The Indianopolis Star has an article on Purdue's chances of making it to the B1G championship game in Indy. At the end, there is an interesting quote from Purdue QB Caleb TerBush that seems to be perfectly made as bulletin board material for the Michigan locker room:
"We don't want to get caught up in looking ahead, and then you miss those games you should win," quarterback Caleb TerBush said. "We have to stay focused on the task ahead, and that's Michigan."
Now I don't think Michigan needs any extra incentive to play hard on Saturday; the poor play against ND and taking the first step toward winning the B1G should be enough. And I don't blame TerBush for showing confidence, either, but his sentiment does seem like a stupid thing to say to a reporter because it can so easily be construed as meaning he sees Michigan as a trap game, a game that Purdue should definitely win. Perhaps the only reason Purdue might not win is that they are looking ahead to prepare for better teams later in their schedule.
From the context it appears he's saying something different, talking about defending the home turf, being sure to play strong at home.
Or, maybe in TerBush's eyes Purdue really has arrived and is superior to Michigan.
[Ed-S: Bumped to Diary. FWIW here's Michigan's OL versus those guys last year:
|Lewan||7||1||6||Would like to see him more involved somehow.|
|Barnum||3||2||1||Also picked up a –2 on the last play he was in on but I didn't hit him for it since he was obviously injured.|
|Molk||15||2||13||Even got a killer reach block for old times' sake.|
|Omameh||13||7||6||Had some issues with Short.|
|Huyge||7.5||2.5||5||Easy time on the edge.|
|Schofield||5.5||10||-4.5||Big step back from two weeks ago. Did get a thumper late.|
|Mealer||0.5||-||0.5||On last drive charted.|
|Watson||3||-||3||Got in on some of the edge bashing.|
|Koger||14.5||2||12.5||Completely clobbered his DE whenever asked to.|
|TOTAL||69||27.5||72%||Moore put up a –1, FWIW. Strong day almost hitting 3:1.|
|Protection||22||6||79%||Team 3, Toussaint 1, Schofield 2. Big bounce-back.|
|RPS||20||9||11||Throwback screens always work.|
So Short caused some problems for the guards and will again; the rest of the guys did okay]
So last year Michigan had 339 yards on the ground versus Purdue. Fitz had a career day in which he ran for 170 yards on 20 carries. Denard passed the ball 14 times and completed 9. Never did he seem pressured very hard. Now this year some of my friends are nervous about Purdue and their front 7, so it made me curious enough to look into it a little farther.
So let's look at their personnel first. Of course any discussion about Purdue's defense begins with their potential first round draft pick - Kawann Short. The 6'3" 315lb senior tackle leads the team in sacks at 4, has recorded a respectable 9 tackles (7 of those for a loss (!)), and has one pass deflection. Also worth noting is his 3 (!) blocked kicks already this year - Short is disruptive, to say the least. Ryan Russell is a 6'5" 275lb sophomore, and has been disruptive as well. He has recorded 13 tackles (4.5 of those for a loss) and 2 sacks so far this year. Bruce Gaston is a 6'2" 303lb junior tackle who has chipped in 8 tackles, half of those were for for a loss. So they have the ability to put pressure on you from the middle and the end.
At linebacker, the Boilermakers lost Dwayne Beckford just before the season started. Beckford was the team's second leading tackler last year but was told to pack his bags after his 4th (!) arrest since 2011. Will Lucas, a 5' 11" junior, is the team's leading tackler with 25 and has also recorded one sack. Joe Gilliam is a 6' 1" 227lb sophomore that has chipped in 15 tackles (of which zero were for a loss). Not the most disruptive linebackers you will find, but serviceable nonetheless.
So there are some good to playmakers in their lineup, but even their own fans are worried about whether or not they can maintain tough defensive play for a full 60 minutes. Here's a quote from Boiled Sports after the Marshall game -
Tim Tibesar's defense has been good when it's needed to be, but consistency is still tough to come by
Read the whole article here - http://www.boiledsports.com/2012/10/distant-replay-purdue-marshall.html
Something else I found interesting was comparing how Purdue's run defense ranked versus their opponent's opponents defense (?). I'm pretty sure I said that wrong, but here's are the charts of Purdue's opponents and how they performed against their other scheduled opponents (better way to say it?) Anyways....rankings are determined by yards per carry.
Although Purdue's numbers look good, Tennessee-Martin held Eastern Kentucky to less yards per carry than Purdue. I'll repeat that because it is worth repeating. Tennessee-Martin held Eastern Kentucky to less yards per carry than Purdue. Tennessee-Martin also did not give up a rushing touchdown to Eastern Kentucky. Next up for Purdue was Notre Dame.
This is the game that is driving the hype. While this game is a stellar performance by the Boilermakers, I would probably apply a jet lag/Ireland factor here on Notre Dame's flat performance. Even then FWIW, Notre Dame hasn't done well rushing the ball at all this year either (unless you count Navy), so there is that. The following week we can see why there is concern about consistency in the front seven.
Purdue gave up slightly less yards than Ball State and just as many rushing touchdowns. Giving up more yards and more yards per carry than Illinois State and just as many touchdowns. Looking at their last game, you could say that Purdue did well by keeping Marshall under 100 yards, but a further look at Marshall's rushing performance tells a different story.
This shows that Marshall doesn't run the ball well, unless they're playing Rice. Purdue also gave up 70% of the yards that West Virginia did in half the amount of carries.
So while I was hoping to debunk Purdue's front seven, it looks like they are pretty legit. Well...sometimes. So which version will show up on Saturday? If we get the Notre Dame version we will be in for a long day on the ground. If we get the Eastern Michigan version, Denard and Fitz should have an easy day. I'm hoping for the latter, obviously.