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Purdue University

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‘Average' opener concerns Boilers

WEST LAFAYETTE – Joe Tiller thought his Purdue team was average.

Coordinator Brock Spack called his defense’s performance a “typical first game.”

The Boilermakers might have won Saturday, 42-10 over Football Championship Subdivision school Northern Colorado at Ross-Ade Stadium, but they weren’t close to their best.

That’s fine for Week 1, especially for a team that had 10 players get their first career start. But there will need to be major strides made through the week to compete with No. 18 Oregon next weekend.

So maybe it’s not a bad thing that the Bears, who won only one game last season, were more competitive early than many expected. Purdue led only 14-0 at halftime.

“I certainly wasn’t disappointed in the way we played, but we’re capable of playing better than that,” said Tiller, who moved into a tie with Jack Mollenkopf for the most victories all time by a Purdue football coach with 84.

“We’ll be challenged to the max next week. … We’re going to have to be a little more precise in what we’re doing next week than what we were this week.”

The offense generated 402 yards; quarterback Curtis Painter had two touchdowns and didn’t throw an interception; running back Kory Sheets didn’t fumble.

Sheets and Desmond Tardy had kickoff returns for 45 and 68 yards, setting up the offense with a short field. Both drives resulted in touchdowns.

Frank Halliburton also blocked two punts – the first time in school history a player had two in one game. One was picked up and returned for a touchdown; another gave Purdue the ball on Northern Colorado’s 37, and in two plays, the Boilers had another TD.

Purdue’s defense had more success. The first unit, which didn’t include projected starting linebacker Jason Werner, allowed only a field goal, which came after a turnover. The Bears gained only 5 yards on that drive.

Werner, who nearly quit playing because of previous back problems, was held out of the game after tweaking his back in practice last week and getting an injection Friday. Werner is day-to-day.

“It’s very scary because he’s one of our best players,” Spack said.

sclardie@jg.net

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