A few people have gotten upset with the way we've assessed Joey Elliott so far this season, so in the interest of fairness, I wanted to take a closer look at #14 in '09.
I'll be honest- I thought Elliott would be able to plan and think his way through the season since he's such a scholar of the game, football nerd, whatever you want to call him. And for the most part, that seems to have been correct. Elliott doesn't have a huge arm, but he's made some very good throws this season. Specifically v. Oregon, he split a double team for a 15 yard completion as he rolled to his right...and v. Northwestern, as the play broke down, he created time and found Aaron Valentin in the back of the end zone. The latter play was probably my favorite one by Elliott this season because it showed me his ability to keep his eyes up while moving his feet.
He's done a pretty good job avoiding the rush this season and has run the ball well-enough to keep defenses honest. Granted, his 50+ yard scamper v. NIU was better than well-enough, but typically, as the pocket has broken down, he's been able to make modest gains or throw the ball away to avoid the sack.
-He's completing his passes 62% of the time- pretty solid by about anyone's barometer.
-His QB rating is a respectable 48th in the nation (138.06)
-He's thrown more TDs than INTs (10:7)
-He's 14th in the nation with 1,276 yards, this season
Plus, I think he's getting better at different facets of the game, each game.
But, the lapses in offensive production have been painful...and since he's the quarterback, I think he deserves some culpability in this issue.
-Versus NIU, Purdue had 0 offensive TDs in the first half...and had no passing touchdowns for the entire contest. But, Elliott did it with his legs that game scoring two on the ground.
-Versus UND, Purdue's offense couldn't score in the entire first half.
-Versus Northwestern, the dry spell lasted three and one-half quarters...and during stretches of that game, couldn't get the ball past midfield.
One of the biggest problems that I have with the Elliott-led offense this season is their lack of a vertical passing game. Granted, the simple fact that Purdue's receivers aren't really burners plays into the equation, but, both Valentin and Carlos have gotten behind the defense on numerous occasions this season only to be missed. On top of the lack of big passing plays, this offense simply doesn't seem to be able to move the ball in a two-minute offense. In fact, they seem to come off discombobulated each time they attempt to move the ball down the field quickly.
All of the woes on this Purdue offense, whether it's the lack of big plays downfield, the inability to score for chunks of time and the fact that the running game is becoming more and more inept with each passing game cannot be blamed on any single player, a unit or the play-calling...but instead is probably a confluence of all factors.
While Nord is experienced, this is his first season with this quarterback and this head coach...And learning an entire playbook, especially with a mix of JuCo players, first-year starters and a few Freshman is a difficult task.
The toughest part of watching this season unfold is that Purdue has been able to play with every opponent, but hasn't finished a game yet- and this is systematic. Offensively, defensively and on special teams, Purdue can't seem to do enough to win the close game...I understand there is blame to go around here.
I'll stick by my claim that Elliott deserves some of the blame, but definitely not all of it- not even close...but, I'd still like to see TerBush play at least a few series/game...especially in the second and third quarters where Purdue has struggled to move the ball this season. If nothing else, it will help make good on a promise Hope made to the media after camp and might help in recruiting...at the same time, it will give a bit of game experience to one of Purdue's many quarterbacks who will be vying for PT in '10.