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Posts Tagged ‘Purdue Boilermakers’

Michigan vs Purdue quick thoughts

Thursday, January 24th, 2013


#2 Michigan vs Purdue
Thursday, Jan. 24 | 7pm ET | ESPN
17-1 (4-1) Record 10-8 (3-2)
Slippery Rock 100-62
IUPUI 91-54
Cleveland State 77-47
Pittsburgh 67-62
Kansas State 71-57
NC State 79-72
Bradley 74-66
W. Michigan 73-41
Arkansas 80-67
Binghamton 67-39
West Virginia 81-66
E. Michigan 93-54
C. Michigan 88-73
Northwestern 94-66
Iowa 95-67
Nebraska 62-47
#9 Minnesota 83-75
Wins Hofstra 83-54
UNC-Wilmington 66-40
Clemson 73-61
Lamar 72-39
Ball State 66-56
William & Mary 73-66
#11 Illinois 68-61
Penn State 60-42
Nebraska 65-56
West Virginia 79-52
#15 Ohio State 53-56 Losses Bucknell 65-70
Villanova 81-89 OT
Oregon State 58-66
Xavier 57-63
E. Michigan 44-47
#22 Notre Dame 68-81
#18 Michigan State 61-84
#15 Ohio State 64-74
79.3 Points/Game 66.8
59.5 Scoring Def. 61.1
526-for-1,032 (51.0%) FG % 450-for-1,064 (42.3%)
410-for-1,008 (40.7%) Def. FG % 390-for-1,018 (38.3%)
154-for-376 (41.0%) 3-point % 80-for-253 (31.6%)
116-for-366 (31.7%) Def. 3-Pt % 85-for-275 (30.9%)
222-for-311 (71.4%) FT % 223-for-355 (62.8%)
12.1 FT Made/Gm 12.4
37.2 Reb/Game 41.2
28.8 Opp. Reb/Gm 34.1
15.9 Assists/Gm 13.8
9.7 TOs/Gm 12.7
5.5 Steals/Gm 5.2
2.8 Blocks/Gm 4.9
G – Trey Burke (18.0) G – Tim Hardaway Jr. (16.4) Lead. Scorer G – Terone Johnson (13.3) G/F – D.J. Byrd (10.4)
F – Glenn Robinson (5.8) F – Mitch McGary (5.7) Lead. Reb. C – A.J. Hammons (6.3) G – Terone Johnson (4.7)

Last week Michigan had perhaps its two toughest games of the season within a five-day period when the Wolverines traveled to both Columbus and Minneapolis to take on top-15 Ohio State and Minnesota on the road. They came out of the brutality with a respectable 1-1 mark after avenging the Sunday loss to the Buckeyes with an impressive 83-75 win over the Golden Gophers.

Now, they look to carry that momentum into tonight’s game against the struggling Boilermakers of Purdue before entering another very difficult stretch in the Big Ten season. Still without a signature loss on the resume, Purdue will come out tonight with their best effort to take down the team everyone seems to be talking about. If Michigan gets through this game and a Sunday battle in Champaign, Ill. unscathed, the Wolverines will likely be rewarded with the top ranking in the country, but a loss tonight would again hold them back. Here are three keys to the game:

1. Make Purdue Shoot: There is really no secret as to why Purdue has struggled thus far in the 2012-13 season and has lost to the likes of Bucknell, Villanova, Xavier, and Eastern Michigan: they can’t shoot the basketball. Senior D.J. Byrd has taken nearly half of Purdue’s threes and makes them at a decent clip (36.5%), but there are very few others on Matt Painter’s roster that provide a consistent deep threat. Of the players who see more than 10 minutes of court time per game, Raphael Davis makes the highest percentage of his bombs at 38.5 percent, but he has only taken 13 shots from behind the arc, and junior Terone Johnson has improved his stroke this year, but his 35.2 percent rate from three is unimpressive.

None of the six other Boilermakers who play significant minutes make even one quarter of their deep looks, and half of those guys have yet to attempt a trey all season. Michigan continues to struggle at times defending the long ball, most recently letting Minnesota nail half of their 16 three-point attempts, but they would be well-advised in this game to dare Purdue to beat them with shots they are uncomfortable taking. Obviously, it would be unwise to leave Byrd open or anybody else wide open on a consistent basis, but Michigan can and should bait Purdue into taking contested three-point looks as opposed to contested looks in the paint, where they are likely to execute better.

2. Play Aggressive Defense: One of the hotly-debated topics in college basketball these days, particularly for Michigan fans, is the strategy involved in teams that foul frequently versus teams that foul infrequently. The Wolverines are in the latter category, putting their opponents on the line fewer times per 40 minutes than any other team in the country, and John Beilein likes it that way. But many argue that Michigan can afford to play tougher defense, even though it may result in more fouls, as long as it also improves their aggressiveness on the defensive end and causes teams to shoot a low enough percentage to make it make sense. The time to try this might never be better than tonight.

