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OldGoldFreePress COLUMNISTS | BACK TO TexasBoiler'S COLUMNS

PURDUE SPORTS:
Old Gold Free Press For 10-11-2002


1 day to ILL game at Champaign, 8 days to Mackey Magic!


Date: 10/11/2002
Author: TexasBoiler
© TexasBoiler


    Good morning Boiler Freaks! Some of you may not like my extended rant to follow so just skip down to the article coverage if you are not in the mood. You know, I had someone email me awhile back saying I needed to be more like Fox News, ie "I report, you decide." I find that ironic, because most liberals I know think Fox is completely biased toward conservatives and there are many programs on Fox News that are opinionated and full of commentary, including their top rated program, "The O'Reilly Factor." In any event, some of you actually appreciate my comments/analysis, whether you agree with my stance or not. I know I can't please everyone, so I'm asking you to determine what you want to read and what you don't want to read (please use your mouse and scroll!). I do appreciate the feedback though, and I do listen to what ya'll think and take it under advisement. Please keep in mind that this is a FREE service and I have not asked any of you to pay me for the 5 plus hours per week I put into this email newsletter. I feel much better now that I've vented on that topic (VBG).

    Here's my rant...I understand Tiller's point that we should've won last week despite the 14 pts given up by Special Teams and that the offense and defense had a chance to seal it with 2:40 to go and failed miserably. However, his comment (on his radio show, archived at this link http://purduesports.ocsn.com/multimedia/pur-multimedia--tillershow.html) to the effect that maybe we will have to learn to expect to overcome such ST mistakes really "stuck in my craw". Yes, we should expect to overcome them, but please don't imply to me that you expect to see these fatal mistakes again - tell me you fully intend to lose sleep until the problem is fixed. Tell me you intend to eventually turn ST into a weapon at Purdue, not an afterthought.
    Tiller has since said that "we" made a bad call on the punt block and had guys going the wrong way (and we did correct it twice later). I guess I have not heard him say EXPLICITLY that they had the wrong formation and protection tactic on the blocked FG as well. Oh wait, he mentions something about trying an unbalanced line on kicks from the hash in the future. Well, how about admitting that we should've been doing that proactively in anticipation of the situation at Iowa?

    My beef is that in HUGE road games like this one, you signficantly reduce your "odds" of winning by having one ST TD go against you (especially the first one which was in effect a 10 pt swing!), let alone 2 TD's. I really have not heard Tiller express MAJOR personal remorse for making the wrong call in these situations of blocked kicks. Our guys did not seem as prepared to execute as they should have been. As such, Tiller and Downing should be berating themselves for these errors in addition to blaming Stubblefield and the defense. All things contributed to the loss!

    To be fair to Tiller, I'll give him credit for instilling a no quit attitude in the kids and for the rallying to overcome the ST gaffes. I'll give him credit for putting a very competitive team (and exciting I'll add) on the field just about every week. I'll give Chaney some props for opening up the passing game for the most part and some creative goal line play calling and execution. I'll give Spack credit for a stout defense that held Iowa's potent offense to just 2 TD's and a 50 yd FG. I'll give Downing credit for a punter who does remarkably well with landing punts inside the opponent's 20.

    At the same time, I have issues with Chaney not masking the run very well - it still seemed obvious when Joey was going to carry the ball. I have issues with him not trying at least one play action pass to get a first down with 2:40 to go. I have issues with Spack apparently not reminding Joe Odom before the 4th and 7 to watch for Dallas Clark. I have issues with Spack not having proper coverage instilled for Clark's earlier 95 yd scamper. Eliminating either of the those HUGE plays probably gives us a W also.

    Mostly though, I point back to Special Teams as the MAJOR culprit for the loss (breakdowns in this area should be less common than offense and defense IMO and I bet Frank Beamer take it a step further), and I'm not convinced that Tiller has publically expressed enough coaching accountability for the breakdowns. I'll be okay with that as long as he is handling this privately and I see better results this weekend. In the meantime, I hope he is still training his RB's to protect the ball as I'd hate to see this problem resurface and cost us the ILL game. We have obvious weaknesses and just because they don't appear one weak, it does not mean you ignore them. You must ALWAYS work on your weaknesses, especially if it is you're full time (well compensated) job!

