I am normally one of the more optimistic fans that you will see. I always think that my team is better than they actually are, and can keep winning. You have to do something really bad for me to be down on my team. That is how I feel right now less than a day after Purdue was beaten soundly 44-10 in Illinois. Purdue had a lot of trouble moving the football. The people around me said that it was because they were going into the wind. I really don’t buy that because Illinois seemed to move the ball very well when they went into the wind. We just faced a team that was much better than us on the day. I would not have made the road trip if I thought that Purdue was going to get blown out. I really thought that we could compete with them, and at least have a chance. I am now 5-11 when going on the road to see Purdue play. I did come to the conclusion that I would not travel to see the Boilers play on Halloween weekend again. I was in Wisconsin last year on Halloween to see the Boilers shut out 37-0. This one seemed a lot like that at times. Of course that Boiler team rebounded the next week to beat Michigan in the Big House. This week Purdue has Wisconsin coming into West Lafayette. A rebound win may be tough. During halftime the Illinois student section did a human jumbotron thing. Part of that was a beer mug race. I thought the picture of the empty glasses was a perfect one to lead off the post.
This was my Purdue road trip for the season. I was at Notre Dame, but since that is less than 45 minutes from my house I really can’t count it as a road trip. The day started off great. I made great time getting to the campus in Champaign, and I got into a parking spot easily. I walked right to the stadium to see if I could get my camera in. In 2006 I walked in with my camera only to be run down by an Illinois security person after I was well into the stadium. They told me that I had to take my camera back to my car. With no pass outs and my ticket torn I explained that I could not get back in, and they said it was my problem. I kindly explained to them that I was let into the stadium so the problem was theirs. They let me stay, but with the promise that I would not use the camera. I took pictures the entire game. Now knowing that they don’t like cameras I was a little sneakier this time. I broke it down and took it into the stadium in pieces. As soon as you enter the stadium you are greeted by a statue of Red Grange. That is a really great way for fans to enter. I love that statue. Once inside I went right to my seats to see if they were any good. I was sitting right across from the Purdue section, and I was very happy with my seats. The highlight of the pre game of course was the Illinois announcer telling us that the director of the Illini band was named Peter Griffin. I love it. I kept waiting for him to hurt his knee for way too long.
I came into the stadium interested who would play at quarterback for Purdue. With all the hype about whether or not it was Sean Robinson or Rob Henry I thought we might see a curveball in Justin Siller. When the Purdue quarterbacks came out to warm up Sean Robinson, Justin Siller, and Skyler Titus all were throwing the ball around. Just when I thought that Henry would not make it out he appeared and threw the ball around. He looked like he was having a little trouble throwing it. Every now and then the ball would be way off target. Henry started the game at quarterback for the Boilers, but Robinson came in on the first series to throw the ball on a third and long. As the picture shows above Purdue even had both players in on the same offensive play. You knew though that Henry would not throw the ball. He was only in to run. Eventually the Boilers went with just Robinson at quarterback for better or worse.
Purdue won the coin toss, but won little else the rest of the day. Illinois took the ball, and Purdue forced them into a three and out. Dwayne Beckford made a nice open field tackle on Nate Scheelhaase forced the quick punt. Of course we had two run plays with Henry followed by a pass play with Robinson for our three and out. We punted the ball to Illinois, and the scoring started. They seemed to drive down the field easy to score the first touchdown. That was on a crossing route that would work all day against us. Then on the following kickoff the ball knuckled and hit Joe Holland on a freak play. I saw a lot of people blaming Holland, but you can’t expect that to happen. The dumb play on that series was the Logan Link hit out of bounds that moved the ball fifteen more yards for the Illini. He is normally a very heady player, but he just made a mistake there. Illinois took the ball down the field, and sealed the game early.
With the score 14-0 we may have lost our most explosive player. On the Illinois kickoff O.J. Ross took the ball for a nice gain, but was lost for the season when he hit the ground. He is a player with all kinds of potential, and that loss hurts an already shallow receiving corps. Of course the classy Illinois fans were laughing at another Purdue player hurt. You could see how much pain he was in as his left leg was just banging the ground. I have a lot of trouble making light out of someone in that much pain. Just after that we had the ball on the thirty with a chance for some points. Robinson ran a keeper for three, then the wheels fell off. Sean threw a terrible pass to Smith that skipped in front of him. After a time out we had a nice pass for a first down to Kyle Adams that was called back for offensive pass interference away from the ball. After the penalty Purdue broke the huddle with three seconds left on the play clock, and they took a delay of game penalty. That penalty put them at third and 27 way out of field goal range. Another bad Robinson pass led to a punt. Late in the first half the Illinois fans were getting on Zook for not using his timeouts better. As it turns out if he had called a timeout sooner the Illini might have had one more play to try for a touchdown. After a Purdue three and out (again) the Carson Wiggs punt hit off of a Illini player who recovered the ball. With the great field position Illinois took the ball all the way to the one before using their last timeout to kick a field goal. Going into the half the score was 17-0. The bad part about that though is the fact that Purdue had just 64 yards of offense and three first downs in the first half. I didn’t think that things could get much worse, but they did in a hurry.
