They had a good running back, like they always do, and so we were trying to maybe limit that and maybe just keep the ball in one guy’s hands. Rather than have them have the choice, we made it be Terrelle Pryor,” Landholm said. “We just felt, I believe Terrelle Pryor was a younger quarterback at that point in time, and we wanted to keep him off balance as much as we could by moving the defensive front and just trying to change things up both for the offensive line and for him, and to take advantage of what our guys did and bring some edge pressure as well.”
In that eight-point loss, Pryor threw for 221 yards but ran for just 34 yards on 21 carries and fumbled twice and was intercepted twice. He was harassed all game.
The Boilermakers also possessed two things that this Purdue team may have, two things that can be a danger for a visiting favorite.
One is a record that doesn’t reflect what kind of team they are.
That Purdue team was 1-5, with four losses by seven points or fewer to Oregon, Northern Illinois, Notre Dame and Northwestern.
“We were a 1-5 team that had some talent but had made some mistakes,” Landholm said.
This Purdue team is 3-3, after opening the year with losses by four points or fewer to Northwestern, Eastern Michigan and Missouri. So Ohio State fans, then and now, may not have a full sense of who the Boilermakers are.
The second is a hidden level of talent that may be ready to break out and that, after the fact, will help explain why Purdue was maybe better than you realized.
This season, that’s on the offensive side, with two dangerous receivers in Rondale Moore and Isaac Zico (combined average per game of 11 catches and 160 yards) one of the best tight end combos in the league in Brycen Hopkins and Cole Herdman, and running back D.J. Knox, who ran for 150 yards last week.
Then, it was on defense, led by defensive end Ryan Kerrigan. He was a good player, with 12 career sacks, entering the Ohio State game. He was a monster on that day, chasing Pryor all over the field, recording a career-high three sacks and showcasing the skills that would eventually make him the No. 16 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Two other Purdue defensive linemen, Kawann Short and Mike Neal, went on to be second-round NFL picks.
If the Purdue offense on Saturday looks anything like the Purdue defense did in 2009, the Buckeyes will have their hands full. And Moore may be their Kerrigan.
“What we did that day, because of the guys we had up front, we moved the front a lot,” Landholm said. “(Kerrigan) was a bigger, quicker guy, and we had him stunt inside, stunt outside. … There were very few people who could block him regularly.”