I asked them which was faster in full pads; Hunt answered quickly that he was the guy. Mostert just laughed...I then asked who's just faster, Raheem jumped first saying, "Come on!" While Mostert is one of the fastest guys in America on the indoor track, both look fast in pads and helmets.
Hunt continues to seem to be the quickest guy on the field for Purdue; offense or defense...Mostert and Antrop both might be nipping at his heels. BUT, Mostert looks like the most-complete football player right now. Another RB that impressed me was Keyante Green. He's built like a fire hydrant...and you can't miss him when he enters the game. He's reminiscent of Ralph Bolden sporting the 23...But much thicker. As a redshirt Freshman in the coming fall, I think it might be hard to keep him off of the field by the end of the season.
It's really tough not to be critical of Shoop based on what I saw today, honestly. The offense looks stale and seems to have very few options for success on each play. Often, you'll see what looks like a one-route play, meaning, they'll be a decoy or misdirection and one target...if that guy isn't open, the QB must throw it away.
That's one thing that Etling did better today than all of last season. That might sound like a slam, but it's really not. He wasn't forcing the ball into places he couldn't get it. But both Etling and Appleby tended to hold onto the ball for too long. This led to fumbles and a crucial turnover.
It was a gusty, but great day in God's country. It hovered around 70 degrees...and was one of the most-pleasant Spring game weather days I can recall. I loved hangingout with friends and family in the stands, but the product on the field was bland.
I was hoping to see some of the pop from Robert Gregory that we had all heard about during Spring practice, but there wasn't much of that. But the DBs tackled very well, especially in the flat...and that was where they seemed to get the most opportunity to stop WRs.
I heard that there was an edict from the coaches that each team must go deep at least four times...but the only QB that had any success with the deep ball was third stringer, true Frosh, early enrollee, David Blough. He throws a great looking ball...is built about like Brees was as a Sophomore, but looks a bit taller than Purdue's last QB from Texas. All of the QBs look the part, actually. No whomp-jacked mechanics or puny 160 pounders under/behind center. But they all need more time to effectively do their job.
And speaking of getting terrorized by the defense, Ryan Russell was my player of the game. For the second half of the contest his prey, Etling was down by contact...but it didn't matter as he had no match on the offensive line. Another guy who was active was Sophomore DT, Howard...much like a young KK Short, he seems to not be consistent on each down...but when motivated, he's a bit of a monster.
I got to meet his proud Mom before kickoff in McDonalds...the only reason I knew it was her was because she told me so as we filled our icy-cold beverages. Hailing from outside of Elizabeth, NJ, a few of the Howards came in to support #93...he didn't disappoint.
As it usually is, the roster was somewhat decimated from injury and attrition. Sinz was one of the captains, but didn't make much noise during the game...But Gabe Holmes is still trying to get his academic standing up for next season; which left a gaping hole...and McCarthy has a shoulder injury that's keeping him off of the field until the fall. So one of the staples for Shoop's offense last season, the TE really wasn't a factor. Add in the normal nicks and cuts to the offensive line, and an already undermanned front got split into two units that simply weren't very good.
As you can see in the photos if you weren't there, the black squad wore the matte black helmets and black game jerseys/white pants from last season...the gold squad wore white game jerseys/urine gold pants and metallic gold helmets.
It's been all-but-confirmed that the uniforms will go through a change next season...and standing up close to players before the game, you could see holes in numbers and near theshoulder pads...so while I'm all for a change to the uniforms as the number font has never looked great to me, the jerseys are simply long in the tooth.
A few coaches were wearing jackets/shirts with the black helmet on the front...a possible preview that the one-game matte black helmet that's popular among some Purdue fans will be more prominent next season; how so is really the question. I think the gold helmets will still be the primaries...hope so, anyway.
The community day portion was impressive yet again...LBD had a good time as did his Dad as we walked around the field prior to kick off talking to different players and parents. My conversation with Sean Robinson and his Mom and Dad was pretty great and candid. I told his Dad about how we had talked four years ago just after Sean's first start...as a QB. Robinson no longer looks like a QB...and reminded a friend of mine how much everything has changed for him from HS to the coming fall; his Senior year. Let's all remember that he was pretty highly touted prior to signing on for Coach Hope. Hope and his staff are gone and the program looks radically-different; and not all of the changes are positive.
As Robinson reminded me, it takes preparation, good locker room examples talent and a little luck for a team to mature...hopefully next year's team goes through a Robinson-like change in a short amount of time.
I'm hoping that much like Tony Dungy's Colts teams were never good when it didn't count (in the pre-season), that Darrell Hazell's second Spring game is really an indicator of nothing...But what I saw on the field today, much like the Ross-Ade turf, left a lot to be desired.