Purdue @ Illinois Box Score Breakdown

Things are so easy when you break the down by the numbers, and that is what Jeff Murdock does every weekend after the Illinois football games. He sits down in front of a stat sheet and uses it to help in his analyzation of the Illini. This week he noticed that the Illini yards per carry average at a glance is too low when looking at the numbers, because the two fumbles cost the Illini 33 rushing yards.

I am sure the words "moral" and "victory" come to mind for many Illini fans that are looking on the positive outlook of this football season. Many expert prognosticators (read: Vegas odds makers) and fans (read: me) were looking at this Illinois game against Purdue as one in which the Boiler train would just roll right through Purdue en route to a dominant victory over the Fighting Illini. But something strange happened on Saturday afternoon in Champaign, the Illini took the initial punch to the face and fought back making this game closer than many fans ever thought it would be.

The Boilermakers were coming off two very dominant performances over a Syracuse team that is no where near the level the program is used to being at, and was starting a true freshman quarterback in Ross-Ade Stadium and Ball State, the home of the Fighting Jason Whitlock's. Not impressive competition, but when you throw for nine touchdown passes, amass 110 points, and only allow seven points, you are expected to come into Champaign and dominate the Fighting Illini.

The Illini did not play like they expected to lose to Purdue; they played like they expected to defeat the Boilermakers. The team used some bulletin board material thanks to Kyle Orton's comments about the Illini after the Syracuse game comparing the Orangemen defense to the Illini defense. Jason Davis had a career game on Saturday as he totaled 123 multipurpose yards and two touchdown receptions.

  Purdue Illinois
First Downs 28 25
Rushes - Yards 37-149 34-175
Passing Yards 366 215
Passes Comp-Att-Int 35-50-0 22-37-0
Total Offense (Plays-Yards) 87-515 71-390
Fumble Returns - Yards 1-4 0-0
Punt Returns - Yards 2-6 2-11
Kickoff Returns - Yards 5-122 5-125
Interception Returns - Yards 0-0 0-0
Punts (Num - Avg.) 6-32.8 3-37.7
Fumbles - Lost 2-0 2-2
Time of Possession 32:59 27:01
Third Down Conversions 13-21 7-14
Fourth Down Conversions 1-2 0-0
Red Zone Scores - Chances 3-4 4-4
Sacks By: Num - Yards 1-11 1-11

Looking at just the overall numbers, you can obviously see why Illinois was unable to defeat Purdue on Saturday afternoon: turnovers and third down conversions. The Illini were -2 in turnover differential. The first turnover occurred on the first play of the game and led to seven Purdue points, and the final turnover ended the Illini's chance at a game tying drive in the final minute.

The Illini could run and they could run easily against the Boilermakers on Saturday afternoon. They averaged 5.15 yards per carry, and if you take away the negative yardage that was attributed to the Illini on the two fumbles (-33 yards in total), the Illini averaged 6.5 yards per carry from their trio of running backs.

  Attempts Total TDs Long Average
EB Halsey 15 83 0 23 5.5
Jason Davis 8 77 0 32 9.6
Pierre Thomas 8 48 0 19 6.0
Ade Adeyamo 1 -15 0 0 -15.0
Jon Beutjer 2 -18 0 2 -9.0
Totals 34 175 0 32 5.1

Jason Davis: Jason Davis receives the Jeff Murdock Game Ball for his performance on Saturday afternoon. He ran the ball and caught passes out of the back field with a purpose. He was taking the ball right at and over the Purdue defenders, and just punishing them whenever they tried to hit him. He scored two touchdowns on Saturday afternoon, and the second touchdown was a thing of beauty as he ran over the entire Purdue defense en route to the North End Zone of Memorial Stadium.

EB Halsey & Pierre Thomas: EB Halsey and Pierre Thomas both looked like themselves. They are both solid running backs who can get the yardage in front of them, but they are both missing that one thing that would make them truly special, breakaway speed, especially Halsey. There were two specific runs that I can remember seeing Halsey break free from the first line of defenders, and I was just waiting for him to shift it into over drive, but he didn't, and was brought down for twenty yard gain instead of what could have been a touchdown.

Despite throwing for three touchdowns and completing 59.4% of his passes, Jon Beutjer was not impressive on Saturday afternoon. He was missing his targets and it seemed like honing in on just one receiver for the whole play. It looked like there was more zip on the balls he was throwing as well than he has had thus far in the short season.