    Last point, I am in no way intending to bash Coach Tiller by calling into question his character. I hope it is apparent that I am only questioning his effectiveness as it relates to correcting defiencies that have inhibited the progress of this program to date. I love what Joe Tiller has brought to Purdue Football - an attitude that we expect to win every week. That did not exist under Colletto or Akers and I for one am very grateful for that. However, like everyone I know, I don't want to accept mediocrity and .500 records are exactly that. We are better than a .500 team and I'm not sorry for demanding results commensurate with expectations above mediocrity.

    So let's beat the snot out of downtrodden ILL and get this train back on track. I'll be listening this Saturday and I look forward to at least a 10 pt victory where the game is not in question in the last 5 minutes of the game. We need a victory like that to give us a boost going into a pivotal Michigan Game. Therefore my prediction is Boilers 31, ILL 21. I'll make no predictions about special teams, fumbles, or Orton/Kirsch on the grounds that such comments may incriminate me :-)

    While I'd love to have the ability to get on a plane and do my part for the ILL game in CU this weekend in person (especially with the no TV situation), it is not in my budget (apologies to all those who kid me about an unlimited spending account on Purdue Football). It sure as heck would be in my budget if I only had to drive 2-3 hours to get there and the same distance on the return trip. That would be very cost effective and would only cost me a full day away from home base. I know everyone has their own unique financial and family situation. All I'm asking is that those who might be able to get there in person, give it the old college try. I know the players appreciated the valiant efforts of our fans in a longer distance venue in Iowa City. Imagine how pumped the kids would be if 15-20k Boilers were in the house on Saturday. ILL is only expecting 45-50k, so you're presence might make this more of a neutral site game. In my opinion, showing up this Saturday in CU is REALLY giving back to this program and REALLY attempting to influence the outcome of this game. I commend all those making the trip and say a big thank you in advance!

    I've chosen not too discuss the lack of TV situation this weekend in any significatn detail today. If we were not 3-3 and ILL not 1-5, I'd be all over ESPN and the Big 10 for televising Wisconsin at Indiana. I still have issues that Iowa-Utah St. was shown over Purdue - Wake Forest and that we've only been on 3 of 7 games while Iowa will be 6 of 7 this weekend and Wisco will be 7 of 7.

    I'll see ya'll at the Michigan game for the debut of JoePurdue this season. Enjoy the coverage to follow.

    -Barclay
    ____________________________________
    In the huddle

    A capsule look at the Hoosiers, the Irish and the Boilermakers.

    Purdue Boilermakers

    http://www.indystar.com/article.php?inhuddle09.html

    "The opponent: Purdue (3-3, 1-1 Big Ten) plays at Illinois (1-5, 0-2) at 12:05 p.m. Saturday (no TV; WNDE-1260 AM). The Illini returned 14 starters from last season's Big Ten championship team, but their only victory is a 59-7 triumph over Arkansas State on Sept. 14. "I don't know why they haven't been hitting on all cylinders," Tiller said. "I just want it to be one more week before they do it."

    Orton still the starter: Tiller reiterated Tuesday that Kyle Orton remains the starting quarterback. Orton suffered a concussion against Iowa and true freshman Brandon Kirsch was impressive as his replacement, but Orton hasn't missed any practice time this week. Kirsch will be eligible for a redshirt season if he doesn't play again this year.

    Replay reversal: Tiller said he has changed his mind on the use of instant replay in college football. He previously was against it. "I do know it's a cost issue and I understand that," he said. "But I think the Big Ten is a conference that could afford three television cameras at every game. I think there are three available at any game anyway."

    Injury update: Tiller said he is unsure about the availability of defensive end Kevin Nesfield, who has missed the past two games with a knee injury. Guard Nick Hardwick (ankle) played sparingly against Iowa after a one-game absence. Tiller expects him to take on a larger role against Illinois."

    for the full story click on the link above

    __________________________

    Weekly Football Teleconference
    Coach and player quotes from Tuesday, October 8


    Oct. 8, 2002

    http://purduesports.ocsn.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/100802aaa.html

    WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -

    Head Coach Joe Tiller

    On the loss to Iowa and the upcoming trip to Illinois ...

