Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kentucky Wins BCS National Title


Lexington, Kentucky - Using power and strength all year has finally paid off for the Kentucky Wildcats. They are the 2010 Bowl Championship Series champions. Champagne fell from the heavens shortly there after. Seniors Curtis Pulley and Alfonso Smith played exceptionally well in what has become UK's first BCS title. Pulley, who was injured for half of the year accounted for 4 touchdowns, but it was Smith who got the MVP honors. "I wouldn't up here getting this award if it wasn't for Curtis," said Smith. "He truly was the senior leader on this team."



Arizona, who made a meteoric rise through the PAC-10 wouldn't die without a fight. "We immediately marched down the field and got into the redzone. Curtis through a slant and Zona snatched it up and took it in for a score," said Coach Fife. "It looked like Super Bowl XLIII all over again." Fife is referring to Kurt Warner's 100 yard interception that was returned for a touchdown for the Pittsburgh Steelers. "Come to think of it, that's really eerie," said Fife.

After that UK got into a groove and never looked back. Derrick Locke had a great game. He had such a great game that he decided to announce that he was entering the NFL Draft right after the game. "I'm going pro. No doubt about it! Even though I only ran for 300 yards all season, Coach can't convince me to stay," said an enthusiastic Locke.


Another standout Kyrus Laxnter made his intentions clear after the game. "I've done all I can here at UK. After much consideration, I've decided that I'm going to transfer to NAVY," said Lanxter. "What?!?!?!" said Fife. "He can't be serious!" Oh but he was. Arguably UK's second best receiver has bolted to go to a option heavy running school. "That makes no sense at all. This really dampens my championship mood," said Fife.
Kentucky will return next year with no experience at the running back position which was considered to be very deep at the beginning of the season. Kentucky will only return one part time starter next season, WR Chris Hall.
"Our offense is going to get a complete overhaul. New running back, new O-line, new wide out, and Hartline will be the official starter," said Fife.
Notes:
UK finished with the 9th highest recruiting class and used all 25 scholarships available. UK's best recruit, Mike Gunn, will most likely be the starter and replace outgoing senior Jeremy Jarmon. "Pound for pound Mike's the biggest defensive end I've ever seen," said Fife. I can't wait to get him suited up.
All Americans
Paul Warford
Terrance Jones
E.J. Fields
Winston Guy

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fake Boilers Postseason Report

Passing

Justin Siller: 230-300, 2717 yards, 26 TD, 15 INT
Joey Elliott: 113-151, 1324 yards, 13 TD, 10 INT

Rushing

Dan Dierking: 96 rush, 338 yards, 4 TD, 3.5 avg
Justin Siller: 36 rush, 109 yards, 4 TD, 3.0 avg
Tommy Haas: 8 rush, 27 yards, 0 TD, 3.3 avg
Joey Elliott: 12 rush, 20 yards, 4 TD, 1.6 avg

Receiving

Kyle Adams: 85 rec, 737 yards, 11 TD, 8.6 avg
Anthony Kellner: 68 rec, 1016 yards, 10 TD, 14.9 avg
Dan Dierking: 61 rec, 643 yards, 3 TD, 10.5 avg
Aaron Reid: 35 rec, 471 yards, 6 TD, 13.4 avg
Arsenio Curry: 32 rec, 458 yards, 3 TD, 14.3 avg
Aaron Valentine: 30 rec, 334 yards, 2 TD, 11.1 avg
Luke Campbell: 17 rec, 199 yards, 0 TD, 11.7 avg
Waynelle Gravesande: 10 rec, 148 yards, 4 TD, 14.8 avg
Frank Halliburton: 2 rec, 13 yards, 0 TD, 6.5 avg
Tommy Haas: 2 rec, 18 yards, 0 TD, 9.0 avg
Jordan Brewer: 1 rec, 4 yards, 0 TD, 4.0 avg

