Author: TW Hague
© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
I forgot to preface the first of these missives with what really everyone who writes about football that hasn't played or coached at a D1 level should start their comments with; "First off, I don't know squat about football". There. Now that we’ve got that out of the way…
The D. I should start by saying that I am by nature an offensive person (as I have been told many a time by liberated women), so that is where a lot of my focus is/was during the scrimmage. Having said this, there were several things that did stand out on defense.
The secondary. While the O did torch the D on the scoreboard, it should be noted that a lot of those points came with the second O versus the second D. I say that because I did see a lot of good things out of the first team D. The secondary did two things right, IMO. One, they played the ball more than I have seen them in the past. On at least two occasions, the defender (couldn’t tell you which one) made more or less textbook plays; they watched the receiver, turned when the ball was coming in and batted the pass away with no contact to the receiver. On one of the plays, the defender looked like he could have had the pick, but I was just happy that he was where he was supposed to be and on top of the play.
The second thing the secondary did was get initial positioning on the receiver. I mentioned that Panfil had at least one, possibly two (may have been one of the other QB’s) plays where he went deep on a route and the ball got there but the receiver didn’t. That was because the DB got in FRONT of the receiver as they were tearing down the sidelines and basically pulled the old “80 year old blue-hair in the passing lane on the interstate” slow down, preventing the receiver from getting to his appointment with the ball. At this point of the season you can probably attribute that with our D recognizing the called play. But the hope is that if these guys become film hounds each week prior to an opponent, they can use this to take away that deep ball threat. Conversely, you hope the O comes back with a play that looks like long ball on the sidelines that utilizes a break or hook at the end.
There was one funny play where one of the DB’s was beat and he knew it (maybe by Tardy?) so he almost “gently” put his hand out and pulled on the back of the receivers jersey, just enough to slow him down and save the sure TD. Of course it was right in front of the ref who immediately called the penalty, but you have to like the quick thinking in saving the TD.
On the couple of plays I paid attention to, it did look like the guys were tying up the runners better. Out of technique, speed, positioning and size/strength, the backfield had maybe one, possibly two of those qualities last year in a lot of situations where they got burned. The Wisconsin game comes to mind where the Wisconsin running back came at either Pender or Martin, who had position, and more or less ran right over him with his 70-pound-plus frame moving at 18 mph. The guys looked stronger and bigger, which is a big plus, and they were wrapping folks up.
The D Line. I have to admit that I didn’t really pay as much attention to this as I should have. I can tell you that after Sheets’ TD, they did seem to stiffen up some against the run. What killed them was the various QB’s taking the option play and picking up yards with it. The other thing I saw (and liked) was the D getting their hands up in the air on pass plays. At least one block/deflection from that, probably two or three, I just can’t remember. On the ends, Magee was on our side of the field and that’s what I caught the most of. Surprisingly quick, which at 290 pounds, I had some doubts about; but he showed some speed and moves in getting around the end. He was also using his hands pretty well to get past the line. It will be interesting to see if they keep him at Hemi-size and let his strength and technique get him behind the line, or have him drop a few pounds to get him down to super dragster and use speed to get him there.
The only linebacker I really paid a lot of attention to was Heygood (or “Ironhead” Heygood, as I like to think of him). For a guy new to the position, he looked pretty good. He used that speed to get right to the action/hole on several occasions. Once he gets a little better vision as feel for the position, this is a guy I can see popping through the line to formally introduce himself to the opposing QB. I see stat-wise Keglar had five tackles, so he must have had a pretty good day, too.
One other comment on the D. On numerous occasions the entire D “swarmed” to the point of attack. I really liked that. No standing around and waiting to see what happened, it was get to the ball with everybody. As mentioned before, that’s really what kind of hurt them on the QB keeper/option plays.
Some other miscellaneous notes. On Sheets’ long TD run, my buddy said, “One of the DB’s should have run him down”. I thought about that. Korey had a long angle on the one DB coming from across the field, and he blew by the one DB who had to more or less turn and chase after him. Plus Korey was going all out. His pursuit came after him hard (and didn’t give up on it), but he just had a lead and speed.
I forgot to mention that Tardy started 2nd team O, but sometime during the game I’m pretty sure they brought him up to first team O. Two days later, I’m still really liking what I saw out of him.
About the field goals. The stats show Summers and Dougherty going 1 for 4. That sounds pretty bad. Dougherty’s attempt was about as ugly as I’ve seen at Purdue, a low, end over end dead bird that never had a chance. But in Summers’ defense, at least one, possibly two of his were blocked. One block looked like a busted play (and in all probability may have been off sides on the D, but wasn’t called) where the blocker came right up through the middle. The second block was clean. Someone came around the end in a beautiful full extension, parallel to the ground dive Superman pose, and made the block. A guy on the D recovered it, and as he was running, it looked like maybe Keglar (one of his guys) was trying to tackle him! In reality he was either trying to help him gain some yards, or he was still in the “punt” situation frame of mind and thought he was on the other team. Summer did miss one PAT that hit the upright. I keep remembering that the year prior to OSU’s last national championship, their kicker was something like 3-13, or something horrible like that, yet came around the next year and helped them win the national championship during several key games. So here’s hoping Summer does the same thing this year.
Again, it was just GREAT having all those players back, I was mightily impressed. Chris Clopton is a great addition to the John Purdue Club staff; he was greeting folks as they came into the stadium, how’s that for impressive? I hope he has a long and successful career with JPC.
One last note, as an added incentive to get folks back for the spring game, I guess the tent sale for Purdue Pride clearance was something else. Last year’s t-shirts for two bucks, and one of the gals we were with got a Purdue jacket that was originally marked at $200 for $50. Plus, great deals on sports shirts, something like 50-percent off the already discounted merchandise. There, that’s my unsolicited, and unpaid, shill.
And in closing, I sign off with In My Humble Opinion, the other thing that everyone who writes about football that hasn’t played or coached at a D1 level should sign off with. As this, after all, is what any of this really is.