Here at BS, we love Purdue players to wear their hearts on their sleeves, sell out when on the field of play and play with heart. Our Boilers did just that in East Lansing on Saturday...and the reason is probably their coach. Danny Hope sold the idea of his players making something happen, being aggressive and playing like there was no tomorrow...And his players did just that. In the process, the Boilers almost pulled off a gigantic upset similar to aOSU in '09. But, unlike in Ross-Ade last season, they simply couldn't finish.
The games are pretty similar in the way they were played. Purdue played with the lead for much of the game in both and the more-talented squad scratched and clawed its way back into the game. But, Purdue stepped up and made plays last year, and simply collapsed this season.
Unlike many games this season, there are plenty of positives to take away from this one...but, like most games this year, there were a ton of negatives. But, the main problem really was the timing of these mistakes was critical.
I joked in my prognostication for the game that it would take multiple defensive TDs for Purdue to win. And Ricardo Allen got the message as he had his second interception for a TD in two weeks. All day long, Allen played blanket defense and made play after play. At one point, I asked myself why MSU dared throw his way. The only times he wasn't there to break up the pass was when Purdue's scheme called for zone or asked for the corners to back off of the line of scrimmage.
Kerrigan also played large in spite of being clothes-lined and held for most of the game...but as MSU decided to simply double and triple team him, the rest of the line just didn't take advantage of the situation.
Rob Henry played very well at times and made some awful decisions others. I think much of that can be chalked up to his age and maybe his injured finger still...In my opinion, Henry played well-enough to lead Purdue to a win. I like that he is willing to check out of plays when he sees the defense in the wrong set for potential success. I hate the way he doesn't seem to see it until it's too late. I like the fact that he's willing to take shots down the field. I hate the way he seems to make those throws blindly at times...and seemingly to no one.
The special teams, like Henry, was way up and down. Wiggs got involved with an important 52 yard field goal...but both he and Webster, while punting, had some horrible kicks. Barbarette had an important long kickoff return...but the punt protection let an obvious block formation in nearly unabated. In fact, multiple players could have made the block of the punt that sealed Purdue's fate.
Coach Nord had some brilliant play calls...but also seemed to struggle making effective calls on first down. Landholm & Emanuel had Purdue's bend, but don't break defense dialed in early, but played it too safe in the fourth quarter time and time again...plus, they gave Cousins too much time and allowed him to pick Purdue apart (he played brilliantly, by the way...and gritty too).
No Purdue fan that I know was surprised that Purdue lost. But, most were surprised in the manner in which it happened. The offense showed that it had a pulse, the defense played hard and made plays for three quarters. But the team combined to rip the hearts out of the Purdue faithful. Granted, MSU made plays, but our Boilers all but presented the opportunity for Sparty on a shiny silver platter...and (as you all know) MSU won, 35-31.
After the game, I was so deflated and "meh" that I simply enjoyed having my family over for dinner and forgot to do a post-game wrap up...that's why this is so late. This is kind of what this season has done to me as a fan, honestly. I've been to every home game, watched every away game on TV, but I'm sapped of enthusiasm...and hate admitting it, because I'm not usually that way, especially about Purdue football. I still love the players and feel like they're giving everything they have...and much of that is because of Hope's ability to motivate them.
BUT, I also feel the lack of football IQ by this staff has simply killed this team over and over. From stupid time-outs (again and again), to inconsistent play-calling, I'm frustrated with this coaching staff. We had a commenter yesterday get angry at people for having the audacity to complain about these coaches, but I'll always support the players first. Afterall, they're the ones who are really bleeding for the University and the coaches as they follow their marching orders.
For the second year in a row, the Bucket is what it was in the mid-90s. An in-state rivalry that means nothing outside of the borders of Indiana. And it's funny, 30 minutes really changed that. At one point late in the second half of both games, IU was tied with Penn State and Purdue was up by 15. One half our later, Purdue had given the game to MSU and IU had done what they do- rolled over...on their home field, FedEx Field.
I don't have the hatred for IU (especially in football) that I do for UND...and I while I want Purdue to beat IU, I have a really hard time getting "up" for this one. I hope our Boilers don't feel the same way I do.
Mackey Madness (Kinda)
Oakland came to Mackey tonight and was clearly more-ready to play than Purdue. The Golden Grizzlies held the lead for much of the first half and didn't go away until late in the second. Like many contests versus mid-con teams, their drop-off in talent after their starting five was sizable. Purdue's depth was something they couldn't keep up with, so the Boilers improve to 3-0 after winning 82-67.
The box score tells you that Purdue's Big 2 both played well and carried Matty's crew. But, a few things might get missed just by looking at the numbers.
First, Smooge started the game ice cold and didn't score until around 9:00 left in the half. It's not coincidental that after he started heating up, Purdue began to assert itself. But, he had an uncharacteristic amount of turnovers (4)...but was lock down on defense at times. He finished with 26 points, was 4/5 from three, 4 assists and 3 steals.
JJ seemed to do everything right...except shooting behind the arc. All of a sudden he thinks he's a three point shooter. Sure, he hit two tonight (doubling his previous high from last game)...but he missed three. In JJ's case, I'm just trying to look for something to pick on- he played huge in a game that was hyped to be a showcase for him and Benson (from Oakland). JJ finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks...and played 40 minutes. He was great, and made his teammates better.
John Hart's the third guy who comes to mind for me. He had 11 points off the bench in just 13 minutes. He shot poorly from three (1/5), but was a huge spark and played with a ton of energy.
On the other end of the spectrum, I'm not sure how Ryne Smith can stay in the starting line-up much longer. I like the guy, but, as Painter said, you've gotta produce to play...and I don't see it. He might be automatic in practice, but he's not in the game. Plus, he's not as strong as many of the guards on the team on defense and simply isn't able to assert himself at either end.
Terone Johnson (10 points in 17 minutes) or DJ Byrd (6 pts, an assist, steal and block) might both be able to take his place, in my opinion. I really like DJ Byrd without the ball and on defense too.
LewJack, like Smith, struggled offensively, but unlike Smith, continues to be very good defensively. But, he was rocked a few times by picks up top and was visibly shaken up as he was taken out of the game. But, tonight might have been the first night this season where Barlow looked like he should be starting at the point. Kelsey only scored 4 points, but he had 5 assists and 0 turnovers. I like LewJack as a starter and Barlow off the bench though because their styles are so different...but it could work either way, I believe, and might be best to judge depending on the opponent.
Outside of JJ, none of Purdue's bigs did much to write home about- Bade had no points...but more disparaging, 0 rebounds. Carroll the same, and Marcius didn't play. This is the first game this season where Purdue played significant talent under the basket, and the rebounding battle showed it- Purdue lost that 26-31. If nothing else, Bade & company need to make rebounding their sole focus- especially when JJ is scoring like he did tonight (which should happen often).
Not sure if it was the fact that they were coming off of such an easy win, or because Oakland is a pretty good team (they were 17-1 last season in conference and went to the tourney), but Purdue was flat for much of the first half and couldn't separate themselves until Oakland was just beat-tired. But, Purdue allowed way too many points in the first half and seemed to let Oakland dictate the pace...noteworthy, but not bothersome unless these problems become a trend.
And I know there's no transitive property in sports, but Oakland lost by 24 to West Virginia to open their season...and WVU lost to Minny earlier tonight (after beating UNC). At this point, I don't think any of this means much.
Next up, Austin Peay on the 23rd.