Defense

Kevin Green: 75 tackles, 7 TFL, 1 sack, 3 INT, 0 TD
Ryan Tyson: 73 tackles, 8 TFL, 0 sacks, 1 INT, 0 TD
Charlton Williams: 61 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 sack, 3 INT, 1 TD
Gavin Roberts: 59 tackles, 2 TFL, 0 sacks, 7 INT, 1 TD
Kyle Jones: 54 tackles, 5 TFL, 0 sacks, 1 INT, 1 TD
David Pender: 47 tackles, 7 TFL, 1 sack, 5 INT, 3 TD

Kicking

Chris Summers: 9-11 FG for 81%; 56-56 PAT for 100%

Punting

Chris Summers: 3 punts, 153 yards, 51.0 avg, 30.6 net avg

Awards

Kyle Adams: First-team All American, Best Tight End
Gavin Roberts: First-team All American
Anthony Kellner: Freshman All-American Team
Aaron Reid: Freshman All-American Team
Brandon Price: Freshman All-American Team

Recap

After finishing with a national championship last season, expectations were high in West Lafayette. The young Boilers, who had expected to have several freshmen serve as major contributors, fizzled in their first game of the year, narrowly falling to Cincinnati.

During a 52-20 rout of Michigan, senior quarterback Joey Elliott was hurt. He was replaced by red-shirt sophomore Justin Siller, who put in a gutsy performance to guide the Boilers to a surprising road win against Ohio State. Siller was also at the helm as Purdue beat Michigan State at home.

As speculation mounted, Elliott returned to the lineup against Penn State. After an early interception, Coach Matt Adams yanked the senior QB, indicating that Elliott's injured elbow hadn't fully healed. From that point on, Siller directed the Boilermakers' offense. With Siller under center, Purdue won nine straight games before falling to Indiana on the road and losing out on the Big Ten Championship. Purdue went on to secure a spot in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, topping undefeated Southern Miss 23-20 in a thrilling overtime win.

Youth was the theme for the Boilers during the 2009-2010 season. Inexperienced Siller replaced the veteran Elliott at quarterback. The top two running backs were freshmen, as were two of the top three wide receivers on the depth chart. Defensively, two freshman linebackers anchored the unit. Outside linebacker Ryan Tyson finished second on the team in tackles.

From a recruiting standpoint, the Boilermakers will focus on finding some depth on the offensive line and getting a fullback to replace veteran Frank Halliburton. Also look for the Boilermakers to find some speedsters in the backfield and secondary so they can keep up with power conferences like the SEC and rival Notre Dame.

Fake Boilers update

Editor's note: Depression over the Colts loss severely affected my output on TFT. To make matters worse, Purdue lost to IU in the bucket game the day after the Colts lost. I didn't exactly feel like writing a whole lot after those two blows. Below you'll find capsule reviews of the Boilers' final two regular season games and a larger write up on the fake Boilers' Sugar Bowl matchup against Southern Miss.

Indiana 24, Purdue 20

With 11 seconds remaining, Kellen Lewis provided the decisive score with a quarterback draw to lead the Indiana Hoosiers over hated rival Purdue, 24-20. The touchdown gave the host Hoosiers the Big Ten Championship and the coveted Old Oaken Bucket. Just a season ago, Purdue dominated the Hoosiers at Ross-Aide Stadium en route to a national title.

Purdue had scored the go-ahead field goal with a minute left in the game. Armed with three timeouts and splendid play from Lewis, the Hoosiers marched downfield for the dramatic finish. He ran up the middle relatively untouched.

"What an amazing game," IU Coach Jason Sims said after being carried off the field by his players. "Purdue always plays tough, but the home crowd was great and Kellen was amazing on that last drive."

"All the credit in the world to Indiana," a frustrated Matt Adams told reporters in his post-game press conference. "They outplayed us in almost every facet today."

Lewis finished 16-25 with 196 yards, two passing touchdowns, and a rushing touchdown.

For Purdue, Justin Siller was 25-33 for 280 yards and two touchdowns. He threw two costly interceptions. Tight end Kyle Adams had nine catches for 71 yards and two touchdowns.

