Sunday, October 22, 2006

Purdue, you do

I tend to make fun of Purdue. Yes, I know a bunch of astronauts went to school there. But it's an engineering school, which means it's chock full of dudes-- 60% men, according to statistics-- that is, a total sausage fest. Plus, West Lafayette is a dry town, and as far as I know, may actually be in a dry county. So, what did you do in college? Oh, I sat around, studied math, drank 7-Up, hung out with my fraternity brothers, tried to hit one of the two dozen attractive women on campus, but was rebuffed... You know, the usual.
Due to these basic issues, I remain confused about how that school gets recruits. "Come to Purdue, we're 60% dudes! Oh, and you can't drink." I mean, what? Maybe there's a greater percentage of gay football players than previously imagined. My level of respect for Purdue, or for any mostly male school, would increase tremendously if the football team was openly gay. Can you imagine that? The catholic schools on their schedule would freak out. One can only dream.
Speaking of Notre Dame, I have the same basic confusion with their recruiting. The have tradition, but come one, what's the sell line? "Come to exotic northern Indiana, to a school where having pre-marital sexual intercourse is an expellable offense!" Poor, easily manipulated children...
Now, I maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. I have avoided going to the greater Lafayette metropolitan area, and actually spent very little time in Indiana generally, although that'll change in about ten months. I was debating going to the game this weekend, since it's allegedly not that unattractive a place , and now I kind of wish I had, because hooray, UW won, 24-3, and this time ESPN showed the whole game.
Now to those of you who didn't watch the game, UW was not dominating, despite the difference in the score and the yards. We held Purdue to well under their normal yardage totals (286 today, to over 400 usually), and ran up over 400 yards of offense. But we didn't run the ball as easily on them as their poor defensive stats coming into the game would have you think (90th among Division I teams). On running plays, the vast majority of the time they were right there, meeting the back at or near the line of scrimmage, and only thanks to P.J. powering over people, making 1 yard gains into 4 yard gains, we were able to keep moving. On passing downs, they sacked Stocco several times and picked him off once, with one of their tackles making an excellent play on the inside tight-end screens that we've been running since last season. Plus, on several possessions it didn't look like we were stopping them, but they were stopping themselves, throwing errant passes or dropping catchable balls. Purdon't also left points on the board, going for it on 4th down within our 20 twice, and missing a makeable field goal.
There's my daily dose of pessimism.
But despite the fact that it was a actually a relatively tight game, there were several very positive developments.
First, we won, by a healthy margin, when we obviously were not on top of our game. Stocco was off on a bunch of passes, high or behind or ahead of receivers at times; the line looked ok, but not great; Casillas dropped that utterly catchable pass on the fake punt that would've been a 30 yard gain; Hampton had a nice return, but then made a terrible decision to try to field a punt he was letting bounce--he got nailed immediately, fumbled, and only Strickland's exceptional "diving on the loose ball" skills saved us from a colossal botching; the line bumped into Stocco and prevented him from spiking the ball for a very makeable field goal at the end of the first half; weird penalites (illegal formation or procedure) canceling out key gains. All fixable mistakes that, even though we were on the road against a pretty good team, did not make an ultimate difference in the game. The ability to overcome those problems is impressive.
Second, even when things went wrong on one side of the ball, the other side responded. For example, after Stocco threw that odd interception, Purdue drove about 25 yards, cue the whole "shift in momentum," but then the D forced them into a turnover on downs. Fabulous. Similar on the fake punt: we botch what easily could have been a great play, Purdue is driving, if they get a touchdown the game is in doubt, and we hold force a turnover on downs. This resiliency was nicely symbolized by Casillas, who dropped that great fake punt pass, but rallied to make a great play on an interception about 10 minutes later. (Jon, it should be easier to catch softer passes).
I'm a little worried about the FIBs next week, as Mendenhall and Juice face Williams are both quite talented, but I think we can take them. Anyway, well done to get the hell out of the Greater Lafayette metropolitan area with a win. Thankfully, I didn't see the Boilermaker on TV. That guy looks like the villian in a grade B horror movie; dead eyes, wandering around with a sledgehammer. Eeek.

My hope for a Packers' victory tomorrow is middling. With Robinson suspended, and Ferguson out (probably for the season), the wideout corps is resembling the personnel debacle of yersteryear. Nice to play the Dolphins so there can be a direct viewing of who we could have had instead of Fergie (sigh, although if we were going to do that draft over again, there's no doubt now that Sherman should have drafted Steve Smith, who was taken even later than Chambers). The Manatees' defense is decent, so unless the offensive line has another resurgent outing and Ahman looks recovered from his pulled moons over my hammies, we should have difficultly scoring. But Mee-ami's offense is atrocious (ranked 29th in the league by Football Outsiders), largely because of terrible quaterback play, regardless of which washed up, former NFC Central/North quarterback is playing. What I'm saying is we may have found an offense that can make our secondary look good. Wait, Woodson might not play, so we'll be starting a practice squad cornerback, and it's going to be steamy and sunny and we're wearing dark green. Oh, hell. We're in trouble.
I'm looking forward to the tinges of regret as Chambers burns Al and his ten pounds of dreadlocks (wouldn't Al be a hair faster if he cut off the hair?).

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