"There will be tricks and there will be treats..." A priest at Purdue's St. Tom's said during his homily one Sunday just before Halloween about 12 years ago...and he might have been describing this weekend up at my alma mater for all I know. As college girls sauntered about campus dressed like prostitutes, their school's basketball team started the exhibition season by treating a tuner by 32 points...The next day, the football team was in costume as something we haven't seen all season- a surprisingly exciting football team.
First off, the quarterback, number 5...a first-time starter named Siller reminded me of a not-so-poor man's Terrell Pryor. He glided along effortlessly seeming to not try as defenders couldn't get a grasp on the RS Frosh...and his unusual, slight side-arm delivery was better than effective as he completed over 61% of his passes and led an offense that was atrocious, in previous weeks to 48 points. Granted, this Michigan defense was in the cellar of the league in scoring defense and passing defense, but Purdue's offense was averaging just over 10 pts/game coming into Saturday.
Second, Ryan Kerrigan seemed to be dressed as a combination of Anthony Spencer, Rosey Colvin and others. His pursuit was relentless as his efforts will surely earn him a starring role in the nightmares of the hapless and perpetually-confused Threet, UM's quarterback. Unlike some of Purdue's other great DEs, he seems to also be a run-stopper.
I'll be honest, I don't know if I've seen a Purdue linebacker play with the reckless abandon of #42 since Mike Rose nearly crossed the line of insanity back in Tiller's early seasons at Purdue. Heygood ran like the runningback he once was on the well set-up fake punt...and ran around Ross Ade's loam as if his lengthy dreads were ablaze. He, Baker and Magee all seemed to play with the urgency of players that see the end of their collegiate careers just around the corner.
Purdue's special teams came to the contest dressed as the Purdue special teams units of the late 90s...the kickoff coverage, punt coverage and long snapper were all simply lousy for much of the day. It seemed, in the first half, that the classic Joe Tiller loss was at hand- one unit (the offense) had decided to come to play...the other two were simply no-shows...the second half was a much different story. The special teams yielded an important drive-sustaining fake punt near the center of the field (above) and the defense stopped the Wolverines offense twice in the closing minutes...Sadly the officials literally stole one of those stoppers as they closed their eyes and made a pass interference call...The Big Ten officiating crew was in its usual costume...as a herd of blind jackasses.
Kory Sheets came dressed as himself...'cause he's just that bad. I get the idea that Sheets likes himself quite a bit; and he seems to back up his moxy quite well. He ran hard again all afternoon and racked up 118 yards...Clearly, if you watch the tape of the game, you can see tha the has the ability to disappear, because Michigan DBs simply couldn't find him on multiple occasions during the game.
The old man celebrated Halloween dressed as a Cowboy. The two trick plays in in the second half were ballsy...but I have to be honest. Justin Siller's ability to evade the rush kept quite a few drives alive. The fact that this guy wasn't AT LEAST #2 on the depth chart coming into this season really shows how the coaches were coasting coming into this season, in my opinion. Perhaps this performance has awakened Joe...maybe we won't be hearing about fishing during pressers for the remainder of the season. When the guy wants to, he can still coach. Oh yeah...it's also great for his psyche to beat Michigan for a second time in his Big Ten coaching career...even if this team is just a shadow of former UM teams, they still have the wings on the helmets.
This game was important for a lot of reasons. First, it invigorated the fanbase. No one from this site or my family or near me in 119 expected this type of game...It was infuriating at times, but it was jubilant in the end. Michigan is a horrible team...I really do believe that. Rich Rodriguez seems to be in waaaaay over his head. But, Purdue's anemic offense (before this week) didn't stall once in the red zone on six visits to the region. Justin Siller's play was as good as I can remember from a first start by a Freshman in the Tiller era. While Brees started as a Soph, his numbers v. an OK USC team were pretty human, Hance, Orton, Kirsch and Painter weren't great right out of the box. Check out the numbers for yourself:
21/34 266 yds. 3 passing TDs, one rushing TD, 77 yds. rushing
The game was also very important to recruiting, in my opinion. We walked in front of Mollenkopf after the game. It was swarming with potential future Boilers. I think we'll find out in the next few days about a few more commitments...I hope so anyway. To the average 18 year old football fan, Michigan is still Michigan. Watching Purdue beat them, surely couldn't have hurt their perception of the day...and the 55,000 fans, nicely spread out, gave the look of a nearly-full Ross Ade stadium. Plus, these 55,000 were a high-octane bunch as we were loud, especially in the second half. While it wasn't the greatest environment ever, it was pretty damned good for a bunch of people watching to 2-6 teams square off.
While I was frustrated with the two 14-point leads gift-wrapped for the maize and blue, I was heartened by the fight and overall cool of our Boilers. Plus, the weather was stupid-good; it was a fun afternoon.
-Are there any better days than these? Purdue wins, UND loses a game it had no business losing, and IU loses to an OK MAC team without its starting QB. I can breath easy and content this evening.
-The Michigan fans, who I usually like quite a bit, seemed pretty damned annoying and even arrogant today. Every time Purdue fans would do a cheer, they'd replace Purdue with Go Blue...Pretty gay if you ask me...especially for a bunch of people cheering for an underachieving 2-7 team chocked full of blue chip athletes. While there weren't a ton of Michigan fans there, I was un lucky enough to be a section over from many during the game. I gave them about ten "Go Blues" as they exited the stands with their sorry tails between their legs. I hope the drive back North wasn't too painful for them. Sure, some of my frustration aimed at them is just pent-up rage that should be directed at Purdue's coaches...but I'm taking a break from complaining about them for the week.
-I'm not delusional enough to believe Purdue is going to run the table and go to bowl (not that another Motor City visit is anything noteworthy), but I can say, I'm stoked to see Siller's progress for the rest of the season and think he can be an incredible weapon for Hope and his staff in '09.
-Hey Roy Roundtree, I hope you enjoyed today's visit to Ross Ade!