Purdue 42, Alabama 28

Charlton Williams returned a fourth-quarter interception 104 yards with 20 seconds left to give Purdue a hard-fought win over one-win Arkansas. The Razorbacks had threatened to tie the game late before Williams stepped in front of a pass four yards deep in the end zone and ran it all the way back.

Purdue overcame four turnovers and a relentless Arkansas offense to clinch its tenth win of the year.

Justin Siller finished 26-35 for 372 yards and five touchdowns. However, his four interceptions disrupted several Boilermaker drives. Anthony Kellner caught eight passes for 174 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown. The freshman eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for the season. Senior tight end Kyle Adams continued his late season surge, reeling in 11 balls for 108 yards and three scores.

BOILERS WIN NAIL-BITER IN SUGAR BOWL

To be perfectly honest, no one expected much out of seventh-ranked Purdue. The Boilermakers hit some rough spots during the end of their season, losing to rival Indiana and barely defeating one-win Arkansas.So it surprised the football world when Purdue took down undefeated Southern Miss in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

"We're a Big Ten team and we're supposed to win games like this," Coach Matt Adams said. "But just about everybody picked us to lose. I can't really blame them, considering the way we sputtered at the end of the year."

Much like the end of the Boilermakers' season, this one wasn't easy, with Purdue needing overtime to take down the fourth-ranked Golden Eagles, who dominated Conference USA on their way to a pristine 13-0 record. They became the darlings of the media, the non-BCS school ready to make it big with a victory over a power conference team.

The Golden Eagles got on the scoreboard first, getting a 33-yard field goal from Justin Estes to take a 3-0 lead. Purdue answered by driving down to Southern Mississippi's 33-yard line. Sophomore quarterback Justin Siller threw an interception that derailed the drive. Purdue's defense held, but with one quarter down, Southern Miss led 3-0.

"Looking at the scoreboard was kind of depressing," Siller admitted. "We'd executed all right, we'd played good defense, but we had nothing to show for it."

Siller went back to work, leading an impressive drive that gave Purdue its first lead. He found his favorite target, tight end Kyle Adams, for a four-yard score that made it 7-3 after the extra point with 2:30 left in the half.Purdue's defense failed to provide another stop, allowing the Eagles to convert on three third downs. Quarterback Martevious Young found Deandre Brown for a 32-yard score that gave Southern Miss a 10-7 lead. Cornerback David Pender gambled for the interception, but Brown came down with the ball. He sidestepped Pender for the easy score with 38 to play in the half.

"That guy is huge," Pender said, referring to Brown's 6'6", 210-pound frame. "I thought I had that one, but he just out-muscled me for it."

Waynelle Gravesande returned the ensuing kickoff to Purdue's 45-yard line. With 28 seconds to go and three timeouts, Siller guided Purdue to the Eagles' 13-yard line. The big play was a 20-yard pass to Adams, who stepped out of bounds with one second on the clock. Chris Summers converted a 30-yard field goal to tie the game at halftime.

"That was a huge drive all the way around," Coach Adams said. "If we'd had just ten more seconds on the clock, I bet we get into the endzone. Still, it was good to have a tie ballgame."

Purdue's first drive in the second half ended in a turnover, when wide receiver Aaron Valentine was stripped by strong safety Justin Wilson after a 21-yard reception. The turnover derailed a promising drive."It's something that really bit us at the end of the year," Valentine said soberly. "We didn't take care of the ball very well. I don't like contributing to that."

The Boilers' stout defense held again, and Purdue's offense came alive, driving down to the two-yard line. Siller ended it on third-and-two with a quarterback keeper, making the game 17-10.

Pender made up for his earlier gamble, picking off Young at the five-yard line. It looked like a first down or two would cement the game for the Boilermakers. Facing third-and-two, Siller tried to find Adams for a first down. The pass was intercepted, breathing new life into the Golden Eagles.

"My heart almost jumped out of my chest," Coach Adams said, exasperated. "I couldn't believe that. Great play by Southern Miss, but Justin has to make better decisions in crunch time."

