November 19, 2012
Post-game report card: Purdue-Illinois
Purdue-Iowa Post-Game Report Card
Passing Offense: Purdue was efficient in its aerial offense, not throwing an interception for the third consecutive game and picking up almost 200 yards.
But outside of one 63-yard passing play on a throwback, there was nothing speculator. And three dropped passes - a fourth by was caught on a deflection by tight end Crosby Wright - contributed to Purdue's woeful third-down conversion rate. Two drops in the first half, when Purdue wasn't doing much to move the ball, helped end Boilermaker drives prematurely.
Still, the big play was notable because it broke the game open in Purdue's favor. On it, the Boilermakers had six offensive linemen, with Justin Kitchens serving as a tight end of sorts. Out of that formation, Purdue rolled nearly everyone right - similar to what it had done in the first half on a running play - drawing the Fighting Illini defense that direction then threw back to Akeem Hunt to the left. He had a convoy in front of him, and few Illini.
Left guard Peters Drey was way out in front, and had Robert Marve's pass not been behind the line of scrimmage, he certainly would have been called for being illegally downfield. But Drey's early jump help him lay a big block that sprung Hunt for the last 20 yards or so into the end zone.
Marve was sacked twice, once when right tackle Kevin Pamphile appeared to follow his defender toward the middle of the line, allowing a linebacker to roll around his outside.
Purdue passed for 191 yards, with Marve throwing for 173 on 18-of-26 with a touchdown and no turnovers. He largely made good reads, particularly when the line gave him time. It didn't always, however, and a couple times Illinois got pressure despite sending only a three-man rush. Rob Henry threw twice, once hitting Wright over the middle for a big gainer to help Purdue to its first field goal. On the play, Henry's first option is a sprint draw, but when Illinois' linebackers jumped toward the line, he found Wright over the top. It was a good read.
Rushing Offense: Once Purdue started running between the tackles, powering up the middle with Akeem Shavers and Ralph Bolden, the running game got going.
For the second consecutive game, the Boilermakers went for more than 200 yards on the ground. All but 59 of those came in the second half. Purdue averaged 5.6 yards per game and its ground game didn't have a fumble.
Bolden is excellent.
And Shavers might not be quite as dynamic, but he's good as well.
Shavers had 99 yards on 21 carries, his most attempts during Big Ten play. Bolden likely would have gone over 100 had it not been for a hamstring injury that stopped his long carry at 63 yards rather than the 78 needed for the end zone. Bolden was untouched on play, a credit to the Boilermakers' blocking up front.
Fullback Kurt Freytag blocked (sorta) a charging linebacker, forcing the Illini to jump over him and miss Bolden. And Bolden darted around a couple others, pulling his hammy in the process; it's remarkable he made it another 50-plus yards on one leg before finally bailing out of bounds.
Leading by three late, Purdue needed to wipe the last 3:29 off the clock without giving the ball back to Illinois. It's something the Boilermakers had failed to do vs. Ohio State, albeit a much better team, in a loss a few weeks ago. But against Illinois, Purdue pounded forward, using a good push by the line and power running by Shavers to reel off a few first downs and milk away the clock.
Offense Overall: Purdue was good, but far from great.
It had three straight three-and-outs to start the game, leaving the Boilers with only eight yards of offense in the first quarter. For whatever reason, Purdue seemed to be looking to the boundaries in the early - and yes, Patrick Higgins was calling the plays the entire game - before deciding to hit its North-South running game later. The latter worked much better.
Purdue had only one three-and-out in the final three quarters.
The Boilermakers didn't have a turnover, although Marve's bobbled snap on the third down in the red zone in the second quarter led to the second field goal. And on a third down earlier, Purdue ran a bad route combination, forcing Marve to throw a completion well short of the sticks. The next play, Purdue hit its first field goal.
The Boilers were only 2-of-13 on third downs, including 1-of-7 in the first half. And the defense generated three turnovers, yet the offense couldn't score on any.
What I'm trying to say is there was good and bad. But scoring only 20 points against a 2-8 Illinois team will get you docked a half point.
Rushing Defense: Illinois rushed for 173 yards but so much of it came on busted plays that left Nathan Scheelhaase running around 'til he found positive yardage.
It's hard to place too much blame on Purdue for Illini's own ineptitude. It's like that dude wearing the visor who shows up at your local playground and keeps hitting those friggin' underhanded scope shots over and over. How do you defend that?
Illinois' longest run play came when Scheelhaase was forced out of the pocket and scrambled up the left side for 19 yards. Scheelhaase had 76 yards but it took him 20 carries, an average of 3.8 yards per game.
He had a touchdown, which came against a misaligned Purdue defensive front. In the Boilers rush to get set, it accidentally had its strong-side and weak-side linebackers standing side-by-side, rather than one on either side of the line.
Scheelhaase ran the option away from the two linebackers, and waltzed into the end zone untouched for the Illini's last score.
Passing Defense: Purdue pass defense was very good, perhaps the best its been during the Big Ten season.
Scheelhaase passed for 160 yards, but it took 38 passes to do so, with 22 completions. And after two of those, Purdue forced fumbles, the first credited to Bruce Gaston on a quick Jailbreak recovery by the defensive tackle, and the second to Josh Johnson[/db]. Purdue got pressure, with three sacks; its third turnover came when Johnson strip-sacked Scheelhaase.
The Boilers gave up a 22-yard pass, the longest of the game for Illinois, when they screwed up their coverage. Both Ricardo Allen and Taylor Richards followed a receiver on a post, leaving an inside receiver alone on a crossing route over the middle. The complete set up Illinois in the redzone, and it scored on its next play, drawing to within 13-10 in the third quarter.
Otherwise, the Boilers didn't do much wrong. Purdue had eight pass breakups - a sign of how tight the Boilers' coverage often was - with two each for Johnson and Allen.
The Boilers probably could have turned at least one PBU into an interception. Safety E.J. Johnson, back from missing a few weeks with injury, knocked a ball down in the end zone in the fourth quarter. It sure looked like he could have intercepted it. And Illinois scored a few plays later.
Defense Overall: Purdue generated three turnovers and allowed only 333 yards of offense.
The 95-yard drive by the Illini late was ugly, particularly with a couple Purdue penalties mixed in, and made the Boilermakers have to sweat in the final few minutes.
But it's hard to be overly critical.
Special Teams: Purdue hit two field goals, a 31- and 36-yarder by Sam McCartney and punted very well. Of Cody Webster's eight boots, five landed inside the 20 and only one trickled into the end zone.
His last might have been his best, when he boomed it 60 yards before it was downed at the 5. The Illini scored on a 95-yard drive afterward, but it at least took them more than four minutes and left them with few options.
Purdue recovered the ensuing on-sides kick, with Antavian Edison making his only catch of a football in the game.
Neither return game was much of a factor.
Overall: Illinois is bad, so that has to be factored in.
Although Purdue's offense left points on the board - not scoring on three turnovers will do that - it got big plays that turned the game and salted away the final few minutes to seal the win. And the Boilermakers didn't turn it over.
Purdue's defense never allowed a play of more than 22 yards and kept Illinois at bay.
The kicking game was great.
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