Still Looking For Gerad Parker's First Win, Purdue Falls to Northwestern 45-17
The Purdue Boilermaker football squadron fell short at home, in front of at least 1,000 fans, to the Northwestern Wildcats 45-17.
Feature image from @BoilerFootball, and it's perfect.
Listen, at this point during the Gerad Parker era there’s a decent shot any of us could write these postgames from memory, without watching the game or looking at stats. So I’m going to add pictures to prove I watched the game, but nobody should spend hours reading or writing detailed breakdowns of this game unless you’re getting paid by the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of Awful Football Teams to document the 2013-2016 Purdue Boilermakers for historical record.
With both Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jake Replogle out for the game, the plan had to be to attack Northwestern’s mediocre rushing defense creatively and relentlessly. Outscoring the Wildcats was going to be the only way Purdue notched what might be the only victory in Coach Parker’s tenure, so anyone with any semblance of hope left in their soul was looking to see a changed gameplan.
Turns out, nah.
Purdue opened the game with a 10-0 lead, looking to establish the running game through Markell Jones (turns out, he’s Purdue’s best playmaker, so we should give him the ball and stuff). On Purdue’s first two offensive drives, David Blough looked poised, Jones rushed 6 times for 39 yards, and Purdue’s defense forced a punt and an interception (and an incredible 50 yard pick return by CJ Parker), and everything looked wonderful.
As did Coach Parker, because look at that gorgeous crew neck. This is the best decision Parker has made all season.
I’ve never believed in anything more than the power of the crew neck.
After that…well, it wasn’t great. Blough sailed a pass right passed DeAngelo Yancey (*insert comment screaming about Yancey not attempting to make a play for the ball), and Northwestern’s offense took over inside Purdue’s 30 yard line.
Well, we should be a little more precise and say Ross Els’ defense took over. Purdue chose to cover Austin Carr, the Big Ten’s best receiver, with little (if any) gusto. His first TD came off an untouched crossing pattern:
And Carr’s second touchdown, coming on Northwestern’s very next drive, was a 33 yard reception while covered by a LB, which is generally not ideal.
Listen, I’m not saying I know more about college football defenses than Ross Els. I’m really not. This is his craft, and he’s been very successful in his career. But, like, good lord dude what are you doing how are you putting Purdue’s defense is such a vulnerable position you know Purdue doesn’t have great coverage talent man why do you hate my Saturdays do you want me to be unhappy you must secretly hate all Purdue fans can’t we get a decent defense just once every twenty years is that too much to ask.
*reaches for inhaler*
Anyway, Northwestern’s final 2nd quarter drive ended on a fairly good note, an interception in Purdue’s red zone. Markus Bailey faked blitz, dropped back in coverage on the crossing route, and easily grabbed the pick. It was an awesome move, and one of the very few bright spots from the defense today.
Purdue then went into halftime, had their weekly bowl of pasta and cup (ok, maybe two) of 2010 Shiraz, and came out for the second half before taking the traditional post-pasta nap. (As a side note, halftime should be longer to accommodate halftime naps. Everyone has their halftime pasta, right?)
On Northwestern’s first drive of the second half, it really looked like they were playing against 11 Casper the Friendly Ghosts. Zero effort closing gaps in the running game, no threat of a rush, secondary lost a step…turns out it is super hard to play football with a belly full of rigatoni.
I’m not really going to summarize the second half. I’ll just leave you with this graphic:
…and the knowledge that Northwestern’s first play of the fourth quarter resulted in a 9 yard Justin Jackson touchdown run (finished with 22 carries, 127 yards, and 2 touchdowns), and Blough threw one pass and it was intercepted, and then NW nailed a field goal, then Elijah Sindelar was put in, then Sindelar threw one pass AND IT WAS PICKED OFF, and then I put my head down on my desk for a while.
And that’s how Purdue lost. It was a rough second half, and one that did not feature Markell Jones (he went out with an injury, which I would do too if I were him, because how can he have a Heisman-caliber season at Georgia next year if he wears down at Purdue this year).
Just two quick parting thoughts before mercifully ending this analysis:
1) I’m most confident when the ball is in the air on the way to a running back or to Bilal Marshall, which is slightly ridiculous because he’s a converted quarterback and Yancey is nothing but a ball of potential that has not yet been tapped. Yancey’s lack of consistent production is infuriating.
2) I don’t know if benching Blough was because the game was out of reach, or if it will be carried over into the next game, but he was his usual roller-coaster self. Blough has the ability to be a perfectly fine game manager for a successful team, but when he’s asked to carry the entire offense he makes decisions like this:
He threw that right where the “1st and 10” arrow is pointing, which prominently features a Northwestern linebacker and cornerback. Blough functions best in play-action, and when he’s asked to make simple and quick decisions. This coaching staff continues to put Purdue’s players in bad positions, and the results are pretty clear.