Southern Miss drove all the way to the one-yard line. Two runs ended in a net gain of -1 yards. On third down, Young hit George Baptiste for a one-yard score to tie the game at 17 all."That was a frustrating play," Adams explained. "We had pretty good coverage. Just a good throw. No pass rush whatsoever."

At that point, it looked like Purdue would come away a winner as Siller drove down to the field. With 51 seconds remaining, Siller called an inexplicable timeout, preserving some much-needed clock for Southern Miss. Facing fourth-and-one at the 25, Coach Matt Adams made the mind-boggling decision to go for it instead of kicking the field goal. Siller's pass to Anthony Kellner fell incomplete, and Southern Miss got the ball back.

"You know, I complained about Justin's decision-making earlier. I think I should take a good look in the mirror," Adams said, shaking his head. "My thought process was...hell, I don't know what my thought process was. Summers would've made the kick. The defense probably would've held. My stubborn pride...I wanted to put the game away for sure. Terrible, terrible decision."

After gaining eight yards on three plays, the Golden Eagles punted. Freshman Luke Campbell returned the ball to the 50-yard line with eight seconds remaining. Two desperation heaves by Siller fell incomplete, sending the game into overtime.

Southern Miss won the toss and decided to bring out its offense. On third down, tight end Jonathan Massey dropped a crucial pass. It looked for a moment like he would have enough room to pick up the first down. Instead, the Golden Eagles settled for a 34-yard field goal from Estes.

"Just one of those things, man. I thought I had it and I never secured the ball. Pop Warner stuff," a dejected Massey said.

On Purdue's first play, Siller found Luke Campbell for a nine-yard completion. Dan Dierking ran for two yards to pick up the first down. On the next play, Dierking picked his way ahead for a three-yard gain. That set up a second-down pass to Adams, who was stopped two yards shy of the first down.

Purdue came out in its shotgun spread. Siller called an aubible, sidestepped a pair of blitzing defenders, and delivered a perfect strike to freshman Aaron Reid, who put a nasty move on C.J. Bailey before sprinting into the endzone for the game-winning score.
"They were loading up for the run. I didn't think we were going to pick it up. So I called an audible. I knew if I could just buy enough time, one of my guys would beat the coverage," Siller said.

"I give Justin a lot of freedom in this offense," Coach Adams said. "He made a great throw. Aaron's move was even better. He had that Bailey kid twisted up in knots."Just like that, Southern Mississippi's dream season was over, and the Boilermakers had found some semblance of redemption for a disappointing season.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rest in Peace, Mr. Montalban

Very sad news this week about Mr. Ricardo Montalban, the fine thespian whose works included two of my all-time favorite movies, The Naked Gun and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Montalban succumbed to "complications related to old age." He was 88 years old.

Cited widely in media reports as one of the first Mexico-born actors to make it big, Montalban remains a personal favorite of mine. Oh sure, he has done lots and lots of TV shows and movies, but let's face the facts: we know Ricardo Montalban because of three things: Fantasy Island, Star Trek, and The Naked Gun. This is not a slam. In fact, it shows that Montalban is deeply ingrained in pop culture. He will be desperately missed.

I loved his voice. It seemed so sophisticated, so debonnaire. Though Khan was a raging lunatic, Montalban made it all come together, even though he was forced to make facial expressions like this:
Star Trek II is widely considered one of the best, if not the best, Star Trek films. It would've been nothing without Montalban, who was able to sneer lines such as, "Buried alive! Buried alive!" and "I'll chase him 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares Maelstrom and 'round Perdition's flames before I give him up!" The movie wouldn't have worked without him.

I wasn't around for Fantasy Island, but I know a lot of people who remember Montalban for his performance on that show. I have to defer to The Naked Gun, in which Montalban played the power-hungry, assassination-obsessed Vincent Ludwig. You have to admire his willingness for others to have fun at his expense. He was the perfect bad guy; smarmy, sophisticated, gracious, and just a little bonkers. Again, the facial expressions say it all:

I was very, very sad to hear about Montalban's passing. This is going to sound a little macabre and a bit insensitive, but at least he bowed out gracefully in real life, unlike Ludwig:
It can't be good to be trampled on by the USC Marching Band.

