Friday, December 13, 2002
Rose Bowl presented by AT&T:
Purdue vs. Washington
By Tim Brant
Special to BCSfootball.com
We have a marquee matchup with the two quarterbacks. Pro scouts think Drew Brees is Peyton Manning, just three inches shorter, while Marques Tuiasosopo is magical. Everything he does with his legs and his escapability makes him that much more dangerous as a passer.
Marques is a winner. He's an old-fashioned football player -- a gutsy performer who will do anything he can to win. He has a linebacker's mentality with the finesse of a great athlete. That's a tough combination to beat. He refuses to lose. That has made him special, it continues to make him special, and will always make him special.
Purdue comes into this game talking about its defense, its experience and its 32 sacks this season. It's an aggressive, opportunistic defense, but Tuiasosopo's mobility causes problems. You are going to find out if Purdue's athletes can chase him down and keep him contained. The Boilermakers can't hurt themselves with penalties.
No one has flat out stopped Tuiasosopo all season long. The closest was Oregon, and the Ducks did it with speed on defense. Purdue doesn't have that kind of speed.
Purdue spreads the field so much, it's almost like basketball on grass. They create air and space to give Brees an opportunity to find open areas. It is a tough offense to stop. Washington does have speed, but unless Anthony Vontoure, Chris Massey and Omare Lowe can cover when they are spread out thin, the Boilermakers will score a lot of points as well.
When Purdue has the ball:
|Todd Elstrom is Tuiasosopo's favorite target. He caught 47 passes this season for 683 yards and 3 TDs.|
With its setup and scheme, Purdue should be able to score points. The Boilermakers' offense spreads the field to the degree that they instantly create opportunities. It's a wide-open, fun offense that scores a lot of points.
Spreading the attack are receivers Vinny Sutherland (65 receptions, 11 TDs) and John Standeford (62 receptions, 6 TDs), who Brees looks to often. More importantly, spreading the field creates space for the running backs. That's where they are dangerous.
There are three players on Washington's defense who cause problems for Purdue. Defensive tackle Larry Tripplett has had an ankle problem the last two weeks, but he should be fine. That is key. Tripplett has to have a big game, and Marcus Roberson has to apply pressure as well. And they will bring Jeremiah Pharms at times to create pressure. Washington has to take some chances within their scheme and put pressure on Brees. I never believe you should sit back and play soft. You have to attack. The cover guys have to cover. Even if you are in a zone, it had better be aggressive.
Purdue coach Joe Tiller always tries to put a smile on his team's face and keep the pressure off. Brees has done that all year. He will be loose. He will be winging it. He'll be performing the way he has throughout his career.
When Washington has the ball:
|Tight end Tim Stratton is one of Drew Brees' favorite targets. He was third on Purdue with 56 receptions.|
This year, the Pac-10 was strong from top to bottom, and didn't get its due. Marques was hurt by that. He doesn't get the exposure he deserves. People know about him and his heritage, and they know about his bloodline. They know about his talent. If they don't, they will see it Jan. 1.
More than Purdue, Washington needs its entire package. It's more of a conventional, balanced attack than Purdue's, but they need everyone running on all cylinders as well.
Jerramy Stevens is always a key in the Huskies' game plan because he is a big target. He's 6-foot-7, he's got speed and great hands. He's not a great blocker, but that's not his primary function. The offensive line has to play well. Justin Robbins and Todd Elstrom have to make themselves available, and although the running backs are banged up, they should be ready.
Washington has to be concerned with Purdue linebacker Akin Ayodele. Any time someone has 19 sacks in two seasons, you have to be concerned with him. He has a motor that never stops. Plus, linebacker Gilbert Gardner is an impact player who forces a lot of fumbles.
Purdue's defense needs to play all over the place. Its leading tackler is freshman safety Stuart Schweigert. It's a defense that needs to run to the football. If somebody doesn't get there, it has breakdowns. They all have to be on the same page.
The best approach against Tuiasosopo is to force him to throw. People see that as his weakness, if he has one. Oregon did that, taking away the run and his option ability. The Ducks made him throw it and they held the Huskies to 16 points. But I'll tell you, Marques can throw. Nonetheless, it's the approach Purdue will take, and it's a wise one.
Tim Brant will call the Rose Bowl presented by AT&T with Keith Jackson and Todd Harris on New Year's Day. He is a regular contributor to BCSfootball.com.