It's A Win: Purdue 27, Middle Tennessee State 24

My apologies for getting this posted so late. As noted, Mrs. T-Mill and I took off for DC immediately after the game. My tethering with my phone wouldn't let her post the story, but she did an excellent job of writing while I drove. I'll have more later I am sure, but there is the post from the outskirts of our nation's capital at nearly 2am.

No matter how ugly it may look on the field, each win has its own beauty. It might be beer goggles after you’ve lost six in a row, but during one of the hottest games in Ross-Ade history, you take it home and be thankful that you scored. Sure, the next day you’ll wonder, "How did I come home with this?", but well, everyone needs a slump-buster.

The Boilers faced a motivated opponent in the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, but instead of folding under pressure, we answered. The game was decided by a last-second blocked field goal, but credit is due to both sides for the exciting conclusion. Middle Tennessee State played extremely well and controlled the pace for most of the day. Purdue, on the other hand, showed a lot of grit and determination while making their comeback. If the Boilers choose to learn from the mistakes made, and build on the positive elements, the game can be a very valuable experience.

The biggest positive to take from this game is the maturity that quarterback Caleb TerBush showed on the final drive of his first collegiate start. Instead of panicking and rushing each play, TerBush handled himself with the poise, heart, and composure of a more experienced quarterback, taking the time to scan the field and waiting for the right personnel to be in place. His 35-yard touchdown pass to Antavian Edison was patient and right where it needed to be. Every great quarterback needs his first come-from-behind, length of the field drive; consider TerBush 1-for-1 in that department.

Other positives:

Ralph Bolden – Bolden finished the game with 17 carries for 120 yards. It would have likely been at least 200 yards if we would have given him the ball more. Bolden looked totally healthy and fresh when he was in; very explosive.

Justin Siller – Siller is the big receiver we have needed and he certainly played that way today, making some big catches on key drives. One example was his sideline catch on the drive when we were backed up at the 1-yard line. That started a 99-yard march down the field. He used his size and physicality to make that catch; those are qualities we’ve lacked in receivers for quite some time.

Cody Webster, Carson Wiggs and the rest of the special teams unit – The kicking was phenomenal, keeping Middle Tennessee State pinned back on several drives. Credit the rest of the special teams unit for downing punts and forcing the Blue Raiders to start from deep within their own territory. And as usual, if Wiggs can see the goalposts, you know the kicks will be good. His two field goals today? Money. Those would have been good on the narrower goalposts of the Arena League.

Negatives:

Why the f*%# can’t we cover the slot receiver up the middle, especially on third down? - This has been a problem for at least 4-5 seasons, and you would think that by now we would have found a way to fix this serious error. It gives any opponent a much-needed spark, when instead, if they were properly defended, the momentum would remain with Purdue. Mrs. T-Mill even said, "Shoot, I don’t have a penis and even then I figured it out. It shouldn’t be that f*%#ing difficult".

All the flippin’ false start and procedure penalties – The Boilers were guilty of 11 penalties for 95 yards, and at least half of those were false starts/procedure penalties in the second half. We looked unprepared and confused. Despite having weeks to get ready, it was obvious we weren’t. This is unacceptable at home in a half-empty stadium.

Coaching – It was ridiculous that we didn’t commit to the running game when it was obviously working all day. I understand wanting to work on the pass, but when the Blue Raiders defense fails to stop our running game, we have to pound the ball and force them to adjust. 

Summary:

A win is a win. The most important thing to take from this game is knowing that despite the sometimes sloppy play, we didn’t quit. Compare today to the Northern Illinois game from two years ago, and the Toledo game from last year: in those games, we didn’t fight back and ended up with a WTF loss. Great teams are built with hustle, attitude, and determination. Today, we fought and won. Perhaps it was a time to get mistakes out of our system, learn, and build for the future.

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