Now, as I thought of Montalban, I noticed a disturbing trend. Let's face it, some of our favorite characters from the Naked Gun movies have not fared so well in recent years. Need proof? Here's a look...

O.J. Simpson. There's really nothing to write about the man who played Nordberg. Despite the thumbs up from The Juice in this picture, things have gone downhill. The former Heisman winner and once likable actor somehow evaded a double-murder charge (perhaps his best performance ever) and is currently in prison after being convicted of several charges, including kidnapping, armed robbery, assault, and conspiracy. Hard to believe he was an honest cop in all three of the movies, eh?


Anna Nicole Smith. She was hot in that disposable way, at least some people thought so. Her only appearance in the movie series was Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult as Tanya Peters. Of course, in 2007 she died mysteriously of "drug intoxication," although the official report shows her death was not due to homicide, suicide, or natural causes. Honestly, what's left after those?
Robert Goulet. Memorialized on TFT in 2007, Mr. Goulet was an extraordinary entertainer. I loved the guy. A Grammy- and Tony-Award winner, Goulet was all class and charm. In September 2007, he was diagnosed with a dangerous lung infection. Desperately in need of a transplant, Goulet died a month later. That's really no way for a guy like that to go out. I wonder darkly if in this case, his character Quentin Hapsburg suffered a more dignified end:
Okay, definitely not. I really do miss Goulet...but don't worry, he's a staple of the household during Christmastime. His Christmas album is a real gem.

So, with O.J. in prison and Montalban, Anna Nicole, and Goulet all dead, I wonder who the next victim of the Naked Gun Curse will be?
George Kennedy. We haven't heard much from the man who played Captain Ed Hocken. This dude won an Oscar for his turn in Cool Hand Luke. He's been working steadily in TV, doing voice work and some guest roles, even a couple films. But things seem pretty darn quiet, especially for a guy born in 1925.
Fred Ward. Anna Nicole's lover Rocco Dillon in the third Naked Gun film, Fred Ward remains a busy guy. You've seen him in Corky Romano, Joe Dirt, and Sweet Home Alabama. Okay, well, maybe you've seen one of those films. Maybe not. Fact is, Ward was born in 1942. Yeah, he's younger than his grizzled appearance suggests.
Leslie Nielsen. Since taking on his signature role as Frank Drebin in the Naked Gun movies, Nielsen has been relegated to playing the same role in a variety of different films: the goofy, not-so-bright, deadpanning screw up seemingly oblivious to everything around him. It's an entertaining schtick, no doubt. Nielsen was born in 1926 in Canada. I guess that explains his appearance on the TV show Due South.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Patience and Divine Intervention helps Kentucky Tame Tennessee

Lexington, KY – “Do you smell that? Smells like an upset,” said a confident Chris Barrett heading into the Tennessee locker room at halftime. He was addressing the Coaches of Miami, USF, and Notre Dame who were all in attendance for what has become an intense and bitter rivalry that was resurrected when Kentucky final had opportunities to earn victories against this opponent.
Coach Barrett had all of the reason to be confident. His Volunteers, leading 17-7 at halftime, had been surgical on offense and had already forced Kentucky into an early turnover that resulted in more points for the Vols.

There were huge implications for the loser in this game. Even though Kentucky touted an undefeated record, a loss to Tennessee would have resulted in missing out on two prestigious bowl games and a conference championship game. If UK lost the Nokia Sugar Bowl or the BCS National Championship Game would be out of the question. The winner of this game had the right to represent the SEC East in the SEC Championship game. The loser automatically forces that team to be the #3 team in the SEC and go to the Capital One Bowl due to the SEC west leader gaining the #2 spot in the SEC at the very least.
“It started out just as I had imagined it,” said a reprieved Coach Kelly Fife. “They came in and scored right away, and then we turned it over early. Of course Hardesty was just unstoppable. He could do no wrong.” Hardesty, who’s skills at running back and wide receiver rival those of anyone else in the country, caught a 37 yard pass from Jonathan Crompton to go ahead 14 – 0. “It was a nightmare, but I knew we had to weather the storm,” said Fife. “I thought it was going to get picked but Micha Johnson just missed time the ball. It was a huge relief for me,” said Barrett.

