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Purdue takes the ball out of Brees' hands
By Gary Danielson
Special to

Each Monday, ABC college football analyst Gary Danielson will break down the top quarterbacks around the country and rank his Top 10.

Watching this weekend, my biggest disappointment was the game plan Purdue employed against Notre Dame. My whole philosophy, not just in football, but of all sports, is to not let the opponent dictate your game plan. Joe Tiller let Notre Dame dictate his game plan, and in essence, took Drew Brees out of the game.

Drew Brees
Drew Brees threw less passes in the loss against Notre Dame than in any game since his freshman year.
Drew Brees made a great quote, "I think if we threw more, we could have beaten them, but then again, if I threw better, we could have beaten them." That was a very telling thing to say. He was critical of himself, but he also recognized that he didn't get a good game plan to use his tools.

You only get one chance to coach a senior Heisman Trophy quarterback, and I think Purdue made a big mistake going into Notre Dame and trying to outcoach them instead of trying to use their talent against them.

Drew brought them back as best as he could, but that hurt not only the team's, but Drew's chances to have a magical senior year. It was the fewest passes he has attempted since his freshman year.

Also, parity is having such an affect on the game that quarterbacks are having a tough time being the hero each week. When you lose, the quarterback gets the blame; it goes with the position. It makes it more and more likely that running backs and other people are going to take a run at the Heisman.

LaDainian Tomlinson is not at a high profile school to win it, but it opens the door in the future that more and more non-quarterbacks are going to be in the running.

Here are the latest Top 10 quarterbacks and their previous ranking in parentheses.

Respond to Gary's rankings.

No. 1 -- Chris Weinke, Florida State (1)
vs. North Carolina: 12-22-262, 4 TD
Season: 69-110-1023, 8 TD
You have to continue to marvel at the job that Chris Weinke is doing. Yes, he has superior talent, but he is not making any mistakes. Still No. 1: Somebody has to prove that he is better than him.

Game grade: A.

No. 2 -- Michael Vick (4)
vs. Rutgers: 10-18-120, 1 TD; rush: 11-104, 1 TD
Season: 26-44-412, 4 TD, 1 int.; rush: 25-219, 3 TD
It was an easy test that he had, but he aced it with flying colors. He proved last week that he could be mature and let the team win. This week, he proved he still possesses the highlight plays that the voters notice.

Game grade: A.

No. 3 -- Eric Crouch (2)
Last week: Off
Season: 11-25-170, 1 TD, 3 int.; rush: 24-137, 6 TD
Eric Crouch had the week off. Nothing is going to change my mind. He is still in the running for it.

No. 4 -- Drew Brees, Purdue (3)
at Notre Dame: 13-22-221, 2 TD, 1 int.; rush: 7-35
Season: 70-110-954, 7 TD, 2 int.; rush: 16-82, 2 TD
He still has a chance to save an ill-prepared Purdue team by having a great Big Ten run. Remember, Ron Dayne stumbled in the preseason last year against Cincinnati and still came on strong in the Big Ten to win it.

Game grade: C+. He brought them back late. I was always taught that when you go in to take one of those bluebook tests, you brought two pens. This week, Joe Tiller only gave him only one pen, and he ran out of ink.

No. 5 -- Marques Tuiasosopo, Washington (5)
at Colorado: 15-29-200, 1 TD, 2 int.; rush: 13-43
Season: 49-90-646, 3 TD, 5 int.; rush: 43-168, 2 TD
He made mistakes, but the guy is a warrior and he is going to compete. When you call plays for Marques, you have to realize that the guy is going to jump through fire. You have to organize your calls, so that you avoid the fire because if it is there, he will try to dive through it.

Some of the things that Marques did produced bad plays again, but the guy just wins in the fourth quarter. He has a fairly average Washington team winning two impressive back-to-back games. Winning on the road against a desperate Colorado team was impressive, considering he has very average talent at wide receiver and running back around him.

Game grade: B+.