Leaving Purdue off the free throw line will not avoid much damage, as the Boilermakers only make 63 percent of their attempts from the charity stripe as a team, but it could lead to more open looks and easy layups. Terone Johnson, A.J. Hammons, and Ronnie Johnson (Terone’s brother) will rarely beat anyone from long range or from the free throw line (60.1% combined), but they can make layups. Terone Johnson destroyed Michigan on Senior Day in Ann Arbor last year, spoiling the Wolverines’ undefeated home record, by lowering his shoulder and driving hard to the hoop en route to 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the field (0-for-1 from downtown). Michigan needs to make sure they are playing strong, aggressive team defense to close all driving lanes on players like Johnson to make Purdue work hard for any basket or shot they get.

Terone Johnson ruined Michigan's senior night last season

3.Get Stauskas Involved: Michigan has all the makings of a team that can make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament in March – an All-American point guard, a cold-blooded veteran scorer, a variety of options down low, a superb athlete that finishes everything around the hoop, and a dead-eye shooter – but for that dream run to become a reality, Michigan will need every part clicking. Trey Burke has been about as consistent as it gets and Tim Hardaway, Jr. played tremendously in the win at Minnesota, but freshman Nik Stauskas has been regressing slightly in conference play.

Earlier in the season, the Canadian sniper was making nearly two-thirds of his three-point looks and surprised the crowd more when he missed a deep bomb than when he made one. His swagger was off the charts and he mentioned a couple time how he could not wait to play in the hostile road environments in the Big Ten. Last week, however, Stauskas went scoreless against Ohio State and put up 11 on Minnesota, combining to go 1-of-7 from deep, showing that he still has a ways to go before becoming a bona fide scorer.

He will continue to be an integral part of this team’s season, though, and Michigan would be wise to get him as many open looks as possible tonight to get his confidence back on track and his shooting percentage a couple points up. The two games last week ended a 12-game streak in which Stauskas drained multiple threes every night out, and the donut marked the first time since early November that he failed to score double-digits. Nik has already shown that he is much more than a one-dimensional shooter and can produce even when his shot is slightly off, but his best asset is still that deadly stroke that can be such a game-changer in close battles. Watch for Beilein to draw up a couple of set plays to get Stauskas open looks and look for him to lead the team in scoring with around 18 points.

Prediction: Purdue has won three straight games against lesser talent and will be looking for a signature, resume-making win tonight in Ann Arbor, but the Boilermakers simply do not have the talent or the shooting to get the job done. Michigan should put the game away by halftime and roll after that behind a strong performance from Stauskas and a double-double from Mitch McGary. Wolverines move to 18-1 with an 82-58 win.

M&GB pick’em: Purdue staff predictions

Friday, October 5th, 2012


Against Notre Dame, we all expected a much higher scoring game by both teams. If you had told any of us that Michigan would go the entire game without a touchdown, we would have laughed in your face. But alas, a plethora of untimely turnovers doomed Michigan’s chances of reaching the end zone and we were all way too high with our picks. This week, it’s safe to say Michigan will get back on track, but it won’t be easy. Let’s take a look at our picks.

M&GB PREDICTION SUMMARY
____________________________

Justin: Michigan 30 – Purdue 21
Chris: Michigan 31 – Purdue 14
Josh: Michigan 21 – Purdue 17
Sam: Michigan 35 – Purdue 17
Katie: Michigan 24 – Purdue 21
Matt: Michigan 38 – Purdue 28

___________________________

Average: Michigan 30 – Notre Dame 20

Justin: Expect Purdue to put up a good fight through two or three quarters, possibly right down to the end, but Michigan should pull away. As has been mentioned multiple times, Purdue has a very realistic chance of winning the Big Ten this season, so the Boilers will be hungry. But expecting Denard to make the same mistakes he did against Notre Dame is wishful thinking if you’re a Purdue fan. Al Borges will employ a much more controlled offensive gameplan, keeping Denard both under control in the passing game and turning him loose with his feet. If Marshall and Notre Dame can put up big numbers through the air, Michigan can too and will outscore the Boilers.

For previous analysis, see the First Look, Friend vs Foe, and this morning’s game preview.

Michigan 30 – Purdue 21

Chris: The Purdue Boilermakers return 15 starters from last season’s 7-6 squad. Their record so far in 2012 (3-1) is a little deceiving because they have played three fairly weak teams in Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan, and Marshall. Their only loss was a close contest at Notre Dame in Week 2. Because of this schedule, the Purdue offense has looked strong, scoring an average of 42.5 points per game. However, their defense has given up almost 21.

Michigan is coming off of a bye week following their poor performance against Notre Dame in Week 4. I believe that head coach Brady Hoke has used this time to re-focus his team and his quarterback for the start of the Big Ten conference schedule. All of Michigan’s goals for winning the conference championship are well within reach, starting with this week’s game against Purdue. Offensive coordinator Al Borges needs to get Denard going early to get him comfortable and in a rhythm. This means running the spread offense with Denard in the shotgun and letting him do what he does best. Michigan needs to establish the run early so the pass will open up later in the game.

I like Michigan to win this game by keeping it close in the first half by establishing themselves on both sides of the ball. Watch for them to make good halftime adjustments and pull away in the second half.

Michigan 31 – Purdue 14

Josh (1): After a much needed week off, Michigan is now set to resume its season with the first Big Ten conference game as they travel to West Lafayette to take on the Boilermakers. Purdue is an interesting team on offense. Quarterback Robert Marve started the first two weeks in place of a suspended Caleb Terbush, but injured his ACL in the fourth quarter against Notre Dame. Terbush has performed well in the two plus games since he has returned. Their running game is rather good with two solid backs.

