Boilers Struggle In 23-13 Loss to Sparty
(Photo credit: Boiled Sports)
Purdue was unable to avoid the letdown so many people talked about today in East Lansing, losing to a Spartans team that had looked offensively inept in recent weeks. On top of that, MSU was giving Rocky Lombardi (yes, that’s his real name) his first collegiate start. With regular QB Brian Lewerke injured, this seemed like a game Purdue should have had the chance to snatch.
Instead, Purdue never looked to be in rhythm. David Blough had his first truly rocky game of the season, winding up with 277 yards passing on 29/49 passing, with no TDs and three picks (he had only two all season heading into today). The defense definitely held Purdue in the game for a while, but they didn’t look like the unit that controlled every aspect of the game last weekend against OSU. Whether it was the weather, the hangover or a letdown, Purdue just did not appear to be the same team they have been since, essentially, the loss to EMU.
That EMU game was the last time Purdue looked hesitant or unsure of themselves on the offensive side of the ball. And again, the defense also showed some uncertainty, it appeared, as the supposed many blitz packages Purdue has seemed to be limited to Markus Bailey delay blitzes. Hey, I’m not a coach and I have full belief in Coach Brohm, Coach Holt and the rest of the staff, but there were some unusual calls today.
One that bugged me was the decision with over 12 minutes to go to go for it on 4th down while down just three points, 16-13. I’m all for being aggressive and love it when Coach Brohm shows that gambler side, but why there? This game had not had the tilted-in-Purdue’s-direction kind of feel and it was only a three point deficit with the ball on Purdue’s side of the field. And plenty of time remaining. To me, that came across as a lack of confidence in his defense. I’m sure it wasn’t really that, but with that kind of time remaining in a game where field position truly means a lot, it seemed like a curious choice.
Naturally, Purdue then got conservative late, when with under four minutes to go, Purdue faced a fourth and about three deep in MSU territory. Brohm and company elected to be conservative there and kick the FG in the sloppy conditions to go for the tie – and as you know if you watched, it was blocked. Despite still having three time outs, Purdue then could not stop MSU from advancing the ball, eventually yielding a late touchdown to grind salt into the wound.
Rondale Moore had 11 receptions for the third time this season (his high was 12 last week) but only scampered for 74 yards with a long of 18. The only other time he’s had a yards per catch under 10 or a game where he didn’t have at least a 40+ yard reception was the other slopfest of the season against EMU in week 2.
DJ Knox continued to roll up a great yards per carry number of 7.3, but he had just seven carries for 51 yards. Purdue’s only TD of the day was on a one yard run by Terry Wright.
Purdue did spread the ball around, hitting eight different receivers and they had zero fumbles as a team, which is certainly something worthwhile on a day like this. However, MSU didn’t have any fumbles, either, and they did have the aforementioned three picks.
Purdue is now 4-4 through eight games, so the bowl game that seemed to be a pipe dream after the Mizzou loss is still very much in the offing. However, with Northwestern actually taking down Wisconsin today, you can begin to pack up your dreams of a Big Ten West division title and store them for next season. (While Purdue is only one behind the Wildcats in the loss column, NW has the ol’ head-to-head win over Purdue so the Boilers will need to finish a game clear of them in order to take the division.)
The Boilermakers don’t get any letup from here, as they host Iowa in Ross-Ade next Saturday at 3:30.
In the meantime, you should donate to Tyler’s dance marathon page.