Saturday, August 30, 2014

Purdue vs. Western Michigan: Prediction Time!

Below are our predictions for the opener. Boiler Up! 

"I think we're looking at a better start than Coach Hazell's first season. 

How much better, though? I'm not very sure. How will the offense compare from last season's miserable numbers? Can Purdue get stops at the right times? 

I think the Boilermakers will come out hungry and looking to make a statement. The work ethic of the players, and their attention to detail, is slowly improving. 

I'll keep my prediction short and to the point so I can get out to tailgating this morning. Danny Etling throws three touchdowns to no interceptions, including two to DeAngelo Yancey. 

Defensively, Ja'Whaun Bentley immediately makes his presence felt with a strong performance. Ryan Russell registers a sack. 

Purdue starts off the season in convincing fashion against a Western Michigan team that is playing a lot of freshmen. 

Purdue 31 
Western Michigan 10" 


Game 1: Purdue vs. Western Michigan
"Although I have an idea what to expect from Purdue's offense schematically, I honestly don't know what we will see in terms of execution and overall production.  Seeing as WMU had a worse run defense than Purdue last year (which is hard to fathom), I would tend to think that a healthy dose of Raheem Mostert will be seen tomorrow.  I will be surprised if he turns into an every down back this year, but I think he will absolutely get that shot tomorrow. My guess? 25 carries for about 90 yards and a score at some point. 
As for the passing game, we have heard from Coach Shoop that Danny Etling will be asked to make quick, accurate, and confident throws so hearing that tells me there will only be a few shots downfield.  Given the production from Yancey last year, having a healthy group of complimentary wide receivers, and a nice tight end duo, I can see the passing game being a pleasant surprise.  I'll say Etling goes 19-37 for 240 yards and 2 scores. 
That brings our point total so far to 21. My score prediction in the season preview was 34-17, and that should be just about right.  Throw in 2 field goals and a special teams touchdown or Akeem Hunt lightning bolt run and you're right there. 34 points for Purdue is my call. 
Defensively, I think, actually I hope, that we see a more physical Purdue team and a more fundamentally sound tackeling Purdue team than last year.  We will get burned more than once, but I don't think the dam will break in this first game.  I'd venture to guess we will give up 3 scoring drives for 17 points. 
So there you have it, Boilers win the season opener 34-17.  I don't think it will be a flawless performance, but should be good enough to peak a little interest from fans and to get a comfortable W. 
Boiler Up. Hammer Down. Hail Purdue" 

-Conner Clinkenbeard 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Purdue vs Western Michigan: 4th Down

From everything we have heard from the coaching staff and the players, this year's team is ready to go and ready to compete as hard as they possibly can. The question is though, will we see the same from the fan base?  There's no doubt that the administration isn't pulling any punches in their efforts to get more butts in seats. 

From the new south end zone renovation (which I think will actually be really really cool), to offering free student tickets, to upgrading all concession offerings, there is definitely an effort being made to enhance the game day experience for those taking their Saturday to attend. 

Purdue sports has long had a history of fans being very selective with their attendance; when the Boilers are winning, crowds are good. When they're not.... the crowds stay home.  The ability to watch at home on TV has some part in the lack of attendance, but overall, it's the performance on the field that largely dictates the crowd on game day.  

I think, and I honestly hope, that this team at least gives us fans something to cheer for.  I'm not asking for 8 wins, I know that isn't realistic.  All I'm asking for as a fan is exactly what we didn't get in Danny Hope's last 2 years: effort, execution, and heart.  If you leave it all on the field and get beat, oh well better luck next time. If this team has that sort of give it all attitude it will draw the fans back in.  

My hope is that this team plays hard enough for a good amount of fans to come in from the tailgate fields and support their Boilermakers.  This team should be much improved from last year, whether the win and loss columns show it or not.  I know I will be watching for subtle improvements like execution, heart, and physicality; but will other Purdue fans view it the same way? Here's hoping they do and this team gets some great support as the season goes on.  I truly believe they are heading in the right direction, and great fan support would go a long way in helping this team develop.  

Cheer when they win.  Support when they lose.  Appreciate the effort.  It will all be worth it in the end. 

Boiler Up. Hammer Down. Hail Purdue. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Purdue vs. Western Michigan: 3rd Down

3rd Down: Is the Culture Really Changing? 

Purdue football in the last 10 years has left so many people apathetic toward the program.

Graduates, students, and people in the community have found fewer and fewer reasons to care. People ask, "Why should we care when the team clearly doesn't?"

