Aug. 22, 2008
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue football team's talented but untested group of wide receivers came up with some big plays Friday afternoon during a 120-plus play scrimmage that was moved from Ross-Ade Stadium to the Mollenkopf Athletic Center after thunderstorms pelted the area earlier in the day.
Roberto McBean, Keith Smith, Aaron Valentin and Joe Whitest each caught touchdown passes. The first three were thrown by backup quarterback Joey Elliott - covering 26, 10 and 19 yards - while Curtis Painter fired the last one for 15 yards.
Valentin led the group with six receptions for 100 yards, followed by Desmond Tardy (5-99), Smith (5-11), Whitest (4-29), Brandon Whittington (3-49) and McBean (3-45).
"We had some guys step up and stand out today," said Painter, who completed 17 of 32 passes for 139 yards. "I have said all along that we have a lot of talented guys; they just need to get on the field and show it. Today was a big step."
Elliott was 18 of 30 passing for 317 yards.
As is seemingly always the case, both the offense and defense had its moments.
"I'm never happy during a scrimmage," head coach Joe Tiller
said. "You want the offense to score every time, and you want the defense to shut them down. Obviously, that can't happen simultaneously. So you take the ebb and flow. As long as one side of the ball doesn't completely dominate, I think you always feel good when all is said and done.
"I thought the defense had the upper hand early. They came out with a lot of energy and got after it. But as we went along the offense picked it up, and they had the upper hand in the four-minute game. So once again, there were good things on both sides of the ball."
The defense came up with three interceptions, by Anthony Heygood, Derek Jackson and Tommie Thomas.
Tiller raved about the play of the secondary today and throughout camp.
"We are significantly improved back there," Tiller said. "Those guys are making it tough on our receivers to get open. Royce Adams did a great job on Greg Orton today.
"Our entire defense is running well. We have greater foot speed than we did a year ago. You need to have speed to get to the ball, and you need to get to the ball to make a play. We're making more plays."
Kory Sheets (43 yards) and Dan Dierking (22 yards) both had long runs, with Dierking scoring on his jaunt. Both came during the four-minute game. Elliott and Arsenio Curry hooked up for 37 yards attempting to run out the clock, as well.
Sheets finished with 54 yards, Dierking 42 and Frank Halliburton 30.
Training camp continues Saturday with a morning special teams scrimmage and an afternoon practice. The final workout is Sunday afternoon.
Classes start Monday, and the Boilermakers will have their final significant scrimmage Thursday afternoon. The season opener is Sept. 6 against Northern Colorado at Ross-Ade.