Purdue Report Card
Opponent: Virginia Tech
The offense put up less points this week but their grade improved. The offense looked smoother this week and Hudson Card spread the ball out well. Obviously, Card did not throw a touchdown pass in this game but he completed roughly 68% of his passes, threw just under 250 yards, and did not throw a pick. Clean football is good football. On the ground, Purdue had a significantly better time than week 1, rushing for 179 yards and 3 touchdowns. In the receiving corps, Purdue may have found another solid TE in Max Klare who caught a team-high 8 passes for 64 yards. In total, 8 Boilermakers caught a pass, including 4 to TJ Sheffield who looked much more engaged in this game. Now, I have a hard time giving the offense an A because it only scored 3 touchdowns and after the second touchdown, Purdue would amass 23 yards over its next four drives that didn’t end the half. In all four drives, Purdue failed to gain a first down and one was a failed 4th and 1 to give Virginia Tech a short field. The offense would sustain some drives after that, including a 13-play, 74-yard game-winning, touchdown drive. Overall a nice clean game for the offense with lots of positives.
The running defense was spectacular in this game. In these rainy games, most offenses revert to the ground attack, but the Purdue defense would not budge. Virginia Tech averaged .5 yards per rush in the game and Purdue recorded 9 tackles for loss (3 being sacks). Now, the secondary still made some mistakes, including leaving a man open for the first VT touchdown on 4th and 4. For each mistake, however, the secondary made up for it. Dillon Thieneman and Cam Allen each recorded an interception off of Grant Wells and the defense pitched a second-half shutout and actually allowed -1 yards on the ground. Oh, and the defense learned its lesson, holding Virginia Tech to 2-12 on 3rd down.
Special Teams: B
Unfortunately, there is no kickoff return for a touchdown to boost the special teams squad this week, but a fair performance nevertheless. Ben Freehill was 4/5 on kicks after making 3 PAT’s and a 43-yard field goal while missing a 50 yarder (he made it on the first try that was blown dead after a timeout because only 10 men were on the field). Jack Ansell did his job, averaging 39 yards per punt on 6 tries, getting 2 to land inside the 20. Virginia Tech managed to return one of his punts for 1 yard so clearly the coverage team did fine too. On the return side, Purdue was unable to return any kickoff due to the big leg of VT’s kicker. Virginia Tech was able to return 3 Purdue kickoffs for 79 yards. Lastly, the trio of Marquis Wilson, TJ Sheffield, and Andrew Sowinski combined for 4 punt returns and 28 yards. Other than one missed field goal, special teams did their jobs and remained steady. No major mistakes but no super flashy plays either.
Something is very clear with this coaching staff: they will make adjustments and try their darndest to fix team mistakes. This was clearly the case as the defense was on a mission to make third down stops. On the offense, Hudson Card was able to use his legs and even scored on a designed run. Now, were all adjustments perfect? Of course not, the secondary still needs some work and there were times the offense was stagnant. But I think Ryan Walters and his staff know what it takes to create a winning team, something we all want. I have my reservations about the decision to go for it on 4th and 1 in VT territory right after a touchdown drive, especially out of the shotgun, but again, it’s a tossup call. One thing cannot be overstated however; the team was driven Saturday. After enduring over six hours of delay, a 17-point comeback, and a ten minute halftime, Purdue was able to find a way to win on the road. That reflects great team leadership and great coaching and now Ryan Walters and co have their first victory as Boilermakers.
Mother Nature did everything in her power short of sending a hurricane to make this game unplayable. The torrential downpour did scare off probably two-thirds of the fans, but football was still to be played in Blacksburg. After constant checks and reevaluations, the game was back on, but as an added punch in the gut, the game was no longer being broadcast on ESPN2. Many were unable to watch the remainder of the game and even those who had the ESPN app were having difficulty (as per the norm). A nice drizzle would’ve sufficed, Mother Nature.
It took about 9 hours but Ryan Walters and the Purdue Boilermakers got their first victory in a hostile environment. Outside of a half-quarter, the defense was lights out and the offense looked balanced and is still building steam. Next up, Purdue will look for its first home victory against another ACC opponent, the Syracuse Orange.