ANN ARBOR, Mich. — With Air Force in the rear-view mirror, the Michigan football team now hits the “reset” button and prepares to face a traditional offense in Purdue.
Devin Bush Jr. was nonplussed at the prospect of shifting gears when Michigan opens its Big Ten Conference slate at 4 p.m. ET Saturday at Purdue.
“It’s not going to be anything crazy,” Bush said, shrugging. “We’re going back to what we know.”
Chase Winovich, however, expressed relief about facing Purdue. Unlike Air Force’s triple-option, run-dominant offense, which Michigan (3-0) spent months studying, Purdue has a straightforward offense that’s heavy on the pass.
“No matter how much you prepare for something like that, it’s different,” Winovich said after the 29-13 win Saturday against Air Force. “It was fun. And I’m just happy to move on.
“That was basically my attitude in the locker room, I was kind of relieved in a sense that we get to go back to playing the style of football that we’re trained to do. It was a heck of a time; it was a blast to get to experience it and playing these guys. But we’re ready for anything.”
Michigan’s defense prepared for months to face Air Force’s triple-option offense. Now it has a week to prepare for a pass-heavy Purdue offense that’s already dramatically different from the last time Michigan faced the Boilermakers, five years ago in West Lafayette, Ind.
Purdue (2-1) has been a Big Ten doormat in recent years — this is a program whose end zone was nearly flooded by a sinkhole less than a year ago.
A metaphor for the program, if there ever was one.
When legendary Purdue coach Joe Tiller labeled the state of the program as “discouraging” last fall, you knew the day of reckoning was near for the Boilermakers.
But with the arrival of first-year coach Jeff Brohm, Purdue’s offense is back to being potent (459.7 yards per-game average).
Around the time that Michigan’s players scattered across Ann Arbor and celebrated their win against Air Force, Purdue was making a little history.
— BTNStatsGuys (@BTNStatsGuys) September 16, 2017
Purdue’s offense hasn’t yet brought people back to the days of Drew Brees, but people are noticing the Boilermakers again.
The Boilermakers nearly shocked Louisville in their season opener Sept. 2, then wowed college football with some Friday night trickery six days later against Ohio.
Purdue is averaging nearly 287 yards passing in its first three games. In the 35-3 beatdown of Missouri on Saturday, Purdue quarterbacks David Blough and Elijah Sindelar combined for 272 yards passing. The Boilermakers defense gave up 70 rushing yards to the Tigers.
Now the Boilermakers face Michigan, a team that’s trying to get its own offensive house in order.
In games that Jim Harbaugh regards as double-wins, Michigan can’t rest easy.
“It’s the first true road game we’re going to have this year,” Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight said. “Coach Harbaugh says, ever since he’s gotten here, that every Big Ten game counts twice at the end of the year, with tiebreakers and all and how everything stacks up and getting to Indy. It’s the biggest game of the year because it’s the next game but also because it’s the Big Ten opener.”
Correction: Purdue quarterback Elijah Sindelar’s last name was misspelled in the original post. Land of 10 regrets the error.