DB Ricardo Allen is talented despite Purdue's secondary giving up a lot of yards (photo by John Terhune, Journal & Courier)

Marve has been taking some snaps in practice this week and it has not yet been determined whether he will play. Preparing for two QB’s is never easy, but since neither is a major threat to run the preparations should remain pretty much the same for Greg Mattison. Purdue will be a good litmus test for Michigan as they enter conference play.

Purdue is a fairly balanced team, averaging 262 yards passing and 200 yards rushing, but their strength is in the rush game. The Boilermakers have a bit of a two-headed rushing attack with Akeem Shavers and Akeem Hunt. Shavers gets the bulk of the carries but Hunt is a very capable back who makes the most of his touches, averaging a stellar 9.4 yards per carry.

On defense, the Boilermakers are coming off a win over Marshall in which they surrendered over 500 yards, 439 of which came through the air. The game was a shootout and Marshall threw the ball 68 times, so numbers like that can be expected. Still, it’s never a good sign when a defense gives up those types of numbers.

The Boiler defense didn’t allow EMU or EKU to put up big numbers – though EMU did rush for 169 yards – but they let ND threw for over 300 yards. It’s not a bad bunch, and they have a legitimate NFL corner in Ricardo Allen, but they are susceptible to giving up big yards to a good team. Marshall was completely one dimensional last week so it might play into Michigan’s hands to just run the ball until Purdue proves they can stop it.

Michigan’s pass offense, and Denard, have been much maligned by a lot of people. I hate to say it, but I am one of those people. I love Denard, he’s a great kid and I’ve enjoyed watching him play, but he continues to make too many basic mistakes at inopportune times game after game. However, he is our quarterback and while I may pine for the days of great pocket passers past, he is too dangerous with his feet to not start him.

If Michigan plays like they did last week and turns the ball over half a dozen times, they lose. Plain and simple. But I just don’t see that happening. Not to mention, that despite all those turnovers Notre Dame still barely won the game. Michigan is better than the media wants to give them credit for and Brady Hoke is not going to sit back and let his kids sink into a depression about a bad game against a rival.

The Big Ten title is still within Michigan’s grasp and the road starts in West Lafayette. I’m looking for Al Borges to pare down the aggressive play calling a bit and put Denard in situations to succeed, such as the short passing game and more of the zone read. Fitz is clamoring for more carries and I think he’ll get them. He torched Purdue last season and he’s looking to do it again.

After looking at game tape I’m sure Purdue is going to do what everyone does against Michigan, try to stop Denard from running, and force him to be a pocket passer. If Michigan wants to be successful against Purdue, and the rest of the conference this year, they need Toussaint to step it up and play like he did last year and take some pressure off Denard and the passing game. It boils down to balance on offense, and limiting their turnovers of course.

Fitz Toussaint broke out against Purdue last season. Look for a similar performance tomorrow (photo by Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images)

Mattison will look to employ his same old scheme (it’s a good one) and incorporate his NFL style blitzes to rattle either quarterback. Terbush has thrown the ball exceptionally well percentage-wise, but he has four picks to go along with his seven touchdowns and most of those touchdowns (four) came against Marshall in the shootout. Purdue’s run game could be a huge concern for Michigan if the front seven doesn’t play well.

It should be a hard fought battle with either team capable of coming away with a win. History is on Michigan’s side as they are pretty dominant coming off a bye week. Hoke and Co. will have these kids ready. If Borges finally stops trying to force Denard into being a pocket passer, Michigan wins a close one.

Michigan 21 – Purdue 17

Matt (2): Saturday at 4:00, we have our beloved Michigan Wolverines taking on the Purdue Boilermakers. I see this game being a high scoring game, although not a shoot out like we have seen Michigan in many times before.

Turnovers could be the key. Michigan gave up way too many turnovers in their last game against Notre Dame. If we see that happen again, they very well will lose this game. But if Denard Robinson can play as well as we know he can, we could blow this game wide open.

I could easily see either team walking away with this one. And like I said earlier, turnovers are key. Michigan’s turnover ratio is bad. If their secondary can step up, and slow down this Boilermaker offense, this game can be ours.

I don’t think it’ll be high scoring, but it won’t be low either. Michigan will get the lead early, and hang on to win. Michigan by ten!

Michigan 38 – Purdue 28

Sam: After a debacle in South Bend two weeks ago and a bye week last week, the Michigan Wolverines will travel to West Lafayette to take on the upstart Purdue Boilermakers this Saturday. While most years this might seem like a certain victory on the schedule, Brady Hoke’s team will have to be on its game in the Big Ten opener if they hope to make it back to Ann Arbor with an unblemished conference record. Danny Hope’s team, quarterbacked by Caleb TerBush, is by no means a powerhouse, but so far it has at least looked like a formidable, if unpredictable, foe.

It’s like senior year in college. Purdue is supposed to be a pushover, a team that you can slack against and still get by. But that’s not always the way it goes. The real world (the big boys of the Big Ten, even though it turns out they aren’t as scary this season) lurks around the corner and teachers will force you to work way too hard. In the end, it’s a challenge that is at the very least worrisome. But it’s also a challenge that Michigan should be able to pass.