While that negativity isn't a positive for the program, it's even more important what the attitude inside of the locker room is. It has without a doubt been low lately.

In the Danny Hope era, there was a major disconnect between fans and the team. Most practices were closed to the media. People had no clue what the payers were doing to prepare for a rigorous Big Ten schedule. Were they taking extra time to work out? Were they studying film?

The man's done this before. Photo is from
Hazell's staff, in the current era of open practices and transparency, has been clear about changing a laid-back culture to one of hard work. The coaches and players alike have talked constantly about how peer pressure has become the norm. Nobody wants to go 1-11 again, so the players have held each other accountable and spent as much time as possible working to improve.

One of the most interesting cases I heard about came with Ryan Russell. The guy is a senior who, despite people constantly talk up his potential, has never really lived up to any hype. In 2013, the defensive end registered two sacks in the first two games...and none the rest of the year. From what I've heard, he's been put through rigorous workouts meant to help him "catch up" to where he needs to be physically as a senior.

A friend of mine told me they saw Ryan Russell on campus...and he looks like a completely different person.

The team, I imagine, will be different as well.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Purdue vs. Western Michigan: 2nd Down

2nd Down: Kicker? Who wants to be the kicker?

While the question of who is going to be this year's main kicker may not tickle the twine of some people, it does for me.  Last year's kicking game was, well, abysmal.  Our kickoffs were always returned and field goals were nothing more than a crapshoot.

Paul Griggs, who handled most of the field goal kicking last year, came out of high school as a relatively highly rated kicker.  He has shown the ability to have a decent leg, but obviously accuracy has been the issue. He is a junior this year and is the incumbent to the head kicking job.

Also around from last year is Thomas Meadows.  Last year he was the main kickoff "specialist", however the kickoffs really were more of a disadvantage than they were in our favor the majority of the time.

The newcomer to the bunch is Ian MacDougall, a 5th year senior who just transferred to Purdue for his final season of eligibility after previously playing at Wabash College in Crawfordsville.

For the sake of objectivity, I will first lay out the stats from last year. Remember though, MacDougall's stats must be taken with a grain of salt because of the competition level.

Field Goals on the Season
Griggs: 6-12 (50%) with a long of 47 yards
Meadows: 0-0
MacDougall: 15-17 (88%) with a long of 45

Kickoffs on the Season
Griggs: None
Meadows: 37 attempts for a total of 2184 yards, 59 yd average, with 6 touchbacks
MacDougall: 81 attempts for a total of 4842 yards, 59.8 yd average, with 34 touchbacks

None of our current kickers attempted a punt in 2013. Reports from camp are that Meadows will be the sole punter this season.

(Seeing as Meadows did not attempt a field goal last year and because of reports from camp, he will be eliminated from the field goal kicking discussion. Likewise since Griggs did not attempt a kickoff last year he will be eliminated from the kickoff discussion.)

So off of sheer numbers, it would look like MacDougall is more accustomed to seeing the ball go through the uprights.  It was not against the type of rush or line that Griggs faced, but it was the same ball, over the same goal posts, from the same size hashes.  With an offense that may still struggle to find pay dirt, ensuring 3 points on a stalled drive will be crucial this year. My vote for starting placekicker?
Ian MacDougall

As for the kickoffs?  Again, it looks to me like MacDougall has the edge.  Their average kick was nearly identical, but MacDougall forced a touchback 42% of the time while Meadows could only muster a touchback 16% of the time. Even taking into account the difference in competition, to me, kicking is kicking. My vote to kick off the 2014 season (literally)?
Ian MacDougall

So there you have it. The way I see it Paul Griggs may just be the odd man out this year. I would assume with 2 seasons under his belt he will at least get a shot at some point, but I really do expect MacDougall to get the lions share of field goal opportunities at least in the early going.

That's all for 2nd Down, stay tuned for 3rd Down coming up tomorrow from Jackson!

Boiler Up. Hammer Down. Hail Purdue.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Purdue vs. Western Michigan: 1st Down

Let's start out this season's posts with the happiest thought of all:

For those who aren't familiar with how Boilermaker Blitz works during football season, the weekly schedule basically looks like this:

Monday: 1st Down - Topic surrounding the upcoming game 
Tuesday: 2nd Down - Topic surrounding the upcoming game 
Wednesday: 3rd Down - Topic surrounding the upcoming game 
Thursday: 4th Down - Topic surrounding the upcoming game 
Friday: Prediction Time - Conner and I will each say what we thing is going down on Saturday. 