Not only was Hardesty unstoppable, the Vols played “keep away” with the Cats limiting the Cats time of possession and more importantly, limiting Kentucky’s opportunities to score. “The guys on defense were exhausted; they were sucking down oxygen like their lungs depended on it.” When Kentucky did get on offense, they ran multiple “no-huddle” plays to make up for lost time. “When we saw some mismatches, we tried to exploit that to our maximum ability, which resulted in a lot more no huddle than usual,” said Fife.

“We had a game plan that was near flawless. My only concern was how many times we would end up turning it over,” said Barrett. That concern turned into a reality when Crompton was intercepted 3 times with one being returned for a touchdown which Purdue Coach Matt Adams likes to refer to as a “Joey Elliot Special”. “That was a big turnaround for us and it gave our offense the confidence to play flawless football in the second half,” said Fife.
Far from flawless, again, was the kicking game for Kentucky. After Kentucky made a game tying touchdown Lones Seiber came into the game and missed the extra point that would have given Kentucky a one point lead. “He flat out missed it. He’s never missed one while I’ve been at UK and he missed it in the biggest game of his life.” Lones commented on the kick, “I still don’t know what happened. I lined up correctly, the angle of the kick was good but it hit the right upright. I still don’t know what happened!!!” Worse was the missed field goal that would have given Kentucky another opportunity to take the lead. “I was just off on that one. I didn’t push it far enough left,” said Seiber. “I’m very disappointed in Lones. I truly believe that if we lose a game this year it will be in direct connection with our kicking game.”

Luckily for Kentucky the defense woke up and willed the Cats to a 27-20 victory. It was sealed with another Paul Warford interception. “That man is an All American! There is just no doubt,” said Fife. With that Kentucky simply kneeled on the ball and was able to escape with a win. “I feel like there was unfinished business left out on that field,” said Fife. “Next year we go to their place and it should definitely be fun no matter the outcome.”
It was obvious that some of the coaches in attendance of the game were disappointed with the outcome Coach Fife mentioned. "Obviously there is a lack of respect for what I've done with this school. Other coaches really want to seem my kids lose. It really gives us more motivation to compete. We don't demand respect, and we'll continue to compete. I respect all of the coaches in this league. It's very disappointing that it isn't returned. Just remember that I won't forget what was done if our teams ever cross the same path. "

Monday, January 05, 2009

Comeback Cats! Cats claw back from 20 point deficit to beat Arkansas

Fayetteville, Arkansas – In retrospect Coach Kelly Fife should have seen this contest to be a potential trap game. Of course the big match up being Kentucky vs. Tennessee the following week. Arkansas came hobbling into this showdown with only one win on their belt. Arkansas proved to be the best one win team in the nation by taking the University of Kentucky into overtime before falling 33-27.
“That has to be the best 1-9 team I’ve ever played against,” said a very relieved Coach Fife. “They made us very aware that we are still vulnerable.” When asked for a response to the ‘best 1-9 team’ comments made by Fife, Coach Petrino seemed distant and unconcerned while watching the last coverage of the New York Jets coaching search. “I’m not too concerned with that Coach Fife said, but did you hear that the Jets have the head coaching position open? Anybody know who they’re planning to interview? I can be made available. Seriously, I love Arkansas but I’ve always dreamed of coaching the Jets! I do great interviews. I’ve had lots of practice!”

The game started out horrendous for Kentucky. Arkansas punched in 3 straight touchdowns on the Cats. The one positive play was a missed extra point by the Razorbacks kicker which kept the lead at 20-0. Two scores were contributed by Arkansas offense lead by ex-Michgan quarterback Ryan Mallet. The other score was given to Arkansas by UK’s own Mike Hartline.