No. 6 -- Jesse Palmer, Florida (NR)
at Tennessee: 20-43-290, 1 TD, 1 int.
Season: 56-112-810, 5 TD, 1 int.
If you win at Tennessee and you make a fourth quarter drive like that, you deserve respect. He had a great game. He showed off his big-time arm and why every quarterback loves when Steve Spurrier finally gives him the chance to do things and to run his offense.

Game grade: A. Not only did he beat Tennessee, but he convinced his coach that he should be the No. 1 quarterback.

No. 7 -- Woodrow Dantzler (NR)
vs. Wake Forest: 9-19-157, 1 TD; rush: 15-166, 2 TD
Season: 37-55-537, 6 TD; rush: 40-275, 3 TD
I have been hearing the screaming from South Carolina. But remember this: A year ago,Tommy Bowden didn't believe in Woody Dantzler. He moved him to wide receiver. Don't blame me, it just took me a little longer. I don't see him every day.

He is putting tremendous points on the board. He is a threat and reminding people of Shaun King, who ran that offense for Tommy at Tulane. It looks like this offense and Woody Dantzler is for real. All you have to do to impress me, is win, and Woody is winning and putting points on the board.

Grade: A-. Wake Forest isn't a hard test, but he did a good job.

No. 8 -- Carson Palmer, USC (7)
Last week: Off
Season: 35-50-362, 1 TD, 2 int.
He's got a chance to move up because the Pac-10 suddenly has gained a lot of respect by winning all of these games.

No. 9 -- Major Applewhite/Chris Simms, Texas (6)
Applewhite at Stanford: 18-40-274, 2 TD, 2 int.
Applewhite season: 36-66-589, 6 TD, 2 int.
Simms at Stanford: 3-6-56, 1 TD
Simms season: 10-29-144, 2 TD, 1 int.
Sorry Chris Simms, Major Applewhite should be the guy 100 percent of the time. You can't fool around on the road and play two quarterbacks. You have to play the guy you think can win, and Major brought them back again. His defense let him down at the end.

Game grades:
Applewhite: B+.
Simms: Inc. He may get fewer snaps in the future. From now on, we are just going to rate Major Applewhite.

No. 10 (tie) -- Josh Heupel, Oklahoma (10)
Last week: Off
Season: 42-68-575, 5 TD, 2 int.; rush: 8-9, 2 TD
Heupel is doing the job and the Sooners are winning.

No. 10 (tie) -- Philip Rivers, N.C. State (8)
vs. SMU: 16-24-271, 2 TD, 1 int.
Season: 76-133-1069, 10 TD, 2 int.
Sure is fun running that BYU offense, isn't it?

Game grade: A.

Other notables:
Drew Henson, Michigan: He might be back this week and Michigan needs him to have big games.
Kurt Kittner, Illinois: Has a sprained knee, but he is worth watching.
Ben Leard, Auburn

Gary Danielson writes a column every Monday for  

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I think you are absolutely right about Purdue's performance this past weekend. When you have an offense geared towards the passing game, not letting your Heisman Trophy caliber quarterback throw the ball like he is used to just kills the morale of the team, much less your chances of winning. Be it painful to say, Purdue just flat got outcoached on Saturday. Until Purdue can start winning some road games against top competition and prove that they can beat conference opponents like Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State, they won't be regarded as an elite team in the Big Ten or in the nation.
Nick Kroken, West Lafayette, Ind.

Come on, Gary. Get real. If you put MV & CW on teams with identical talent, it wouldn't even be close. Put CW on any team below the Top 10 and he would be just another quarterback. Put MV on ANY other team and he would still be dazzling.

CW reminds me of a quarterback we had a couple of years ago, Jim Druckenmiller. Good arm, smart and S-L-O-W. If you haven't noticed lately, "Druck" is sitting on the sidelines. To make it in the pros any more, you have to be agile. (ie. if you want to survive, you better be agile)

And I haven't seen CW throw 75 yd "bullets". Even though it was intercepted, it was a magnificent display of arm strength by MV. Even the immortal Elway might not have the arm strength of MV. That would have been nice to see a contest between the two when John was in his prime. I've seen games where John threw it that far but they were always "rainbows".
Ted Humphries, Covington, Va.

