Sunday, October 7, 2012

Purdue - Michigan Recap: "Oh what a disastrous first half for Purdue!"

I give the BTN announcers a lot of crap.  However, they got that one exactly right.


A horrible start doomed the Boilermakers as they fell down 28-3 before a last second touchdown in the first half.  Robert Marve provided a slight spark in the second half, but Purdue still only was able to score 3 points in the 2nd half resulting in an embarrassing 41-13 home blowout to an unranked team.

There were a thousand pictures of black jerseys chasing #16.  This is one of them.

The Offense:

While the defense was pretty much a no show, the tone was set by the offense.  Two 3 and outs to start the game were followed by two Michigan touchdowns, meaning Purdue was down 14 points after running just 6 plays and getting the ball to start the game!  The big play then came on 4th and 2 when Purdue decided to go for it, thinking 14 points was too big of a deficit to overcome if they pinned Michigan deep.  Instead of converting, TerBush made a poor throw to an open OJ Ross, and it turned into a gut-wrenching pick six.  Down 21-0 after 11 offensive plays, it's tough to evaluate the running game.  However, it seemed like Purdue's running backs couldn't get anything going, which is very concerning against a poor rush defense.

With Michigan having the best pass defense in the Big Ten, coming back from an early 21-0 deficit was going to be difficult.  TerBush struggled all afternoon and ended with only 105 passing yards.  The big story was the benching of TerBush near the end of the 3rd quarter in favor of Robert Marve.  Marve looked very impressive in his first drive, but I think it's because offensive coordinator, Gary Nord, opened up the playbook with some tricky runs and reverses.  Did anyone else cringe every time he even came close to getting hit?

The Defense:
Well that looked familiar.  The defensive mirage we were seeing at the beginning of the season has disappeared completely and now we're left with a group that can't get a stop against a team that scored 6 points against Notre Dame.  I have no idea what the game plan was, but it clearly wasn't what it should have been.  Regardless of how poorly Denard Robinson played against Notre Dame, Michigan IS Denard Robinson.  How you set up a gameplan against Michigan without the #1, #2, AND #3 priorities being keeping Robinson's rushing in check absolutely floors me.  Let Robinson pass (he made some decent passes, but nothing that Purdue couldn't contain). Let Toussaint run (he's struggled recently and he's not nearly as dangerous as Robinson).  Yet how many times did the Purdue defense send 3 guys to tackle Toussaint in the option while Robinson ran for 10+ yards?  235 rushing yards on 24 carries. Awful awful awful. 

Special Teams:
Paul Griggs appears to have taken over the starting placekicker position and looked quite impressive yesterday.  Also, Raheem Mostert is clearly respected as one of the most dangerous returners in the game - Michigan kicked it away from him all day.  That meant Akeem Hunt needed a big day and 4 of his 5 returns were excellent.  However, the other was absolutely horrendous and was one of the few times you'll ever see a "muffed kickoff" turn into a turnover.  The fact that it came immediately after the pick six was just adding salt into the wound.  While I love the big play potential of this group, I'd trade it in any day for a bunch of sure-handed 20 yard returns.

Best coaching decision: The first play of the fourth quarter was 4th and inches.  Robert Marve had led the team down the field and looked to be in control.  Yet the coaching staff decided to go for it with a TerBush sneak instead.  The announcers mentioned this was due to Caleb's size, however it was clearly because of Marve's fragile knee.  The LAST thing you wanted was Marve to get injured on a play that TerBush could make just as easily.  Marve came back in to continue the drive - a great decision by the coaching staff.

Worst coaching decision: I've already touched on the decision to let Denard Robinson beat you with his feet.  Why you don't have a spy at all times against a quarterback with a questionable arm is beyond me.  While that's more of a pregame decision, I'd say the decision to run on 2nd and 16 from the 17 yard line early in the 4th quarter was mind boggling.  You're down 21 points!  Throw the ball!  What do you have to lose???  The play went for a loss and the Boilers would ultimately settle for a field goal.

Worst Call by a Zebra:
The refs surely didn't cost us the game, but there were a series of plays on the Michigan's marathon first drive that made me wonder if they saw the rare lights at Ross-Ade and thought the game didn't start until later that night.  Most obvious was a 2-yard 2nd and 3 run aided by a blatant block in the back.  Michigan wound up converting the first down, but you wonder how the game would have changed if the call had been made, Purdue made the stop, and the Wolverines didn't score on that first drive.

Most Important Play:
With an honorable mention to Michigan's 4th and 4 conversion on the first drive, the most important play was clearly the pick six by Raymon Taylor to put Michigan up 21-0.  Purdue had finally started driving and tried to keep the momentum by going for it on 4th down.  Poor throw, poor catch, ballgame.

The "My sister could have executed that play better" Award:
Robert Marve came into the game down 31-10 and led the team into the red zone.  Facing 1st and 10 from the 11 early in the 4th quarter, Marve had a chance to make it a 2 score game with a touchdown.  Instead, he was chased out of the pocket and ran out of bounds SIX yards behind the line of scrimmage.  2nd and 16 pretty much ruined any lingering chances the Boilers had of a miracle comeback.  My sister could have executed that play better since she can throw the ball 6 yards and that's all Marve had to do.  THROW THE BALL OUT OF BOUNDS!  Throw it to a fan.  Throw it out of the stadium.  Throw it through the goal posts.  Just don't run out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage.  This is one of my biggest pet peeves.

The Biggest Missed Opportunity
A stop by Purdue's defense on 4th and 4 on Michigan's first drive would have changed the complexion of the entire game.  Instead, Denard Robinson completed a wide open 7-yard pass, leading to an eventual touchdown.

Picks of the Week Update:
I unfortunately picked this game correctly against the spread (although neither of us expected a blow out).  This means I now have a dominant lead with $39 while Kirk missed and has a miserable -$13.50.  Does Kirk need to pay interest on his debts?

In Conclusion:
Michigan's 2 weeks of preparation and healing from the Notre Dame debacle along with Purdue's multitude of early mistakes meant Purdue was out of this game embarrassingly early.  But the game's over.  Purdue laid their early season egg.  Luckily it was against a team they weren't necessarily supposed to beat and it was against a team in the other division.  Regardless of the final score, general consensus is that the Boilers just need to win 1 of the first 3 games to have a good shot at Indianapolis.  A win next week erases all the bad vibes from this week and amazingly puts Purdue in the driver's seat for the Big Ten Championship.  Keep the faith and no matter how difficult it is, Boiler Up!

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