The Maize and Blue come in as narrow three-point favorites with everything on the line. A loss to open Big Ten season would be devastating with games against Michigan State and at Ohio State still on the table and would obviously mean an uphill battle to their stated goal of a Big Ten Championship. Denard Robinson, it’s your time to shine.

Much has been said about the loss to the Fighting Irish two weeks ago, the only opponent that both Michigan and Purdue have in common so far this year. Robinson threw four interceptions and fumbled the ball once, and no matter how much blame you put on the shoulders of offensive coordinator Al Borges, I don’t think anyone can argue that Robinson played well. He orchestrated a few solid drives but failed to put points on the board, and in the end, the scoreboard is all that counts. Sure, Michigan outgained Notre Dame by 60 yards and Purdue was outgained by them by nearly 100. In the end, however, both teams lost, Michigan by six and Purdue by three.

So what can we take away from this game? As usual, Denard Robinson needs to play well for Michigan to play well. If he coughs up the ball one or zero times, Michigan will win by double digits. If Purdue takes it away two or more times, it’s anyone’s game. Purdue didn’t play well on offense in their 20-17 loss to Notre Dame, but their defense kept them in it until the bitter end, holding Theo Riddick and company to a measly 1.4 yards per carry. The pass defense did them in, having allowed 324 yards and a touchdown on 24-of-39 passing by Everett Golson and Tommy Rees.

Kawann Short is a beast in the middle of the Purdue defensive line

Now this doesn’t mean that Michigan needs to come out chucking downfield. In fact, that is exactly what gets Robinson in trouble most of the time. Borges would be wise to come out pounding the ball away on the outside. The Boilermaker’s Kawaan Short is an All-American defensive tackle, a guy who will cause havoc in both the pass and run games – he must be avoided. The Wolverines should come out running Fitzgerald Toussaint around Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield, and giving Robinson plenty of carries to work his magic as well. Once Purdue realizes the game plan and starts loading the box, Michigan will be able to utilize the play action and work some short throws over the middle and on the outside to get Denard loose.

If Michigan sticks to this plan and the interior line of Ricky Barnum, Elliott Mealer, and Patrick Omameh can at least neutralize Short, Toussaint and Robinson will both run for over 100 and Michigan will start off the Big Ten with a solid, spread-covering win.

Michigan’s defense continues to impress even with a questionable defensive line; the linebackers and secondary have looked staunch in stopping the run and preventing back-breaking pass plays. Greg Mattison’s main focus on that side will be to stop TerBush from killing the corners with dink-and-dunk screens, so expect to see Raymon Taylor and J.T. Floyd play physical with Purdue’s wide receivers on the outside. A couple forced turnovers would be huge, and, as always, preventing plays of over 30 yards will be key. Akeem Shavers will see the bulk of the carries and TerBush will be throwing to a trio of receivers with more than 15 catches in Antavian Edison, O.J. Ross, and Gary Bush, but again, expect the linebackers to stop the run and the secondary to play tough.

In the end, I think Robinson will bounce back in a big way from a very humbling last outing, throwing for 150 yards and two touchdowns and running for another 120 yards and two touchdowns while not turning the ball over once. Toussaint will get going again with 100 yards and a touchdown and Michigan’s defense will hold strong to give the Wolverines their most impressive victory in the young season.

Michigan 35 – Purdue 17

Katie: Well, after last weeks lackluster performance hopefully we’ll see a refreshed offense, but I’m not holding my breathe. The five turnovers that Denard had were really disheartening, not that I didn’t see them in the realm of possibilities after these last few seasons, but I was optimistic, and I was wrong. That being said I can admit when I make mistakes and misjudge a situation.

Denard had a pedestrian performance against Purdue last season, but Toussaint stepped up (photo by Gregory Shamus, Getty Images)

Hoke’s faith in his starting quarterback became the picture of lunacy last week.  Hopefully, he will never again be in the position of having to pull Robinson for an utter lack of composure and vision, but you never know, because Denard is still making throws off of his back foot, and throwing up balls that resemble tennis lobs. It was maddening as a viewer to see that Hoke would not call in the backup, and made me weary of his ability as a coach to make the necessary decisions. That being said I think that while Purdue is a dark horse, Michigan should be able to pick up the pieces and attempt to get back on track to answer whether this cup is half empty or half full.

After all the Wolverines have not yet played a Big Ten team, so their 2-2 record has yet to be defined in terms of the conference. Purdue played Notre Dame close, but ended up with the same results the Wolverines did. But Michigan’s loss falls heavily on the shoulders of a completely inept offense, and an awful strategy for moving the ball. This game will be different. Presumably. The Boilermakers are 3-1, but those wins came against MAC caliber opponents, making Michigan their first real test since facing the Irish, but this time they’ll have home field advantage.

The Boilermakers have been starting well.  Putting up big numbers before halftime, so if Michigan wants to start off on the right foot in Big Ten play they had better show up early.  Purdue has two receivers over two hundred yards receiving, and both of the quarterbacks that they use have better passing percentages than Denard, though that really doesn’t say much. The stat Michigan fans should want to know about is the interceptions, which total eight thus far for the Boilermaker backfield, an impressive number even though they came against teams that are not of the quality they will face this upcoming Saturday. As we saw, Robinson can be a turnover machine, so Purdue having made a couple of picks a game for four games shouldn’t sit well with Wolverine faithful. But the defense for the Michigan is more productive in terms of tackling, which is the meat and bones of that side of the ball. Picks are just the side dish. Defensively Michigan has the edge, and should also in terms of offense, though fans are all well aware of who has to have a productive game for the Wolverines to win. I’m leery of this one.

