There was a moment — just over halfway through Virginia Tech's eight-hour, marathon of a day hosting Purdue — where things were looking good.
Actually, scratch that. Things weren't looking good, they were looking up. There were so many things you could point to and see just how far things have come.
On one sideline there was a new head coach with a defensive background leading a team that was piling up penalties, conservative calls and point-costing mistakes. After racing out to a quick 17-0 lead, Ryan Walters' Purdue squad got hit right back in the mouth and seemed staggered. The Boilermakers' opponent had seemed to figure them out defensively, skewering their linebackers and safeties with quick throws to their backs, tight ends and slot receivers. They extended multiple drives with undisciplined roughing the passer calls. They were stuffed on a 4th-and-1 and not only paid the price for it, but it seemed to haunt the rookie head coach's decision making for the rest of the game.
Purdue's opponent scored three times in five minutes, and their early lead evaporated in an instant. And even after halftime, things weren't right. They couldn't convert an interception in enemy territory and eventually punted from the 37 (see, haunted decision making). At the end of a scoreless third quarter, Purdue ran out the field goal team in a huff of mass disorganization. They ended up only getting 10 guys on the field — I'm no expert, but I think you'd prefer the full 11 to protect the ball — which led to Walters calling a timeout just as his kicker booted a 50 yarder through the uprights. Unfortunately, to get the last guy on the field, Walters effectively iced his own kicker, who missed after TV came back from commercial.
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