As I was driving home from West Lafayette this afternoon I was doing some math. So far, Purdue has only given up 42 points on the season. Yes, we have played an FCS team and a bad MAC team in there, but we've also played a good Notre Dame team. Of those 42 points, 12 have either been scored by the defense or resulted because of a turnover that gave the other team the ball in field goal range. When the opposing team has had to move the ball down the field and get in scoring range our defense has given up 30 points in 12 quarters.
I say this because it is reason for hope. Our offense did not start out sharp today to say the least. Much of what we gained was more the result of the opponent than anything we did. I was never worried because the defense was more than solid for the third week in a row. The nine points EMU scored during the competitive phase of the game were the result of turnovers already deep in Purdue territory. The rest of the time the defense was a wall.
It is clear that said defense is going to keep us in many games this year and erase the mistakes of an offense that will struggle at times. Personally, I will take it. If we have a defense that holds a team to 20 points or less I trust our ability to score 21 point offensively. That's an easy equation for winning.
Positives from the Eastern Michigan Game:
The running game - Any time you have 392 yards rushing it becomes very easy to win. Officially it was the 11th best day running the ball in school history and just five yards short of the No. 19 slot. If the TD "pass" to Akeem Hunt had been ruled a run our total jumps to 442 and the No. 7 game in school history.
Everything worked on the ground. With five more yards from Brandon Cottom he and Hunt would have been the first 100-yard rushing duo since Brandon Jones and Joey Harris each went over 100 against Indiana in 2002. Danny Anthrop, Akeem Shavers, Raheem Mostert, Kurt Freytag, and even first-timers like Austin Parker and Gavin Roberts moved the ball with ease.
The defensive secondary - I figured we would have a solid game defending the pass and I was right. Landon Feichter added his second interception of the season and Josh Johnson is becoming even more of a shutdown corner than Ricardo Allen. Frankie Williams also added his first career interception. All told, Purdue gave up only 144 yards through the air.
Antavian Edison - With four touchdowns on the season Edison has already topped last year's receiving total.
Akeem Hunt - Hunt had 156 yards and two touchdowns on only five touches today. That, and he is damn fast.
Brandon Cottom - As I described his 87 yard TD run (the fifth longest in school history), "It was like a runaway beer truck going downhill.
Eric Mebane - Kudos to the fifth year senior who has barely played before today getting his first career sack.
The uber-Purdue couple behind us - Today's final positive not goes to the couple who are well into their 80's, yet they still sit behind us at football games. They missed the season opener because of their 65th wedding anniversary. Today they said that three of their four kids went to Purdue and they even have a great-granddaughter in Michigan that is a good basketball player in the seventh grade that they are giving a nudge toward Purdue.
This is a couple I love because they are actually energized by the cheering Mrs. T-Mill and I do. After each touchdown they share bite-sized Snickers with us, which on a day like today is enough for a diabetic coma. It was great to see them back today and one day I hope to be just like them.
Negatives from the Eastern Michigan Game:
Caleb TerBush - The elephant in the room was the quarterback play. TerBush was far from sharp at the beginning of the game and was awful for much of the second quarter. I am willing to give a bit of a pass, as he was fairly sick yesterday according to GBI and coach Hope:
#Purdue coach Danny Hope on what illness Caleb TerBush had: 'I'm not a doctor.' Said he was in bad shape Friday, but was better this AM.— GoldandBlack.com (@GoldandBlackcom) September 15, 2012
That could account for his early struggles. The interception was a pretty awful throw, but if we can get the running game to keep working like this it will take the pressure off of some of those throws.
The bottom line is that if TerBush is the guy going forward because Marve is out, he has to be better. The interception was far from his only bad throw and there were many moments of indecision that led to sacks by EMU. The Big Ten would tear up and spit out today's TerBush. Fortunately, we have seen him play better.
There were a few nagging injuries today that will now have a chance to heal up. Ryan Russell insisted via Twitter that he was fine. Robert Marve will have a chance to rest and rehab. The defense, which was worn down by the Irish last week, can also rest.
There are clearly still many things this team needs to work on. I'll give TerBush a pass due to illness this week, but if he comes out in two weeks against Marshall and is as bad as he was for part of today Marve needs to be the guy if he is healthy.
I am fine with this team having a recipe of defense plus a strong running game to win. The running game expands the time of possession and allows the defense to rest. It also wears down opposing defenses. I have never been more of a fan of the pass over the run or vice versa. Whatever moves the ball is fine with me. If TerBush was more accurate bending over and firing the ball down field with his ass I would get behind the assblow offense.
If the turnover issues can be fixed there are the pieces there for this to be a very good football team. That's why we have games like today. They are supposed to be wins that come easy even with mistakes. I am fine with them happening now as long as the team learns from them and erases them by Big Ten play.