    "We lost a tough game at Iowa last week after coming from behind on the road, overcoming some adversity. We were in position to win that game but didn't hang on, and now we are going on the road once again to play the University of Illinois, the defending champions. I think that we are actually pleased that we are in this position and have this opportunity to go on the road again. We took another step last week, playing on the road. And hopefully we will take yet another one this week."

    On Illinois ...

    "They are experiencing to some degree what we experienced a year ago. I don't know that much about Illinois in terms of why or why not they haven't been hitting on all eight cylinders. I just hope it goes one more week before they do it. I don't want to see them get the hot hand over there. I think that any time you see a team with the proverbial 'nothing to lose', you are going to see a couple more gadgets than you have seen before. We have no idea what they are or when they will come, but logic simply says that when they have more time to prepare and less at risk that they would take more chances. You just hope that when something new comes up, your guys respond to it and do a good job with it."

    On Illinois' defense ...

    "We are in a little bit of a quandary with their defense. Last year they blitzed and blitzed and blitzed some more. This year, they have not been blitzing, percentage-wise, anywhere close to what they did against us last year. However, based on their results against us last year, would you not think that perhaps they would implement the same game plan for us even though they haven't been blitzing as much? So, we are getting ready for the blitz, but we may not see it. They don't have many changes defensively, which tells me that if they are using the same guys, and they are able to put a blitz package in quickly, and they have a couple extra days to prepare, that maybe the most valuable tape to us is last year's game."

    On Purdue's quarterback situation ...

    "(Kyle) Orton is okay to the best of our knowledge. He actually practiced on Sunday and he will practice today. We think we are back to where we were in terms of him being our starter and (Brandon) Kirsch being the backup. We will see where it leads us, but we are going onto the practice field today under the assumption that Kyle Orton is 100 percent healthy and will be our starting quarterback.

    "Kirsch played very well on Saturday. Brandon did a lot of positive things - he executed the game plan, showed a lot of poise out there, made some good audible checks, pulled the ball down and ran, threw the ball with accuracy. I think he has ability and a lot of good qualities. I like the way he gets the ball out of there and throws what I call a catchable ball. I like his calmness and his approach in the huddle. There are a lot of things I have liked about the guy for a long time, but you never know about a guy until you put him in the game. He brought the team from behind on the road in the fourth quarter. He made several outstanding plays himself in addition to putting the ball in some other people's hands. He did a good job, and we are pleased with what he was able to get done."

    On Purdue's special teams play ...

    "It is not our punt team that is the problem, in spite of what happened Saturday. It was just poor execution and a bad call. We made the call to send the center the wrong direction. Two more times after that, Iowa brought the same block and we blocked it perfectly. That is not a team we are concerned about.

    "We like our punt return team. One gunner got free last week. Otherwise, our punt return team has been doing a pretty good job. We haven't had a lot of returns but we haven't had a lot of returnable balls. Anthony Chambers has been exceptional. He has come up and made some unbelievable catches in traffic and things that like, so we are getting things out of that part of the game that we haven't gotten in a long time.

    "Kickoff cover has gotten progressively better as the season has gone on. We are kicking the ball well in the corner and we have our coverage down like we want it. The team we are really displeased with is kickoff return. So this week we are changing eight guys and putting starters on that team. In fact, I just had a meeting with the guys we are going to ask to be on the show team to give us that speed look. Anybody we think can run reasonably fast, we are going to put on the show team against that kickoff return team because we are putting new personnel on it and it doesn't do any good to put new personnel on it if you are going to go out and practice against a bunch of Clydesdales. We just don't like where we are starting on the kickoff returns. We are going to give them the best look we can give them in practice today and Thursday, they are the best athletes we have on the team to do the job, but sooner or later we have to give them the opportunity to do the job."

    On the loss to Iowa ...

    "Last Saturday's game, we had some mistakes that were costly for us on the scoreboard, but they were not fatal mistakes. They were not fatal mistakes because we overcame them. To me, that is more important than the mistake itself. I am always going to look at it from the point of view of what did we do to put ourselves in position to win, or what did we do to put ourselves in a position to lose. Adversity and character of the team - that stuff is all very real. If your team can overcome those things, you are moving forward. When you can't overcome those things is when you are sliding backwards. I thought we overcame some things on the road.

