It’s time to take a few minutes and reflect on the past three games of Purdue University’s results and use this information to project a general summary of where the Boilers are and where they can expect to go this year.
Fresh off a close win against Central Michigan, Purdue finds itself at a turning point in its young season. This win ends a string of three less-than-stellar performances from the Boilermaker offense. Curtis Painter is not making quick reads or crisp throws like he was beginning to last year.
Typically, the Boilermaker offense uses the intermediate passing game to open running lanes. This has not been the case this season.
Kory Sheets has accumulated 352 rushing yards for the season, at a clip of 5.7 yards per carry, to go with six touchdowns for the season. Kory is now Purdue’s all-time TD leader with 43.
If Kory continues to be successful on the ground, this will have to force a paradigm shift for the offense.
Curtis Painter, on the other hand, has been very pedestrian in his performance to date. He is averaging 251 yards, one TD, and one INT per contest. He is completing 60 percent of his passes, but personally I think in this offensive scheme he needs to be over 65 percent.
The offense isn’t converting third downs as regularly as they need to sustain drives, and the young group of receivers has let Curtis down a few times already this season with dropped passes.
The defense actually has played pretty well this season. They limited the Oregon Ducks to a six-point half, but the banged-up defensive squad eventually ran out of gas in OT, allowing the Ducks to run and pass through them.
Some of the coaching decisions that have gotten us to this point can also be questioned. Not to pick out one or two specific examples, I’ll address one of the higher-level strategies that seem to have developed as a trend recently.
Purdue has been leading in all three contests but has not been able to close out the games convincingly. Purdue tends to become extremely conservative on offense with a lead. We call this behavior “playing not to lose, not playing to win.”
Purdue was up 20-3 on the Ducks “practically” heading into halftime. From then on the Purdue offense took a leave of absence, while the defense fought valiantly to withhold the Oregon Duck offense attack.
Long to Go...
Heading into the Notre Dame game, we are seeing that this season can be the tale of two teams. The season’s results will hinge on the effort displayed in South Bend this year.
If Purdue can emerge from the non-conference schedule with a 3-1 record, then we will call it a successful year to date. Purdue can most likely pull four conference wins this year and will be a lock for another postseason trip.
However, if the Boilers stumble in South Bend, they will be fighting for their postseason lives the rest of the season.
Notre Dame will always have the talent to compete, but now they have the experience under their belts to execute. I feel that Purdue is going to travel to South Bend prepared for this trip and to pull off a truly rare feat with an upset in South Bend, Indiana.
I look for Kory Sheets to continue to develop going forward this season, ending in one of the most productive RB seasons at Purdue. Also, Curtis Painter will step up and get more comfortable with his new receiving corps as he becomes one of the most prolific passers at Purdue statistically.
Purdue will finish the season with eight wins and four losses, receiving an invitation to play in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio—fitting, for San Antonio is where the Joe Tiller legacy originally began 12 years ago.