As we all gather together with family and friends for Thanksgiving I just wanted to say that I am thankful for all of you readers. I draw a ton of joy from running this site each and every day. I have met a number of you in person and I am always grateful for your readership.
I am also thankful for the Old Oaken Bucket, which has enjoyed a year back in the safe confines of the Mollenkopf Center. For the last three year the visiting team has been able to parade the Bucket around in front of the stunned home fans, so if Purdue is going to keep the Bucket safe for another season and head somewhere else after Saturday this trend will need to be reversed.
2011 Record: 1-11, 0-8 Big Ten
Bowl Result: None
2012 Record: 4-7, 2-5 Big Ten
Blog Representation: Crimson Quarry
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 71-37-6 (leads Bucket portion 57-27-3)
Last Purdue win: 33-25 at Indiana on 11/26/2011
Last Indiana win: 34-31 (OT) at Purdue on 11/27/2010
Time & TV: Noon, Big Ten Network
Weather: 35 degrees and sunny, no rain
Odds: Purdue by 6
It is safe to call last season bad even by Indiana standards. The Hoosiers gave up 448 points, only beat an FCS team, and held only one Big Ten team under 30 points all season long. This season has at least been better. After only winning three conference games since 2007, the Hoosiers won back-to-back games. With a slightly better defense this probably should be a team already bowl eligible. The Hoosiers very easily could be 7-4, but could not close 4th quarter leads against Ball State, Navy, and Michigan State.
This is not your typical Indiana Football team. Kevin Wilson has built a dangerous offense capable of scoring points at will. Winning the Bucket would be an excellent step towards what should be a bowl season in 2013 if they get even a modicum of improvement on defense.
Indiana Offense vs. Purdue Defense
The Hoosiers feature the top passing offense in the conference, so our secondary of Landon Feichter, Frankie Williams, Taylor Richards, Ricardo Allen, and Josh Johnson will be tested all day long. Tre Roberson had come along to give them a running element at quarterback, but a broken leg suffered in the second game of the season has led to Cameron Coffman and true freshman Nate Sudfeld splitting time. Coffman has started the remaining nine games and has thrown for 2,386 yards and 14 touchdowns against eight interceptions. Sudfeld has seen spot duty in seven games, kind of like our own Rob Henry, and the true freshman has 632 yards passing and seven scores against one interception. Both are completing better than 61% of their passes.
Indiana likes to spread the ball around to its receivers, making the task of slowing them down even more difficult. Shame Wynn (63-571-6) leads in receptions, but Cody Latimer (46-738-5) has been a big play threat. Kofi Hughes (39-563-3) and Ted Bolser (39-429-3) round out the usual starters. Even running back Stephen Houston (25-286-4) is a threat out of the backfield. Duwyce Wilson (23-230-1) can also come off the bench and be effective.
This is not a completely pass happy team. Houston has rushed for 591 yards and nine touchdowns while DeAngelo Roberts has 302 yards and the touchdowns. Sudfeld and Coffman, with a combined -2 rushing yards between them, are not the running threat that Roberson was, however. Roberson had rushed for 133 yards and three touchdowns before his injury.
The offensive line is extremely young with Will Matte being the lone senior amongst two sophomores and two freshmen. Like Iowa, it is a smaller offensive line with all five starters listed below 300 pounds. They've only given up 17 sacks, however. Kawann Short should have a very favorable matchup against Collin Rahrig and Dan Feeney. The smaller, faster line does play well to their no-huddle, however.
Indiana Defense vs. Purdue Offense
The game plan against Indiana should be exceedingly simple. They run a fast-paced, hurry-up offense that is best to be kept on the sidelines. How do you do that? You milk the clock by running the football. There is absolutely no need for Purdue to throw a single screen pass or even pass more than 15 times per game. Calling Indiana's run defense awful implies that it has a run defense.
The Hoosiers give up 235 yards per game on the ground and have surrendered 26 rushing touchdowns. Wisconsin ran for over 500 yards and Penn State also racked up 151 on the ground to go with 395 yards passing. Purdue needs to run until the Hoosiers stop us, then run some more because that was obviously a fluke.
Adam Replogle and Larry Black are both proficient at getting into the backfield with double-digit tackles for loss. As a team Indiana isn't bad in terms of tackles for loss at 81 on the season, but it is very much a feast of famine defense that is just as like to make a stop in the backfield as give up a 25 yard gain.
Safety Greg Heban leads the team in tackles with 82 and also has two interceptions. It Is never good that a safety leads the team in tackles, however, because it means that offenses are often getting into the second level. David Cooper is the one linebacker among the top five on the team in tackles, so that means the linebackers don't do a lot.
The pass defense isn't too bad at only 219 yards per game, but again, why pass when you can run with impunity. There is also the fourth quarter issue, as the Hoosiers have struggled greatly to hold leads in games they probably should have won. They only have six team interceptions with Heban and Antonio Marshall having two apiece.
Will Raheem Mostert be back this week? In a week where Indiana is going to score points having a weapon like Mostert, who can erase a score with a big return, would be very useful. Indiana has their own solid weapon in that regard with Tevin Coleman, who has 506 return yards and a TD.
Mitch Ewald has been a solid kicker by hitting 15 of 20 field goals with a long of 46 yards. He, of course, kicked the game-winner in overtime two years ago. Our own Sam McCartney had his first career multi-field goal game last week and Paul Griggs had his heroics two weeks ago.
Purdue should have an advantage if the punters are called on. Cody Webster is ahead of the tandem of Erich Toth and Mitchell Voss. In terms of punt returns Nick Stoner is a decent returner, which is something considering we have no return game on punts at all.
This game comes down to how smart Purdue's coaches are. In 2000 with Drew Brees and a dynamic passing offense we could have thrown all day, but we kept Antwaan Randle El off the field by running Montrell Lowe for 200+ yards and a Bundy because they simply could not stop the run.
That's what Purdue needs to do. The easiest way to stop the Indiana offense is to prevent them from having the ball by running the football, keeping the clock moving, and sustaining long drives on the ground. Akeem Shavers, Akeem Hunt, Ralph Bolden, and Brandon Cottom can all be effective against this team. I'd run each of them at least 10 times.
In terms of stopping Indiana, that will be difficult. It once again comes down to the play of our defensive line. We've had our most success when Kawann Short, Bruce Gaston, Ryan Russell, et al have lived in the backfield. They need to get after Coffman and harass him all day. That will be difficult, however, with Indiana's no huddle.
Honestly, I am worried. Their offense is better than ours. We know it. It comes down to our offense being able to take advantage of their crappy defense while our defense plays to its strengths. This will not be your typical 62-10 Bucket blowout.
Look for late December flights to Texas if:
- Purdue rushes for at least 200 yards.
- The defense generates 3-4 turnovers.
- Robert Marve has the Senior Day he deserves.
- Our offensive line protects Marve.
- The defensive line harasses Coffman all day.
Call U-Haul of West Lafayette to help Danny Hope move if:
- Gary Nord is calling plays
- Hope juggles between Caleb TerBush and Marve because "they're both seniors".
- Purdue refuses to establish a running game.
- Coffman throws for 350+ yards
- The defensive line has zero sacks.