There is a lot to talk about today, more than what is usual for blowing out an FCS opponent by six touchdowns on the opening week. In that regard, I couldn't be happier that we more than took care of business against a team that had visions of grabbing a power conference pelt. The Colonels have had some near misses and given the look of Purdue from last year they were thinking they had a chance. Even handing them the ball five times didn't help them prevent a convincing Purdue victory.
It was still everything you want out of an opening season game. It was a convincing win. Almost everybody who is going to play at time this year got to play an extensive amount. There were no major injuries, as I think even O.J. Ross went off with just a pretty bad cramp. The real test is next week against an opponent that will truly show where this team is at.
Positives from the Eastern Kentucky game:
Robert Marve - As someone said on Twitter, "So THAT is what happens when Marve gets to stay in a game and get in a rhythm. I'll have more on the reason that Marve got the surprise start later, but it was a career day of 295 yards and three touchdowns. The interception was not as bad of a throw as has he has made in the past. He simply did not lead his receiver enough.
For parts of the game we finally got to see the Robert Marve that has been highly touted for the last five years. I would like to have seen one deep ball, but there was no need for it today. Instead, Marve was content to dink and dunk down the field and even read his checkdowns well. Some of his throws were tough throws that we have not had a quarterback capable of making in some time. A prime example is the touchdown pass to Gabe Holmes. The tight end has been a myth in our offense, especially in traffic over the middle, but Marve was patient and waited for the play to come to him.
Granted, this was all against an FCS secondary, but the Notre Dame secondary is a weakness. If we get this kind of Marve next week (without interference of rotating quarterbacks) we have at least a chance.
Jalani Phillips - Here is a player that was a bit of question mark because he didn't have a ton of experience, but he was often in the middle of plays. He only had three tackles and a fumble recovery, but to me, at least, it seemed like he was one of many that stood out on defense.
Will Lucas - Was that a linebacker actually reading a ball in the air over the middle and making a play on it? Be still my beating heart!
Landon Feichter - Last year at this time he was a redshirt freshman walk-on that no one knew. Today he was starting and returned a pick for a touchdown. He was also credited with two pass break ups.
Kurt Freytag - Freytag was the second walk-on to score a touchdown today. Not bad since it was only his second career carry.
Our Entire Defense - We cannot expect to give up five turnovers next week and win, but today they were a huge reason that EKU netted zero points off of those turnovers. Matt Denham had 47 yards, but 30 of those yards came on the one scoring play EKU had. I am really not sure why they didn't start usual starter T.J. Pryor at quarterback, but the defense as a whole was extremely aggressive against a good running back and did not let a good receiver torch them. The degree of difficulty rises dramatically next week.
Offensive line - The quarterbacks were kept clean and we rushed for almost 200 yards. Solid effort.
Negatives from the Eastern Kentucky game:
Caleb TerBush - Okay, I have talked enough about the good, so it is time for the bad. It came out about an hour before the game, just as I was parking and about to crack open my first beer with Myles and Juan, that TerBush was suspended for today. The details are not known, but rumors have included academics and that he was late for the pre-game meal. Whatever the reason, this is the starting quarterback and one of the team captains. He should be held to a higher standard because of this. If you're a starter and a captain there are expectations placed upon you to lead by example. Getting suspended an hour before the game when you play in the most important position on the field is not the way to lead.
To me at least, this should finally decide the quarterback derby. Danny Hope has said Marve and TerBush were neck and neck throughout camp, but TerBush was No. 1 going in and No. 1 going out until something on the field happened. Well, something happened. TerBush chose to do something dumb to get suspended and Marve decided he would rather play (and play extremely well).
It is harsh, but you don't get suspended an hour before the game unless you do something extremely dumb. What could TerBush have possibly done in that time to get suspended? It had to be bad. We'll see going forward, but given what Marve showed today when he could finally get in a rhythm with no threat of being yanked he earned the full-time job. Unfortunately, I do not make those decisions.
Turnovers - Obviously five turnovers is not going to get it done in South Bend. Really, it was the only blemish on the day. Rob Henry's interception was U-G-L-Y and Frankie Williams inexplicably diving after a punt was dumb. The rest if ball security. I would rather have a five turnover day happen in a 48-6 blowout though.
The quarterback rotation - Henry got some quality work at the end and was 7 of 9 on the day, but I still don't like the musical QBs. I really, really, REALY Hope saw that Marve alone worked today and stays with it.
Special Teams - Yeeeeeesh. J.B. Gibboney's brilliant punt protection has already given up its yearly block quota. I don't know why we do this when it almost always invites a more concerted rush and sometimes vaults a defender into a block, but we've now had at least one punt blocked every season under his watch. There was, of course, the Williams fumble and the blocked extra point too. Thomas Meadows had consecutive kicks out of bounds too.
On the plus side, Sam McCartney and Paul Griggs both did well on extra points (the block aside). We also blocked a field goal and Ricardo Allen had a big punt return. Raheem Mostert once again looks extremely dangerous unless you kick it in the end zone.
Getting called out by Kelsey Barlow - It's random, but two days ago I had this tweet in regards to the D.J. Byrd arrest:
— Travis Miller (@HammerAndRails) August 30, 2012
@timhickle I blame that arrest more on Dumbass Kelsey Barlow, who is (thankfully) long gone.
Today, I randomly see this:
— Kelsey Barlow (@WalkinOn96th) September 1, 2012
@hammerandrails that's pretty mean man
Sorry, but when you are given multiple chances to follow very easy rules, yet you let your team down by getting suspended at the most important time of the year and kicked off at roughly the same time the next year, you don't deserve pity.
Now we turn our attentions to a Notre Dame team that either looked really good today or faced a really bad defensive Navy team. It needs to be a game in which Purdue is at least competitive. We've been here before blowing out FCS teams. Wisconsin and Indiana Struggled with theirs today and they are at the opposite ends of the Big Ten spectrum. It ultimately means nothing to blow out a team by six touchdowns that you absolutely should blow out by six touchdowns.
Since they won big they also got to rest key guys and had an easy week, so we gain no real advantage there. I still think that much will be learned about this football team because Notre Dame is the type of team we must not only be competitive with, but beat if we want to win the Leaders Division this season. We have not been competitive with teams like them for years, but if this is allegedly Hope's best team it needs to show it on the field against teams like the Fighting Irish.
Today was nice, but it was still expected. Next week we must do the unexpected.