Michigan 24 – Purdue 21

Michigan vs Purdue game preview

Friday, October 5th, 2012


I’m on a business trip (down in SEC country, no less, so hopefully I can find a bar willing to turn to the Big Ten Network) and haven’t had much spare time the past couple of days, so this is going to be a bit shorter than usual and I apologize for that. Check back around lunch time today for a more in-depth breakdown from our M&GB Staff Predictions. Next week we will resume our regularly scheduled and more detailed programming.

Michigan enters conference play at what feels like a disappointing 2-2 because I still think Notre Dame is very beatable. Alabama isn’t likely to lose all season, so the sting of that loss has long since worn off, but Michigan should be 3-1. But alas, 2-2 it is, and despite that, the season’s main goal – winning the Big Ten championship – is still within reach. The pursuit of that goal begins tomorrow with a trip to West Lafayette, Indiana to face a resurgent Purdue squad that has its own sights sent on a Big Ten title.

Ross-Ade Stadium  -  West Lafayette, Ind.
4pm EST  -  Big Ten Network
______________

Purdue Head Coach: Danny Hope (4th season)
Coaching Record: 19-22 (at Purdue), 54-44 (Overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Gary Nord
Defensive Coordinator: Tim Tibesar
Returning Starters: 13 (6 offense, 7 defense)
Last Season: 7-6 (4-4)
Last Meeting: Michigan 34 – Purdue 16 (2011)
All-time Series: Michigan leads 43-14
Michigan at Purdue: Michigan leads 15-9
Michigan at Ross-Ade Stadium: Michigan leads 12-7
Current Streak: Michigan 2

Michigan has been challenged like no other team in the conference has in the first four games and that will benefit the Wolverines. Purdue, on the other hand, has faced Notre Dame and a bunch of cupcakes. But to their credit, the Boilermakers have looked pretty impressive against them. They hung tough with Notre Dame and beat Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan, and Marshall 30 points – and the Marshall game wasn’t as close as the final score indicates.

So is Purdue as good as its early-season performance, or have the Boilers just benefited from a weak schedule? Let’s look at the matchups.

When Purdue has the ball

Quarterback Caleb TerBush has been consistent this season, completing 51-of-80 passes for 531 yards, seven touchdowns, and four interceptions in thee games (he didn’t play in the season opener). However, most of those numbers were compiled against Eastern Michigan and Marshall. Against Notre Dame, his numbers were even worse than Denard’s, but with fewer interceptions. He completed 8-of-19 for 79 yards, a touchdown, and two picks. His mate Robert Marve had a decent game against the Irish before he got hurt.

There’s a chance Marve could return to action tomorrow, though he’ll be returning from yet another ACL injury, so it’s unlikely that he’ll be much of a difference maker if he does play.

In the backfield, the two Akeems – Shavers and Hunt – carry the load. Shavers has the most carries on the team with 58 for 240 yards and three touchdowns, but Hunt is the big play back with 18 carries for 169 yards (9.4 yards per carry). Sophomore Brandon Cottom is a burner who recorded an 87-yard touchdown run against EMU.

On the outside, Antavian Edison, O.J. Ross, and Gary Bush are the guys to watch. The trio has combined for 67 receptions for 658 yards and nine touchdowns. Edison has caught at least five passes and a touchdown in each game this season, including both touchdowns against Notre Dame. He’s a threat especially on third down and Michigan’s defense will have its hands full with him. Ross also has at least five receptions in every game this season but has yet to find the end zone, while Bush is coming off a seven-catch, 83-yard, three-touchdown performance.

The Boilers have a pretty diverse offense that uses a mix of power and spread, but it favors the spread. They like to throw bubble screens, slants, and crossing patterns to counter pressure, as well as utilize the backs as pass catchers. Michigan had good success in stopping TerBush last year in Ann Arbor and will look to bring a lot of pressure to force him into mistakes like Notre Dame did, both to him and to Denard. Purdue has allowed eight sacks this season, so the ability of Michigan’s front seven to get to TerBush, as well as the secondary to keep the short passing game in check will be a key to watch for.

Rushing Yards: 27 – Denard will pass Chris Perry for 6th in career rushing yards. With 192, he could pass Butch Woolfolk for 5th. With 226, he will be come the Big Ten’s all-time leader in rushing yards by a quarterback, passing Indiana’s Antwaan Randle-El
Rushing Touchdowns: 1 – Denard will pass Chris Perry for 4th in career rushing touchdowns. With 3 he will pass Mike Hart for 3rd.
100 rushing yards: Denard will pass Butch Woolfolk for 5th in career 100-yard rushing games.
Passing Attempts: 33 - Denard will pass Tom Brady and Todd Collins for 4th in career passing attempts.
Pass Completions: 52 – Denard will pass Tom Brady for 5th in career completions.
Passing yards: 91 – Denard will pass Todd Collins for 4th in career passing yards.
Passing Touchdowns: 3 – Denard will pass Rick Leach for 4th in career passing touchdowns.

