I want to begin by giving credit to Rutgers. Many developing teams, down 10 at halftime on the road, would see that they had a promising start with their 13-7 lead before it fell to 23-13 and fall apart a bit. This is Rutgers: a team that is undergoing a complete overhaul after losing 21 consecutive Big Ten games entering this season. They also have a severe talent deficit compared to the rest of the Big Ten. Instead, they continued to fight, just as they have all year. They hit on a 62 yard TD from Johnny Langan to Kay’Ron Adams and that changed momentum. From that point forward they completely dominated the second half in all three phases of the game.
A touchdown from David Bell was immediately erased as Aron Cruickshank returned the following kickoff for a TD. On both the Adams TD and the kickoff returns DJ Johnson had his entire ass exposed as the, “this guy can stop it but grossly screws up,” guy. Rutgers’ defense was energized from there, getting an interception by Mohamed Toure on a terrible throw by Jack Plummer. That led to a go ahead TD, partially thanks to an egregious “targeting” call that knocked Derrick Barnes, the one Purdue defender aware a football game was going on, out of the game.
As an aside, that wasn’t targeting. It was not helmet to helmet. Barnes hit Matt Alaimo low and pretty text book, but because it was a good, hard tackle where he anticipated the play it “looked” bad, so the replay official had to get involved. It still was not as bad as when DaMarcus Mitchell somehow got called for roughing the passer when he hit Artur Sitkowski in the hips as he let go of the ball and it was intercepted by Simeon Smiley. These two calls led to Rutgers touchdowns. The Scarlet Knights likely score if the Barnes hit is not called targeting, but the crap call on Mitchell definitely allowed a TD that wouldn’t have happened.
Of course, it all probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway given the absolutely pathetic “effort” from Bob Diaco and his second half defense. Even after the kickoff return for a touchdown Purdue was still leading the game by 3. After the Toure interception with 7:50 left in the third quarter Rutgers ran 37 plays, scored 10 points, and had the ball for 19 minutes and 12 seconds of the last 22 minutes and 50 seconds.
Lets look at that again, and even bold it for emphasis.
After the Toure interception with 7:50 left in the third quarter Rutgers ran 37 plays, scored 10 points, and had the ball for 19 minutes and 12 seconds of the last 22 minutes and 50 seconds.
Purdue, in its glorious offense with a mastermind offensive coach, two All-American receivers, and a running back that was getting five yards per carry had the ball for 3 minutes and 38 seconds and ran 8 plays, gaining 21 yards.
Does anyone want to hazard a guess at the number of passing plays the Scarlet Knights called in that time?
Go ahead, guess
The answer is five.
Five, one of which was erased on a pick play. Another was the pass to Alaimo where Barnes was ejected. Bo Melton and Shameen Jones each had first down catches and Melton had an 11 yard catch on 2nd and goal from the 20 before the Valentino Ambrosio field goal.
Five passes. In 37 plays. The remaining 32 plays we essentially Langan running on a keeper to the right or Isaih Pacheco taking the handoff to the left. In fact, of the 32 runs, 15 were Langan keeping it and running it himself. It was really that simple. The guy taking the snap was running. Maybe he was handing it off. For 32 plays only two of the 11 players on the field were going to touch the ball at most. This went on for more than an entire quarter.
Purdue could not stop it even though we knew it was coming.
At one point late in the drive for the Valentino field goal drive the color commentator made an observation of “Purdue is moving an extra guy into the box for the run”, which was one of those “adjustment” things good coaches make significantly earlier. Instead, the lack of adjustments to the same play over, and over, and over, and over, and over again were practically Hazellian in nature.
Rutgers was going to run the ball. We knew this. Everyone watching knew this. People watching other games knew this. Remote villages in the Amazon that have never been contacted by outside civilization had an inkling today that something called “Rutgers” in their language that has never been spoken to the rest of the world was going to “run the football” and briefly pondered what that meant.
That is more thought given than Bob Diaco had.
Strangely, we have seen this before. A team fighting on every play on sheer will and effort despite a lack of talent? A team doing all the little things right? A team with a coach playing loose and with nothing to lose?
Congratulations, Rutgers, you’re 2017 Purdue, and that is more an indictment of how poorly Jeff Brohm has done the last two seasons because that same effort in the first two seasons is not there, and he is being paid north of $5 million to have it, and he has better rated talented now than he did the.
It is flat out appalling how much Rutgers outworked Purdue. This is a team that struggled to score on any Big Ten team last year, and they easily rolled up 37 points, only punted once, and ran the ball with impunity when we knew what was coming. This was a hard earned victory for the Scarlet Knights and they deserve it.
Simply put, this was the most pathetic effort of the entire Brohm era because the only conventional mistake was the interception, but the rest was just being outworked.