“It was a simple miscommunication with the receiver. He went to a post route when I thought he was running a slant,” said Hartline. The simple miscommunication sent the Arkansas faithful into a frenzy. UK ended the first half down 3-20.

“I made sure every player in that locker room knew that the game was not over. It was, I’ll admit, a little bit of damage control,” said Fife. “The boys play hard until the final whistle. I’m really proud them.” That final whistle didn’t sound until overtime where Kentucky came roaring back behind Mike Hartline, Alfonso Smith, Lones Seiber, and Demareo Ford.
Ford caught the potential game tying touchdown with eight seconds left to play in regulation. Seiber capped it off with the game tying extra point. “They tried to ice me which was the first of my career,” said Seiber. “Had Seiber missed, he’d still be walking back to Lexington,” said Fife. “You’re joking right,” said an uneasy Seiber. “Coach never told me that…”

With the game in overtime Arkansas missed their field goal on their first possession. “We iced him. It’s the first time it’s worked,” said Fife. On Kentucky’s possession, they drove down to the one yard line and Hartline scored on a keeper to seal the victory. When asked how he felt Hartline responded “Pure relief!”

Notes

Kentucky had their first punt of the year against Mississippi State which resulted in a punt return touchdown for the dogs but Kentucky still won the game.



Thursday, January 01, 2009

Defense, Dierking key rivalry win

For one half, it looked like the Purdue Boilermakers would let their continually descending BCS position get into their heads and spoil the season.

But Purdue got it together in the second half, surging to a 28-14 win over arch-rival Notre Dame.

They can thank Jimmy Clausen for giving them a little help. Clausen threw two costly interceptions; one led to a touchdown, the other came in the endzone.

"Clearly, we did some things right on defense," Coach Matt Adams said. "We played a lot of zone and couldn't get a lot of pressure on Clausen. But when we did get in his face, it helped us make some big plays. That's what pressure always does."

The Fighting Irish struck first, with Clausen hitting George West for a 28-yard score.

"The linebacker (Kevin Green) almost got to that one," Clausen revealed after the game. "George wanted it more. It was a great start."

Notre Dame's stingy defense stifled the Boilermakers on their first possession of the game. After moving the ball to inside the red zone, Purdue faced a fourth and three situation. Instead of taking the field goal, Adams went for it.

"I thought we'd get a favorable match up, but the pass rush was too much. (Justin) Siller couldn't get away. Sometimes that happens when you gamble," Adams admitted.

The Irish sacked Siller and took over on downs. Notre Dame had momentum and the chance to take a double-digit lead. The opportunity never materialized; Clausen threw an interception to Purdue cornerback David Pender, who blew by Irish players for a 42-yard score. The touchdown swung the momentum, and tied the game.

"Just a poor read on Clausen's part. You know, there's no reason to be diplomatic about this. That was a (expletive) horse (expletive) decision by a spoiled little rich (expletive) who's more concerned about drinking and banging (expletives) than he is about winning (expletive) football games," Coach Krildog erupted during his postgame press conference.

"I swear to everything holy and sacred, that little (expletive) is gonna be the death of me. (Expletive, expletive, expletive)."

Notre Dame got the ball back, eating away most of the second quarter with a drive that culminated in a ten-yard touchdown pass to Duval Kamara. With 1:28 left in the first half, the Irish held a 14-7 lead. Momentum had swung yet again.

Siller rallied his team into field goal position. With 14 seconds left and the ball at the 22-yard line, Purdue took a shot at the endzone. Notre Dame's pass rush stepped up again, dropping Siller for a ten-yard loss. Purdue was forced to use its last timeout and bring out the field goal unit. Usually reliable kicker Chris Summers banged the 49-yard attempt off the left field goal post.

"I could see the look on some of (the players') faces," Adams said. "After that kick, the kids weren't in a good place. I just knew if we'd be able to get something going on our first drive in the second half, it'd be all right. That's exactly what I told them in the locker room."