When Michigan has the ball

Purdue’s defensive front has been stout against the run, ranking 23rd nationally at allowing just 106.5 yards per game. Tackle Kawann Short is a stud. The pass defense, however, is a different story, giving up 248 yards per game through the air. The Boilers’ secondary was projected to be the teams’ strength heading into the season, but so far hasn’t lived up to the expectations. Marshall passed for 439 yards and Notre Dame for 324.

As I said in Wednesday’s Friend vs Foe feature, look for a similar game plan to what I expected to see against Notre Dame. A quick, short passing game to back the defense off and open up the run. I think Al Borges has finally realized that it’s time to stop forcing Denard to be Tom Brady and just let him be Denard. Look for Borges to get Devin Funchess involved again in a big way after a no-show against the Irish.

The other third

Purdue’s kickers, Paul Griggs and Sam McCartney have only attempted two field goals this season and made both. Interestingly, the duo has missed four of 24 extra points already, however. Punter Cody Webster has an average of 44.1 yard per punt with 10 of 15 downed inside the 20. The return game hasn’t been dazzling as the Boilers rank 61st and 84th nationally in kick and punt returns, respectively.

Prediction

It will be closer than most would expect for Michigan against Purdue, but the Boilermakers are in such a unique position that they’ll put up a good fight. With Ohio State and Penn State out of contention and Wisconsin looking very un-Wisconsin, Danny Hope can practically taste the bits of food at the end of his mustache. But Michigan is historically good after a bye week and Michigan’s offense will get back to the basics like it did in the latter half of last season. Forget the fluff, stick to what it does best, and execute.

Michigan 30 – Purdue 21

Friend vs Foe: Purdue edition

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012


Fresh off the bye week, we are proud to feature Travis from the Purdue SB Nation blog Hammer and Rails. He will provide his perspective on how or why Purdue can beat Michigan on Saturday. Remember, this isn’t an actual game prediction. It’s just an attempt to describe how or why each team can win from each side of the matchup.

The case for Purdue
by Travis

Purdue is a team that I am still trying to figure out. It is one that is averaging 45 points per game but hasn’t really played that well offensively. The numbers are a little skewed because we have three defensive scores and we’ve played three pretty lousy defenses. We still have scored the most points of anyone against Notre Dame and had we not been dumb enough to bench a hot Robert Marve for three series against the Irish it probably would have been more.

For now, at least, the quarterback situation is settled. Caleb TerBush is starting and Rob Henry is playing a few wildcat snaps per game. Marve was in street clothes on the sideline last week. He has said he will try to come back and play this season, but no one really trusts his left knee. It is a shame too, because he was playing at a high level and it looked like he was finally living up to his hype.

Defensively I am not too concerned about giving up 41 points last week. Seven came from a blocked punt returned for a touchdown and six more as the result of a questionable penalty call that erased a fourth down stop. Marshall’s offense is also really, really good. They got the bulk of their points after we were already up by four scores and we were sitting back to avoid the big play.

I am most interested to see how our defensive line does against Denard Robinson. Ricardo Allen and Josh Johnson each had pick sixes last week and Allen already has one against Robinson. I am confident in the secondary’s ability against the pass. We have a league leading eight interceptions as a team and Michigan leads the league in thrown INTs.

Kawann Short also has the ability to get after Robinson all day like Ryan Kerrigan did two years ago. Ultimately, it comes down to the Michigan offense. If nearly unstoppable Denard shows up you can beat anyone. If Notre Dame Denard shows up Purdue should win easily.

The case for Michigan
by Justin

Purdue has looked impressive in the early going this season, hanging tough with Notre Dame and blowing out its three cupcakes. As mentioned in Monday’s First Look, the Boilermakers have a top-40 offense that has been pretty balanced (32nd nationally in rushing and 43rd in passing) and high-scoring (42.5 points per game).

Two weeks ago, I questioned whether Notre Dame’s early season hype was simply a result of beating a Michigan State squad that was rated much higher than it should have been. I still think that’s the case despite Michigan losing to the Irish. In a similar vein, it’s hard to tell how good Purdue actually is. The Boilers blew out Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan, and Marshall, but those are some of the worst defensive teams in college football. But against Notre Dame, Purdue held its own, at least on the scoreboard.

Quarterback Caleb TerBush has been steady and running backs Akeem Shavers and Akeem Hunt have averaged 5.4 yards per carry for what is currently the Big Ten’s fourth best rushing offense. Yesterday, Purdue head coach Danny Hope announced that quarterback Robert Marve and running back Ralph Bolden may return from injuries for the Michigan game, which will only enhance the Boilers’ offensive firepower. Michigan’s defense did well to stop Notre Dame, but Purdue’s offense is more balanced, so the Boilers should be able to score some points.

Where Michigan is going to win the game is on the offensive side of the ball. The game plan must get back to what Denard Robinson does best, and that’s a short passing game and using his legs. Purdue’s defensive front is good – 25th nationally with 11 sacks – and its secondary has been giving up chunks of yardage – 81st nationally in pass defense. Offensive coordinator Al Borges can’t sit Denard in the pocket and rely on him to make reads against a pass rush like he did against the Irish.

