Shootout at the Alamo
Purdue ready to air it out against Kansas State
Posted: Monday December 28, 1998 09:59 AM
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Purdue will likely launch an all-out air attack on Kansas State to the surprise of no one in the Alamo Bowl.
"It's no secret that we plan to throw the football. It works for us and everybody knows that," offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said. "We'll be top-heavy in the passing game -- we're going to throw the ball. They know that."
How effective Purdue's passing game can be, though, remains to be seen. The Boilermakers, led by sophomore quarterback Drew Brees, averaged 331.5 passing yards a game. Meanwhile, opponents have started to expose weaknesses in Kansas State's secondary -- the Wildcats have given up more passing yards in each of their last four games.
Texas A&M did the most damage, passing for 324 yards and three touchdowns -- and a win.
The Boilermakers aren't taking Kansas State's pass defense lightly, though.
"I see a lot of athletes, I see a lot of speed, I see a lot of confidence in them. Those guys have a lot of confidence in themselves and with their scheme," Brees said. "They have 11 wins and they have one of the best defensive ratings in the country. They have a heck of a defense."
Chaney conceded he probably won't be able to establish much of a running game. The Boilermakers have enjoyed only marginal success on the ground, gaining only 1,506 yards on 371 carries through a dozen games. Also Chaney doesn't expect much success against Kansas State's front seven.
"We're envious a little bit. We'd like to have some of those creatures they have rushing the quarterback," Chaney said. "I think from the front to the back, they're probably the best defense we've faced this year."
The Wildcats gave up only 98.3 yards a game on the ground, and Purdue's young line -- three sophomores and two juniors start -- could have problems creating holes for running back J. Crabtree.
"We're going to have a fine offensive line," Chaney said. "They're getting bigger and they're getting stronger. We're just not as physical as we'd like to be right now."
Chaney said the Boilermakers' best bet is to try to attack the secondary by using their wide-open offense to spread out Kansas State's defense. By using multiple-receiver formations, the Boilermakers could force the Wildcats into nickel coverage, taking their linebackers off the field.
"The way they spread you out all over the field, it takes away from our strength," Kansas State defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. "All year long, that's been our linebackers."
Also, the Wildcats consistently drop into man-to-man coverage, a challenge and an opportunity for Purdue.
"I think that's every wide receiver's dream, to get that man-to-man battle," wide receiver Isaac Jones said. "Any time it's just you and the defender with no one behind him, that gives you the opportunity to make some big plays, and we're going to need those."
Chaney said the Boilermakers will be prepared to play "a score-a-thon, but it might be 10-9."
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