Not Boring Enough, For Some

Over-rated UND DB, Tom Zbikowski chases after Purdue RB Kory Sheets (Did you know Zbikowski was a boxer?)

My day was immediately brightened by an unpredictable source- the Pike fraternity house on Purdue's campus. They had a sign on the house that read "Rudy Would Start For This Team." That sums it up pretty well.

Honestly, I sometimes wish my alma mater's football team was more boring. Boring is consistent, boring is predictable...If my Boilers were either of these, Tim's prediction of a 46-point route would have been accurate.

As some of you readers know, I didn't feel great about this game coming in. I attribute those feelings to simply being the oldest Purdue fan on this blog. I thought UND was simply better than their record showed. They are not- they're really worthy of being 0-5.

Purdue played pretty badly for large chunks of the contest on Saturday...and still beat the "Fighting" Irish by two scores. So, why was it just two touchdowns? Here's my opinion.

First, Curtis Painter missed some receivers in the end zone in a very un-Painter fashion. This season, we've become accustomed to watching Painter throw accurate passes and make great reads. He didn't do so today. As the second half closed, Painter threw an awful pass right to the UND defensive backfield. This pass took at least 3 points off of the board. His second pick was worse early in the third quarter as it gave UND a short field and put the Purdue D's back against the wall. The short field led to Clausen's first collegiate TD. The Purdue receivers looked big and physical for much of the day and were really trying to get their hands on everything thrown. Despite the effort, Painter threw some balls in the end zone that this talented receiving corps couldn't knock down, let-alone catch.

The offensive line, which has played extremely well this season, made stupid mistake after stupid mistake on top of Painter's lackluster play. False starts, holding and even a personal foul face mask all killed momentum and drives alike. They did create lanes for Sheets all day and he did quite a job cutting back runs to make gains when it seemed there was little more than a sliver of daylight.

I really liked the way the defense played, at times. Terrell Vinson had two interceptions, and would probably get my game ball. The entire defensive unit tackled much better than they had during the previous contest. But, Spack kept putting them in a position in which it would be nearly impossible to put pressure on UND's young and underexperienced quarterbacks. At one point in the third quarter, Purdue lined up four down linemen before the snap and dropped Baker into the middle of the field to fill space. I just don't understand why they didn't want to blitz more regularly or at least put pressure on UND...because it seemed that every time they would, they'd at least get to hit, if not disrupt the quarterback's motion.

Now for some bright spots:

The defense stopped UND on fourth down quite a few times and seemed to stop UND's offense on third down during the first half over and over. Brandon King & Torri Williams put some pretty good licks on Notre Dame's quarterbacks on the delay safety blitzes (when they were called).

Painter was under center for many snaps, especially in the first half. He rushed the ball twice and was very successful on both attempts. The delay draw was absolutely killing the UND defense all first half. Notre Dame's run defense is as bad as any of Purdue's opponents that I can remember in recent history. On one play, Purdue ran a simple sweep to the right to the short side of the field and Sheets was not even touched for 7 or 8 yards. I really believe that if Legg & Co. would have called for the run a few more times in the red zone the game would have not ever been in doubt in the second half.

Chris Summers looks like a completely different guy when he is compared to his performance last season. He is crushing the ball, dead center, on field goal attempts and seems to be able to kick the ball in a variety of ways and locations during kickoffs. Also, Jarod Armstrong boomed the ball a couple of times when the Boilers punted...It's good to see he is back to where he was last season. A punter can be a weapon in close games.

Sheets played superbly with the exception of one dropped pass that would have resulted in a first down. He ran with purpose and did not lose the ball all day. Dan Dierking had very few opportunities to run the ball, but had a nifty run for about 12 yards on one occasion. He was also victim to a pretty nasty face mask in which he was dragged down by his helmet.

Bryant made a couple of great catches in traffic and made a slightly difficult TD catch in which he got away with a bit of a push off. Greg Orton and Painter hooked up on a couple of important catches that kept a few of the drives going when they looked like sure-punt situations. He drew at least one pass interference and seemed to play through UND's effort to beat up on Purdue's receivers at the line of scrimmage. Lymon made some good catches as well and was tough for defenders to tackle once he got the ball...but made a pretty bad push-off that drew an offensive penalty during a drive in the third quarter. Brandon Whittington had an important catch and really showed how deep Purdue is at receiver as he become the 13th target for Painter this season (extremely impressive). Dustin Keller dragged UND defenders on more than one occasion after catching the ball and had a big TD catch in the fourth quarter that sealed the game (I don't think he even got into the end zone, to tell you the truth).

Purdue was simply the tougher, more physical team. How many times have we said that about Tiller's teams in the last 11 years? Not many. But on Saturday, it was the case...Purdue could run the ball between the tackles offensively, and stopped the same plays on the other side over and over. Circus grabs and finesse football kept the Irish in the game...and while UND had more exciting plays, Purdue won the game in the trenches. Despite the offense putting the D in some difficult situations and the defense allowing a few TDs, when a stop was really needed in the fourth quarter, they made it (in the form of Vinson's second INT). The problem is, they allowed a bad team to hang around much too long in the contest. You simply cannot allow good teams to do that as they will make Purdue pay. Let's hope Spack figures this out before next week.

Painter can and will play better than he did v. UND. Despite a sub-par effort, Purdue still got the victory. I think that's actually good for Painter and the team.

Tiller pumped his fist as the clock expired...he really likes to beat UND and especially liked beating Weis (Funny, I thought Weis said Notre Dame was "done losing to the Pitt's and Purdue's of the football world"). I think outside of Boilerdowd, Tiller relished beating the Irish more than anybody in Ross Ade.

Now, the real season begins. I'm excited for a real test.

Crazy Saturday