We're going to do this in two parts tonight. With the news of Robbie Hummel's injury coming during halftime of homecoming I know that the site here pretty much exploded during the Open Thread. Now that I am home and have a chance to give some perspective on things I want to make sure that I don't mix things up. Therefore, this will be the football entry. Believe me, there will be plenty of time to talk about Robbie later, so I will.
I am proud that the gridiron Boilers were able to take care of business today against an overmatched and poorly coached opponent. With all respect to my friends at The Daily Gopher, Minnesota played like a team that had no interest in fighting the rest of the season, and the coaching staff coached that way. It was basically the exact opposite of what we did last year in the same position at 1-5. Tim Brewster is all but done, and Golden Gopher fans are glad to see him go.
Today was exactly what the Purdue football program needed. We took care of a lesser opponent and never made it seem like the game was in question. Minnesota helped with an offensive game plan that wouldn't even qualify as vanilla, and a defense that we patiently waited to break. We're 4-2 overall going to Ohio State, which was a worst case scenario when the season started. More importantly, we're 2-0 going to face a team that we beat, and arguably dominated, last season. We have seen that anything can happen, and if this Wisconsin-Ohio State result holds up we're one Iowa loss away from controlling our own destiny towards Pasadena.
Sure, that's likely not going to happen, but you can't ask for anything more at this point with what we have been through.
Positives from the Minnesota game:
Cody Webster - First, the freshman had two very nice punts. Second, his mom was kind enough to bring Mrs. T-Mill and I an entire case of Yuengling. Sicne Cody is from Pennsylvania and his parents come to each game she contacted me this week and asked if she could bring some as a thank you for the site. She is now adopted as the #3 mom of the blog, behind my own mom and mi suegra.
Dan Dierking - Big Dan fought hard today and finished with a career high in rushing yards. I would have liked to see him get in the end zone, but he paved the way with 126 yards, many after contact, and Purdue now has a 200 yard rushing performance for the fifth straight game. If we can stretch it to six, we will win next week.
Rob Henry - Today was another step ahead for the young quarterback. He made the pass a threat again, and he continued to run the read option well. All three touchdown runs were him reading the defense perfectly on the play. While not perfect, he was much better through the air and had some nice reads in the passing game. Most importantly, he made the deep ball seem like possibility with the long pass to O.J. Ross before halftime. We didn't score on the drive, but we earned more passing yards than we earned all of last week. As long as he continues to develop we can get the two games necessary for a bowl bid.
Antavian Edison - Mrs. T-Mill and I had moved to the north end zone for the third quarter just to mix things up and enjoy more sunshine. That gave a Madden-esque view of Edison's touchdown, where he threw two very nice moves for his second straight score. It was nice to see him involved in the passing game again, because Henry will get better as long as he has solid receivers to throw to. Edison needs to be a receiver, so Dierking, Jared Crank, and Al-Terek McBurse need to do well enough in the running game to keep him outside.
The Defense - I am very pleased with the defense today. They didn't allow much from a decent offense until it was 21-0. Both touchdowns came after the outcome was well decided, so I am not concerned about them. Part of this was Minnesota moronically running right into the line on 70% of their plays, but we still contained their backs and even knocked down a lot of passes. Kawann Short took the game over for a series in the fourth quarter. Da'Jon McKnight was the only player who did much of anything. Adam Weber ran well, but mostly he ran because Ryan Kerrigan and others were after him.
Sean Robinson - While his redshirt went up in smoke, he had a nice 16 yard run on 4th down for a first down. It looked like he was fighting Dierking for the ball though, so Dan should get at least half of them. Otherwise, it might have been a touchdown.
Special Teams Coverage - The biggest return we gave up was 35 yards, so Huzzah!
Negatives from the Minnesota game:
Injuries (again) - As if the ACL curse wasn't bad enough, I overheard after the game while talking with the Webster family that Albert Evans felt a pop before he was carted off. Do we have any clergy of any type that reads this site? There is a higher power at work and we need to know what we did wrong.
I really don't have a lot else to say at this point. It was a lot like last year's win over Illinois in that the game was a little dull, but I never felt like Minnesota was in it. Their offense was completely impotent and disinterested in the first half. Wither our own defense has turned the corner, or the Golden Gophers have quit on their season. It is probably a little of both, but I am hoping it is more of the former than the latter.
Now we're 4-2 halfway through the season. We need two wins for a bowl, and so does Indiana. As long as we get one more win in the next five games, and I think we will, we'll be playing the Hoosiers for a bowl game. Unfortunately, I think Indiana will be in the same position. That could make for quite an exciting Bucket Game in a few weeks.
For now though we seem to have moved past the Toledo loss and we're improving in the face of it seems like one season-ending injury per week. By the end of the season I might be starting somewhere, despite the fact I have never played a down of organized football in my life.
For now, let's concentrate on the one positive we have:
Purdue is in first place in the Big Ten.