I am glad you got a chance to look at Woody Dantzler. Wake Forest isn't the best of opponents but then again Michael Vick has got some pretty big softies on the schedule also. Watch Woody when he is tested this year and I am confident he will shine. If the offensive line holds up he will pass for 2000 yards and rush for 1000 this year. Woody isn't getting all the playing time either. Willie Simmons has played a good many snaps this year, because Bowden is trying to build depth.
Michael Campbell, Chapin, S.C.

Thanks for being the first columnist I've seen this year to comment on Kurt Kittner. While he doesn't put up huge numbers, he is extremely efficient, doesn't make mistakes and gets the job done. What's Illinois' record? Oh yeah, 3-0. When will a "workingman's" player win the Heisman, instead of the uncharismatic flashy players?
Erik Alexander, Urbana, IL

I can't believe that you would not have Michael Vick as your number one ranked quarterback in college football. Okay, so Weinke doesn't have any interceptions. Vick is human for once, and I do mean once. Weinke Undoubtedly is a great passer. Over the years he has shown his maturity and skills as a premier passer in college football. But one thing is missing from your stats up there. There is not decent size stat for rushing. Michael Vick is so versatile and skilled that he keeps every defense on their toes. A defense can never be sure if he is going to run the ball or pass. This is a deadly combination. And not only can he just run if he doesn't have any options but he can also run out of a blitz. Vick eluded the Rutgers line on Saturday with an amazing spin where he almost went down and some how stayed on his feet and beat the defense. Granted he is a sophomore still and has a great deal more to learn about being a quarterback, but in key situation that meant National Championship hopes I wouldn't want any other quarterback taking the snap. Michael Vick has the heart and determination. He will do whatever needs to be done in order to get into that end zone and score.
Sean Sullivan, Michigan

If people realize that it was Tiller who hindered Brees, and not necessarily just Brees, what is the problem? Or are the voters really that blind? Actually, there's no need to answer that.

Also, why a C+? Anytime you lead your team to the go-ahead touchdown late in the game at Notre Dame...that is great! If Setta misses that field goal, you praise Drew. His passing yardage may have been low, but his performance wasn't. 10+ yards per attempt, several rushing first downs, 2 TD passes. Don't let the numbers fool you.
Dan, New York, N.Y.

Dantzler's numbers are better in every respect (except yards per rush) than Michael Vick's at this point against a slightly poorer schedule but with fewer snaps because of early exits in blowouts. If Clemson manages 9 or 10 wins then he at least deserves a trip to New York.
Hal Davis, Atlanta, Ga.

I think Brees was exactly right in that if he threw better they would have one the game. It had very little to do with the game plan. I have not seen Purdue run the ball as well as they did this week since Mike Allstot was there. I think it was a brilliant game plan, to run the ball on ND, no one expected it, and it worked well, or at least it would have worked well, had they not turned the ball over and had a punt blocked.
Jay Hoffman, Norman, Okla.

Diary: Purdue tight end Tim Stratton

Godsey, Setta, key unlikely upset of No. 12 Purdue

Suggs (4 TDs), Vick sparkle as Hokies blank Rutgers

Weinke throws four TD passes; 'Noles roll over Heels

Did he catch it? Florida and refs say yes; Gators win

Another Pac-10 surprise: Stanford tackles No. 6 Texas

Danielson: Year of the QB

Danielson: Vick beginning to resemble a certain Tiger

Danielson: Crouch looks golden

 Michael Vick is at it again, somersaulting over a defender into the end zone.
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 Michael Vick throws 17 yards to Emmett Johnson for the TD.
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 Chris Weinke throws 35 yards to Atrews Bell for the TD against North Carolina.
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 Jerramy Stevens hauls in a 32-yard pass from Marques Tuiasosopo. (Courtesy ABC)
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 Illinois' Kurt Kittner walks into the end zone untouched.
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