Author: TW Hague
© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
WARNING: as an unabashed supporter of the current AD and coaching staff, thus may paint a little too rosy picture for some.
You've been warned. 8^)
The scrimmage started off with six punts. Kind of tough to pick up on what was happening as some of the black shirts where blocking/tackling some other black shirts, until you noticed that one team had orange "skull caps" on their helmets to differentiate between the two.
Nothing too spectacular here, although on the very first punt whoever was receiving touched but didn't catch the ball, which allowed one of the defensive players to scoop it up and run it back. Another punt was a fair catch, and the other four were small gains. The punts themselves looked pretty good, nice and high with some good hang time. I think Armstrong is the better punter of the two. There was one that was an attempt to "pin" the ball deep toward the goal line, we had a player hustle back and it looked like he gave a great effort to down it at the 1, but the ref said he stepped over the goal line.
The first team D pitted against the first team O produced some interesting situations. For one, Wittingham had three very nice catches, which was kind of unexpected. Going 3 for 4, he had one over the middle (hardball in traffic) that he dropped, but still looked good. I can only guess that he saw time that Selwyn would have otherwise used. Selwyn was at the game sitting about five rows below us with some friends, he had a lot of folks come up to him and he signed quite a few autographs.
On the second team O, Tardy looked VERY good. Good hands, and showed some of that speed and quickness he used to dominate the state finals by getting yards after the completion. He's projected as the slot receiver behind Bryant if Dorian gets winded. I'm fairly confident that Desmond is on the way to filling the spot nicely. Given another year to learn the position, I believe we shouldn't have that much of a drop off in the slot when Dorian graduates.
Painter connected well, but was shut down for one series by the D (the O had ten possessions to score, and then the ball went over to second team). The QB also showed some speed and legs on a great play for a nice pickup. Here's hoping that more of the option is worked into the playbook. I think Mr. Painter will be more comfortable with it, and he should be getting some blocks from the O line.
The highlight of the game for me on the O was Jerry Wasikowski. We saw him play a great spring game two years ago (in that miserable, cold game) and while I missed last years, I still thought I heard that he did pretty well. He had three great catches and laid out some good blocks. The best catch was over center when he extended high to pull one in and then got some more yards after the completion. I hope he isn't the next Chase Lickleider (does great in the spring but never sees the field). I am officially declaring myself the unofficial President of the Jerry Wasikowski fan club. Keller has and probably should be the go-to tight end, but here's hoping Jerry sees the field some this year.
The running backs were interesting. Taylor started, but a hungry Sheets made the most of his time of the field. His TD run came from a great juke and roll past the defender, and then accelerated burners to get to the goal line. Taylor was also used out of the backfield on some nice passing plays, one for a nice gainer and one that was snuffed out by the D after the catch. Hope to see a lot more of that as well. Camacho showed why he was the leading running back in the junior college ranks, he found some holes and hit the line hard when he needed to. He has a good set of burners and pretty good vision. I think we are set at running back. Having said that I have of course invoked the ancient curse on Purdue athletics, and we will now lose all three running backs to 1) an attack of giant leeches, 2) one of them coming down with a strain of flu that hasn't been seen in over 3,000 years, and 3) losing the last one on tax evasion charges under a case of mistaken identity (Reference the "Simpsons" power plant baseball team episode).
Receivers. Besides Desmond, Orton got some great extension using his height advantage to get a nice catch. I read where he wanted to be more physical this year and use his size/strength to go after the ball more. I would say he's headed in the right direction. Dorian looked as good as ever, showing nice hands and good routes.
Other QB's. My personal opinion, the 2nd and 3rd (and 4th and 5th) string guys saw a fair amount of playing time. Joey looked good; he also utilized his legs for a nice gainer. He made some good decisions, and only had what looked like one bad pass. I feel confident he can come in if he has to against two-thirds of the teams we'll be playing and either keep or get us a win. Having said that, Panfil was the kid I really wanted to see yesterday, and I wasn't disappointed. First off, he SELLS the fake. There was a video posted a couple of years ago of him in the state championship where he was Manningesque. He did the same thing yesterday. He got the D to bite, came around into the open field and made some great yards with a nice slide at the end. His arm is sharp, with some pretty good accuracy. I hate to say he has a “presence" back there, but he looks sharp. The stats say 9-for-20, but he went long on one or two where the D had the receiver stopped and there was at least one, maybe two batted down at the line of scrimmage. He will be a very interesting player in the next couple of years. Swank also got some snaps, he used his legs effectively as well. Bennett had one nice pass (I think he was originally a walk on?)
BTW, for any attendees, our group was the one yelling "Throw the ball to Wa(r)sikowski!" We went nuts when they did and he picked up big yards. 8^)
It was great seeing all of the former players back, and what a fantastic way to show support for their program. Here is where I would normally interject something about the fans showing support by showing up as well. But there was really a very good turnout, 10,000 according to the Journal and Courier (and it looked to be pretty crowded between the 30's-40's). I still wish we could have had more, as there were a lot of recruits at the game (you could tell by the passes they had ... and the SIZE of them). It would be nice if they showed up to 30,000-40,000, but hopefully we can continue to build on that.
Up next: Part II - The Defense