B1G 2011 // It's 4th and 3, the Old Oaken Bucket's on the Line. What Will Purdue Do?

How many specific play calls did we complain about or praise last year? Here's a short list, add your own in the comments...

- Down two with the Rose Bowl on the line, Wisconsin's coaching staff chose to throw the ball on the two point conversion...instead of running the ball up the middle, which was the formula that had pushed the Badgers down the field. The ball got knocked down and the bitching commenced.

- All Ohio State needed to do was cleanly punt the ball and make Arkansas drive down the field. Oh, and then the punt got blocked. But OSU dropped a 250 lb. lineman into the flat, a brilliant defensive call that surprised Ryan Mallet. The Arkansas star threw to a spot...interception...game over.

So let's lay the situation out and make an educated guess on what the Boilers would do in endgame pressure situations.

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Situation

The Boilers, a semi-surprise at 5-6, are one win away from their first bowl appearance in three years. Struggling Indiana, with nothing to play for except...pride?...brings their A game to Memorial Stadium, completing enough short passes to take a 20-13 lead with two minutes. Rob Henry, serviceable as a passer but explosive as a runner, has stayed at the helm throughout 2011 and trots confidently onto the field. Riding the miraculously still healthy Ralph Bolden (stay with me, fantasies are fun), Henry and that magical read option push the Hoosiers around, quieting the crowd as Purdue eats clock and drives for a tying touchdown. A late holding penalty negates a first down, but Henry falls forward on a QB draw and quickly calls timeout to set up the key 4th down play. To recap:

Score: Indiana 20, Purdue 13

Time Remaining: 54 seconds

Down: 4th

Yards to go: 3

Yard Line: Indiana 10 yard line

So what do you run? What play will Purdue's coach call? Is it going to be successful?

If you had Drew Brees, then we all know what's coming: Shotgun formation, get a WR to pump his hands and break his hips one way, look for the ball to be at his numbers.

But you don't have Drew Brees. You have larger than normal wide receivers, a QB (or technically, QB's) unproven at delivering short passes...and an improved run game. Let's consider a few things before we call the play:

  • 2010 First Downs Accumulated by PU Offense: 190, 96 from the run, 82 from pass, 12 from penalty. Don't forget about the winning drive against Northwestern, when Purdue drove the field with 8 runs, slamming the ball in for a TD on fourth down and 1 from the 7. A new identity in West Lafayette? Probably not, but obviously a new facet that Purdue went to by default last year.
  • I always feel better when my quarterback can really move, so much so that the defense knows and has to react to fakes. In Rob Henry, the Boilermakers have that.
  • Yes, your WR's are huge. But no way are we throwing a slant or a fade here. Unless something miraculous happened during 2011, that's asking for a bit more accuracy than is available.
  • A final point, always applicable. Yeah, you may have run the zone-read successfully all game, but on fourth and three, there's going to be a blitzer and every half second wasted gives that guy more time to blow up the play. So let's avoid traditional zone-read fakes.

I'm calling a pass fake rollout from under center that freezes the linebackers, floods the right side of the field, overwhelms the right-side linebacker, gives Henry a run option, and puts two pass catchers in Henry's vision (a WR running a simple hitch and shuffle and a running back sneaking out into the flat). Do I think Danny Hope and the Purdue coaches would follow my advice? I can't see a problem with this play. We shorten the field for Henry so he doesn't have to make too many reads, we move Henry out of the pocket (where he excels)...and we get the Bucket back in West L.

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This week...

MONDAY | Purdue Cocktail Party Preview

TUESDAY | Point/Counterpoint

WEDNESDAY | 4th and 3

THURSDAY | OTE Potluck

FRIDAY | Keeping the Enemy Close - Rival Blogger Interview

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