Football Weekly Notebook

Sept. 28, 1998

Purdue Boilermakers (2-2)
vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-0)
Ross-Ade Stadium (67,332)
West Lafayette, Indiana
October 3, 1998 - 1 p.m. EST


RADIO: WAZY (96.5 FM) / Purdue Sports Radio Network - Joe McConnell (play-by-play), Pete Quinn (color commentary), Tim Newton (pregame/halftime/postgame)

TELEVISION: Midwest Sports Channel - Ryan Lefebvre (play-by-play), Keith Fahnhorst (color commentary) - tape-delayed at 6 p.m. EST to Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and northern Iowa

A LOOK AT THE BOILERMAKERS: The Purdue football team, under second-year head coach Joe Tiller, plays host to Minnesota on Saturday, Oct. 3 in the Big Ten Conference opener for both teams. The Boilermakers are coming off a 31-30 loss at intrastate rival Notre Dame on Sept. 26. Last season the Boilermakers enjoyed a storybook campaign by finishing 9-3 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten for a second-place tie (with Ohio State and Penn State). Purdue defeated Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl 33-20 and was No. 15 in the final Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today national polls.

HEAD COACH JOE TILLER Joe Tiller is in his second season as Purdues head coach with an 11-5 record (.688 winning percentage) and his eighth season as a collegiate head coach with a 50-35-1 record (.587). He is 24-7 in his last 31 games. Tiller won his 50th career game against Central Florida on Sept. 19, 1998. Tiller was named the Boilermakers 33rd head coach Nov. 22, 1996. He was the head coach at Wyoming from 1991-96 and compiled a 39-30-1 record. The Cowboys played in the 1993 Copper Bowl and reached the 1996 Western Athletic Conference championship game.

In 1997 Tiller was named National Coach-of-the-Year by both Football News and Kickoff magazines, the GTE Region 3 Coach-of-the-Year (Big Ten, Mid-American Conference and Conference USA) by the American Football Coaches Association and the Big Ten Dave McClain Coach-of-the-Year. He also was one of six finalists for the Paul "Bear" Bryant National Coach-of-the-Year and a finalist for National Coach-of-the-Year by The Sporting News. Tiller was assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Boilermakers from 1983-86.

HISTORY 101 - ALL-TIME SERIES RECORD: Purdue and Minnesota have met 56 times previously with the Golden Gophers holding a 30-23-3 advantage. Purdue holds a 14-4 advantage in games played in West Lafayette. Overall, Purdue has won the last two meetings (30-27 in West Lafayette on Oct. 5, 1996, and 59-43 in Minneapolis on Oct. 11, 1997), three of the last four and four of the last six. In the last five meetings the two teams have combined for 437 points and 5,104 yards of total offense. That's an average of 87.4 points and 1,020.8 yards per game. The Boilermakers and the Golden Gophers have played every year continuously since 1979.

QUICK STARTS ... : Purdue has scored on its first possession in three of four games (at USC, vs. Rice and at Notre Dame). On the four opening drives, quarterback Drew Brees has completed 11 of 14 passes (78.6 percent) for 176 yards with two touchdowns passing, one touchdown rushing and one interception.

... AND QUICK STRIKES: The Boilermakers 16 scoring drives this season (12 touchdowns and four field goals) have amassed 50 minutes and 47 seconds. Thats an average of 3:17 per scoring drive. Purdues shortest scoring drive has been 1:25 vs. Central Florida, while its longest has been 5:39 vs. Central Florida.

FIRST QUARTER DOMINATION: This season the Boilermakers have outscored their opponents by a 35-7 margin in the first quarter. A year ago they held a 107-48 advantage in the first 15 minutes. All told, in 16 games under head coach Joe Tiller, Purdue has outscored the opposition 142-55 in the opening stanza.

1998 CAPTAINS: Purdues captains this season are senior defensive end Rosevelt Colvin (left) and senior wide receiver Isaac Jones. In addition, one or more additional captains will be selected for each game - USC (John Reeves), Rice (Jim Niedrach), Central Florida (Willie Fells and Lee Johnson), Notre Dame (Henry Bell and ChukkyOkobi).

GAME 4 RECAP (NOTRE DAME 31, PURDUE 30): For more than 55 minutes the Boilermakers led No. 23 Notre Dame, but in the end the Fighting Irish prevailed 31-30 before a sellout crowd of 80,012 and an NBC national television audience at Notre Dame Stadium in Notre Dame, Ind.

