SIC ‘EM, MORE! The BS Predicto for ISU
Purdue heads into their home opener this weekend at a very frustrating 0-1 and much energy and angst has been spilled and spent in the days since Sunday’s collapse vs Marshall. There have been the usual “durrrr, don’t be so negative” remarks at those of us who live in the real world of facts and logic. There have also been the debates over what is the root cause of the mess that has been the Darrell Hazell era. How much of it is Danny Hope’s fault? How much is Morgan Burke’s? And I think most of us agree that it’s a good thing we really like Darrell Hazell and his professional demeanor, because at the bare minimum, at least he’s not a buffoonish embarrassment like Hope or former Illinois coach/abuser Tim Beckman. Now we move on to Indiana State, in what is one of the two remaining games on Purdue’s current or future schedule vs sub-FBS competition (not including IU). Darrell Hazell may be the saddest to see these delicious cupcakes go, as he is seeking his fifth win as Boilermakers head coach and if he gets it, a full 60% of his victories will be versus FCS-level foes (three out of five). Mercy.
Two years ago, Purdue got their lone win of the season vs the mighty Sycamores thanks to a late interception from Ricardo Allen. Will the Sycamores be angling for “revenge”? Or will the Boilers simply overpower their physically-smaller foes? Let’s see what the boys say.
Aneesh the Swamy:
So, first, let me congratulate Fox Sports on having an infinitely worse streaming option than EsPN's awful system. FS1 had no mobile options, no rewinding/pausing, and zero on-demand options for any of their games. And, from what it sounds like, the announcers were Swedish exchange students looking to make an extra $20. Thank you, Fox Sports, for making me appreciate what The Mothership and BTN does during broadcasts.
That being said...all I could manage to watch from last week were any and all highlights available on the internets, on top of reading everything anyone wrote about the game. From the sounds of it, Shoop was Shoop, the o-line was legitimately really good, Knox and Jones are great, the secondary was decent but the defense looked gassed, and Appleby might not finish the season because no matter how hard you try you can't justify 4 picks with 2 pick-sixes against that Marshall defense. Please correct me if I'm wrong on any of that.
Post game quotes included "we had collectively the best game since we have been at Purdue," which is a super depressing thing to say after losing to a mediocre Marshall team.
But still, I'm not worried at all about Indiana State. Maybe I'm jinxing them, but if that's all it takes to lose to IS-freaking-U then this team deserves it. Purdue's line is apparently a grown-man unit, and the running backs are fantastic, so I see no reason why the Boilers can't bully the Sycamores into submission in the Ross-Ade opener.
And I actually see Shoop's/Hazell's offensive approach to this game a little differently. This presents with a fantastic (and maybe only) opportunity to boost AA's confidence...if Knox & Jones give Purdue a little cushion, they should let Austin sling it out there. Let him loose, and give him a chance to get on the same page as his receivers and mince up ISU's secondary. Even without Anthrop, it should be an investment in the short-term future if they want AA to survive the season.
No, I'm not worried at all. But it's really disappointing that we're even contemplating that decision, and that there are a good number of people who think this game will be close. With Va Tech's quarterback losing a collarbone to Ohio State's juggernaut and Bowling Green on the horizon, Coach Hazell (and Purdue fans) should be thinking about his first winning streak at Purdue. And it doesn't even come close to happening...well, we've got bigger problems at that point.
Purdue 48 ISU 24
Those who would argue whether last week's loss to Marshall lies at the feet of OC John Shoop or QB Austin Appleby are missing the point. As tidy as it would be to place blame solely on one or the other, empirical evidence would suggest that both of those men left that game with blood on their hands.
Shoop has rightly earned criticism from Purdue fans for over-thinking things, and as much as it pains me to align myself with those who have huffed and puffed about Shoop from the moment he was hired, one thing is true: sometimes the prudent thing perhaps is to not try to out-think your opponent but just run them over. The Trojan Horse was effective, no doubt, but many a wall has been felled by battering rams as well. Perhaps the next time Purdue's OC sees himself staring at a 3rd-2 in a tight game, he'll pull a 5'11'', 207lb battering ram out of his quiver. [Can a battering ram fit in a quiver? – Ed.]
Appleby's hands were a bit redder, for sure. You just can't gift your opponents 14 points. You just can't. We've seen plenty of Appleby over the last season-plus to know who he is. Who he is is a tough sonofabitch who will throw a linebacker to the ground with one arm and a touchdown with the other. He'll fight and claw and rally the troops. He's tall and strong and looks like a college quarterback. But he is also the guy who looks shaky in the pocket. He is also the guy who locks in on his intended receiver and his whole awareness of the world around him disappears. He can be baited into throwing interceptions because he struggles to read safeties, or even use the typical bag of tricks to work them to the wrong side of the field.
He is who he is, and Purdue will be who they are because of that. And that's not all bad. He can make the throws, but perhaps he should be making fewer of them.
All that being said, there's no reason to pack up the tent and go home, though many Purdue fans have already left. I'm already bracing myself for the shots of the stadium Saturday. It will not be pretty. But it will definitely be quiet. Peaceful, even. Purdue fans let out a collective groan when they turned off the TV at the conclusion of the Marshall game, and I fear many won't tune back in. Beating Indiana State won't change that either. There's no energy left in this fanbase that is so sick of getting kicked in the teeth. Losing to Marshall drops the ceiling by one win and this team looks to be crawling towards a 4-win season. Yes, 4 wins may be progress, but if your kid fails every class one semester, and then gets D's the next, do you really think you'll be in the mood to celebrate?