Should something come up, we'll be sure to talk about it and bring you all more Purdue content. As far as the "4 Downs" posts go, we'll try to make each of them as interesting as we can. 

I'll start by talking about something that has me genuinely stoked (even though the outlook for 2014 is still somewhat grim): 

1st Down: Those Freshman Linebackers 

With everything I've been hearing out of camp in Darrell Hazell's second season at Purdue, it really sounds like a culture change is starting to take effect. 

It was quite noticeable in the early part of 2013 that many of the older players weren't buying in. Coach Hazell became fed up with what he was seeing and moved less-than-productive (and likely Hope-smitten) seniors out of the way in order to develop youth. 

Offensively, Danny Etling and DeAngelo Yancey saw the field quickly. Both were true freshmen...and both showed signs of what the future might bring. On the defensive side, everything changed up front. Replogle, Pamphile, and Howard saw time. It's arguable that all three have upside, but Ra'Zahn's tremendous girth and athleticism make him an interesting option as the middle down lineman in a 3-4 scheme. 

I have two names that every Purdue fan should remember. One of them, Gelen Robinson, is already well-known among the Boilermaker faithful as he's the son of basketball legend Glenn Robinson. 

Robinson is one thing, but nobody seems to have heard of Ja'Whaun Bentley. How did he get into the first team defense so quickly?
Ja'Whaun Bentley in high school.
Photo belongs to 

The guy is huge, for one. At 6-2 and 245 pounds, Bentley is a monstrous person.

I would imagine both he and Robinson will be immediate upgrades for Purdue. Linebacker has been such a serious position of need for the Boilermakers in the last 10 years...and it's one that's critical in a physical league like the Big Ten.

Gelen was moved to a rush end/jack linebacker position in camp and could potentially stay there, given the natural ability he's shown with rushing quarterbacks during a stellar high school career. He recorded 46 sacks in four seasons, including 11 as a senior.

It's also fair to note how productive Robinson was as a wrestler. He went a combined 101-0 as a high school upperclassman.

Losing clearly isn't Robinson's thing. What he and Bentley bring will be crucial as the attitude, and results, change in West Lafayette. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Boilers Bowl Bound?

With a seemingly manageable schedule, are our Boilers going to get to that magical number and go bowling this year after a hellacious 1 year hiatus? I say no, but that doesn't mean this team won't have a successful and productive season though.  Now that we have a starting quarterback set (some would argue this was never really in question), it's time to look ahead to the full schedule and what we can reasonably expect from this football team.

Week 1: vs Western Michigan
This is the type of game most Big Ten programs use as a warmup game to get their rotations set and work out a few last minute kinks.  We proved last year that these games can't be taken for granted when you're rebuilding a program from the ground up, and we cannot take them for granted this year. I think this year's team matches it's 2013 win total with a week 1 victory. Sloppy, but effective: 34-17.  1-0

Week 2: vs Central Michigan
We continue with the theme of playing directional Michigan schools, but this won't be the same Chippewas that have given power 5 conference teams fits in the past. A 6-6 team last year, I think the Boilers will be able to handle CMU and get to 2-0: 23-10

Week 3: vs Notre Dame at Lucas Oil Stadium
Well, we all know this script pretty well.  Purdue is a big underdog. Purdue plays unexpectedly well. Notre Dame gets a few "we are Notre Dame" calls. Notre Dame's vaunted recruiting classes actually look like just that. Notre Dame "escapes" and wins.  Not sure I see much different this year. Even with the Irish missing 4 starters, they will still be heavy favorites and will probably win a closer-than-most-expected one: 20-17

Week 4: vs Southern Illinois
This year's FCS opponent for Purdue. Shouldn't be as nerve wracking as the ISU near debacle last year. Boilers start to show some of that Hazell moxy and win 45-14

Week 5: Homecoming vs Iowa
In a similar fashion to the Notre Dame game, I think Purdue keeps this one within arms reach throughout, but in the end just isn't quite ready to jump up and bite a mid to upper level B10 team yet. They fall on homecoming 27-17.

Week 6: at Illinois
Outside of Indiana, this is Purdue's best shot at a road win in 2014. The only problem is, the Illini probably have the newcomer of the year in starting QB Wes Lunt.  I don't think this young Boilers team has what it takes to get this on on the road: 24-20.

