We got up early and took the family truckster up to West Lafayette to watch the '08 Spring game. It rained during the entire drive northbound, so we had some trepidation, but it cleared nicely for a pretty-pleasant day. My 2 year-old son got to meet Greg Orton, Brandon King, Desmond Tardy, Brandon Irwin, Curtis Painter, Frank Halliburton, Joe Tiller and even Purdue Pete (his favorite by far)...although he did think it was pretty nifty that Curtis was wearing his #12 jersey. The new fan-fest before the game seems to be very fun for the kids. I have a couple of thoughts based on what I saw during the pre-game festivities:
-Greg Orton looks like a big-time receiver up close, has massive hands and seems like a really nice kid.
-Brandon Irwin is still very slight for a safety in the Big Ten
-Kevin Green and Tyler Haston look more like DBs than LBs...Purdue's woes at the LB position don't seem to be exaggerated as Werner and Heygood seem to be the only two that look like major conference LBs. That said, Gilbert Gardner never looked the part and has done alright for himself.
-Dan Dierking is jacked up and without pads is built like a fire hydrant. Jaycen Taylor seems to have finally bulked up and looks like a running back...he already played like one. Kory Sheets had a funny hair do.
The half time festivities included nearly 200 Purdue football alums. Players from teams as far back as '67 were on the field. But Tiller's first teams received special recognition. The highlights of those introductions, to me, were as follows:
-Kendall Matthews was wearing his jersey while everyone else was in a t-shirt. He, like many of the former players have slimmed down quite a bit and don't really look like football players any longer.
-Conversely, Vinny Sutherland has put some pounds on and doesn't look like he'd run a 4.3 40 like he used to.
-A lot of these guys look like me- chubby, balding...devilishly handsome. What can I say? It's a mother getting old.
Now onto the game.
-The gold team actually wore gold practice jerseys...looked pretty sharp.
-Jared Crank & Dan Dierking both surprised me with how well they ran, especially in the second level of the defense. It's really impressive for me to see Dierking running so well as he has an injured hamstring, but wasn't showing it.
-Jaycen Taylor had one of the niftiest plays of the day. On a draw right, the hole sealed and he patiently picked another hole after avoiding getting collected in the scrum and broke the run for a touchdown.
-Aaron Valentin had a one-handed reception that was just short of amazing down the right sideline.
-Justin Siller looked good at times at quarterback, but had an awful-looking interception that was returned for a touchdown. I was definitely more-impressed with Elliot as he seemed to throw a better ball and even scampered for a few nice gains when he needed to run. Panfil (another former quarterback) had a touchdown reception...he's been recently moved to receiver.
-Painter started off slowly, but got on track in the second quarter.
-Ken Plue's 6'7" 361lb. size IS NOT exaggerated. The guy looks big on a field with Big Ten football players...he looks even bigger standing next to me. We almost look like we're from different species.
-Former D-linemen, Jared Zwilling seemed to have a bit of trouble snapping the ball to Elliot. While none of the exchanges led to a turnover, there were at least 3 near-turnovers between the QB/C tandem.
-The tight end was very important in today's scrimmage. McKey, Waslikowski and Adams all had multiple catches. That said, Tardy and Orton were on the shelf and they will probably be one and two in receiving next season.
-Keyon Brown and Ryan Kerrigan both looked good and were noteworthy as they put pressure on the quarterbacks. That said, I thought the band-aided offensive line held up waaaaay too well, especially since so many starters are injured.
-Purdue's cornerbacks seemed to do an excellent job covering up the receivers. But, they weren't covering the most talented group of receivers.
Here are some photos from the day that I took from my seat:
Lastly, we ended our day by eating at the "Love Shack". Pretty darned good. But I was really impressed with the many, many choices that now exist for the students. I might have been fatter if such a situation existed during my time in God's country.