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Purdue Post-Mortem and the Bye Week

Mistakes Finally Kill the Cats 17 - 20


I’ve struggled with what to say and how to say it. I could point to individual mistakes and missed opportunities. What I know is that a decimated Purdue team came into the Cat’s Den and embarrassed them. Purdue won despite being thin at most skill positions and having to improvise with what they had on hand. This game was the 2010 doppelganger of the 2009 Minnesota loss.


Being blunt, I think Purdue out-coached Northwestern. Look at the stats and follow along...


Purdue came into the game with various skill positions being filled by reserves. It was obvious that they experimented with a number of offensive plays and quickly determined that the passing game was not working well, but the run game was clicking. So their coaches locked in on what was working (the run) while doing just enough of something else (passing) to keep the Northwestern D honest. Looking at the box score, Purdue’s run to pass ratio was roughly 42-18. It worked pretty well. They won.


Meanwhile, Northwestern did their 2010 typical “we will run no matter whether or not it works.” It didn’t work. Their run to pass ratio was roughly 42-41. The box said that they actually had more runs than passes. (And yes, I know that some of the NU runs were Persa scrambles when he would rather have passed.) More runs than passes? Or anything approximating an equal ratio? That was the game plan?


Really?


I know I’m just a horrified witness to this car wreck of a game and don’t have any actual football coaching experience. It’s easy to criticize, and tough to actually coach. I get that. But if something doesn’t work, stop doing it - especially when you have something that actually does work. Conversely if you find that something does work - exploit the heck out of it.


We’re smarter than Purdue, right?


The miscues, penalties, fumbles, sacks, and all other bad things didn’t help either.


The good news for this upcoming weekend is that we’re not playing. There’s another week for everyone to think about this failure and fix things. It is fixable if the Wildcats are realistic.


Final thoughts about the Boilermaker game:

The Good: Passing was still good, even if there wasn’t enough.

The Bad: Turnovers, defense lapses, sacks, missed kicks, penalties, and the coaching - not necessarily in that order.


Oh yeah. Last week’s game qualifies as “The Bad (Really Bad…).” My blood pressure was around 145/100 - not as bad as one might expect, but I guess I knew in my heart that things weren't getting corrected. I tried to face the feeling of doom with a sense of calm.


Enough for now.


Michigan State preview next time.


This Week in Wildcat Football 15 Years Ago - Gophers Gunned Down


On 14 October 1995 the 4 - 1 Wildcats were yet again the Homecoming guests of another Big Ten team - the Minnesota Gophers. Northwestern was a regular guest at Homecomings across the Big Ten - they were considered a consistent easy win. For many years the NU team accepted that order of things.


But now the Wildcats had mounted multiple “upsets.” The latest one was the defeat of Michigan in the Big House. Nonetheless, it was hard for Minnesota to be overly concerned despite having been defeated by NU the previous year.


Before the game was over, everyone knew that this year was not a fluke - it signaled the beginning of a new era of Wildcat football and the death of the Dark Times. The defeat of Minnesota 27 - 17 gave the Cats 3 and 0 in the Big Ten. There was very brave talk of possibly going to a bowl game. But it was going to be one game at a time. Coach Barnett was in long uncharted territory with the Wildcats being 5 - 1.


Coach Barnett was considered a wizard. He knew he didn’t have the one for one raw talent of many other teams. But he did know how to use what he had to best possible effect. The team was becoming big news. The season was becoming epic. And the Badgers were next. Two wins over the next fives games would likely get the Wildcats into bowl for the first time in a zillion years. Cat Fever was building.


Go ‘Cats!


BJ Mitchell (Former NUMB Spirit Leader)

NUMBSpiritLeader@gmail.com

twitter/nuspiritleader.

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