To beat Purdue, Denard’s going to have to throw the ball, but it needs to be more controlled. Notre Dame passed for 324 yards on Purdue and Michigan can certainly do the same. I think the key to this one is exactly like I said it would be for last week: a dink-and-dunk passing game early on with a long ball here and there to soften the defense before Michigan turns to the run game. If the game plan that was actually put into place last week is rehashed on Saturday, we’ll be in for disappointment. But after last week’s performance, I think even Borges has realized it’s time to just get to doing what we all know Denard can do and stop forcing him to be something he’s not.

5-Spot Challenge: Week 5

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012



Congratulations once again to bluwolf77 for winning a $20 gift card to The M Den in last week’s challenge. I hope you’re well rested after the bye week and ready for the real season to begin. Michigan opens with Purdue on Saturday and it won’t be an easy one. Here are this week’s questions:

Purdue: first look

Monday, October 1st, 2012


Read our preseason Purdue preview here.

With Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for the postseason and Wisconsin looking uninspiring, this might be the year for Purdue to earn a spot in the Big Ten championship game. The Boilermakers blew out Eastern Kentucky in the season opener and then almost shocked Notre Dame in South Bend in Week 2, falling 20-17. Purdue bounced back with convincing wins over Eastern Michigan and Marshall. Are the Boilers for real this year? Let’s take a look.

Purdue 2012 Statistics & Michigan Comparison
Purdue Michigan Rank Opponent Rank
Points Per Game 42.5 | 28.5 13 | 59 20.8 | 23.0 39 | 53
Rushing Yards 806 | 738 426 | 728
Rush Avg. Per Game 201.5 | 184.5 32 | 45 106.5 | 182 23 | 87
Avg. Per Rush 4.9 | 5.1 3.3 | 4.0
Passing Yards 1,048 | 837 992 | 618
Pass Avg. Per Game 262 | 209.2 43 | 89 248 | 154.5 81 | 9
Total Offense 1,854 | 1,575 1,418 | 1,346
Total Off Avg. Per Game 463.5 | 393.8 38 | 74 354.5 | 336.5 43 | 31
Kick Return Average 21.5 | 23.4 61 | 40 20.8 | 23.8 60 | 94
Punt Return Average 6.1 | 5.0 84 | 91 7.7 | 5.2 67 | 46
Avg. Time of Possession 31:14 | 29:22 42 | 72 28:46 | 30:38
3rd Down Conversion Pct 58% | 47% 3 | 32 42% | 44% 83 | 91
Sacks By-Yards 11-83 | 3-45 25 | 116 8-64 | 5-38 67 | 32
Touchdowns Scored 24 | 15 11 | 10
Field Goals-Attempts 2-2 | 3-4 3-6 | 7-10
Red Zone Scores (17-19) 89% | (11-14) 79% 26 | 75 (10-14) 71% | (12-15) 80% 25 | 59
Red Zone Touchdowns (15-19) 79% | (8-14) 57% (7-14) 50% | (7-15) 47%

Purdue has one of the nation’s top scoring offenses so far this season, averaging 42.5 points per game. But aside from Notre Dame, which ranks third nationally and held the Boilers to just 17 points, the defenses they have faced rank 105th (EMU), 120th (Marshall), and 48th in FCS (EKU) in scoring defense. That being said, Purdue managed 11 more points against Notre Dame than Michigan did. That’s perhaps the one game we can use to properly determine how good this Purdue team is.

Danny Hope has amassed a 19-22 record in three-plus years in West Lafayette (photo from PurdueSports.com)

It was the second game of the season, and before we had any indication of how strong either team would be. Notre Dame scored first, but Purdue answered to knot the score at seven at the half. The third quarter was all Notre Dame as the Irish took a 17-7 lead. But Purdue fought back in the fourth, kicking a 33-yard field goal and scoring a touchdown on a 15-yard pass with 2:12 remaining to tie the game. However, Notre Dame marched down the field for the game-winning field goal with seven seconds left. It was the closest game the Irish have played so far and the most points they have allowed.

In that game, Purdue’s offensive numbers were pretty similar to Michigan’s against the Irish – both teams moved the ball pretty well (Michigan had 299 total yards, Purdue had 288) and converted third downs – but Purdue took much better care of the ball (two interceptions versus Michigan’s six turnovers) and converted all three of its red zone chances. In other words, Purdue’s offense was more efficient but still managed to lose. That’s because the defense couldn’t stop Notre Dame’s passing game.

The Irish completed 24-of-39 passes for 324 yards on Purdue’s secondary. It’s a secondary that ranks 81st nationally and may just be the weakness of the team despite entering the season as the projected strength. Marshall passed for 439 yards against the Boilers this past Saturday, but then again, the Thundering Herd have been doing that to everyone this season.

The Purdue rush defense has been strong, having not allowed an individual 100-yard rusher yet this season. Notre Dame managed just 52 total rushing yards and only Eastern Michigan (169) has rushed for over 100 as a team against the Boilers. The stout rush defense is led by tackle Kawann Short who leads the team with seven tackles for loss and four sacks. The leading tackler is linebacker Will Lucas with 25.

Offensively, the Boilers had been rotating Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve at quarterback until Marve tore his ACL against Notre Dame. The job is now held by TerBush with Rob Herny coming in occasionally. TerBush has completed 64 percent of his passes for 531 yards, seven touchdowns, and four interceptions, while Henry has thrown just 15 passes for 103 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. TerBush has the second most carries (20) on the team, behind only running back Akeem Shavers.

