I woke up this morning to 40 degree temps, rain and ugly skies...and it got worse as we headed out of the Indy era with stormy conditions dominating the horizon. But the radar looked promising around God's country, so my brother, nephew, son and I headed North. By the time we hit Lebanon, the rain had stopped, by the time we got to Tippecanoe County, the sun was breaking through and the ground was dry...and at kickoff for the game, it was probably the best spring game weather I can remember- I actually got a sunburn (on one side of my dome). Here's what I saw:
-Rob Henry looks stronger and more filled-out physically. He continues to have a command of the huddle and I perceive that he gets respect from the team in the huddle. He threw a couple nice balls with zip, but the pass game didn't have a ton of rhythm...but neither did the running game. Hope tried to make this into a game, but it's still a glorified practice. Purdue misses Bolden services greatly, and the splitting up of the running backs makes for an odd rhythm of substitutions. The most effective runner, like last season, was Henry. He's very elusive, seems slightly quicker and a bit more fluid in his running style. Since QBs were down by any touch of the defense, it's pretty tough to see how this offense will work.
-Caleb TerBush looked OK, but neither he nor Henry threw a particularly long ball. Both fluttered the ball on some fade routes. They also both held onto the ball too long as plays broke down and neither had that two-three second clock in their head as the DBs did an excellent job time and time again covering up the receivers. Both QBs wore gloves on their throwing hands.
We got to see other QBs, all walk-ons (not sure why Robinson was unavailable), but McCarthy made his first appearance as a Boiler. He didn't throw the ball great, but has a big body that could add weight...I'd like to see him moved to WR and become a Siller/Smith type of guy...especially if Purdue can get a good QB (Pike?) in the coming recruiting class.
-Ricardo Allen had a couple pass interference calls very early, but the safeties and corners (as they should) anchored the defense. Allen, Johnson, Link, Evans, Charlot, Eargle, Williams, Aristide and others are a fast, talented and experienced bunch.
-Kawaan Short and Bruce Gaston are a great tandem and their names were announced a lot today- they're both big, strong and ugly- I like that. They need help at DE though. Maci's name was called a few times, as was Mebane and Russell's. By the looks of him, I'd guess Russell will play a lot and Mebane still needs to fill out a bit.
-Out of the talented LB corps, it seemed to me that Higgs was the most active on the day. That said, I still want him moved to DE and am still not sure why that hasn't already happened. He's a nasty player and is needed up front. Greaves and Lee both made some plays at LB, but the usual in the middle were quiet.
-Josh Johnson fielded punts and did so quietly. Antavian Edison was noticed, for the wrong reason. Cody Webster simply blasted a punt early in the day and Edison tried to catch to catch the spiral above his head- after an ill-advised back-peddling fair catch attempt, the ball flew threw his hands. Edison did his best to get back to square one, but couldn't get back to where he had botched the catch.
-Edison runs fluidly and is super-quick. I liked what I saw from him and hope he gets even more opportunities to touch the ball in the fall. With the potential thin and young RB corps, he will most-surely be used at RB (he wasn't on Saturday). Siller and Torwodzu are both physical specimens- large, strong and both seem to have good hands. That's great news because TWood's knock out of HS was that his hands weren't consistent. Normando Harris had a couple catches and looked comfortable on the offensive side of the ball (remember, he played Safety late in the season in '10). OJ Ross wasn't given too many opportunities, but looks quick again.
I like the receiving corps a lot...but I'm not super-confident in the quarterbacks' being able to get the ball to them.
The tight ends were pretty quiet, but Sinz, Holmes and Carter (JC transfer) all had catches.
-The offensive play-calling was pretty boring and for me, and the game was really just a chance to get to learn some new numbers/names. So the most-exciting thing two watch was the exhibition Wiggs put on at the end of the half blasting kicks from 45 all the way up to nearly 70 yards all in a row...all but one split the uprights. His leg has a ton of 'pop' in it.
-These games are funny- I can remember back in the late-90s as I watched Bergler or Edgerton shine as that Brees guy just kind of got by, I began to devalue what I saw. That said, I love going to these.
One thing that's always neat is to see what players have re-shaped themselves physically. Here are a few that just looked like football players.
-Torwudzu- if he can catch in traffic like he did today, he could become a very good possession
receiver because he looks like he'll be able to block out about anybody.
-Ricardo Allen is sculpted. He kinda reminds me of the way Bob Sanders was put together in highschool- very compact and like Sanders he's got some swagger...and it's well-earned and backed up.
-RB Senior, Sean Matti played a lot late in the game. His running style is choppy and he probably won't play next season, but he's put together like a football player.
-I already mentioned Henry, but I think he's made a similar jump (physically) as he did between his Frosh and RS Frosh this last off-season. That's a good sign for his work ethic.
The new Pete was publicly shown off and here's what I think: he looks worse in person than he did via photos. His goofy stuffed animal shoes make him look like Mickey Mouse. I always liked Pete wearing black Nikes with a white swoosh as if he might suit up and play for the team. His physique isn't tough-looking and his costume just isn't right. The shiny silver helmet doesn't seem to be shaped like a hard hat and his matching giant belt buckle (like he's about to go to the Neon Cactus) doesn't fit. Plus, he looks like he stole his pants from the lady's department at JC Penney. Whereas the old Pete might have looked intimidating and menacing, the new one looks as if he was born chromosomally-deficient.
If you don't like what you've seen of the re-design, let Teri Thompson
know...after a few days of backlash, Thompson and Co. have been performing damage control saying that this Pete will be changed and what we saw was only a prototype. In my opinion, what is seen in the fall needs to be a complete departure from this piece of laughable crap.