    "What bothered me the most is what I told the guys in the locker room after the game: 'Every game is 60 minutes long, not 58, so finish what you start.' The plays in between are the details of it, but the bottom line is how did you finish it. We were in position to win the football game. We had the lead. They had no timeouts with 2:06 left in the game and we didn't close the door. We played a 58-minute game, not a 60-minute game. That is what cost us the game, not anything that happened the prior 58 minutes. As a matter of fact, we put ourselves in position at the 58-minute mark to win it."


    Junior wide receiver John Standeford

    On moving on from the loss to Iowa and the team's mentality ...

    "It is going to be real difficult. We let one slip away against Iowa, but we have to let that go and get things back on the right track. We are just trying to stay focused on moving on. Illinois is having a tough time this year, but they are still a good team, and we have to go up there and play hard if we expect to win."

    On Illinois, its defense and defensive back Eugene Wilson ...

    "They are 1-5, so they don't have much to lose. They are playing every game to get their record back to .500. We just have to be ready because they have most of their defense coming back. They were a good team last year; they are just struggling a little bit and not coming up with the close wins like they did last year. They are a good team, and we can't look past them or they will come up and bite us.

    "They have a good secondary. I believe the secondary is the strength of their defense. They have a strong defense with everybody back from last year. Eugene Wilson is a great player. He is a great defensive back and has a lot of speed and quickness, and he gets out of cuts well. He is one of the top DB's in the Big Ten. We just have to be ready to play a physical ball game."

    On backup quarterback Brandon Kirsch's play against Iowa...

    "I am sure he surprised our team a little bit because we weren't really sure what to expect out of him as a freshman. But he came in there and stepped up big for our team when we needed him, and he gained a lot of respect from his teammates doing it. He wasn't really nervous, which kind of surprised me. He just came in there and stepped up. He probably didn't really have a chance to be too nervous because he just got thrown in there. But he did a great job."

    On playing against the kickoff return team in practice...

    "I am just going to try to get our team ready. Any way I can help my team I will do it. Special teams is an important part of the game, as you can tell from last week's loss to Iowa. We just have to get our defense a great look so they can be ready for that. Coach Tiller is doing a good job of getting players in there that can give our special teams a good look."

    Sophomore quarterback Kyle Orton

    On returning to practice after Saturday's injury...

    "It was a normal Tuesday practice. I did everything the coaches wanted me to do. They didn't leave anything out. It felt good. I started sweating a little bit more than on Sunday and the head felt fine. I was cleared on at 9 a.m. on Sunday. I got the MRI done and was cleared to go after that, so I am just treating this week like a normal week."

    On Saturday's performances by the quarterback corps...

    "I thought I played well on Saturday when I was in and I thought Brandon did a great job coming in and giving us a chance to win. We just have to get better every week and try to find a win."

    On Illinois' defense, its secondary and defensive back Eugene Wilson ...

    "They blitz, blitz, blitz the entire time, so it is not much different from last year. They blitz more than anybody in the Big Ten. Going into the game, we know that if we can stop their blitzes and handle it then we can win the game. If we can't, we know it is going to be a dogfight.

    "They are fast. I saw some guys with some great catch-up speed, if they got beat, and they cover the ball real well. From what I have seen, (Wilson) is a great player. He is someone that can definitely cause you some havoc. I am sure he will be covering John (Standeford) a lot, so John will have his work cut out for him, but I have confidence in him and I think he can beat him."

    for the full story click on the link above

    ______________________________


    Purdue moves on after loss to Iowa
    Prepares for meeting with 1-5 Illini
    By Steve Warden
    The Journal Gazette

    http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/sports/4244904.htm
    " WEST LAFAYETTE - Purdue football coach Joe Tiller doesn't take credit for it. Says he heard it somewhere, maybe even from his old boss, Leon Burtnett, when Burtnett was the head coach at Purdue and Tiller was the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach in the early-to-mid-'80s.

