It is sad to this Turkey that in Joe Tiller’s final year of coaching the Purdue Boilermakers, the fans in West Lafayette are so indifferent as to leave large expanses of the stadium unfilled, lending a new meaning to their purloined concept of a “black-out.” Furthermore, it seemed apparent that Purdue played like they were going to lose and, in fact, threw in the towel in the fourth quarter when the outcome was still in doubt in everyone’s minds but their own.
On this day in West Lafayette, the Nittany Lions (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) stretched their thus far undefeated streak a week further, surmounting the hapless and inept Boilermakers (2-3, 0-1 Big Ten) 20-6 and beating the 13.5 point spread by the slimmest of margins. They needed Purdue’s help to bring that off. Particularly ineffectual was Boilermaker freshman place kicker Chris Summers, who missed two field goals and an extra point, in other words all the kicks he attempted.
Evan Royster had a career day, rolling up 141 yards against Purdue’s inept defense. Had the game plan been less sphincteresque, he could have probably had twice that many. Instead, Paterno Road Mode decried that Royster would have to run up the gut repeatedly, even though Purdue’s defense had sold out to protect just that.
Once again, it appeared as if Penn State didn’t wake up until the second quarter. I hope these guys get over that soon! It is one thing to fall asleep against Temple, while it is quite another to fall asleep against Wisconsin, Michigan, or Ohio State. Be warned, guys! You dig a hole for yourselves with the best of the Big Ten and you might not climb out.
The Nittany Lion passing game consisted of short, sphincteristic passes. The deep ball was not in evidence at all. Daryll Clark was not as sharp as usual. This Turkey does not know whether or not to blame Clark for some of his sideline throws that went incomplete. He seemed to be throwing way to the outside of his receivers such that the ball would have to be caught outside the field of play with at least one foot in bounds. A couple of these would have required the services of Yao Ming, but when last I checked, the NBA Houston Rocket center was not moonlighting at Penn State. Methinks, though, that coaching might have been more to blame than Clark, who went 18-26 with no touchdowns or interceptions. The “better incomplete than intercepted” philosophy seemed to apply. Risk taking was minimal in this game, boys and girls.
The turf conditions were downright crappy. Players on both teams were slipping and falling. Perhaps some of the constipated game plan resulted from this. Huge divots appeared all over the field, as time after time, Royster and Green would try to cut and wind up on their ass. Here’s a snippet about that from FOS:
The Penn State players slipping all over the place, yet the field was wet? There was no rain in the area the day before the game nor Saturday. Royster and backup tailback Stephfon Green both changed cleats at halftime and seemed to have better footing from that point. Interestingly, while writers where doing their jobs in the press box after the game, sprinkler heads came up and began spraying the field with more water.
What I want to know, as I mentioned to zbeard during the game after having seen enough of this crap, is why Penn State’s Athletic Footwear Coach did not step in to make a cleat change sooner. I mean, come on, with all the big bucks Nike pays to the program for advertising, you’d think there would be enough of a variety of shoes to handle any turf conditions. So, why wait until halftime? Is that when the bell rings for getting thumbs out of asses?
Let’s give credit where it is due—in fact, long overdue. Josh Hull had a great day on defense, logging 11 tackles. After taking much heat from blogboys and mainstream press media alike all season and being defended as a “good football player” in last Tuesday’s press conference by his head coach, Josh finally had a great day and proved the old man right. Hats off to Hull. We hope you show up again next week to manhandle Wisconsin’s running tandem.
The PSU defense sparkled all over, although Purdue, as expected, was able to drive on them. Nevertheless, the Boilermakers were kept out of the end zone until the game was nearly over. Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter, who has been throwing 42 passes per game went 13-22 with no touchdowns and one ugly interception that resulted in Tiller pulling him in favor of Joey Elliott, who was able to move his team effectively down the field. But by then, it was too late.
The defensive line put pressure on Painter and contained the Purdue running game for the most part. Vaunted senior running back Kory Sheets, who was playing in the aftermath of a slight shoulder separation suffered in the Notre Dame game, was held to 59 yards on 18 carries.
On special teams, the Lions have improved their kickoff coverage measurably. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition! Purdue had only 51 yards total for the three kicks they returned.
A couple of noteworthy injuries occurred in the second half. Two tight ends, Andrew Quarless and Mickey Shuler, were both hurt. Their status is presently unknown. Meanwhile, Jordan Norwood, still nursing a hamstring injury, did not play.
This Turkey is happy about a few things. First and foremost, it is good to know that the defense is not as shaky as I thought it might be and that Hull will be a contributor rather than a detractor. Second, I think that a game like this can serve to be instructive and inspirational—I hope for the coaches as well as the team. And finally, as the Nittany Lions head to Camp Randall, they now have a close Big Ten game under their belts, reinforcing the need to come to play—every down.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Big Ten, #14 Ohio State (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) squeaked past #18 Wisconsin (3-2, 0-2 Big Ten), 20-17. Penn State will travel to Camp Randall Saturday to face a pissed off buncha Badgers, and we’ll be talking about that later in the week. You’ll also be pleased to note that Illinois (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) and The Juiceroo whipped the snot out of Rich Rodriguez’ Michigan (2-3, 1-1 Big Ten), 45-20. The Lions beat Illinois convincingly last week and will face the Wolverines for their Homecoming game in Beaver Stadium in two weeks.
Head coach Joe Paterno remains one ahead of FSU’s Bobby Bowden in career wins, as the Seminoles edged Miami in a shoot-out a Pro Player Stadium, 41-39. Paterno coached the Purdue game from the press box because of his painfully injured leg, but he was able to hobble out onto the field at the game’s conclusion to shake hands with old friend Joe Tiller.
I wanted to dash this off before I go up to Gainesville for a day or so. I’ll be back later in the week to squawk about P. J. Hill, Travis Beckum, and the rest of those pesky Badgers.