NCAA Football

Sunday Notes: Purdue’s Loss to Iowa in Football & Purdue’s Basketball Match-up with Bama

This has been an exciting week in Purdue sports, particularly because of the men’s basketball tip-off tournament in Puerto Rico. On the gridiron, Purdue lost an ugly game to the Iowa Hawkeyes. In order to qualify for a bowl game, Purdue must now win in Bloomington this Saturday against Indiana University. Here are notes from Purdue’s loss against Iowa:

  • This game was sloppy all around. There were six combined turnovers (4 by Purdue and 2 by Iowa) and Purdue’s special teams play was also a wreck. In one play, Purdue utilized its unique “option punt” roll-out by Carson Wiggs. Purdue used this against Ohio State the week before, but for those who didn’t catch this strange special teams play, Purdue allows Carson Wiggs to roll out as the punter, evaluate the open field in front of him and decide to either a) kick his punt rugby style on the run or b) attempt to run for a 1st down. In the first half, Wiggs appeared to run beyond the line of scrimmage and then decide to punt the ball, which was blocked by Iowa’s defenders. This special teams snafu resulted in excellent field position for the Hawkeyes and they scored a touchdown shortly thereafter. I won’t criticize Hope for being creative with his special teams, but disastrous plays like that are going to heat his seat and make Morgan Burke question his coaching ability.
  • Purdue’s quarterback play was sub-par against Iowa. Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve split duty under center and combined for just 181 passing yards. Marve threw two interceptions, although one pick was tipped off the fingers of a Purdue receiver. TerBush did not accomplish much with Purdue’s offense with the exception of a fourth quarter touchdown drive when Purdue was down by 17 points to cut the lead to 10. TerBush made more conservative decisions than Marve, but he also seemingly held onto the ball too long at times. He was sacked multiple times. In contrast, Marve was winging the ball down the field, but made some mistakes under pressure.
  • I’m not one to normally gripe about officiating, but there were some calls that certainly went against Purdue on Saturday. I was disappointed that Purdue was called for defensive pass interference in the end zone when defending against Iowa’s big tight end. There was some physical jarring between Purdue’s cornerback and Iowa’s tight end, but the tight end fully extended his arms to push Purdue’s player down. The Boilers were flagged for a pass interference that resulted in a 1st and goal for the Hawkeyes which set-up a touchdown. Iowa also seemed to get away with quite a bit of holding on Saturday, which helped running back Marcus Coker rack up 139 yards on 30 carries.
  • The end of the game produced some troubling attitude by Purdue’s defense. In a meaningless snap to kneel the ball, Purdue’s players got after the Hawkeyes and Dwayne Beckford ended up throwing a punch. He was ejected and may be ineligible to play against the Hoosiers next week. I know there’s a delicate balance between playing with intensity and controlling your emotions, but behavior like that is unacceptable. I have been disappointed with Purdue all season with the penalties it has accumulated. On the bright side, Purdue was only penalized once for 7 yards (the previously mentioned pass interference call) on Saturday.
  • Even though Purdue’s defense forced 2 turnovers, they simply could not stop Marcus Coker’s rushing attack and Marvin McNutt’s big time playmaking ability. McNutt caught the ball 9 times for 151 yards and shredded Purdue’s defense on a near 50 yard touchdown catch where he ran east-west on a crossing route and then broke through Purdue’s defense on his way to the end zone. McNutt will play on Sundays, and like Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd, Purdue just couldn’t contain him.
  • I’d love to say that I am 100% optimistic about Purdue’s chances of beating IU in Bloomington in Saturday, but Purdue’s inconsistency leaves me guessing. I think Purdue can score on IU’s very weak defense, but I also think Purdue’s defense may be exposed on Saturday. In any event, Danny Hope may be coaching for not only a bowl appearance against IU, but also his job.
I also wanted to provide a mini-preview of Purdue’s game against the 15th ranked Alabama Crimson Tide tonight.
  • Alabama starts two forwards rather than a true center. 6-8 JaMychal Green and 6-6 Tony Mitchell are elite players for Alabama. They each rebound the ball well and typically play 30+ minutes. Matching up with these two athletic forwards will require Robbie Hummel, Kelsey Barlow, Jacob Lawson, and DJ Byrd to have good games.
  • Since Alabama only plays a true center sparingly (7-1 Carl Engstrom only played 8 minutes against Wichita State), we may see less of Travis Carroll and Sandi Marcius on Sunday night. Instead, Jacob Lawson and DJ Byrd will be required to match Alabama’s pace and athleticism. This would also be an opportunity for the likely-to-be redshirted Donnie Hale, but I don’t expect Painter to burn the redshirt based on the match-up against Alabama. If he did though, there would be no complaints from this blogger.
  • Alabama plays a full court press with tight man-to-man defense. That means Purdue will have to make smart decisions the full length of the court. This is where it’s nice to have Lew Jack, Barlow, and Hummel on the court together. All three are experienced at bringing the ball up the court and breaking the full court press. Purdue has played Alabama each of the last two years and combined for 28 turnovers in those two games.
  • This is the best team that Alabama has had though over the last three years, so Purdue will have to play very well against a more experienced Crimson Tide. Still, Alabama starts two freshmen: 6-5 Levi Randolph and 6-6 Rodney Cooper. Can Purdue’s veteran leadership (Hummel, Lew Jack, and Ryne Smith) beat the younger and more athletic Crimson Tide ? This should be a very entertaining match-up for the championship of the Puerto Rico Tip-off Tournament.