Purdue scored on its first two possessions, then led 24-14 at halftime and 30-21 midway through the fourth quarter before Notre Dame mounted its comeback. A 17-yard field goal with 57 seconds remaining provided the winning margin. Sophomore quarterback Drew Brees completed 24 of 36 passes (including 10 in a row during one stretch) for a career-high 261 yards with two touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Isaac Jones caught six passes for 83 yards and a touchdown, while junior wide receiver Randall Lane also hauled in six catches for 71 yards and a touchdown. Brees topped the team in rushing with 16 carries for 45 yards and a touchdown. Freshman kicker Travis Dorsch accounted for the rest of the scoring with three field goals (from 37, 40 and a career-high 47 yards). Junior strong safety Adrian Beasley and junior linebacker Willie Fells both recorded 10 tackles.

The final team totals were amazingly similar (69 total offensive plays apiece; Purdue 384 total yards, Notre Dame 382 total yards; Notre Dame 30:22 time of possession, Purdue 29:38 time of possession).

NEW FACES: The Boilermakers have had 14 players make their first collegiate start this season (nine on offense and five on defense), plus freshman kicker Travis Dorsch. In addition, senior defensive end Chike Okeafor has made his first start since the 1996 season (he did not play in 1997).

A STRONG BREES: Sophomore quarterback Drew Brees has completed 88 of 14 passes (61.5 percent) for 982 yards with eight touchdowns and fvie interceptions. He was named the Purdue Player-of-the-Game by ABC Sports, the Pigskin Classic Most Valuable Player by NACDA and the Big Ten Offensive Player-of-the-Week following his first career start at USC (30 of 52, 248 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions). He was the ESPN Purdue Player-of-the-Game vs. Rice (20 of 31, 250 yards, two touchdowns passing and one rushing).

MANY HANDS MAKE LIGHT WORK: In four games sophomore quarterback Drew Brees has completed passes to 11 different players. The breakdown by game - at USC (10), vs. Rice (8), vs. Central Florida (five) and at Notre Dame (seven). Last season the greatest number of different players to catch passes in a single game was eight.

THE OFFENSE LIKES IKE: Senior wide receiver Isaac Jones is the Boilermakers leading pass catcher with 23 receptions for 273 yards (11.9 average). He equalled his career high of 10 catches for a career-best 119 yards at USC on Aug. 30, 1998. He also caught 10 passes for 106 yards against vs. Penn State on Nov. 15, 1997. Jones has 94 career receptions and needs 16 to move into 10th place on Purdues career list (Steve Bryant, 1980-81, 110).

STRATTON AMONG NATIONS TIGHT END LEADERS: Redshirt freshman tight end Tim Stratton is tied for seventh in the nation among players at his position with nine receptions. He ranks ninth with 99 receiving yards. Louisvilles Ibn Green leads both categories with 16 catches for 280 yards.

RUSH HOUR: Junior running back J. Crabtree and redshirt freshman running back Dondre Johnson both established season highs vs. Central Florida on Sept. 19. Crabtree finished with 118 yards rushing, while Johnson had 75. Both scored their first Purdue touchdowns, as well. Johnson became the first Purdue player to rush for 100 yards since Edwin Watson at Indiana on Nov. 22, 1997.

CRACKLIN ROSEY: Neil Diamond sang the song, and senior defensive end Rosevelt Colvin is making Purdue fans smile. He tops the team with five tackles for loss, three quarterback sacks and two blocked field goals. His two blocks ties the school season record (also held by Kevin Holley in 1986, Steve Jackson in 1989, Kevin Strikland in 1989 and Jarrett Scales in 1990). Colvin has three career blocked field goals to share the school standard with Scales (1987-90). Colvin has 45 career tackles for loss to rank third on the school list.

A HAWTHORNE IN THE OPPOSITIONS SIDE: Junior cornerback Michael Hawthorne has been the Boilermakers big-play man on defense this season. He broke up the potential tying two-point conversion attempt vs. Rice on Sept. 12 and intercepted a pass in the end zone and ran it back 65 yards before pitching the ball to senior free safety Billy Gustin (who took it the remaining 35 yards for a touchdown) vs. Central Florida on Sept. 19 (the "Compaq College Football Defensive Play-of-the-Week"). For the season Hawthorne tops the team with two picks and ranks second with three pass breakups. He also has one forced fumble to share the team lead with three other players.

THE BALL STOPS HERE: Junior linebacker Willie Fells was the Boilermakers leading tackler last season with 131 stops (third in the Big Ten) en route to being named honorable mention all-conference. He has picked up right where he left off this year, topping the team with 41 tackles, including 24 solos. Fells has finished with double-figure stops in three games (13 at USC, 15 vs. Rice and 10 at Notre Dame) and has 10 double-figure efforts during his career (seven in his last nine games, dating to 1997). His career high is 20 tackles (15 solos) at Iowa on Nov. 1, 1997.