This one should break towards the Boilers. Purdue has learned the hard way that ISU won't fold easy, but eventually they do fold. I expect Purdue to walk away with one more win, but still the same number of questions.
Purdue 31 ISU 20
ISU fans might say that they owe Purdue a little payback for barely squeaking out a victory over the Sycamores in '13. I'd say Purdue owes them a waxing since they didn't get their whooping on their last visit. So what does improvement look like for Purdue football? Baby steps, I guess.
One of those baby steps is beating the stuffing out of teams that you should beat up. ISU took it to the lowly Butler Bulldogs a week ago...and while it's great for every team to have a weekend where everything goes right, Saturday will wake them up from their dreamlike state. Look for Purdue to run the ball...again and again. And Purdue's 1-2, and maybe 3 (read as K. Green) punch to feast on the ISU defensive front. The RBs will get the credit, the offensive line will make Markell Jones look like the guy who ran roughshod over lowly high school players.
On top of that, Purdue's bigger, improved receiving corps won't be slowed down by ISU's Dbacks. I look for Young, Mahoungou and Yancey to have confidence building games...same for #12.
While ISU is 21st in the nation in their division, the size disparity in the trenches will wear them down, even on a cooler-than-normal Saturday in early Saturday at RA.
Apologists are telling everyone that the loss last week is a step forward...a resounding win versus ISU should help them sell their concept that things are getting better...but not much.
Purdue 45 ISU 17
If I'm wrong...uh oh. It gets a bit tougher versus VTech's D next week.
Two things we can take from last week's game are that 1) Hazell's finally using the spread-to-run offense he's wanted to install at Purdue, and 2) without adequate constraint plays, there's no reason for adequate defenses to play anyone more than three yards off the line ... and even with wide hashmarks, it doesn't matter how you align if you can't get safeties and linebackers to respect the pass.
While harsh lessons no doubt wait in the future, that future will not be Saturday, as the Good Guys get top-25 Indiana State, who survived a rough transition from Trent Miles to Mike Sanford and bounced back to an 8-win season in 2014, their highest total since 1984. (Something to think about: while Purdue did squeak into the Peach Bowl that year, we should remember the wins over (6-6) Michigan, (7-5) Notre Dame and conference champ Ohio State rather than Purdue's 7-5 record.) The Sycamores scored what looks to be a school-record 354 points last season, helped in part by playing a school-record 14 games, including two playoff games. (ISU crushed Eastern Kentucky but fell to 8-seed Chattanooga in the second round.)
ISU also crushed Butler in their 2015 opener - yes, Butler plays I-AA also, don't pretend you didn't know that - but actually fell in computer ratings partly because Butler's not good and partly because the MVC is a killer conference, featuring reigning four-time champion North Dakota State (who actually lost their opener to Montana, the first time they've started 0-1 since losing to Iowa State in 2009; they beat the Cyclones in 2014 and won all their other games except a mid-season showdown with conference foe Northern Iowa), South Dakota State (who opened with a win against Kansas this season), and 2014 national runner-up Illinois State.
There are usually 2-5 I-AA teams who could easily hold their own in a I-A mid-major conference. (Hypothetically. It's not hard to watch the best I-AA teams and the worst I-A teams and see which ones are better, but that doesn't mean it would play out accordingly.) Indiana State isn't one of those teams, thankfully, because Hazell's Boilers have yet to demonstrate that they could hold their own in a mid-major conference. The loss to Marshall has sparked a number of discussions about which side of the ball has been less effective ... the fact that there's been no conclusive answer is another area of concern. (You can't fire both coordinators and keep the team afloat; you generally can't fire one unless the season's lost anyway.)
This Saturday's game will not do much to allay those concerns. The analogy to Tressel- and Carr-type teams is apt: even with superior talent, Hazell's offense isn't going to blow teams out of the water, and every now and then, his inability to get a sizable lead costs him a win. With the usual run of I-AA wins over I-A teams already in the books (Portland State!), ISU will be eager to keep the score close ... they'll do that, but they won't get the key play they need to pull the upset. The Good Guys will prevail in a game that makes no one feel comfortable about the future.
Purdue 29 Indiana State 24
J Money Honey:
There is no reason Purdue shouldn’t simply be able to impose their will this weekend on Indiana State. Run the ball with Knox and Jones until those two need a break from running up and down the field and then give Green some touches to prove himself. There should be absolutely no need or desire to throw the ball more than 15-18 times on Saturday, unless the team has a nice lead and the offense simply wants to practice actually throwing the ball downfield. Sure, it could help improve confidence, but if it’s unsuccessful, I worry what that could do to Appleby’s confidence heading into Va Tech.
Purdue should roll up tons of offense and win by multiple scores. And I do think it’s possible, maybe even likely, that this is what will happen. However, I go back to the school of having to see it to believe it. Who has Purdue controlled/dominated thoroughly in Hazell’s tenure? They’re playing the dangerous game of even when they’re definitely better (WMU and Illinois last year, Marshall last week) not putting their boot on the throat and putting it out of reach early.
I say they win but give us severe anxiety doing it.
Purdue 35 ISU 33