Another blogger from Smartfootball came over here this weekend a few times and told J to "stay on message" following the NU game. First off, our site isn't dedicated to Xs and Os like his, so I have a problem with that point. We write about sports, mostly Purdue sports, and we're Purdue grads. We get emotional, and we really don't care if it's viewed as biased from time-to-time. We are biased- It tears us up when Purdue loses. That said, we're not school children who don't understand the game. So when I see that he's guest posting at a site and making statements about Purdue saying that our fans won't or can't answer questions about Purdue's offense, I get bothered. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I didn't see him giving TMill the chance to answer the question, and don't remember him asking this of us...So, while Chris' cerebral look at Purdue is appreciated, it is simply not as accurate as he might think in my opinion. For instance:
"The run game had become predictable, and the downfield passing game, which so often would shred inferior competition, would become completely stymied against good teams because (a) they could man up on all of Purdue's receivers, and (b) via the four down linemen and various blitz schemes, they could take target practice on Purdue's quarterback. "
Is he inferring that Purdue's downfield passing game is now better than previous seasons? Really? Purdue's downfield plays are created by the simple fact that Purdue receivers this season are all large and strong. When given the opportunity, they break tackles...so some plays have showed as long passes in the stat log. But in actuality, they're nothing of the sort. Purdue has no vertical passing game at all- regardless of the opponent. Much of this is due to play calling, but most seems to be due to Elliott's inability to throw a deep ball. Case in point: Elliott threw for 300+ on Saturday, and on the stat sheet, the 67-yarder to Valentin might jump out. But, if you watched the game, you know that Elliott threw a simple out to Valentin (and quite high, mind you). After the great catch, Valentin, stiff-armed the NU defender and headed down the sidelines.
This point goes hand-in-hand with Purdue's running game becoming less-and-less productive as the season's progressed. No one respects Elliott's long ball ability at this point...so safeties seem to be getting closer and closer to the line of scrimmage as the season progresses. Granted, Bolden's not in perfect health, but he's still an elusive back. Problem is, he doesn't have the power in his legs right now to break the first tackle. A perpetual annoyance of mine this season is the simple fact that we're not seeing more of the other running backs. If his knee isn't allowing him to play close to 100%, he should be rested for a game or a half (at least), in my opinion. Heck, I heard it from the coach's own mouth time and time again that Purdue was loaded at RB...but all we've really seen is Bolden and a dash of Taylor all season.
Chris also keeps talking about fumbles as a probability and something that's seemingly random. My beef here is the fact that guys that fumble, specifically at key junctures on special teams keep getting the opportunity to do it again and again. Some guys are more prone to fumble than others...and those guys shouldn't be put back in the exact same situation over and over.
This Purdue offense, while statistically noteworthy, has quite a few Achilles heels. They've had long lapses each game (with the exception of Toledo) in which they seem to not be able to move the ball. Now, that's either play-calling or quarterback play. I think it's a bit of both. Another huge issue, especially when a team is in close games as Purdue's been in nearly every game is they cannot run a 2-minute offense...let-alone a hurried 1.5 minute offense.
Chris closes this post with another flaw in judgment, in my opinion. He says,
"I think it's pretty obvious that the only player right now that can inspire any serious fear among other Big 10 teams is running back Ralph Bolden, who is currently ranked second in the Big 10 in rushing yards per game."
I think what a lot of coaches might instead see at this point is that Bolden had 2.9 yards/carry v. NORTHWESTERN...NU couldn't stop anybody from running the ball, before Purdue of course, but made Chris' Superman look like Clark Kent.
I like Ralph Bolden, but to say he's the only Purdue player that is tough to prepare for is not correct. When Smith is given the opportunity to run with the ball after the catch, he's extremely hard to tackle. Plus, he runs very good routes and can block...out of the backfield (as he as in the FB position) and from the slot or flanker position. He's not the typical burner, but he's a hybrid- I compare him with Dallas Clark- he's got good hands, runs clean routes and doesn't shy away from contact. Plus, for his size, he has great body control.
I'm positive that Chris understands the intricacies of football much better than I- This is probably why I take such umbrage with this post today.