Boilers Go Green; Give us a Glimpse of the Future?
There were so many empty seats today in Ross-Ade that as I texted all of my pals before the game, we all told each other that there was plenty of room nearby in each group of seats (in case they wanted to...you know...stop by and stay a while). But my Dad and his pal won the day, so we watched with them...and to our chagrin, our Boilers blasted out of the gate to grab a 7-0, 14-0, 17-0 and 25-0 (with goofy 2-point conversion included for fun) lead before falling asleep at the stick. My first thoughts were fun as I remembered back to about an hour earlier- One of SIU's radio guys told Purdue fans that he thought the Salukis would be in the upper half of the B1G this season (if the conference asked them to come and play). In spite of their high FCS ranking, he's wrong...and they helped his theory get debunked pretty early.
SIU couldn't move the ball and turned it over a few times...their sloppy play gave Purdue short field after short field...and Etling poured a salty brine into their open wounds by capitalizing again and again. Etling showed touch, accuracy and poise in the first half as his O Line gave him lots of time to work.
But on the third Purdue drive, Purdue walked away with only three points...when they kinda scored 14 in that drive. Etling threw a gorgeous deep ball to Yancey...that went between his hands; seemingly without even touching them. After keeping the drive alive a moment later, it looked like the Boilers scored their third TD of the day...but it was called back due to an illegal procedure penalty...which I didn't notice as I celebrated. S-M-R-T.
The defense was tight, the play calling was generally good and effective...then the second half began.
Purdue looked atrocious in the third quarter. The defense suddenly couldn't stop SIU, and the offense couldn't move the ball. Etling was getting popped with regularity, Mostert had a costly fumble and Purdue's defense seemed to miss each and every first opportunity to tackle SIU players as they earned a slew of Saluki first downs.
In spite of a lackluster third quarter by the Boilers, Purdue's lead only shrank to 18 points.
But, the stanza of the game that had me the most frustrated was when Purdue drove down to near the goal line...and a field goal would have put them ahead by three scores (18 points to be precise)...but the Purdue coaches thought it'd be better to walk away with ZERO points instead. They went for it on fourth, Etling threw a dart into the ground, and Purdue walked off of the field empty-handed. A better team would have made Purdue pay...that wasn't to be.
It's Easy Being Green
After the defense got off the field, my favorite part of the game started: the Keyante Green Show. In the next five minutes, Purdue grounded out a back-breaking and (nearly) game-ending drive...on the legs (and back) of Green. He hit holes hard, his pad level was silly-low and he finished runs that looked to be stopped as he earned an extra two or three yards each time.
Unlike Hunt and Mostert, who are clearly speed merchant slot receivers in disguise as running backs, Green is a RB...who is reminiscent of a young Ralph Bolden (who also wore 23...and hailed from GA). In case you don't remember, Green was a highly-touted back out of HS...a four-star fire hydrant who showed promise as a key piece of Hazell's future offense. But until now, we hadn't heard much of him out of practice reports or seen anything from him during a game.
13 carries, 71 tough yards...Sadly, on one of the drives in which Green was featured, he didn't get the reward of the TD. Instead, Appleby showed his speed after a fake, as he dashed 11 yards for the pylon in the left side of the end zone. In garbage time, Appleby led a drive...but never threw a pass.
Coach Haze's Nickname?
If Joe Tiller earned the Cowboy Joe moniker in early seasons in God's country, Hazell might be slowly earning another in his second season (at least from me). Accountant Darrell has a ring to it, no? Not really...no sizzle...no excitement. So yeah, it's fitting. Even in victory, Purdue isn't exciting. In fact, after the good guys got a lead, they seemed to get into a cozy cocoon and do nothing. They've showed this before; they kind of showed it v. UND after an emotional, exciting start...Hazell and company did nothing to adjust in the second half but hold on for the dear life.
On the Knucklehead Board, many Purdue faithful vociferously remind all of us that he's not clad in scarlet and gray anymore...but his conservative offense and deliberate defensive philosophies make many believe he's still coaching blue chip talent in the trenches and super-freak skilled players who can turn it on, at a moment's notice.
Sadly, he's coaching a developmental program...in need of work. BUT, if he can figure out a way to win games at a regular clip, I really don't care if Purdue only runs the ball and grinds teams down. Leaving the stadium after a win, regardless of the statistical battle is heartening.
Perhaps we saw the advent of a new season today? Keyante Green looked like the best RB today...and if he's the first piece of the next chapter of Purdue success, I couldn't be happier.
Hunt and Mostert are truly great in space...they've shown it time and again...BUT, Shoop/Hazell's insistence to pound the ball inside doesn't really work with either of their strengths.
GOOD & BAD FROM THE DAY
Good: College girls in summer clothing
Bad: Anyone in cut-off high-rise jean shorts
Good: Danny Etling in the first half
Bad: Etling and the Purdue offense in the third quarter
Good: Seeing the offense in rhythm
Bad: Clock management at the end of the second quarter
Good: Keyante Green's macho fourth quarter
Bad: Raheem Mostert's third quarter fumble
Good: The athletic department handing the controls over to kids for "Kids Club Day"
Bad: "Shout"...even after a little girl introduces it.
Good: Winning...Staying well-clear of a new low for the program: a loss to an FCS school.
Bad: Hanging the "W" flag upside down after a victory...Earning the "M" for the day.