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A Sober Look at Purdue vs. Minnesota

It's always good to take a breath after a tough loss. Let's examine yesterday's loss again.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Anytime you lose a game by one point, as Purdue did yesterday 38-39, you have to look back and see what exactly went wrong and where you could've gotten that extra two points. For Purdue it's pretty simple. The entirety of the second half is where the wheels came off. For those of you that followed my old site you know I like to take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly after football games. I'm hoping to make this a regular feature over here the day after or maybe even two days after each game. To make this post a little easier to swallow we'll start with the good.

The Good

  • How about that first half by the offense! 31 points! 31 points against a team who had allowed a season high 30 points against a pretty darn good, and ranked, TCU team. Purdue scored more in the first half against Minnesota than any team had scored during an entire game. Purdue did this with Austin Appleby going through his progressions and finding the open man, most notably Danny Anthrop who is quickly becoming Appleby's go to target.
  • To go along with that last point the rushing attack of Purdue was just incredible yesterday. At one point Raheem Mostert had 111 yards on two carries. I know it might not seem this way but Purdue actually rushed for more yards than Minnesota did. It's the truth. Purdue finished with 298 to Minnesota's 285. Akeem Hunt has grown leaps and bounds and I get sadder and sadder every Saturday when I realize the guy graduates at the end of this season.
  • How about the bounce back by Austin Appleby? After throwing an interception on the first play from scrimmage he responded in a big way when he got another chance. I don't know if the same could be said for Danny Etling if the roles had been reversed. With Appleby continuing to play pretty darn great the QB controversy is all but over. I am sad for Danny Etling as he seems to be a good guy but Appleby is now entrenched in the starting spot.
The Bad
  • Ball control remains an issue at times for this Purdue team. In addition to the two interceptions thrown by Appleby, including the second one that ended the game, there were also two fumbles that Purdue recovered. One fumble was by Raheem Mostert on a kick return and the other was by Appleby as he dove to try and get a first down. Unfortunately for Austin that ended up being a huge play as it's possible if he didn't fumble there Purdue gets the first down and continues a drive that might've led to points and the victory. This has to get back under control or things are going to spiral for the Boilermakers.
  • The offensive line, for the second week in a row, clearly got tired as the game wore on. The running backs struggled to get the same lanes they did in the first half and the QB was under increased pressure in the second half. Michigan State made their gains last week in the second half against a tired offensive line and you could see Minnesota do the same thing yesterday as the Purdue offensive line tired themselves out. I don't know what is going on at halftime but it's got to change.
The Ugly
  • Obviously the worst thing is just the entirety of the second half. When you go into the half up 31-20 against a team that is 0-22 during their coach's tenure when trailing at halftime you've got to feel pretty good. Unfortunately, Purdue found a way to lose. They did this by scoring just one time in the second half. Could it be fatigue? This isn't an incredibly deep Purdue team at linebacker and on the offensive line. Perhaps some of the second tier guys need to step up and help relieve some of the pressure here.
  • Tackling, tackling, tackling. it's clear to nearly everyone that Minnesota was going to rely on David Cobb to do the bulk of the work. Well, I say everyone but it clearly was a struggle for someone on the Purdue sideline. Yeah I know Cobb is one heck of a player but you've got to game plan for that. You know he's their go to go you've got to do something. You can't stop him entirely but you've got to find a way to slow him down. Sadly Purdue didn't do that and it was their undoing,
  • Stupid penalties. Most obvious here is the penalty of senior Taylor Richards. If you watched the game you know the one I mean. After Purdue forced a big stop on third down against Minnesota Taylor Richards bailed them out with a silly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the opposite side of the field to keep the drive alive. At that point Purdue was still up by two and Minnesota was on the wrong side of the 50. That penalty pushed them forward and eventually led to the game winning field goal. That's one you'd love to have back especially from a senior leader.
So what does Purdue learn from this? What can we take away? Well this is a much better Purdue team on both sides of the ball. If we had some sort of Delorean that could transport this team to the past to play the 2013 Purdue team it wouldn't even be a contest. The 2014 team has already scored more points than the team did all of last season. The defense, while still needing work, is looking much better. It sucks to lose a game like this but don't you feel better about this team than you did just two weeks ago? When you look ahead at the schedule you're actually excited to see them play these teams and not dreading being embarrassed to watch. While it might mean you drink less alcohol during Purdue games it might also mean Purdue's got a chance to pull some upsets. I don't know about you but I'll take that tradeoff.