Boilermakers brace for Bowling Green's No. 2 offense
Sep. 25, 2015
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — By now, Purdue senior cornerback Frankie Williams knows all about Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson and the Falcons' prolific offense.
"When a team is in shape like they are, it can wear on you at times," Williams said. "The pace of their offense is at a different level."
If Williams was the least bit skeptical heading into Saturday's home game against Bowling Green, any doubt was removed when the Boilermakers' most experienced defender began watching film of the nation's leading passer and the No. 2 overall offense.
"I was watching film, and a (Bowling Green) guy ran a deep route, and by the time the next play came, the cornerback still was running back to the line, and (Bowling Green) already was snapping the ball," he said. "I don't know if that is by design, but I was like, 'Wow.' You most definitely look forward to a challenge like this."
Considering Purdue (1-2) ranks last in the Big Ten in scoring defense (35.3 points per game) and is ninth among 14 Big Ten teams in total defense (407.3 yards), Bowling Green (1-2) may represent the ultimate challenge. The Falcons are averaging 609.3 yards per game on offense and face a Boilermakers team that gave up 51 points last week in a loss to Virginia Tech.
Johnson, who has completed 91 of 148 passes for 1,358 yards and 12 touchdowns to go with only one interception, threw for 491 yards and six touchdowns in a 48-27 victory on Sept. 12 against Maryland, another Big Ten school.
"(The quarterback) is very accurate," Purdue coach Darrell Hazell said. "He gets it out of his hands very fast. He's mobile enough to keep the play alive. They have some guys on the outside who have made a lot of plays in the first three weeks."
If the challenge already wasn't difficult enough for Purdue, Hazell is making a quarterback change, inserting redshirt freshman David Blough in place of junior Austin Appleby, who has been intercepted six times in the season's first three weeks. Blough, a native of Carrollton, Texas, has completed 3 of 8 passes for 11 yards this season.
"I'm Texas tough," Blough said of his assignment. "I am somebody who can take the blame and can handle everything that comes with playing the position. You are going to see someone who is going to keep us in it until the end. I have never been more ready."
Here are others things to watch Saturday:
BUCKETHEAD?: That is the name Bowling Green coach Dino Babers calls daughter Tasha, who was born on the morning of the 1992 Old Oaken Bucket game between Purdue and Indiana when Babers was a member of former Boilermaker coach Jim Colletto's staff. Babers was at Purdue from 1991-93.
TRIFECTA POSSIBLE: If the Falcons defeat Purdue, they will improve to 3-0 all-time against the Boilermakers (17-14 in 1972, 27-26 in 2003, each victory at Ross-Ade Stadium). And if Bowling Green wins, it will become the first Mid-American Conference team to beat two Big Ten opponents during the same season.
LINEBACKER INJURIES: Purdue will be without strong-side linebackers Jimmy Herman (hamstring) and Markus Bailey, who is lost for the season with a torn ACL.
TWO-GAME SUSPENSIONS: The Boilermakers are short-handed at cornerback after freshmen Evyn Cooper and David Rose were suspended for two games after being arrested on campus for stealing bicycles. Rose played in the season-opening loss at Marshall and broke up one pass. Cooper has yet to see game action.
FIGHTING MD: The Purdue and Bowling Green coaching staffs will wear "Coach to Cure MD" patches on their shirts during this game. The goal is to raise money and awareness of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which is the most common fatal genetic disorder among boys worldwide. In its eighth year, the cause has raised more than $1.2 million in donations.