After gaining just three yards on the first possesion of the second half Purdue was forced to punt. Cody Webster kicked a 29 yard punt to give Illinois great field position. Gerald Gooden then left Mikel Leshoure wide open for Illinois third touchdown of the game. On Purdue’s first offensive play after the touchdown Al-Terek McBurse fumbled the ball, and Illinois recovered. Four plays later the score was 31-0, and this game was over. Two of those plays were interesting though. On second down Scheelhaase passed to tight end Evan Wilson who appeared to score. The refs threw their hands up, and the fireworks went off. The of course the play was reviewed. The ball was placed at the half yard line and it looked like the Boilers stopped Leshoure. Again the play was reviewed. The Illinois fans were up in arms over two straight reviews until they announced touchdown. Then things weren’t so bad. After three straight incomplete passes by Robinson the Boilers were forced to punt again. Cody Webster managed a 12 yard punt that led to the 3rd Illini touchdown of the quarter making the score 37-0 after a botched extra point. Visions of Wisky last season were flashing through my head. Any normal Purdue fan would have stuck around. I am stupid though so I stayed. I must like that pain. That is the same reason that I watched the game again when I came home. Purdue put a small drive together that got the band going into their first down chant. I did the cheer with them when the Illinois fans started getting on me. I told them that I was cheering the fact that we finally had more first downs than they did touchdowns. This seemed to shut them up.
With the third quarter over I moved to the opposite side of the stadium to watch Purdue drive towards me. It was from here that I saw the Purdue drive that led to their first points in two weeks. Carson Wiggs hit a 35 yard field goal. My phone was abuzz with people talking about it. The best though was Mike Carmin had the best one saying that when Purdue last scored Tim Brewster was the Minnesota head coach. Purdue then drove down the field again. Most of that was thanks to a 57 yard angry run by Al-Terek McBurse. That was his first carry after the fumble, and he took out his frustration on the defense. It was nice to see him rip off a long run. After a couple of run plays that didn’t work Robinson found Gary Bush in the end zone for a Purdue touchdown! After the score I decided to leave. I had seen enough football for the day.
After I left Zook showed how classy he is by throwing the football to score another touchdown. Even the ESPN announcers were wondering why he did that. Purdue got the ball back, and coach Danny Hope was finally going to try for the field goal record. He was not given a time out though, and the game ended.
A lot of questions face the Boilers heading into the Wisconsin week. Will this team keep competing the rest of the year? How many more redshirts will come off before the end of the year? Are there any redshirt players left? With the roster cut down the way it is we can’t afford to make mistakes. Purdue made plenty yesterday. Next Saturday it will take a perfect game by Purdue along with a mistake laden game by the Badgers for us to see a Purdue win. On the way out of the stadium I ran into two girls dresses as fairies. They were obviously drunk. One of them looked right at me and said “Purdue Sucks!” What do you say to that? I just said that Purdue played the way they were dressed and kept walking. They seemed to like that, and I am not too sure it was too far off.
The Purdue passing game was rough to say the least yesterday. They finished the day with just 56 yards passing. I kept wondering why the passes seemed so far off. Was the wind that big of a factor? Was it Robsinson? Or was it receivers running bad routes? It just seemed like some passes were way too far off to be just the quarterback. Although a few were right at the feet of receivers so maybe it was him. The Purdue coordinators will have another tough week scheming to get the most out of this bunch.
The defense was not good yesterday, but they did have some bright spots. Ryan Kerrigan made a great sack while being held terribly. That was sack number 7 1/2 for Kerrigan on the season. He also had at least one tackle for loss that I saw besides that. Kawann Short seems to improve every week. He had a beautiful bull rush that led to a clothesline sack of Scheelhaase. Robert Maci has kind of come out of nowhere the last couple of weeks. He kind of reminds me of a Rob Ninkovich that we just found earlier. I have a lot of pictures from yesterday though of Maci making a great tackle on a guy without the ball. He really bit hard on that read option. Logan Link had twelve tackles on the day for the Boilers. It is bad though when your safety is getting that much action. I also enjoyed watching former Michigan City Wolves defensive tackle Ryan Isaac get some playing time. He made a nice tackle in the fourth quarter right in front of me.
There are plenty of reasons to go to Ross-Ade next weekend. One of them is Ryan Kerrigan. He is fun to watch on every play he is in. He is a disruptor. Another senior Dan Dierking is reason enough to go. He never quits and is fun to watch as he makes the most out of every run. you have a kicker that at any time can pop a record kick. You have two young quarterbacks who are learning every game. There are also many young players on both sides of the ball who are also getting valuable experience. I am kind of excited for next Saturday. Maybe the glass is actually half full.