September 1, 2013

Report Card: Purdue-Cincinnati

The following is our Report Card for Purdue's game Saturday at Cincinnati.

Purdue-Cincinnati Post-Game Report Card
Passing Offense:
Rob Henry made some nice throws, but not nearly enough of them.

But the inefficiency of the passing game wasn't completely on the quarterback, either. Plenty of blame to go around, from a front that couldn't consistently give Henry time, to imprecise routes that kept Purdue from moving with regularity to drops; the list goes on.

The good: On Purdue's second drive, Henry hit rookie DeAngelo Yancey streaking between levels. While the throw might have been slightly off target, it was good enough to go for 25-plus yards. Henry threw a perfect ball to Dalyn Dawkins up the right sideline.

But outside of those, few other passing plays worked to perfection. Henry was hurried too often, either being flushed, being hit or being sacked. The last happened only once, but it was critical. On a second-and-goal on the second drive, when Purdue had a chance to score first, Henry was dropped when a Bearcat came clean through the line.

Perhaps this was one of the miscommunication errors that the Boilermakers discussed afterward - and that Henry nobly took credit for - because Gabe Holmes simply missed a block on the right end of the line.

Was there some sort of screw up of assignment between him and right tackle Justin Kitchens?

The sack-fumble, which was recovered by Kitchens, forced Purdue into a field goal attempt. It was missed.

It wasn't the only protection problems Henry and Co., experienced. With the second-team interior O-line in during the second quarter, the line was awful. It was almost as if a bomb exploded at the snap, three consecutive times, leading to a three-and-out.

The first snap was a fumble exchange between backup center Cody Davis and Henry; it wasn't a surprise - and was even predicted by some onlookers - considering the issues Purdue had with such exchanges during camp.

The next two plays? Both quarterback hurries that led Henry to first throw into the ground, then out of bounds.

But things weren't always pretty when Henry had protection, either. His third-quarter deep attempt for Shane Mikesky was well overthrown - so much so that some wondered whether the intended target was in the right spot - and returned for a touchdown. It was Henry's second interception of the day, after the first on a tipped ball on the first possession.

Purdue had at least three drops: Holmes had two Dawkins one.

Henry finished only 18-of-35 for 161 yards with the two turnovers.

Twice on fourth downs, Henry threw the ball to a place where receivers couldn't make a catch. Now, it was complete chaos around him, but you've still got to try to make a play in those situations.

Grade: D-

Rushing Offense:
The numbers sort of speak for themselves.

Purdue, which wants to be physical in its front and establish a powerful rushing game, didn't. Really, it didn't even come close, rushing for only 65 yards on 22 carries. Take away Dawkins' long of 17 and Purdue averaged only a little more than two yards per tote.

The offensive line didn't control the line of scrimmage.

Purdue's second drive - the only good one it had all day - might have best illustrated what John Shoop and Co., wanted to do. The Boilermakers rushed six consecutive plays to move down the field before Henry was sacked on the second-and-goal.

But the play before the sack was a little confusing. On the first-and-goal from the 5, B.J. Knauf got the ball on an end-around, at least that's what it looked like it was supposed to be. But the play almost immediately blew up - it didn't look smooth in the backfield - and led to a loss.

Why not pound up the middle there? Gain a couple yards and set up a second-down from the 3. Instead, misdirection lost yards. It wasn't a good series.

It was asked repeatedly in the offseason: Can Akeem Hunt be a workhorse running back, particularly against BCS-level competition. His numbers at Cincinnati: 7 carries for 21 yards.

Hunt also fumbled, one of the two lost by the offense, after his longest run of the day, a nine-yarder.

Grade: F

Offense Overall:
Purdue was never in sync.

It suffered communication breakdowns, although it's unclear exactly where things went wrong.

Purdue had three false start penalties, two of them on the line of scrimmage and another by a wide receiver. Twice, the Boiler offense was called for a delay of game.

Before Dawkins' 17-yard rush to start the last drive of the third quarter, Purdue had only 87 yards of offense.

The Boilers finished with 226 yards of offense, averaging only four yards per play.

Poor QB play, poor OL play, drops, little running game. It adds up to a long day.

Grade: D-

Rushing Defense:
Purdue gave up 221 yards on the ground on 47 attempts, as Cincinnati averaged 4.7 yards per attempt.

Coming into the game, one had to think that the Boilermakers might be able to at least play to a draw here, with its D-line matching up well against the opposing O-line.

It wasn't a draw.

The Boilers were frequently pushed off the line, with the right side of the Bearcats' line, in particularly, being able to seal off Purdue's tackles to create gapping holes.

Bruce Gaston had a statistically good day, with seven tackles and 1.5 for loss. But here's a coaching question: on the first drive of the second half, when Purdue was down only 14-7, UC faced a third-and-goal from the 3.

And Gaston, who had just made a tackle, came off the field.


On a critical play - hold and it's likely only a 10-point margin - your best player comes off the field. On the third down, Cincinnati scored on a rush up the middle, when running back Ralph David Abernathy bounced off Ryan Watson's missed tackle and scampered into the end zone.

Grade: D

Passing Defense:
Munchie Legaux converted only 52 percent of his passes a season ago.

But in a surprise start against Purdue, he was 13-of-20, a 65-percent clip, often appearing to pick apart the Boilermakers.

Purdue made an athletic play early, when Greg Latta tipped a pass that Ryan Isaac picked off. And in single coverage later, Frankie Williams boxed out his receiver and intercepted one in the end zone.

Sean Robinson could have had a pick, but he dropped it.

But too often, wide receivers were open, none more so than Max Morrison on the first drive of the second half. On a third-and-nine, Legaux found Morrison with no one with five yards of him, and the receiver raced 40 yards into Purdue territory.

UC finished with 204 yards passing - Brendan Kay played, too - hitting on 8.2 yards per attempt.

The Boilermakers got little pressure, even on the half dozen or so blitzes they tried to execute. Russell was credited with a sack, but it could have just as easily been ruled a QB scramble.

Purdue's two interceptions give it a bump up.

Grade: C

Defense Overall:
Purdue stopped Cincinnati on only six of the Bearcats' 15 third downs.

But it's worse than that.

Four times UC decided to go on fourth down, and it converted three.

Simply put: The Bearcats did what they wanted, when they wanted to. And Purdue couldn't stop them.

Cincinnati gained nearly six yards per play, and ended with a balanced attack on its 425 total yards. Purdue, to its credit, did create three turnovers.

Grade: D+

Special Teams:
Purdue had one notable positive play, and a notable negative, on special teams.

Cody Webster's 73-yard punt was a masterpiece, and appeared for a moment like it was going to change the game for Purdue. Recovered by long-snapper Jesse Schmitt, in a heck of an individual effort, the bomb set up Purdue's only touchdown. Webster was great, with his three punts averaging 56.3 yards.

Paul Griggs missed his only field goal attempt, a 39-yarder, providing a fitting end to a once-promising Purdue drive in the first quarter.

Otherwise, special teams were a wash.

Grade: B-

Purdue was bad. What more is there to say?

The Boilermakers couldn't perform consistently on either side of the ball, and more frustrating than that, they looked undisciplined.

When things went wrong, they were unable to refocus quickly enough to keep the game from getting away.

The Boilers have five fumbles, two lost, and threw two interceptions. They missed a field goal. They scored only a touchdown, coming on a short field. And they gave up more than 40 points and 400 yards.

Grade: D

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