Comp-Att-Int Yards Touchdowns
Jon Beutjer 22-37-0 215 3
Totals 22-37-0 215 3

Once again, the numbers were somewhat impressive for the Illini signal caller, but they were not enough to win. When the Illini needed Jon Beutjer to lead them on a game winning drive in the final minute, Jon could not do it. On the first play of that drive he hit Kendrick Jones along the Illinois sideline, for an eleven yard gain, and it looked like the Illini were on their way down the field against the Purdue defense. The next play, Jon was sacked and he fumbled at the Illinois one yard line and the game was over.

Purdue was trying to stop the Illini from hitting the deep pass over the top to Kendrick Jones, so it left the Illini receivers open to make underneath catches, as well as the pass to the back in the flat. Beutjer did distribute the ball to nine different receivers at every possible position including wide receiver, tight end, and running back, and yes, even, offensive lineman.

Receptions Yards TDs Long
Franklin Payne 6 43 0 9
Jason Davis 5 45 2 26
Kendrick Jones 4 75 0 41
EB Halsey 2 12 0 8
Mark Kornfeld 1 15 0 15
Lonnie Hurst 1 11 0 11
Melvin Bryant 1 6 0 6
Anthony McClellan 1 5 1 5
Bucky Babcock 1 3 0 3
Totals 22 215 3 41

Franklin Payne: With the injury on the first play of the game, Franklin was inserted into the Illini lineup and was running most of the underneath routes run by the Illini receivers. All of Franklin's catch were for lower yardage and the vast majority were over the middle and underneath the Purdue defense. He did record a career high in both total receptions and yardage on Saturday afternoon.

Kendrick Jones: It seemed that part of Purdue's game plan was to take Primetime out of the Illini offense. There was one deep throw to Jones that got over the top of the Purdue defense, his forty-one yard catch in the third quarter that led to Jason Reda's second field goal of the game.

Mark Kornfeld: Kornfeld made is a perfect four for four this game with his first down reception. All four of his catches this season have resulted in an Illini first down.

Bucky Babcock: After Jon Beutjer's pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage by a Purdue defensive lineman, Babcock was alert enough to catch the ball in the air and run forward to gain three yards. Combine this play with the fact that the Illini were running to Babcock's side of the ball for most of the game, and you have a solid game from the Illini senior.

The Illini defense once again let up more yards than they should have (515), and most of the tackles were coming from the defensive back field. But there was something about this defense that I had not seen in the previous three games this season; they punished ball carriers at time when they hit them. Kelvin Hayden, Morris Virgil, and even Matt Sinclair each had hits that laid out a Purdue ball carrier. That sort of intensity had not been seen by an Illini defensive player in a while, and it was a welcome diversion from the missed tackles, reads, and assignments that have plagued the Illini defense for the last two years.

Even with the big hits, there were still signs that this Illini defense was not much different than what Illini fans have witnessed in the last two seasons. Besides the 515 yards given up, the Illini corner backs were lining up eight to ten yards off Purdue receivers, and there was often times confusion about who was going to cover the slot receiver. The Illini defense was also susceptible to play fakes, and over pursuit. There are two plays that epitomized these tendencies: the "Statue of Liberty" style play where Orton faked throwing the ball, and then handed it off and the naked bootleg after a play fake late in the fourth quarter when Orton ran for eight yards on second and nine, allowing Purdue to extend their final drive for another three plays.

Solo Assists Total
Kelvin Hayden 9 6 15
Morris Virgil 6 4 10
Matt Sinclair 3 6 9
Mike Gawalek 3 4 7
Travis Williams 5 1 6
Justin Harrison 3 2 5
Chris Norwell 1 4 5
James Cooper 3 1 4
Anthony Thornhill 2 2 4
Scott Moss 0 4 4
Alan Ball 2 1 3
Josh Norris 1 2 3
Ryan Matha 1 2 3
Charles Bailey, Jr. 2 0 2
Steve Weatherford 2 0 2
Joe Mele 1 1 2
J. Leman 0 2 2
Brian Brosnan 1 0 1
Shareef Abdullah 0 1 1
Drew McMahon 0 1 1
Mike O'Brien 0 1 1
Kevin Mitchell 0 1 1
Brian Schaefering 0 1 1
Mike Maloney 0 1 1

Kelvin Hayden: Despite getting injured early in the second quarter, Hayden returned to the line up to lead Illinois in tackles.

Matt Sinclair: Sinclair's name is once again at the top of the tackle list for the Illini, but the confusion on the defense, most obvious from Sinclair was the reason Illinois needed to call timeout late in the play clock on Purdue's final drive wasting twenty precious seconds the Illini offense could have used.

Chris Norwell: I am highlighting this name because Norwell was the first member of the Illini defensive line in the list of tacklers for Saturday's game behind two linebackers, one cornerback, and three safeties. The Illini are just not getting pressure with their defensive line, and this is highlighted by tackle statistics like this.

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