Pretty simple equation- when your defense scores, you win about 70% of the time...When your defense scores twice, you probably shouldn't ever lose. Oregon's defense was handed two easy chances to walk into the endzone and they did so. And there's your ballgame.
Purdue's offense looked great at times- Elliott connected with Smith, Carlos, Adams, Bolden and Valentin with poise as Bolden chewed up the field with 10-11 yard carries. The Autzen Stadium Crowd was silent multiple times as Purdue's defense stepped up to follow-up offensive heroics. But, instead of putting the game away, Purdue fumbled and foibled it away.
Joey Elliott looked solid at times and atrocious at others. Purdue's defense made Oregon look like they did v. Boise for chunks of the game, and at others seemed to fall asleep as experienced DBs bit pump fakes, whiffed at tackle attempts and played apprehensively.
I won't take anything away from the team that won, because they should have. But Purdue is better than Oregon. They looked better-coached and more-talented...they even looked more hard-nosed.
But the late night felt eerily-similar to the Hawaii game a few years ago to me and my pals watching the game. Sure, we're all half-drunk on sleep depravity and sweet tea, but the thing is summed up pretty easily by my Sister-in-law.
After the brilliant play call to make it a two-point game, she says, "why'd we waste that one?? Don't we all know how this is going to end?" Sadly, yes...and that mentality might take a season or two to purge from the Purdue psyche. Thankfully, I think it will happen sooner rather than later.
Oh and don't think I've forgotten about Wiggs missed PAT...if he kicks the ball higher than 6 feet off of the ground by the time it gets to the line of scrimmage, perhaps it wouldn't have been blocked...but don't the -14 points shape the outcome a bit more? No matter...West Coast trip, West Coast loss. It stinks.
You know what I'd like? I'd like a West Coast team to come to Purdue and maybe play at 8:00 in the morning so their fans have to lose sleep to watch it...and then, I'd like some homer Purdue announcer with a speech impediment or a horribly-annoying voice to call the game all while analyzing important things like "Purdue fans know when to cheer". Wish I could have simply listened to 1260 and watched the telecast, but there's about a 4 second difference and watching the game in silence for a guy like me who likes noise makes little sense.
There's no good way to lose, but watching a loss that shoulda, coulda, wasn't a win while listening to hacks call it pushes me to stay up until 3:00 am and post angrily.
Ralph Bolden had 175 all-purpose yards, three touchdowns and couldn't be slowed down by anything except his endurance or poor shoe-tying, it seemed. Taylor spelled him well, but this true-Soph is a bad dude. And I love the power-I formation...passing out of it, handing it to Crank and running a sweep behind Crank's mean blocks are all a ton of fun.
Joey Elliott is a fighter, plays passionately, but oddly-enough makes mistakes that a Freshman makes simply because of lack of reps. There's a lot of football left to be played for Elliott and this fifth-year Senior has potential to do some very good things in '09.
T. Williams, Werner, Neal and Short kinda seem like a bunch of ass-kickers. I'm especially excited about what Neal and Short are going to do as the season progresses...I look for them to continue to get better and make the center of the D-Line more and more stout.
The attitude of the team is better than I've seen in a few seasons- there's a bit of swagger in this team and no one seemed complacent with the idea of losing a close one. In fact Hope looked pissed as he congratulated Kelly...I like that.
Joey Elliott's mental lapses, while few, were super-costly. I know he'll spend a ton of time watching the film and trying to eradicate mental errors...but honestly, the interception for a TD was an awful play call. Everyone, from Hope down, knew how fast Oregon's DBs were and that play, in that situation, shouldn't have been an option.
Joe Holland, David Pender* and Ryan Kerrigan can play better...granted a ton of guys can, but those three seem to stick out to me right now- I can remember a few missed tackles from each, and honestly, I don't expect that from these guys...especially Pender. I've still got big hopes for his season, but we haven't seen what he's capable of in '09. I think we'll see big things next week in Ross Ade from the defense. This week, to me, was much better than last week. And if you would have told me that the defense would hold Oregon to 21 points before the game, I'd say, I like our chances quite a bit.
Special Teams were not special. And I know this is a point of emphasis for Hope...but it needs more emphasis, if you ask me. On kickoffs guys didn't seem to stay in their lanes and Oregon was on the 40 or better, it seemed like every kickoff. It's a ton-more difficult to drive 80 yards than 60, and Purdue's opponents haven't had to drive 80 (or more) yards too many times this season. Teams like Notre Dame will take advantage of this.
Why was Wiggs punting...and what the heck was that which we saw from him? Why did both Wiggs and Summers kick the ball rugby-style? Both of their punts were much too low to allow the coverage to do their job effectively.
The skies opened up in the second half and the footing seemed to become deplorable in a hurry. Wiggs looked like he was affected by the slick synthetic field...at least that's what I hope it was...otherwise, that's just an awful kick that was blocked.
Next up, Northern Illinois...and the players probably wait until next Saturday to get this taste out of their collective mouths. While the record is what I thought it'd be at this point, I think this Purdue team is better than I, or a ton of people thought they'd be...but you play to win the game.
The rest of the day
The Big Ten, as a whole, looks pretty horrible. From MSU losing to a MAC team, to IU and Northwestern eeking out wins v. two more, to Wisconsin allowing Fresno State to give them the game, to aOSU and Purdue both giving away games they should have won, the conference left a lot to be desired today. That said, thank you, Wolverines...you made the day A-OK, for me at least.
I see Purdue winning more than they lose in conference this season- I didn't feel that way a few weeks ago.
Kevin Sumlin- Spoiler (maker)
Sumlin's Houston team beat a darned-good OK St. team...always good to see an ex-Boiler succeed.
Purdue's next opponent won easily to improve to 1-1 after beating another direction team, Western Illinois like a rented mule. Western is a Champ. Subdivision team and looked like it.
*Addendum- according to Hope, Pender was injured...in that case, my perspective on him changes a bit. According to Hope a lot of guys were injured this week...my fears or concerns about depth of this team seem to have already come into play this season.