So, we get our first battle of rookie B1G coaches on Saturday as the PJ Flecks take on the Jeff Brohms. In both instances, the coaches have kind of become the school’s brand: Fleck, because he’s a goddamned walking $100MM marketing budget and Brohm because Purdue has sucked hind teat for a decade and his hiring seems to have injected some life into the otherwise moribund program. The hiring of both coaches were praised by national media, as the narrative was the schools punched above their weight in respectively landing them.
So that’s it for the horsey, ducky, lamby portion of this piece. What we’re here to figure out is which has seemed the better hire a third of the way into the season. Here, JD Mill and I will debate whether Fleck or Brohm is more #Elite. I drew the short straw and have to rep Brohm (not because I wanted to; eff that guy and his shit team), while JD will be pimping for Peej.
Frothy: Yeah, the Gophers have the better record as Purdue sits at 2-2, but Minnesota has played three schools for the blind and lost to the only team with sight. The Brohms put up a very solid fight against Louisville in their opener and played three decent quarters against Big Blue before letting the game get away from them in the 4th. There’s no way I’ll be convinced the Gophs would have come out of that stretch of games any better than 2-2 and, though it gives me the giardia of despair to say it, I think Purdue would be sitting at 4-0 if they’d played our schedule. Why don't you go ahead and respond while I go find something to cut myself with.
JDMill: Hello, is this thing on? It’s been awhile since I’ve been a part of anything writing related. I stick to spoken art these days (ahem, www.soundcloud.com/taken-all-wrong). Anywayyyyyy… I have to start with this: Can we please STOP with the “Peej” thing? For shit's sake, his wife calls him that. And let’s be honest, she’s a saintly woman who has nothing going for her but a rich husband (who’s barely ever home, I might add). She needs this nickname. Can we let the woman have something?
So if I’m understanding correctly I need to convince people that PJF is a better coach than Brohmsie based on the first four games of the season? Well, I’ll say this, Purdue is definitely improved, but in my opinion they haven’t done anything more than a middling B1G team should do, which is beat the teams they are supposed to beat. On the other hand the Gophers have… HEY, LOOK… SQUIRREL!!!
Frothy: Purdue's offense has pretty good, as much as it makes me want to hop in a wood chipper to say it. Going to Missouri – yeah, a shell of its former self, but still ESSEEESEEE – and hanging 35 on them? They looked sexy as hell against Ohio, more or less moving the ball at will. I was surprised to see they only had the 51st ranked passing offense in the country – Minnesota is at, blech, 100th – because it seems like they’ve been lighting it up every week but Michigan. They’re at 89th in rushing the ball (versus us at 58th – RAH!) so we shouldn’t have a lot to worry about there (famous effing words I said last week too). Fact is, I think they’ll score some points. Will we?
JDMill: I’m completely damaged after last week. The Gopher offense looked like chunky vom but still managed to score 24 points. I still have no recollection of how that happened but I have the documentation to prove it. I have it on good authority that Jerry Kill is NOT running the offense again, and I have enough blind faith in the coaching staff at this point (Because really, what alternative is there? I’m rowing the damn boat over here, and lemme tell ya, I’m enjoying it. /waves to Motorboatin’ Gopher) that I believe adjustments are coming.
These are the same coaches who had WMU humming on offense last year and while I understand that they don’t have the personnel that they’d like to have to run the offense they want, they have to be smart enough to figure out how to get the ball in space. At the very least they need to figure out how to stop running Smith & Brooks into the glory holes of our offensive linemen, and I’m confident (as far as you know) that they can do that this week.
Frothy: Purdue has always been able to score points. Hell, their shit burrito of a team almost beat us last season. What’s surprised me the most has been their transformation on defense. They’re actually getting teams off the field without giving up 14 points on every drive. Yeah, they’re at 46th versus our 11th on scoring defense; but, again, they’ve played two top 20 teams, when three of our opponents were basically comprised of Ebola patients. Remember just last week, when we were the #1 rushing defense in the country? Yeah, now we’re twenty-effing-sixth. Purdue? 48th. Against much, much better opponents. Tadow.
JDMill: I understand that yardage isn’t a stat the nerds take seriously anymore, but it’s all my Michelob soaked brain has left. Take away the Louisville game (where they gave up over 500 yards) and Purdue is giving up about 340 yards/game, which would make them around the 40th best team in terms of Total Defense. Totally respectable.
The problem is that if you’re pulling out the Louisville game, you should probably pull out Missouri as well, who only gained about 200 yards on the ‘Due. They’re probably a team that is going to end up giving up about 400 yards/game, which won’t make them great. Again, they’re better, but I don’t think they’ve done anything that scares me too badly unless Jerry Kill takes over Kirk Ciarrocca’s body again.
Frothy: Because I’m required to, I have to give the #Elite edge to Brohm right now. It’s impossible to overstate what an absolute ecological disaster that program was when he took over. If Hazell had stayed another year, delicious Purdue Pete’s plastic head and hammer would have melted, depleting the ozone layer, leaving us all exposed to cosmic rays and having mutant children for generations to come. Brohm saved the effing planet, man. In terms of the outcome of the game on Saturday, which, after this discussion, who cares, I don’t like our matchup. They throw the ball a ton and, with Winfield and Zo out and no discernable sign of a pass rush, I think we’re giving up a trainload of points. The question is, can we score our own? Prior to last week, I would have said hell yeah, son; but our base offense of running directly into the backs of linemen getting pushed backward doesn’t inspire a lot of hope. 35 – 21 Brohms. = (((((
JDMill: My biggest concern about this game is that Purdue’s Heart Factor is going to be off the damn charts as they celebrate the life of Joe Tiller and his first team at Purdue. In addition to the momentum they’ve built through improvement they’re going to be swinging around Ross-Ade with a big giant WIN ONE FOR TILLER attitude. So yeah, we’re probably boned on this one.
But calling Brohm the better coach at this point is like declaring your wedge salad the best part of the meal when your New York strip hasn’t even hit the grill yet. That’s a damn fine salad, and it’s definitely better than what you are used to, but it’s a tease. Will the dishwasher-turned-grill guru overcook it? Under season it? Will the waitress drop it while it’s on its way to your table? Will your wife be pissed that her pork chop is fatty and make you leave before you even get to try it?
Too soon to tell, friends. At this moment in time I’d say Brohm has shown the better results, but Fleck has always contended that his regime is about building. I think both programs did very well in getting the type of coach they needed based on their circumstances. Having said that, I’ll row the damn boat with PJ Fleck and you can best believe I plan on enjoying it. The haters can suck it.