Reason For Optimism?

(I intentionally avoided saying Hope up there)
This morning, I tripped upon the prognostication for the NFL draft...for 2009. I know, I know, like most premature sports foretellings, this one's pretty useless. OK, completely useless. That said, I couldn't help but notice that #8, the highest-rated QB, mind you, was none other than Curt Painter. In the 40s was Purdue's relatively new-to-the-position LB, Anthony Heygood. An anchor from the defense, and one from the offense could help provide the leadership & balance that this team has needed for years.

Let's be honest, since a guy named Drew left, Purdue hasn't been a "World Beater". In fact, our alma mater's been pretty much a MAC beater. Granted there were two seasons in the last 7 in which either the defense or the offense was good enough to land the Boilers in a pretty solid bowl, but once in that bowl, they simply couldn't get the job done.

The last time Purdue had a Senior quarterback at the helm coming into the season was 2004. Kyle Orton, who seems to be a lot like Curtis Painter, had the nation buzzing. Both QBs seem to have big arms are less-than-mobile and lack that killer instinct. While I am a firm believer that a person is responsible for his successes and failures, I'm also a believer in the fact that Joe Tiller really likes a quarterback that plays within his system and simply does his job. That said, the best quarterback he's ever coached made the system better by stepping outside of it. I'm pretty convinced Tiller doesn't like surprises and such behavior. The problem is, the best quarterbacks of all time, especially in the college ranks, seem to be guys who are gun-slingers. They take risks and their team mates rally around them.

My request to Tiller, Z & Hope is this- just unleash Curtis. Encourage audibles and allow him to create. Let the kid simply play the game. Perhaps he can run the ball more, get under center when the defense lends itself to such a formation...maybe the hurry-up becomes a wrinkle that is not only available in the Motor City Bowl...Who knows.

We saw just how accurate Painter can be with healthy shoulder during his last outing. Granted, he was facing a MAC foe, but Jim Everett, Drew Brees & others also faced less-than-stellar defenses at times, and they never threw for as many yards in a single game as did Curt last December. So what's it mean?

Well, it just might mean that painter has the ability to lead the offense in the manner that I've been stressing for years- Utilize the offense as a form of defense. Put teams on their heels by simply daring them to get into an arms race with you each and every game like Dicken and Brees did back in the late 90s. Things were different then. Purdue had the element of surprise, but they didn't have the talent that is now in the stable, on both sides of the ball.

There was no Kory Sheets or Jaycen Taylor in the Basketball on Grass offenses (thus there was no balance if inclement weather or a stout LB corps came calling)...and the defenses simply weren't talented or big enough to stop the run. Perhaps, with a few new pieces of personnel (Jason Werner, Keyon Brown, Josh McKinley and others), this defense can get close to the level that was achieved back in '03. Plus, Tiller now has nothing to lose, and maybe, just maybe Cowboy Joe can ride back into town for one last campaign.

Granted, I'm a Kool Aid drinker, but for some reason, I'm believing this could be a special season for our Boilers. So with Spring Ball just around the corner, I'm excited...maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, but whatever the case is, I'm looking forward to football again. Hey, even if this team isn't what I think they might become, at minimum, the season should be entertaining. I'll go ahead and do it- I'm predicting a NYD bowl, and victory, for my Boilers in '08/'09.

But, you already know how worthwhile early predictions are.

Weber v. Painter III ('08)

Painter in the final four...