Thursday, August 07, 2008

Turnover-Prone Wildcats Pull Home Boner

Looking at stats alone, the Kentucky Wildcats steadily whipped up on the offense-starved Purdue Boilermakers.

UK outgained the Boilers 312-211 in passing yards.

They converted 80% of their third downs, compared with 60% for Purdue.

The advantage was 527-394 in total yards, 12:21 to 7:43 in time of possession.

Unfortunately for UK, stats don't tell the whole story, especially when a few key ones are omitted, like points, turnovers, and rushing yards.

Those are the aspects of the game in which the 'Cats struggled in their home-opening 41-17 loss to Purdue.

It's their second straight setback, and a season that began with such promise is quickly unraveling. UK lost its season opener to Louisville. The latest setback has Coach Kelly Fife wondering what the hell is going on.

"Purdue? 41 points? Are you kidding me? I'll tell you where to stick your 'Boiler up," said Fife, his tone of voice remaining eerily calm despite the intent of his words.

Who can blame Coach Fife for the lack of a passionate voice? His players weren't showing much emotion on the field, either.

"Since we got beat by (hated rival) Louisville last week, we were looking for something a little easier at home. I mean, come on, it's Purdue. I thought it'd be competitive, at least."

Things started off well enough for the 'Cats. Braxton Kelley intercepted Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter on the Boilers' opening drive. UK settled for a field goal, feeling momentum with a quick, early lead.

Painter quickly righted the ship, connecting with running back Kory Sheets for a 69-yard TD.

"That took the momentum away," Fife admitted.

After an interception of their own, the 'Cats gave up another Purdue touchdown, a 39-yard strike from Painter to Brandon Whittington.

Still, UK trailed only 17-10 at the half.

Had the game ended there, Fife would've been pleased with the effort.

"That first half really showed what kind of team I think we have. I don't think the second half was as indicative," said the coach.

The second half was a turnover-filled disaster in which Purdue did about everything right and the Wildcats did everything wrong. And the crowd didn't like it at all.

"Did they really have to start throwing bottles of Maker's Mark on the field? I mean, for God's sake, those were special edition home opener bottles. I thought it was uncalled for. Then again, when your quarterback sits in the pocket and throws four balls up for grabs, maybe it's justified. But not likely," Fife admitted.

The display surprised Purdue Coach Matt Adams, "I couldn't believe it. Usually, fans for the opposing team throw (expletive) at us. I've never seen a crowd turn on their own team like that. It was insane. I mean, one time we went up to Notre Dame and...well, I don't like to talk about it," he said. "Definitely one to remember."

The Boilers entered the season with high expectations. In what may become an annual series, they scheduled UK for their season opener.

"It's good to go up against SEC competition, even if it's just Kentucky. I think it'll prepare us better than scheduling some Division 1-AA (championship subdivision) team," Adams said, looking up at the scoreboard. "At least, that's the hope."

The Boilermakers used a spread formation for most of the game. That enabled them to open up the field and keep the 'Cats guessing. Whittingon caught six passes for 84 yards, Sheets had three for 91 yards, including a big catch on a third down and the long 69-yard TD catch in the second quarter.

Sheets was Mr. Everything for Purdue, also eclipsing the 100-yard rushing mark. He finished with 115 yards on 13 carries. The big one was a 77-yard TD on the option.

"Curtis (Painter) just had one guy to beat and he pitched it to me and I took it from there," Sheets said after the game. "Feels good to have two big scoring plays in the same game, especially against an SEC team. Even if it's just Kentucky."

The Boilermakers' defense gave up its fair share of yards. Pulley finished with 312 yards in the air. He was practically unstoppable.

Except for the turnovers.

Four interceptions marred an otherwise impressive home opener for the junior. One of those came at a critical juncture in the game, when Pulley tried to hit Dicky Lyons in the endzone. Purdue cornerback Royce Adams stepped in front of the ball and intercepted it.

Lyons finished the game with an astounding 170 yards on 13 catches.

"I guess you could say he's our go to guy," Fife said. "A senior with good composure and good hands."

That composure needs to transfer to Pulley. One of his four picks was returned 73 yards for a touchdown. It was Royce Adams' second pick of the day, ensuring a rout.

The Boilers (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) try to earn their first home victory against #21 Oregon next week.

The Wildcats (0-2, 0-0 SEC) will take on Middle Tennessee State in what should be a good "recovery" game.

Notes:

Purdue signed four-star recruit Brandon Price during the first week of the season. The highly-touted defensive tackle is the ninth-ranked DT in the country. The 6'5", 282-pounder didn't even visit Purdue's campus before committing...Curtis Painter completed 88% of his passes (15-17). One of his two incompletions was an interception...Purdue's offense showed big-play ability in this game, with touchdowns of 69, 39, and 77 yards...the defense scored a 73-yard touchdown by Royce Adams...UK's ground game struggled, with running back Tony Dixon averaging just three yards a carry (16 rushes, 48 yards).

2 comments:

KFife said...

Good form. Good game and congrats on the recruitment!

Studicus said...

Thanks, Kelly. Had a lot of fun with it. I'm probably obsessive enough to do updates throughout the season.