Week 7: vs Michigan State
If you're able to look past the fact that we didn't actually score, this game in East Lansing last year was probably Purdue's best game of the year. They battled the eventual Rose Bowl champions well into the 4th quarter but just couldn't muster any offense with an 18 year old behind center. This year will probably not be as close. MSU wins going away: 40-10

Week 8: at Minnesota
On the surface this looks to be another shot at a road win, a la Illinois, but I love what Jerry Kill is doing up in gopher land. They came on strong last year and I think are going to surprise a lot of people this year as well.  They stay a year or so ahead of Purdue's rebuilding process and take this one 28-20.

Week 9: at Nebraska
The 3rd leg of a 4 game stretch that's the real meat of this schedule, I find it hard to see a team coming off 4 straight losses winning one in Lincoln.  Bo Pelini and his cat probably take this one. 35-17.

Week 10: vs Wisconsin
No. Just no. The Badgers tend to run for about 900 yards annually on the Boilers. Should be a little less this year with our improvement at LB, but still Purdue isn't there yet. Wisky wins 47-27.

Week 10: vs Northwestern
Seeing that Northwestern 1) absolutely imploded last year, 2) lost their starting RB, 3) lost a really solid WR, and 4) had the whole labor union thing disrupt their offseason I think Purdue gets off the schnide here and gets Darrell Hazell's first Big Ten win.  Purdue's defense makes a nice statement towards the end of the season. 34-14.

Week 11: at Indiana
I think this is the year that IU will actually have a better than average shot to get to a bowl game.  I also think that they will need to beat Purdue on November 29th to get there. Not up in here. Purdue ends the season on a nice little winning streak and dashes IU's bowl hopes, 42-35.

I could see the win total fluctuating 1 win either way, but if we go below 4 wins this year I think that's a pretty big problem. The first 4 games are going to be very telling. If they take care of business vs the non-AQ teams I think 6 wins is an outside possibility. If not, well... that's for another post.

5 wins is not a bad result from this season IMO.  It's not a full turnaround, but would show nice progress.  Above that is gravy.  If this team plays hard and cleans up the garbage that turned off fans during Hope's last 2 years I think we will be back to having a product that's fun to watch and root for. I think they will be able to do that this year and personally look forward to watching Coach Hazell mold this program into a perennial winner. This year is step 2; and it's going to be a step up.

Boiler Up. Hammer Down. Hail Purdue.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Calling the Bullpen

Hey Boilermaker fans!  My name is Conner Clinkenbeard and I am a proud 2011 graduate of Purdue University and thanks to Jackson I am a new writer here on Boilermaker Blitz.  I was born and raised in Indiana so basketball has always been in my blood.  Growing up in Terre Haute I witnessed some of the great cinderella moments of the 2000s with the Indiana State Sycamores, such as Michael Menser's game winning 3 against the Loosiers and an NCAA first round 13-4 upset victory over Oklahoma.

I grew up a fan of mid major basketball and in particular Missouri Valley basketball, so when I got here to Purdue in 2007 it was like I'd been watching this style of basketball all my life, because I had.  The Keady and Painter coaching trees are littered with guys that came up through the Valley and undersized, hard-nosed, defensive basketball has dominated that league over the years.

But enough about the Valley.  I was fortunate enough to have my 4 years on campus in God's country be the same 4 years of the second coming of a Purdue Big 3.  During that awesome 4 year run I was a part of things that seem legendary now.  We camped out all night not just for the best seats for games, but just to be in the Paint Crew!  Spots were (and technically still are) limited and if you didn't wait all night in line you did not get in.  I was there for Game Day when we showed out not only as a fan base but as a team by shellacking MSU.  I went on road trips to West Virginia, Michigan, and Indiana with the crew.  I was court side for the most ear splitting sports environment in recent memory when our Boilers rocked West Virginia on New Years Day.

If you can't tell, my passion is for college basketball.  But I am a huge football fan as well.  An ardent Colts fan and Curtis Painter apologist, I loved watching a former Boiler play for Indy even if it was undeniably rough. I still remember where I was when we damn near went into Eugene and took down Oregon.  I was in the stands when we nearly did it in Ross Ade too.  I was on the field after an Ohio State victory, and singing the fight song in the stands after Coach Tiller's last beatdown of IU in 2008.  I'm excited to bring the same passion, intensity, and opinion to Boilermaker Blitz that I do every time I spar with all my friends that would fall into the category of IU cronies.  Feel free to throw opinions right back at me, a little back and forth is always healthy!

Boiler Up. Hammer Down. Hail Purdue.