    "Nothing's ever as good as it seems, and nothing's ever as bad as it seems," Tiller likes to drag out the line he heard nearly 20 years ago. "I've never forgotten that." For sanity's sake, it's become the coach's creed through the first half of the 2002 season.

    With a win one, lose one, win one, lose one pattern through the first six weeks, 3-3 Purdue is coming off a loss at 17th-ranked Iowa, where the Boilermakers had a blocked field goal attempt returned for a touchdown, a blocked punt in the end zone that resulted in a touchdown, a 95-yard screen pass to Iowa's tight end that went for a touchdown and a last-gasp Iowa drive that resulted in a touchdown with 1:07 remaining and a 31-28 Hawkeyes win.

    And yet the facial contortionist Tiller keeps his chin up, his upper lip stiff and his eyes on the prize, which, if the pattern holds true, could be a win at 1-5 Illinois Saturday. Kickoff is 12:05 p.m., with no television scheduled.

    "I did mention to (the team) the fact that we only have this opportunity a dozen times or so a year. You certainly don't want to continue to live in the past and wallow in what could've and should've and the saddest words of any man," Tiller said. "You truly do have to turn the page and move on."

    fro the full story click on the link above

    ________________________

    Tiller drastically alters 'horrible' kick return team

    Coach believes field goal, punt units aren't the biggest concern

    By Tom Kubat, Journal and Courier

    http://www.boilerstation.com/football/stories/200210090purdue_football1034140074.shtml


    "Not surprisingly, Purdue coach Joe Tiller spent a lot of time Tuesday talking about the Boilermakers' special teams play.

    Somewhat surprisingly, coming off a game in which Iowa returned a blocked field goal and a blocked punt for touchdowns, the head coach said the kickoff return team was the coaching staff's biggest concern.

    After six games, Purdue currently ranks last among Big Ten Conference teams, averaging only 13.9 yards for 16 kickoff returns.

    "We think we're just horrible," Tiller said. "So this week we said the hell with it. I don't like doing it, but we're changing eight guys and we're putting starters on that team."

    for the full story click on the link above

    ______________________________

    Special teams' failures keep Boilers from being better than average


    By Tom Kubat, Journal and Courier


    "With this being October Break week at Purdue, it means students are either preparing for or taking mid-term exams.

    And with the Boilermaker football team heading to Illinois with a 3-3 record, it's the halfway point of the season.

    So, it's time to hand out those mid-term grades in Purdue Football 101.

    Offense - The overall numbers here are pretty good.

    Purdue is second in the Big Ten Conference (and 28th in the nation) in passing, fourth in total offense (23rd in the country), sixth in scoring and seventh in rushing.

    Quarterback Kyle Orton is second in the conference (33rd) in total offense and fifth in passing. John Standeford is second in the league (12th) in receiving yards per game and fifth (tied for 45th) in receptions per game. Joey Harris is sixth in the conference (35th) in rushing.

    The line has been solid, despite giving up 10 sacks, which is seventh in the Big Ten."

    for the full story click on the link above

    _____________________________

    Defense on Iowa's game-winning score bothers Tiller


    By Tom Kubat, Journal and Courier

    http://www.boilerstation.com/football/stories/200210091purdue_football1034140074.shtml


    "Purdue coach Joe Tiller had plenty to be unhappy about after Saturday's 31-28 loss at Iowa.

    There were the two blocked kicks that were returned for touchdowns. There was the interception in the final minute. There was the 87-yard drive by Iowa for the winning TD.

    With all that on the menu to choose from, which stuck in his craw the most?

    It was Purdue's inept defensive performance during the Hawkeyes' winning drive.

    "I know specifically what bothered me the most, and that's what I talked to the squad about in the locker room," Tiller said Tuesday. "And that is, every game is 60 minutes long, not 58. So, finish what you start.

    "The plays in between are kind of the details, but the bottom line is how you finish it. We were in position to win the game. We had the lead, they had no timeouts with 2:16 left in the game. I mean, quite frankly, if you were in Vegas, you'd like your odds."

    for the full story click on the link above

    ______________________________

    Pressure builds on place-kickers

    FGs, PATs can make or break team's season

    By Michael Pointer

    michael.pointer@indystar.com

    October 09, 2002

    http://www.indystar.com/article.php?colfb09.html


    "Purdue coach Joe Tiller said his staff can get a good idea of a recruit's ability at most positions. But if the player is a place-kicker, everything changes.

