They dug deep...they persevered...they fought through boredom and the urge to go to the hardware store. I'm of course speaking of all of the Purdue fans who
stayed awake for watched the throwback first half between an awful Illinois team, on Senior day, and a not-too-great Purdue team in their final stretch.
Danny Hope said that, in spite of being in the building, Gary Nord DID NOT call plays. But, he was wearing a headset, taking notes and clearly had some effect on the Purdue offense for much of the game. The gameplan we saw versus Iowa was no where to be found...in its place, an array of draw plays, screen passes, and, of course, first down wheel routes were on display in the storied stadium that Red Grange built (not literally).
|Sarcastic cheering, even in photos, is pretty funny.|
At the end of the first half, it was 6-3 in favor of the good guys...and the game had all of the excitement of a 6-3 game. But, Purdue was given the gift of two turnovers on Illinois' side of the field and another not too deep in Purdue territory...those three turnovers, of course, led to ZERO points for Purdue.
At the end of the first quarter though, Purdue had one yard passing and eight yards of total offense. Those stats are absolutely legit. And on the opposite side of the ball, the fighting Illini had 29 yards of passing and not many yards rushing. It wasn't that these two defenses were just firing off of the ball and doing everything right. Oh no, this was an exhibition of two of the least-inventive and most-boring play-callers, not in the nation, but in the history of college football. We know Illinois' OC was one of them...I'm just not positive who was the guy calling the game for our Boilers.
In the second half, it started out similarly, but a few minutes into the third quarter, Akeem Hunt broke free on a wheel route in which there were no Illinois defenders in the stadium, it seemed. He scored easily as Purdue's linemen pulled and couldn't find anyone to hit for about 25 yards.
Hunt's 63 yard catch led him to lead all Boilers in receiving for the game...sure, there were a few passes thrown and caught by Hope's squad, but most were for around three or four yards. Marve finished the game with a solid outing and utilized the gameplan given to him as well as possible while completing nearly 70% of his passes for 173 yards. But, he kept the first touchdown drive alive with his lone ACL as he scrambled in a pocket that was pretty non-existant all day long.
One thing the OC did well was feed the RBs, especially in the closing 15 minutes of the game. Shavers ran hard all game, and finished with 99 yards on 21 carries. Cottom had a couple hard runs as the change up back after Bolden went down...and Bolden was ripping it up until he was hurt after a 63 yard run. He finished with 93 yards on 7 carries. But during the big run, it looked like he re-tore the fourth right ACL that he's had. In fact, I was pretty positive that he had done it. Thankfully, I was wrong. He tweaked his hamstring...but instead of running out of bounds after the injury, he hobbled about 45 yards with a bum right wheel. The dude is a badass...always has been, always will be.
Purdue's defense kept Illinois in front of them for the most part, but Scheelhaase did what he does v. Purdue as he scrambled for a ton of yards as his pocket collapsed time and again. He led the Illini with 76 yards rushing to go along with his 160 yards passing. Scheelhaase will graduate this season, but might take advantage of the
stupid NCAA rule that allows players to transfer to another school if their current grass isn't green enough school doesn't offer the grad program they want to pursue. I'm pretty sure Illinois doesn't have what he wants to study.
|"Would they fire me
after one season?"
Purdue's defense allowed 17 points on the day, and just 333 yards of total offense. That's pretty damned respectable in this era of high point totals and mileage, not yardage. But this Illinois team is unconventional. They don't like scoring (they've scored 17 or fewer points in all of their B1G games) and they really don't like winning much either...they're now 2-9 (0-7) with an extremely weak schedule that didn't help them out too much.
The Seniors on defense did play big though, it seemed that Maci, Johnson, Ezenwa, Charlot and of course, Short were around the ball all day.
The ST units shined today. Webster punted well...in fact had a huge 60 yarder late in the game that gave Illinois a very long field after Anthrop downed the Illini on the five. McCartney was 2-for-2 while kicking field goals and 2-for-2 while kicking points after. And Hunt averaged a solid 22 yards/return on KO returns. The little things matter...and they especially mattered in this 20-17 victory today.
It's funny, there are some Purdue fans who wished Purdue to lose today in order to insure that Hope would be gone at the end of the season...but we believe the damage is already done regardless of what happens and has happened the last two weeks. The facts are still the facts, and Iowa, Illinois and IU are three very bad teams...heck, a few of the good teams in the conference that kicked the hell out of our Boilers aren't even that good. And the season ticket sales have spoken loudly to the Athletic Department. All of that said, I don't know a Purdue fan, I mean a real Purdue fan that can legitimately say they want to see IU beat Purdue in Ross-Ade on the Senior Day of Short, Marve, Shavers, Johnson, Bolden and others.
My wife and I will be at the game next Saturday. Like many of you out there, she hasn't been to a game in two years...so I'm hoping she gets to see Purdue beat the hell out of IU for old time's sake.
I don't agree that a 6-6 record in this era of football is at all special or noteworthy, as Hope told us it would be last week. What I do know is that having a losing record, with this talented of a team and this weak of a schedule, would be an abomination. Plus, a crappy bowl is much better than the Oaken Bucket becoming a quazi bowl game.
I'm looking forward to sending the Seniors off with a win...and if IU's QB passes for 600 yards, I really don't give a damn. As we saw today in Happy Valley, and a few years ago in Ross-Ade, eye-popping passing stats are worth little when they lead to a loss.
Go Boilers, beat little sister like a rented mule.
|Send them home sad, Seniors.|