If you like punting, you are going to love 2014 Purdue football.
It was perfect weather for the spring game today in West Lafayette. The temperature was a perfect 72 degrees and though it was a little windy, I cannot be too picky when we have not had an equally good weather day in Indiana in six months because the last time we reached 70 degrees before the past few days was October 12-13.
As for the football, well, the rebuild is going to take awhile longer. Last year's spring game was a 14-0 game and it was thought that maybe the defense was just that good. The defense was expected to be the strength of the team, but instead, the offense turned out to be historically awful. Today's 12-7 win for the Gold team was eerily similar. There were few big plays and for the most part the defense was dominant. It remains to be seen if the defense is really that good or if the offense is still pretty bad, but I don't exactly have high hopes.
If you read GBI the players said all the essential positive things. They are confident in the system and feel better about John Shoop's offense, but on the field there was not a huge difference. The offensive line looked terrible and had trouble blocking for both the run and the pass. All three quarterbacks were constantly on the run when they dropped back to throw and though the running backs are shifty, there was not a lot of room to run.
- Akeem Hunt had probably the best day on the ground with 54 yards on nine carries. Keyante Green also added 43 yards and a late touchdown as the redshirt freshman made a case for playing time. Hunt also had nine catches for 73 yards, so the dump off safety valve is alive and well.
- The best of the quarterbacks might have been true freshman David Blough. Again, all three guys played behind a porous offensive line, but Blough played for both teams and had a solid day of 13 completions on 20 attempts for 147 yards and a touchdown. He showed a lot of poise for a guy that would be in high school right now had he not graduated early to attend spring practice. His TD was a very nice deep ball to Danny Anthrop for a 41 yard score. I am not making a case for him to be the starter on just a spring game, but the kid looks pretty good in avoiding pressure and trying to make a play on the run.
- Danny Etling had a pedestrian day of 10-17 for 96 yards with nothing really standing out. He finished with -16 yards rushing due to sacks. He was sacked four times.
- Austin Appleby did not have a good day. He was 7 of 16 with a pair of interceptions and only 21 yards, though one was a damned impressive pick by Anthony Brown.
- There were six punts for an average of less than 30 yards between Thomas Meadows and Paul Griggs, so it is a good thing Austin McGehee was brought in explicitly as a punter.The wind was a major issue in the kicking game, however.
- Meadows was 2 of 2 on field goals, both inside 27 yards. Griggs did not have an attempt even though he is the incumbent placekicker.
- Ryan Russell played like a man possessed with 11 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. He had more sacks in the spring game than the two he had last season in 12 games. He looked solid, but he was also playing against the most glaring weakness on the team in offensive tackle. At times I think it would have been more effective if we had installed a turnstile at left tackle.
- Antoine Miles made an athletic interception for the Gold team just before halftime where he dove after a ball that bounced off of at least two other players. Had it been a real game it would not surprise me if it had been reviewed and overturned because it hit the ground, but it was an impressive effort no less. It led to a field goal for the gold team.
- The Black team had six total sacks.
Overall, not a whole lot stood out. The best play of the day by far was the TD from Blough to Anthrop. With the best of the offensive line on campus split up between both teams It is hard to evaluate much. Also, you have to consider that the two likely starting tackles in David Hedelin and Corey Clements were not on campus today as incoming JuCo guys. Martesse Patterson and Bearooz Yacoobi were also not there as incoming true freshmen.
That really is what it comes down to. The defense looked pretty good and there were no glaring issues, but the offensive line on both sides was far from encouraging. We have to hope that we can cobble something together with the 10 linemen on today's roster combined with the four incoming guys. If not, it is going to be another very long season.
Finally, reader Greg Huey has some great pictures to share for us.