    Kickers making the jump from high school to college face not only narrower goal posts, but they can't use tees, either. Even with specialized kicking camps and better athletes taking up the position, it's difficult to evaluate them.

    "You might get a guy that's a phenom in high school," Tiller said. "Then you bring him in here and have him kick off the grass, and he stubs his toe."

    Dramatic kicking miscues have been on display both nationally and locally this season.

    When Tiller sees high-profile misses -- which were in abundance last weekend -- he's hardly surprised."

    for the full story click on the link above

    ____________________________

    Boilers relying less on passing game

    Purdue's rushing average has increased 61.5 yards from '01

    By Tom Kubat, Journal and Courier

    http://www.boilerstation.com/football/stories/200210101purdue_football1034227333.shtml


    "Purdue's offense through six games has been the most balanced in the Tiller era.

    The Boilermakers, averaging 426.3 yards a game, have passed for 1,601 yards (266.8 a game) and have rushed for 957 (159.5 a game).

    Last season, Purdue often struggled to rush for 100 yards a game. The Boilermakers in 2001 finished the season with only 1,176 yards on the ground, an average of just 98.0 per game.

    This year's passing attack is ahead of last years pace too. A year ago, the Boilermakers finished the season with 2,665 yards passing, an average of 222.1 yards per game.

    Some critics claim that the Purdue offense has become predictable, but coach Joe Tiller doesn't agree.

    "I don't think so because, if you throw out Saturday (against Iowa's very strong run defense), I thought we were running the ball much better than we did at any point in the year 2001," Tiller said. "The way Iowa defended us, our plan was to go into that game with what we call our fleet grouping, or our speed grouping"

    for the full story click on the link above

    _____________________________

    Jersey color changes but site says Purdue helmets retain tradtion


    By Ken Thompson, Journal and Courier

    http://www.boilerstation.com/football/columns/200210071purdue_football1033967262.shtml

    "With all the discussion and hand-wringing over Purdue's new gold uniforms, it's surprising to note that the helmets -- with one notable exception -- have changed little in the past 30-plus years.

    That's the observation of Charles Arey, an amateur graphic artist who for three years has been compiling "The Helmet Project," a Web site devoted to displaying helmets of every college and professional football team from its origin to the present.

    "It is not 'finished' yet; this is a work in progress," Arey says of his creation, which opened on July 27, 1999. He estimates between 1,600 and 1,800 helmet images are displayed at "The Helmet Project."

    Arey says more than 99 percent of the helmet illustrations are his work, but he also relies on information provided by visitors to his site. Anyone who can help may visit "The Helmet Project" at www.nationalchamps.net and read the instructions or contact Arey at caulkgun@yahoo.com."

    for the full story click on the link above

    __________________________

    Second-string savior almost rescues hapless Purdue team


    Jason Tomcsi
    Sports Editor

    http://www.purdueexponent.org/interface/bebop/showstory.php?date=2002/10/09§ion=sports&storyid=iowasider

    "IOWA CITY, IOWA ó The team was down 10 points, the starting quarterback was on the bench and the person taking over had never played football against a Division 1-A opponent.

    The freshman backup from Lebanon, Penn., entered Saturday's game against the Iowa Hawkeyes after sophomore quarterback Kyle Orton left the game due to a concussion. But Kirsch said he was not as calm as he looked.

    "When I went in, it was right after they scored the touchdown to put them up 24-14," said Kirsch. "Just me being the young freshman, I was kind of a little nervous of the atmosphere here, everybody chanting and being loud and everything. I was a little jittery when I first went in.

    "I think everyone could tell on the first series when I didnít have any completions, I was throwing the ball high and in front of receivers. But once I got the timing down I felt really comfortable."

    Wide receiver Taylor Stubblefield said Kirsch came in ready to play.

    "He wasn't scared of the situation," said Stubblefield. "He came in there, had his checks and brought the tight end in for extra coverage and made his throws."

    for the full story click on the link above

    _________________________


As news organizations move their stories to an archive, some of the links listed above may become inactive

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