Who Needs a Running Back?

Purdue 24 – Ball State 13

Yesterday the Boilers started the game with about half a running back. Ralph Bolden and Keith Carlos are out for most of the season. Al-Terek McBurse was ruled out of the game with a turf toe injury. Our favorite Dan Dierking was a game time decision because of bruised ribs. What that left was a few receivers who had to carry the load out of the backfield. This comes the week after All Big Ten receiver Keith Smith was lost for the year with a knee injury. Depth is definitely a concern right now for the Purdue skill players. True freshman O.J. Ross and sophomore Antavian Edision took the majority of snaps at running back. Ross who is shown above was the guy I thought would be an impact player with Keith Smith being out. He caught a 36 yard swing pass early in the game to give Purdue the early lead. Both players added some speed to the Purdue backfield. They seemed to be able to easily get the corner. Of course the defense knew that the inside run was probably not a possibility with these little guys in the backfield. To make matters worse quarterback Robert Marve was injured on a fourth and two play that added a little drama to the day. From what has come out so far Marve called the play on his own. He sat out much of the second half with a heavy ice wrap on his knee.

Cortez Smith easily had to be the player of the game. He had a great run in the first quarter to convert what could have been a loss into a nine yard touchdown run. The picture above shows some of the players that he left in his wake. Later in the game he took a deflected ball 76 yards for yet another improbable score. Last week we had McBurse late in the game take a ride on a defender then run for a score and now this. The crowd that had stuck around really seemed to get pumped up after this

One concern that remains still is Purdue’s inability to stop the run. The picture above is just one example of some of the big holes that seem to be there all the time. I can only imagine what will happen when the likes of Robinson and Clay come into Ross-Ade. It just seems like teams can run at will against the Boilers. The secondary is young so maybe they are cheating a bit to help them out. It is frustrating though when it is third and 16 and the other team runs for a first down on a draw.

Play of the Game: For the second straight week this was an easy call. Since we were playing Ball State and their most famous alum is probably David Letterman I thought I would make a top ten list of the ten biggest plays in the game.

10. Ryan Kerrigan whose mere presence on the field changes the game. Ball State seemed to run away from him all day. He still seemed to run down ball carriers from the backside with ease. His ten yard sack in the third quarter was his lone sack of the day.

9. Robert Marve’s eight yard rush on 3rd and 3 that set up Smith’s first touchdown. Without that crafty run the Boilers would have kicked a field goal.

8. Albert Evans sack that set up #6. That eight yard loss really put the Cardinals back.

7. Kawann Short blocks the Ball State extra point with a leap that Neil Armstrong would have been proud of.

6. The complete series in the second quarter where Ball State drove to the Purdue 14, but with penalties and bad play ended up settling for a long field goal that was missed.

5. Jason Werner whose interception in the fourth quarter stopped a Ball State drive. This is only this high because of his bumbling stumbling 26 yard run after the catch.

4. Cortez Smith’s never say die attitude as he broke tackle after tackle for a nine yard touchdown that put Purdue up 14-0 at the time.

3. Ricardo Allen made a huge interception in the end zone stopping what appeared to be a Ball State scoring drive.

2. O.J. Ross taking a swing pass and maneuvering 36 yards to put Purdue up 7-0. Ross could be the real deal.

1. Like I said this one was easy. Early in the fourth quarter Rob Henry threw a pass to a Purdue receiver who had fallen. The ball bounced out of the hands of a Ball State defensive back and straight into the hands of Cortez Smith. He took off down the sidelines for a 76 yard touchdown. I am sure that is just how Purdue had the play drawn up.


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