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November 13, 2007

Tuesdays With Tiller: Purdue football notes

From his post-game comments to those he made Sunday following Purdue's Saturday's loss to Michigan State, it's not been difficult to figure out Coach Joe Tiller's thoughts on quarterback Curtis Painter's play this past weekend.

But on Tuesday, the coach at least looked to put a positive spin on his dissatisfaction.

"I did happen to read the paper this morning and see that Peyton Manning threw six interceptions (against San Diego)," Tiller said when asked if he was troubled by Painter's play, "so I thought, 'Well, I guess maybe Saint Peyton makes a mistake now and again, too.'"

That said, Tiller wasn't crazy about Painter's two interceptions, among other concerns.

"He didn't have one of his better games, that's for sure," Tiller said. "... I think most of his poor play came after the first interception. We had a number of mis-reads, we threw the ball without our feet underneath us, just did some fundamental things wrong. You hate to see that, because you feel like that's regression instead of progress. Hopefully that's behind us."

Painter was 29-of-45 for 344 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for two scores. But his two turnovers led to 10 Spartan points.

"There were a few instances, like there are from any game, where you'd like to get a few plays (to do) over," Painter said. "The two interceptions, the turnovers, those are two throws you'd like to have back. At the same time, there were a few other throws I feel I could have made and should have made, and maybe a couple (bad) decisions."

The junior QB didn't think the first pick affected him, as his coach may have suggested.

"The thing that was upsetting was that they were playing the same coverage as they were the first (interception)," Painter said, "and I didn't recognize it the second time."

Injury report

Tiller seemed optimistic about his team's chances of having senior guard Jordan Grimes back this week. Grimes missed the Michigan State game with an ankle injury.

"There's a possibility," Tiller said. "He continues to improve and he wants to play, and if he's able to play, he will."

Redshirt freshman Justin Pierce played the entire Michigan State game in Grimes' absence.

Staying with injuries, Tiller said that defensive end Cliff Avril (bruised hip) and cornerback David Pender (concussion) have been cleared to practice Tuesday.

Hoping for more

It's no secret that Tiller expected big things - and that might be an understatement - from wide receiver Selwyn Lymon when he recruited the former blue-chip high school receiver.

But with his second season on the field nearing completion, Lymon hasn't yet fulfilled the superstar-type potential Tiller saw in him when he signed him and promised him the sacred No. 1 jersey.

"I was hoping Selwyn would be a little more dominant physically than what he is," Tiller said. "I'm not saying he's playing poorly, but I just think you look at him and think, 'Man, this guy's really going to be something.' He's a good receiver, but he can be a really outstanding receiver. But he's not there yet."

"Physically speaking, (in high school) he was so much superior to all the people he played against that I think he's one of those guys that, from a maturity point of view, hasn't quite grasped the idea, 'Hey, I need to work harder,'" Tiller said. "I'm not knocking his work ethic, because I think he's a good practice player. I don't have a complaint. I think he's a good personality and the like (in practice)."

Tiller said that Lymon has dealt well with the off-the-field problems that have gotten him so much dubious attention.

"I'm surprised by that," Tiller said, suggesting he figured Lymon may have gotten distracted by them, "but in a good way."

That said, Tiller added he thinks the junior receiver still has some "growing up to do."

"Hopefully, before he leaves Purdue," Tiller said, "he'll do that and realize his (potential)."

Not that again

Tiller was asked by an out-of-town reporter whether he cared to comment on Indiana defensive end Greg Middleton saying that the Boilermaker coach once "took a shot at him on the radio."

Tiller's response: "That's old news."

Middleton, now the Big Ten's leader in sacks, committed to Purdue in the summer of 2005, but retracted his pledge shortly after a visit to West Lafayette for the Boilermakers' annual late-summer academic day event and switched to IU.

When asked in general terms about the defection on his radio show later in the season, Tiller addressed it in a way that prompted the player's father to call in the following week in response, creating something of a public spectacle.

Middleton, now 6-foot-3, 270 pounds, said at the time that Indiana gave him the opportunity to play defensive end, whereas he thought Purdue recruited him with defensive tackle in mind.

Failing against passing

Tiller admitted Tuesday that his team wasn't "as prepared as it could have been" to stop Michigan State's passing game Saturday, because it placed so much emphasis on slowing the Spartans' potent running game.

It did so, but got "lit up" - to use Tiller's post-game description - through the air.

"We knew if we didn't stop the run, we wouldn't see anything but the run all day long," Tiller said. "… I don't know if we were as prepared for the pass as much as we could have been because we figured that if we didn't stop the run we wouldn't even see the pass."


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