Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton’s actions in the fourth quarter really summed up Michigan’s 31-3 thrashing of the Boilermakers.

After getting clocked by Michigan corner Jeremy LeSueur and throwing his second interception of the game to Michigan’s Leon Hall, Orton picked himself up, stumbled over to the Purdue sideline and leaned on one of his linemen. Having been sacked six times and facing relentless pressure all game, Orton couldn’t even support himself.

The Wolverines physically beat up the Boilermakers on their way to the blowout win. Purdue coach Joe Tiller felt that the physical dominance of Michigan’s defense was something his spread offense couldn’t compete with.

“I thought physically we got tired,” Tiller said. “There were some real mismatches that we never recovered from.”

But Michigan’s win was more than just a big kid bullying a little kid all over the field.

It’s dominant win came as a result of near-perfect execution of the defensive game plan, flawless special teams play and several big-time plays from Michigan’s receiving corps.

The defensive game plan kept Purdue’s offense guessing all game – and the Boilermakers never guessed right.

“They did a hell of a job disguising their coverages,” Purdue receiver Taylor Stubblefield said. “We didn’t see a pattern at all in their defensive scheme. It was hard to see when the blitzes were coming.

“I give their defense a lot of credit. It was very hard for the offensive line and the quarterback to pick up.”

With the way Michigan’s defense was dancing around all game, Orton could have used about 15 timeouts per half. Effective mixing of defensive sets – moving defensive backs to the line and dropping them back – left him helpless on several occasions. Safety Ernest Shazor was the main beneficiary of this, as he came in untouched twice on safety blitzes and sacked Orton, forcing one fumble.

“Our kids played inspired football, and defensively we set the tempo early,” Carr said. “We had a great game plan, and it was tremendous execution. We had a group of guys who played hard and stuck together and just refused to give in.”

Michigan’s special teams also deserved credit after the game for winning the field position battle and giving the defense room to work with.

Steve Breaston didn’t have any video-game punt returns for a touchdown this time, but he still averaged more than 10 yards per return and made good decisions with the ball. Punter Adam Finley might have had his best game of the season, punting seven times for an average of 43 yards per punt.

“The kicking game was outstanding,” John Navarre said. “They gave us great opportunities and field position, and we were able to take advantage of it.”

Finally, Michigan’s receivers used all their tools to ower the Purdue defensive backs. Braylon Edwards jumped over the top of senior cornerback Jacques Reeves in the side of the endzone and took the ball away for his second touchdown catch of the game. Jason Avant caught five passes for 90 yards, as he continued to establish his role as Navarre’s main option on third down. Avant, who is Michigan’s most physical receiver, might have made his best play of the game when he laid out Purdue’s Jerome Brooks on Breaston’s 30-yard punt return in the first quarter. Brooks looked like a car running into a brick wall.

And besides running wild on punt returns, Breaston’s speed was too much to handle on offense, as he zipped into the endzone on a well-executed reverse in the first quarter that began around the 21-yard line.

Following the game, Tiller said that Michigan has the best receiving corps he’s ever seen.

Free safety Stuart Schweigert also praised the receivers, but didn’t forget about Navarre.

“They have a really good receiving corps but I give a lot of credit to John Navarre,” Schweigert said. “He was out there making checks and he was doing a lot of stuff that was hurting our defense.”

With this game out of the way, the Wolverines have come one step closer to their first Rose Bowl since 1997. But with three games left, the players say there is still much work to be done to get ready for Michigan State.

“We start preparing right now, as we speak,” Shazor said. “Two years ago we lost down there in a tight game, so we need to go in there and play hard, just like we did this week.”

 

 

 

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