Certainly, Kyle Orton lived up to a lot
of his Heisman hype as he threw for 366 yards and four touchdowns.
But it wasn't his passing that impressed me the most; it was his
ability to avoid being sacked or to be hurried into very many
throws. That's where this kid is really gifted and why he will soon
be making millions on Sunday afternoons. Those TD passes won't hurt
his resume either, by the way.
However, I really don't think it was
Orton who beat the Illini this weekend. First, there was Purdue
punter Dave Brytus. How much can a punter influence a game? you ask.
What if I told you that Brytus boxed the Illini inside their own
20-yard line not once, not twice, but three times! And what if I
told you that two of those three were inside the Illinois 10-yard
line? He definitely helped the Boilers win the battle of possession,
and I thought he was a huge factor in this game.
And not to take anything away from
Orton, but the best athlete I saw on the field Saturday was Purdue
senior Taylor Stubblefield. All he did was catch 11 passes for 115
yards and three touchdowns and may have sold some 50-50 tickets
during timeouts! He killed the Illini. Although, I have to wonder if
Illinois knew that he WAS an eligible receiver. Confused? So were
the Illini defenders! It seems like it took them double or triple
the normal time to pick Stubblefield up, and by the time they did he
was running past them into the end zone.
When you are playing a team that runs
the spread offense, if you give them a big cushion, they will pick
you apart. You have to bust them hard at the line of scrimmage
before they start their crossing routes or you have little hope of
containing them, much less stopping them. Game, set and match, Miss
Before I leave this story, I do want to
give my Illinois game balls. And even though the defense did give up
some yards and TDs, I thought they did many good things. I predicted
for you that they would throw a lot of looks at Orton, and at times
he was clearly baffled and frustrated. A year ago, Illinois lost to
the Boilers something like 48-10, and 38-30 was not only better but
as much as I have been entertained in a loss.
I also give a game ball to Illinois'
offensive line. I had heard about how tough Purdue's defense was,
and our guys made some holes you could drive my old Volkswagen
through. E.B. Halsey, Pierre Thomas and Jason Davis are sensational
backs, but kudos to the line for their blocking and their pass
A game ball has to go to the Illinois
kick return team as well. Last week Thomas took one to the house;
this week he almost took another one and had one or two other good
returns of the squibbers. Too bad the Illini can't use that special
team in the regular offense.
Summation: If Illinois looked that good
against the No. 15 team in the country, maybe they will win more
games than we think. On the other hand, I did not think that Purdue
looked like a top 20 team. At any rate, if Illinois brings this much
fight, emotion and energy to EVERY game, I like our chances. Next
week in cheese land might be a nice place to start the bowl run!
[to top of second column in
Obviously, some of our staff didn't get
to see the Lincoln Railer football game at Sacred Heart-Griffin, but
it sounds like the Railers gave them a gutsy first-half effort. The
reports I got indicated that Griffin's incredibly deep squad
eventually took its toll on the Railsplitters. I admire Lincoln's
tenacity and that there is no quit in them. It takes time to build,
and if they stay the course, good things are going to happen to this
The wild-card races got a little
crazier this weekend as losses played more prominently than wins.
When I was a kid I used to like to watch the "Wacky Racers" cartoon
show. I especially liked ol' Snidley Whiplash and his wonder dog,
Mutley! I think the wild card is something ol' Snidley would have
The Cubs fell twice in New York while
the Giants fell twice at home to LA, which leaves the Cubs with a
half-game lead as the teams head into the final week. Houston is
STILL hanging around and San Diego might be a pretender, but
Chicago's schedule leaves them in the driver's seat. If they can win
five, or maybe they'll need just four of seven, that should be
enough to get the job done.
The Cardinals swept the Rockies for win
No. 103, which I think is the most they have had since 1944. If they
can claim three of their last seven, they would tie the all-time
mark for most victories in a season. However, I think I speak for
all baseball fans when I say I would gladly trade that record for a
Do you believe me about Vijay Singh
I finally got to see 10 minutes of NFL
action yesterday. I got to see a little of the Manning-Favre show…
and what a show it was. And Greg Taylor was right once again --
those Colts are pretty good! I think Green Bay is good too and will
make the playoffs, but the cream is definitely rising to the top.
Philadelphia and Seattle, and Indianapolis and New England (and
don't forget my Raiders) look pretty invincible after the first
three weeks. The Bears looked good in what appeared to me as a tough
loss, as did the Rams. However, as the Illini have found out, you
can only endure so many tough losses. If you don't win, you're not
going to get the job done.
Non-sports item of the week: I spent
some time over the last couple of weeks with politicians running for
office. What a tough way of life. Putting yourself and your family
up for public scrutiny in a thankless world is rough sledding. I
take my hat off to all of them. What I learned is that maybe we
shouldn't be so quick to question, condemn or otherwise downgrade
people who are willing to work long hours and do a lot of hard work
on our behalf. I used to think that that lifestyle was so glamorous.
I don't think I think that anymore.
probably a lot more I should be writing about, but since I've
already veered off the path, we'll call this a wrap. Have a great