Michigan has won two straight in the series after losing to Purdue in 2008 and ’09, but Michigan has dominated the all-time series 43-14. Purdue has its sights set on a historic season with the Big Ten championship game in reach, and Michigan has the same. The conference opener for both teams should be a tough battle and the winner will be one step closer to a Big Ten title.

2012 Opponent Preview: Purdue

Friday, July 20th, 2012


Chugging right along with our 2012 preseason opponent preview series, we take a look at the sixth easiest (or seventh toughest) opponent on the schedule, the Purdue Boilermakers. Previously, we looked at, from easiest to toughest, UMass, Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern, and Iowa.

Overview

If there was ever a year for Purdue to challenge for the Big Ten Leaders Division, this is it. The Boilermakers have a favorable conference schedule, with only Ohio State, Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota on the road and not having to play Michigan State or Nebraska. The rest of the Leaders Division faces big questions, while Purdue returns most of its talent both offensively and defensively.

Kawann Short is a stud in the middle of the Boiler defense

Head coach Danny Hope enters his fourth season in West Lafayette, fresh off the Boilermakers’ first winning season since 2007. That included a bowl win – granted, it was the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, but it was a bowl win and their first since 2007. He hopes that momentum will carry into this season, and with the amount of starters returning, the depth and experience at quarterback, and one of the best defensive linemen in the Big Ten, it should.

Offense

Three quarterbacks, all of whom have starting experience, will battle it out for the starting job and may see a rotation. Last year’s starter, Caleb TerBush, is the leading candidate but he’ll be pushed by Robert Marve who is returning from his second torn ACL. The third, Rob Henry, will likely see time as a change-of-pace Wildcat QB. The three have a combined 4,068 passing yards for 28 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in addition to 849 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Not overwhelming by any means, but certainly more experience than many Big Ten teams bring to the table.

Three of last year’s top four receivers return, including Antavian Edison, who averaged 13.3 yards per catch a year ago. The best position group will be running back which returns last year’s top three rushers. The starter should be Ralph Bolden who is returning from his third torn ACL, but Akeem Shavers and Akeem Hunt will get some time as well.

The offensive line has to replace three starters, so if the offense struggles, that will be your culprit. Center Rick Schmeig started two games at right guard last season. Trevor Foy, Kevin Pamphile, and Justin Kitchens will rotate at the tackle positions, though they don’t have much starting experience and have battled injuries. Right guard Peters Drey started all 12 games in 2010 and was named honorable mention All-Big Ten by the media. However, he missed the second half of last season with a back injury. Robert Kugler, the older brother of Michigan recruit Patrick Kugler, may get a chance to factor in as well.

Date Opponent
Sept. 1 Eastern Kentucky
Sept. 8 @ Notre Dame
Sept. 15 Eastern Michigan
Sept. 29 Marshall
Oct. 6 @ Michigan
Oct. 13 Wisconsin
Oct. 20 @ Ohio State
Oct. 27 @ Minnesota
Nov. 3 Penn State
Nov. 10 @ Iowa
Nov. 17 @ Illinois
Nov. 24 Indiana

Defense

Defensively, the Boilers return eight starters, most notably defensive tackle Kawann Short. The senior has 12.5 career sacks and was All-Big Ten the last two seasons. Defensive end Ryan Russell is a guy Purdue hopes will have a breakout year after starting as a freshman last season. Bruce Gaston also returns on the interior. New defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar, who used to be the defensive coordinator for the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL, will try to install a 3-4 and Short should have a big season.

The big question at linebacker is the status of Dwayne Beckford. The team’s second leading tackler a year ago was suspended for the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl but was reinstated in May. He’ll be on a short leash though.

“As long as he does well in school and takes care of business and there aren’t any type of legal repercussions we’ll proceed on,” said head coach Danny Hope.

Will Lucas should another linebacker starter, while Armstead Williams, Joe Gilliam, and Mike Lee will battle for the other spots. Lucas had 10 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles last season.

The secondary will be a strength for the Boilders, led by corners Ricardo Allen and Josh Johnson. Allen was an All-Big Ten second-teamer last season with 81 tackles and three interceptions. Johnson may move to safety, but will be a third-year starter. E.J. Johnson and Max Charlot will likely be the two starters at safety.

Special Teams

The kicking game needs to replace kicker Carson Wiggs. The job will likely fall to true freshman Paul Griggs. Returnman Raheem Mostert led the nation in kick return average (33.5) and is back along with punter Cody Webste who averaged 42.9 yards per punt in 2011.

Outlook

Purdue enters 2012 with momentum coming off a winning record and Hope’s first bowl victory. The combination of returning experience and a favorable schedule make this season an important one for Hope. If the Boilers can avoid the injury bug that has plagued them the past few seasons, eight or nine wins, a finish in the top half of the Legends Division, and a decent bowl game is a realistic possibility.

What it means for Michigan

The Big Ten opener for both teams should favor Michigan since it’s in Ann Arbor. However, Michigan will be coming off an emotional night game at Notre Dame, while Purdue will be coming in after games against Eastern Michigan and Marshall. It has the potential to be a letdown game for Michigan, but Brady Hoke puts great emphasis on winning the Big Ten first and foremost, and losing the first game of the conference schedule would destroy those hopes, so he’ll keep the team motivated.