The last time Georgia played Purdue, it was led by quarterback Drew Brees, who set an NCAA record and made national headlines when he attempted 83 passes in a game against Wisconsin. This year, the 55 passes at Wisconsin were an aberration, nothing more than an excuse for another Joe Tiller one-liner. (The Boilermakers devote a page of their media guide to the coaches "greatest quips.")
The No. 12 Purdue team (9-3) that will face the No. 11 Bulldogs (10-3)
Jan. 1 in the Capital One Bowl is led instead by its defense.
"We're really looking in a mirror in a lot of ways," said
Mark Richt, another offensive coach winning with defense.
The Boilermakers finished the regular season third in the Big Ten in
total defense (290.5 ypg) and fifth in the total offense (379.9 ypg). It
is the second year in a row, and second in Tiller's eight years, that
Purdue has run the ball more than 50 percent of the time.
"The metamorphosis here at Purdue has been from offense to
Tiller said. "We were disgustingly shameless in our approach (to
passing) early on."
In Tiller's first three seasons, the Boilermakers threw the ball more
than 60 percent of the time and never finished higher than fifth in
their league in total defense.
"When we came on board we felt like we were going to bring a style
offense that would be difficult for people to defend because they
weren't used to defending it," he said. "We really enjoyed a two-year
honeymoon here and then people started catching up with us."
Purdue reacted by digging in defensively. Last year, the Boilermakers
led the Big Ten in total defense (317.2 ypg).
"There's not a defensive team in the country that has made more
progress in the last five years than Purdue," former Notre Dame coach
Bob Davie told The Indianapolis Star. "What (defensive coordinator)
Brock Spack has done is incredible."
The Boilermakers are eighth in the nation in scoring defense (16 ppg)
and 10th in rushing defense (95.6 ypg).
They are led by their linebackers and safety Stuart Schweigert. Middle
linebacker Niko Koutouvides leads the team in tackles (90), and outside
linebackers Landon Johnson (87) and Gilbert Gardner (72) are second and
fourth, respectively. Schweigert has 78 tackles and leads the team with
Purdue starts eight seniors on defense. Four of the Boilermaker
defenders who will start against Georgia started the Rose Bowl four
years ago and three more are three-year starters.
"The experience level of our defense, along with the fact that we
well, puts that type of level on us," Tiller said. "It's a defense,
I touch wood as I say this, that hasn't made a lot of mistakes, hasn't
put itself in a lot of bad positions."
Three of Purdue's top six defensive efforts under Tiller have come
this season, in wins over Arizona, Illinois and Penn State in the
Boilermakers have allowed 204 total yards or fewer. They have also set
the school's single-season sack record (38), thanks largely to defensive
end Shaun Phillips' 13.5
"As a coach you take some joy in watching your team develop and play
to its strength and grow as a team as the season unfolds," Tiller said.
"To me that shows some maturity on the part of your program. Who knows?
A year or two from now, we might be back to winging it."
No. 12 Purdue Boilermakers
9-3 overall, 6-2 Big Ten
Total offense -- 379.9
Passing offense -- 223.5
Rushing offense -- 156.4
Total defense -- 290.5
Passing defense -- 195.5
Rushing defense -- 95.0
Junior Kyle Orton 231-380 passing, 2,655 yards, 14 TDs, 6 INTs
Sophomore Jerod Void 220 carries, 889 yards, 13 TDs
Junior Taylor Stubblefield 78 catches, 736 yards, 3 TDs
Senior Niko Koutouvides 90 tackles, 5.5 TFL
Senior Shaun Phillips 13.5
A Sneak Peak at Purdue
Dawg Post Top Stories
Dawg Post Sunday Recruiting Update:Dawg Post takes a look at last weekend's game between rivals Brookwood and Parkview
Dawg Post5:18 AM
Dawg Post Thursday Recruiting Update:Dawg Post takes a look at some of the top games in Georgia this upcoming weekend.
Dawg PostThursday at 12:56 PM
Kirby Smart: Coaching in MotionATHENS - Kirby Smart is one of the most animated coaches in college football. There are very few times you find him standing still and keeping quiet during a game, which was more…
Dawg PostWednesday at 9:31 AM
Stricklin Will Play YouthATHENS - While the four remaining teams in Major League Baseball battle it out to advance to the Fall Classic this week and next, the UGA Baseball team battled in an intersquad…
Dawg PostTuesday at 10:16 AM
The Andrew Stephens Show: Skepticism w/ KirbyI think Kirby Smart is moving this team in the right direction, but I am thinking it's going to take a little longer than people would like.
Dawg PostMonday at 5:39 PM