It's the half-way point of the football season and there haven't been a ton of pleasant surprises since the Toledo game really. But, here's what we've learned:
In spite of the talk of depth at a ton of situations, we haven't seen liberal substitutions this season. Hope simply doesn't have enough faith in the guys just off of the two-deeps...But there are positives to this.
-Guys in the trenches like Pamphile, Foy & McDaniel will still have four years of eligibility.
-Highly-touted skilled players, Williams, Bush & McBurse should all be Freshman again in '10 as well.
Not too many guys have seen the field as true freshman...but Antwon Higgs, Antavian Edison & Josh Johnson have all lost the ability to redshirt. Higgs contribution has been the most notable...and his playing time is increasing steadily.
Joey Elliott: Statistical Monster
Many had questions about Joey Elliott's ability entering the season. But Elliott has proven that he can be pretty darned good...at least in the first quarter. And while his performances have been inconsistent, statistically, he's been on top of the league in a few categories for much of the season.
Gettin' it done
Jason Werner has been leading the team in tackles all season as well as tackles for loss. As much of the team struggled wrapping up in the first few games, Werner did not...nor did Torri Williams (while playing safety).
Along with Werner, Ryan Kerrigan has come on like gang busters the last three games and now sits in the top-5 of the BT in sacks.
David Pender, while struggling as a tackler at times, has played solidly in pass coverage and is fourth in the league in passes defended.
Coming into the season, Danny Hope expressed the importance of the special teams making an impact on each game. This unit has done exactly that this season!
Well, maybe not exactly as the coach might have hoped, but, poor kickoff coverage, lousy spacing, muffed punts, fumbled returns and mental lapses have been the norm for Gibbony's unit, this season.
While the hopes of a bowl game are gone, the season is only halfway over. Winning just one game would be a colossal failure, in my opinion, and an awful way for the Hope Era to begin. But, there are some winnable games still on the schedule. The problem is, with each passing game, and corresponding catastrophic failure, it becomes harder and harder to believe that this team will win another.
That said, Illinois is as bad as Purdue...and with all of the egos on that team, I'm sure no one's at fault. But, the weapon-filled offense of the Illini has the fewest points and yards in the league and the most three-and-outs. At the same time, their defense is only better than one team in the league...we're not going to talk about who that is right now.
And the Hoosiers are in the midst of their yearly tailspin after losing to one of the nation's worst BCS conference teams...by 40 points. Just two weeks ago, I thought the Hoosiers had a chance of being bowl eligible in October...now it looks like a sixth win might be nothing more than a pipe dream.
Hate this moniker
As Purdue readies to play the Buckeyes this week in Ross Ade, I've heard the word "Spoilermaker" a couple of times this week. Some of you who visit might not even know this term. But, it was a nickname given to Purdue teams back in the day because of their knack for upsetting teams. What that really meant was the teams were perennially-lousy and no one thought they had a chance to beat good teams...and they did it every now and again to the surprise of many.
J, Tim and I were at Purdue for one of these games, the massive upset of Michigan, who was a top-10 team at the time. That game was a lot of fun...but honestly, most weren't during our scholastic careers in West Lafayette. I'm hoping...praying that we don't hear Spoilermaker too many times around Ross Ade after this season simply because that would be bad news for Hope and the Purdue fanbase.
Here's to it fading into Bolivian quickly.