Friday, September 26, 2008

Last minute Purdue Keys to Victory

The circus is coming to town!

Yep, it's that time of year for the baton twirlers, giant drums, and general goofiness that is Purdue football.

So, with only moments left before I start my weekend, I thought I'd share my keys to victory against the Boiler circus this weekend.

Keys are similar to MSU last week - contain Sheets and make Painter beat us. But a complete rehash would be boring, so I'm going to dig deeper.

Win the coverage battle on special teams.

Purdue has a pair of supremely talented kick returners, and we have the best gunner tandem in the country.

In a matchup of strength on strength, our ability to stop the Boilers for short returns in the kicking game will create a long field for the Boilers, which should bode well for us.

Failure here, and giving Purdue a short field, could make this a long day for the Irish.

Find a tight end to utilize on offense.

The Boilers have poor cover-linebackers, and every team they have faced this year has utilized the tight end to great effect against this defense.

However, the Irish are without Yeatman after his underage drinking arrest, and it looks like Luke Schmidt may not go due to some ongoing headaches which the training staff can't seem to figure out.

Kyle Rudolph has been hailed as a great receiving tight end, although he has been suspect in blocking (unsurprising for a true freshman). We need to utilize his speed in the passing game, and take advantage of the mismatches here.

Dink-and-dunk our way to victory.

The underneath routes should be available to the Irish receivers all day long, and Clausen needs to learn some patience in the passing game, throwing slants, screens, short outs, curls, and other underneath routes to soften the defense.

Once we have had some success in pulling the linebackers back from the line of scrimmage, we should be able to run the ball.

Then, once the safeties start cheating up against the run, there should be opportunities over the top to our deep threat, Golden Tate.

I'd particularly like to see us make some attempts to get the ball to Tate and Allen in space, where they can make something happen. A couple of jailbreak screens should do the trick.

I'll probably measure our success on this one with yards after catch.

Pressure SACK the QB.

We need to get some payoff from our attacking style of defense this week, and put Painter on his derriere this week. Play fundamental defense against Sheets, and keep him from gashing us, and focus our attention into getting to Painter once we get them into passing downs.

I want to see at least 3 sacks this game for us to rattle Painter and make the Boilers ineffective.

I want him hearing footsteps every time he touches the ball.

So there you have it, our keys to victory Saturday. I've been nothing short of prophetic thus far this season, so keep an eye on these four aspects of the game on Saturday - it will be the difference this week. Good or bad.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Postgame Hangover...

I'm back in town from East Lansing, and while the fans were pretty nice, the venue sucked, the game sucked, and despite a fun post-game house party, an unfortunate incident with a tree left my face looking as bad as the Irish did on the field Saturday afternoon.


I was right about the keys to victory, at least.

Shut down the run.

Yes, the Spartans are a one-trick pony, but that one trick is pretty darn good.

Ringer rushed for an impressive 201 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries.

Establish the running game.

16 freaking yards. That's pathetic.

Win the field position battle.

Our average field position was the ND 29, and theirs was the MSU 32. Not a huge difference in field position, but it could have been worse. In fact, the only quarter where we won the field position battle was the 4th, which is also, coincidentally, the only time we managed to score.

This year's team is clearly better than last year's. And we have the pair of wins to prove it. But there are too many lingering problems to convince me that we'll have any kind of sustained success this year.

Until we, as a team, can effectively run the ball, we will struggle.