Hail Purdue: Breaking Down the Good, the Bad and the Ugly from Saturday
On what felt like the hottest day ever at Ross Ade Stadium, the Purdue Boilermakers defeated the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders 27-24. In a contest that seemed like Purdue tried to lose on countless occasions, quarterback Caleb TerBush stepped up late and got the win for the "Old Gold and Black."
While this win did nothing to make the Purdue faithful see promises of a Rose Bowl bid, a win is a win and nobody can dispute that. While the team had some bright spots, there is still much to be worked through in the coming weeks to prepare for Big Ten play.
Should Purdue want to go bowling this year, I have a few things to focus on doing and a few things to focus on fixing.
Good: Caleb TerBush
Caleb TerBush has been out of action and away from football since being suspended for Academic Problems.
You wouldn't have been able to notice that by the way that he handled himself on the football field, especially late in the game. TerBush ended the day 19-33 for an even 210 yards and a pair of touchdowns. For a team that had horrendous passing numbers last year, that is solid performance compared to the play of recent.
Outside the numbers though, TerBush showed me he has what it takes to step up and be a leader on that offense.
After an interception (which I jokingly called correctly from the stands), he responded late by leading the offense down for three touchdown drives, including tossing two in. He took what the MTSU defense was willing to give him, and truly didn't try to force any throws into coverage. So for that, Caleb TerBush has gained my respect and confidence in leading this team without Henry.
Good: Carson Wiggs
Carson Wiggs for Heisman. He is the Hummel of the football team, the students love him and he is the best kicker in the league. I hope that Hope gives him a shot at the record because he deserves it.
There isn't much more love craze that I will post right now, but he doesn't disappoint.
Good: Purdue Running Game
I would love to just single out Ralph Bolden, and how explosive of a return he had; however, the entire running game was clicking through the game.
Bolden exploded on some sweeps out of the shotgun formation, and made us think that he could very well be returning to the Bolden of old. He lead the running game like any fan would have expected, gaining 120 yards on 17 carries. Any day that your running back averages 7+ yards per carry, he is going to have a good game.
On the flip side, credit should be paid to Akeem Shavers as well. The former JUCO standout had a great introduction game after being almost non-existent in Spring. He brought 42 yards on seven carries, most notably was his 30 yard burst up the middle of the field.
Also, the offensive line had its moments where they looked like they could provide quite the run support for the Purdue offense. It will be interesting to see how things go when we get a higher quality team as an opponent.
Bad: Pass Coverage
One of the things I expected to see from the Purdue football team this fall was a solid group in the secondary. Middle Tennessee State picked apart the Purdue defense for 300+ yards on Saturday. While there were many great plays by Kilgore for MTSU, Purdue didn't have any answer to how to slow down their pass attack.
I understand that the defense got tired a lot from the heat and the constant no-huddle offense brought from the MTSU offense; however, this is supposed to be the strength of our offense after the absence of Kerrigan. While our front four didn't have the best push up front, the secondary should have been able to prevent the kind of damage that their offense did.
Bad: Return Game
This one is simple—Ricardo Allen is one of the fastest people on the Purdue football team. He needs to be able to utilize that in our return game. We need to get him more experience in practice to field punts and learn when to return them and when to just let them go.
Ugly: Danny Hope
Now I am not trying to hold some blind hatred towards our beloved Boiler's coach; however, I just cannot understand how he has a job as our coach. The team was penalized so often, which comes down to discipline, which comes back to coaching.
Also, the late game strategy paid off, yes. How, though, do you not call timeout when you are running the ball with under two minutes to go in the game, down by four?
He seems to not know when to use timeouts—see the Notre Dame game in 2009 when he gave Charlie Weis time to devise a play with 24 seconds left. Luckily, he "iced" the kicker when he got saved by a fantastic block from Allen, but I just can't see him saving his job after this season.