FROM "POOCH" TO "POP": In 1997 Danny Rogers was Purdues "pooch punter" who specialized in directional punting deep inside opponents territory (six of his 23 punts were downed inside the 20-yard line). This season the junior is handling all the punting chores, and he has a 43.1-yard average. He had a career-long 63-yarder at USC on Aug. 30, 1998, and equalled it vs. Central Florida on Sept. 19, 1998. Rogers ranks fifth on Purdues career punting average list at 39.0 (95 punts for 3,701 yards). Of his 95 career punts, 26 have come to rest inside the 20-yard line (27 percent).

THREE FOR TRAVIS: Freshman kicker Travis Dorsch converted three field goals at Notre Dame on Sept. 26, 1998 (from 37, 40 and a career-high 47 yards). It marked the first time a Purdue kicker made good on three field goals since Brad Bobich vs. Penn State on Oct. 14, 1995 (from 37, 21 and 22 yards). Dorschs 47-yard effort was the longest by a Purdue kicker since Larry Sullivan tied the school record with a 51-yarder at Minnesota on Oct. 7, 1989, and it is sixth-longest in school history (two from 51, one from 50 and two from 49). For the season Dorsch is 4 of 6 on field goal attempts (66.7 percent) and 13 of 13 on PATs.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: The combined record of the Boilermakers first seven opponents currently stands at 19-6 (.760 winning percentage). The breakdown by foe: USC (3-1), Rice (1-3), Central Florida (3-1), Notre Dame (2-1), Minnesota (3-0), Wisconsin (4-0) and Penn State (3-0).

A LOOK BACK AT A GREAT SEASON: In 1997 Purdue posted its first on-the-field winning season since the 1984 Boilermakers finished with a 7-5 record. (The 1994 team was awarded a forfeit victory over Michigan State to improve its record to 5-4-2.) Also last season the Boilermakers earned their first bowl berth since 1984 (Peach Bowl, 27-24 loss to Virginia) and were nationally ranked for the first time since 1984. Purdues final ranking of No. 15 was its highest since 1979 (10th).

UPSIDE DOWN, TURNAROUND: The Boilermakers 9-3 record a year ago (after going 3-8 in 1996) marked the second-best turnaround in the nation behind only Western Michigan (2-9 to 8-3) and coach Gary Darnell. Additionally, it was the second-greatest turnaround in school history behind the 1943 team that went 9-0 under coach Elmer Burnham (right) one year after the 1942 squad finished 1-8 under Burnham.

"QB" SCHOOL: Purdue has the reputation as one of the nations premier quarterback schools. Previous signal-callers include Len Dawson (1954-56), Bob Griese (1964-66), Mike Phipps (1967-69), Gary Danielson (1970-72), Mark Herrmann (1977-80), Scott Campbell (1980-83) and Jim Everett (1982-85). Dawson led the Kansas City Chiefs to a victory in Super Bowl IV and Griese won two Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins (VII and VIII).

According to research by Sports Illustrated, Purdue ranks fifth all-time among schools whose QB alums have thrown more than 10,000passes in the NFL. The list includes Brigham Young (81.6 rating), Miami (77.3), Washington (76.9), Oregon (75.1) and Purdue (74.5). In addition, Purdue quarterbacks have thrown more NFL touchdown passes than QBs from any other school.

This Date In Purdue Football History (October 3)

Oct. 3, 1959 - The Boilermakers, under fourth-year head coach Jack Mollenkopf, defeated intrastate rival Notre Dame 28-7 before a crowd of 50,362 in Ross-Ade Stadium. It marked the second of three consecutive victories over the Fighting Irish. Junior halfback Jim Tiller had a 74-yard touchdown run.

Oct. 3, 1970 - In their third game under first-year head coach Bob DeMoss, the Boilermakers upset Stanford 26-14 in front of 62,000 fans at Stanford Stadium in Stanford, Calif. Sophomore halfback Otis Armstrong rushed 27 times for 120 yards, while senior flanker Stan Brown scored two touchdowns via the ground. Sophomore quarterback Chuck Piebes completed 15 of 20 passes for 112 yards and scored on a 3-yard rush. Sophomore halfback Darryl Stingley caught nine passes for 85 yards. Defensively, senior cornerback Randy Cooper intercepted three Jim Plunkett passes and recovered a fumble. DeMoss was named Coach-of-the-Week by United Press International. Purdue completed a home-and-home sweep of the Indians (also a 36-35 win in West Lafayette on Oct. 4, 1969).




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