September 13, 2009

Purdue-Oregon: Good, Bad & Ugly

After each Boilermaker game this season, we'll dissect the good, bad and ugly from the Purdue's latest outing.

Today we weigh in on the Boilermakers' heartbreaking 38-36 loss Saturday night at Toledo.

WORST PASS
No question here as Joey Elliott's interception that was returned for an 18-yard touchdown was bad, really bad.

Elliott's pass had nothing on it and was an easy Pick 6 for Duck cornerback Walter Thurmond III in the second quarter.

Thurmond stepped in front of Keith Smith on the short out route on the Purdue sideline and could've walked into the end zone.

The pick put Oregon back in front at 17-14 and was really a momentum changer as the Duck offense had been struggling to say the least.

Honorable Mention: On Purdue's second possession of the game, Elliott found the open linebacker as he hit Casey Matthews right between the numbers.

He was really trying to force a pass to Aaron Valentin, but he was double covered.

The turnover set up the game's first score, a 28-yard field.

BEST CALL
Credit here goes to Elliott as he suggested to the coaching staff that the Boilermakers run the halfback option on fourth-and-12 from the Duck 15 with about a minute left in the game.

The play was run to perfect as Smith took the pitch from Elliot, who threw an impressive pass to Valentin in the end zone to bring the Boilermakers to within two.

No doubt it took guts to go with that call and it took guts to pull it off.

Honorable Mention: Offensive coordinator Gary Nord will probably be frequently mentioned here throughout the season as he showed what seemed to be every imaginable formation to the Oregon defense. Nord got everyone involved as seven players caught passes in a plan that saw play action, power running, bubble screens and much more.

Purdue racked up 451 yards of total offense and scored 36 points … ON THE ROAD AGAINST A QUALITY OPPONENT.

LOTS OF WORK TO BE DONE
The Boilermakers currently rank 92nd in the NCAA in kickoff return yardage allowed - 23.64 per runback.

Oregon's five kickoff returns resulted in 129 yards, including a 38-yarder.

It seemed as though every time Purdue had things going its way, the Ducks would strike with a really good return.

This is a big area of concern right now as Purdue better get things figured out here or keeping momentum in its favor will be a futile effort.

BEST YACS
On the last play of the first quarter, Smith stepped out of a tackle, losing his shoe, and picking up 15 yards to the Oregon 33 down the Purdue sideline for the Best Yards After Catch honor.

Smith's play led to a Boilermaker touchdown.

On Purdue's first possession of the second half, Smith carried three guys on his back for a first drive. His eye-opening effort resulted in a 19-yard gain to the Duck 19 and it, too, led to a Purdue TD.

BEST RUN
Ralph Bolden may be small in stature - 5-foot-9, 194 pounds - but boy does he pack a punch.

There are several of his runs that could be mentioned here as he took some awful good shots from defenders, but each time bounced up and continued to deliver for his team throughout.

In the second quarter, his first touchdown run came when he broke a tackle a couple yards beyond the line of scrimmage and then followed a lead blocker down field perfectly before cutting into the end zone for a 19-yard score.

BEST HIT
Linebacker Jason Werner absolutely drilled Oregon running back LaMichael James with 10:41 left in the first half.

Werner blitzed on the play and put his helmet right in James' chest, jarring the ball loose and pancaking him to the turf.

The play was a big one as it stopped an Oregon drive that had gotten to Purdue's 25.

BEST DRIVE
Of course the drive near the end of the game was impressive after Purdue had fallen down by eight, but what about the drive Elliott led his team on after throwing that interception for a touchdown?

The drive resulted in three points as Purdue covered 68 yards in 13 plays.

It's too bad for the Boilermakers' sake they couldn't get into the end zone as they had first-and-goal from the 5, but had to settle for the field goal.

FORGET ABOUT IT
On Oregon's first possession of the second half, running back Andre Crenshaw fumbled and there was quite a battle for the ball at the bottom of the pile.

It shouldn't have been a surprise that defensive tackle Mike Neal came up with the recovery. After all, not too many people can match the 300-pounder's strength.

GUTSY CALL
Purdue drove to the Oregon 1 on its first possession of the second half, but was faced with a fourth-and-goal situation.

Instead of settling for three points and the lead, Coach Danny Hope didn't hesitate to go for it.

On the play, Elliott pitched to Bolden who raced right for the end zone. He got in, but took a punishing hit as he crossed the goal line.

BEST BLOCK
On the aforementioned play, Bolden got into the end zone courtesy of an impressive lead block by fullback Jared Crank, who just buried the would-be tackler.

ACHILLES HEEL
Special teams, special teams, special teams.

The Boilermaker specialists gave up way too many return yards, there was the blocked extra points and then Carson Wiggs' punt in the fourth quarter that went for all of 19 yards. That was a huge play when you consider Purdue trailed 31-30 and it gave Oregon the ball at the Boilermaker 45. Six plays later it was a 38-30 game.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
We had to find a way to vent about how some of the things unfolded in the game.

Had it not been for the two turnovers that Oregon scored touchdowns off of, Purdue wins going away, but …

A fumbled snap that was kicked around and a blocked extra point that would've tied the game, which of course would've meant Purdue wouldn't have had to go for two later.

And then on the two-point conversion, tight end Kyle Adams missed being inbounds by a couple inches or the game would've been tied and likely headed into overtime.


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