Pregame Intel: Purdue Boilermakers

The WGN Sports Talk program raised a big question last week, how can the Northwestern Wildcats, after a 51 point win against a ranked team, go into the Purdue Homecoming game a 6 point underdog. No, it doesn't make sense to many other Cat fans either, but we should be used to it. As long time NU fans know, the Wildcats seem to play play a lot of homecoming games..

Northwestern used to get invited to play a lot more Homecoming Games:
I always thought that the other Big 10 teams were looking for a patsy so they could almost guarantee a win, but those days are over...

Anyway, here's what we've gleaned from the Purdue media this week:

Injuries If you think the Cats were nicked up last week, the Indy Star is reporting that Purdue came out of the Iowa game with 20 players listed on the injury report.

The Defense: This was supposed to be the glue that held the Boilermakers' together in 2005, with virtually everyone returning, but they're giving up over 24 points a game right now, and Joe Tiller isn't very optimistic about Saturday,
"It's a tough offense and we hope to contain it some and stop it occasionally," Tiller said. [the Exponent] "To suggest that you're gonna shut (the offense) down I don't think is very realistic."
One problem is that DE's Ray Edwards and Anthony Spencer have a total of just 4.5 sacks one half a sack less than Edwards' total at this time last season - they were supposed to be the Boiler's primary weapon against the pass - but there's more blocking up front.
"I'm supposed to be one of the best defensive ends in the nation," Ray Edwards said, "so I've got to be able to beat that."
Unfortunately for Purdue, the Cats have a couple of good tackles so don't be surprised if the blitz, something the Boilers don't want to use appears this Saturday.
"We've got to find a way to get to the quarterback," Defensive Coordinator Brock Spack said earlier this week.
Then there's the Defensive Secondary: The Boilermakers also lost a safety this year. Kyle Smith is out for the time being opening up the question, "How about a pair of d-backs who were wide receivers less than 2 months ago?"
They actually played better in many cases, I thought Ray [Williams] played pretty good, he's been a cornerback for 3 days. - that tells you where we're at in terms of trying to make something happen. -- Joe Tiller Press conf
Ray Williams and Brandon Whittington both were running pass catching drills a few weeks ago. Williams switched 3 days before the Iowa game, Whittington got his first start at free safety, moving from corner when the starter Kyle Smith had surgery earlier in the week.
"The secondary played better in many phases," said coach Joe Tiller [in The Exponent] "We are in a situation that we are switching things up to see what the result is and tonight it was a better product."
The Offense: Purdue folks consider NU's offense to be "similar" in style to theirs. and randy walker points out;
"Purdue has the weaponry to make plays and score points."
But both the Purdue and Wisconsin games last week ended the same way, with an interception that snuffed out any chance of a comeback.

Purdue's was earlier in the 4th quarter, but Iowa had the ball surrounded and effectively snuffed the life out of the Purdue offense.
"(Kirsch) tried to lay the ball in there and of course they intercepted it. That was probably it as far as we were concerned. That was really a golden opportunity and we kind of deflated as a team." --[Joe Tiller The Exponent]
Gone is Kyle Orton and Basketball on Grass - maybe:

And the Cats instead will face a team run by the speedy Brandon Kirsch, at Boiler team that was running a lot of option, but is expected to switch back to a more free wheeling running game.
"We're going to do what (Kirsch) does the best." - Joe Tiller
Kirsch has been cut loose of late, he's scrambling more and his passing percentage has improved to 65%, 583 yds and 3 TDs [and One Interception. There are still critics of his play - but remember that the boilers had moved to an option game this year, and were not getting it going.
"I don't think it's all the quarterback," Tiller said. [Boilerstation] "You do have guys out on the perimeter who are assigned to block. And if they run right through your block and they're in your backfield, it doesn't matter if you keep it or pitch it.
So Purdue has cut back on the option, and cut back [supposedly] on the long pass down field. QB Krisch disagrees with this tactic...
"I've been throwing the deep ball very well in practice, but I haven't been throwing it well in the games. [Kirsch-Boilerstation]
Shorter passes could help the NU secondary get back on track, but something tells me that Tiller will call a long ball early to see if Kirsch can get a quick TD strike. The offense in Lafayette has been adjusted to fit Kirsch's style, that's a short pass, free wheeling running game.

Gotta like this attitude though: Linebacker George Hall.
"We got seven games left including the bowl game...We are going to a bowl game."
and the final word from Brandon Kirsch:
"Once we can get back on the winning track I think you won't see another let-down for the rest of the year," Kirsch said. "And if it happens this Saturday, I think it might be safe to say that we would have the potential to win out based on the team's attitude right now."
What the Cats have to do.
  • Push 'em back, way back - against Iowa, 9 of Purdue's possessions started inside their own 20
  • Go ahead and kick -  Purdue is 10th in the conference in both kick return [19.3] and punt return [6.2] average.
  • Contain Kirsch - and don't let him throw long
  • Baz & Co. have to pick on those "new" corners...
  • Play Defense and don't let them start making screen passes.
  • Open up the field and let Tyrell, or Brandon, or Omar run, run run...
In Conclusion
This could wind up another 100 point game and there's no guarantee that the Cats will be on the winning side, except that Randy Walker saw something in that second half last week that gave him the foundation to continue to build a defense and on paper the Boilermakers are not as good a team as Wisconsin.

But the front 7 of the Boiler D is the same as last year, and they keep making noises about revenge for NU's win. That loss by Purdue led to a collapse of sorts - they still made it to a bowl - but their dreams of a Big 10 championship all but died in Evanston last year.

If Purdue used an animal mascot, instead of that "Pete" fellah, we'd be talking about a cornered whatever, but the idea is still sound - the Boilers are cornered and expect to win, and win out to save their season.

The Game is on ESPN 2 with Pam Ward, David Norrie and Jimmy Dykes starting at Noon [Wildcat Time] and will also be onWGN and WNUR

Dave Eanet and Ted Albrecht will be the radio guys.

We'll be chatting at the same spot


You can send your comments or "back door" information
to Coach Roy

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