Siller used favorite targets Kyle Adams and Dan Dierking to drive the ball all the way to the one-yard line. On first and goal, the Boilermakers came out in their spread formation. Siller handed off to Dierking, who ran into the endzone, relatively untouched to tie the game 14-14.

The next drive may have been a lowpoint for the Irish. While Purdue struggled to mount a pass rush, Clausen had time to pick apart the Boilermaker defense. His receivers couldn't make plays. Golden Tate dropped what looked like a sure-fire touchdown pass. Kamara let one go right through his hands. It seemed as if the Fighting Irish had bathed in "anti-stick 'em."

"I've never seen such a (expletive) display of complete (expletive). As tight as these guys are in the locker room, you'd think they'd love to catch a ball," Coach Krildog yelled. "The only balls that haven't dropped around here seem to be in the crotchal region."

The drops forced the Irish to punt, their only one of the game.

Again, Purdue used its short passing game to drive down the field. With 4:03 left to play, Siller ran the speed option left. Notre Dame lost contain on the outside, and Dierking sprinted into the endzone for a 24-yard score that made it 21-14.

"We tried to do something different," Siller said. "We always have that play in that formation, but we haven't called it a lot this year. I have to give credit to coach for shaking it up like that."

"We've been criticized for our inability to run the ball this season," Adams explained. "I don't really care about that. All I know is, when the chips were down today, we were able to find some running room."

Of course, the game wasn't over just yet. After a short kickoff gave the Irish relatively good field position, Clausen hit Kamara for a huge gain. Kamara looked like he was going to be able to outrun Purdue's defense for the game-tying score. Freshman safety Gavin Roberts brought him down from behind just inside the five-yard line. It was Roberts' only tackle.

He wasn't finished quite yet.

Notre Dame ran left for a short gain. On the next play, Clausen came under heavy pressure from the Boilermaker defense. He forced the ball over the middle, where he thought he had a wide open receiver. Instead, Roberts was in the endzone to collect his sixth interception of the season.

"You know, people always call those tackles 'touchdown-saving tackles,'" Roberts said. "I always thought that was stupid. It's not really saving anything unless you come up with a stop. In this case, I was able to come up with the stop, so it was really a 'touchdown-saving tackle.'"

Perhaps devastated by Clausen's second major miscue of the game, the Irish defense could not stop Purdue's offense. Siller and company converted several third-down situations.

"I thought we'd just get into field goal position, kick it, and let the defense do its work. We just kept finding ways to get first downs," Adams said.

With the ball inside the 15-yard line, Dierking had a key run that forced the Irish to use their last timeout. With seven seconds left, he plunged into the endzone for his third rushing touchdown of the game.

"I didn't think the situation through there," Adams explained. "We had the ball there on the one, but there wasn't enough time on the play clock to run it out entirely. If I had it to do all over again, I would've called for the kneel down."

"Oh, what a big (expletive) man he is! Here we are demoralized by another (expletive) turnover by our golden (expletive) boy quarterback, and Adams offers me tears and roses. He can go eat a (expletive)," Krildog said in disgust.

The final touchdown gave Purdue a 28-14 lead; it also meant the Boilermakers outscored the Fighting Irish 21-0 in the second half.

Notes

Dierking had nine carries for 42 yards and three touchdowns; he also added five catches for 40 yards...Siller was sacked a season-high three times...after throwing four interceptions last week, Siller completed 28 of 33 passes for 243 yards with no touchdowns or picks...Kyle Adams had another standout game, reeling in seven balls for 52 yards...Purdue was 6-8 in third down situations...Anthony Kellner caught four balls for 63 yards and nearly broke a long touchdown play...Ryan Tyson led the Boilermakers with eight tackles...Gavin Roberts' six interceptions lead the team and put him in second place in the Big Ten...Kellner leads the conference with 802 receiving yards and is tied for the Big Ten lead with nine touchdown receptions...Pender's three touchdown returns are tied for second in the NCAA...Ryan Tyson has 61 tackles, the third-best total in the Big Ten