Looking Back at the 2016 Purdue Football Season

This was a strange year for me as far as Purdue football goes. I missed more games than I have in years, but I also shuffled some jobs around so that I could attend more Purdue games. At one point it looked as if I would miss far more games than I did, but I love gameday at Ross Ade Stadium so I made some things work. This was not the year going into it that anyone had in mind. That was made clear when head coach Darrell Hazell was let go after the Iowa game. The team kept fighting the entire way though endearing them to me as the season went on. They never gave up when it seemed as if everyone else had. That means a lot, and this senior class will always be remembered for that. I know I say this every year, but I never really know if I will be on the sidelines the following year photographing Purdue play. I hope that I am, but you never know. In any case this has been amazing the last four years photographing Purdue from the sidelines. Here are sixteen of my favorite images from this past season.

16. We will start the countdown with an image that I made during my last Purdue game of the season. Early in the game things were looking great for Purdue. David Blough ran around end to score this touchdown to make the score 10-0 Purdue. I was lucky enough that David ran right at me so that I could make this photo. I love the way the Northwestern player is stopped floating in the air.

15. Just before that game I was at the Varsity P Club tailgate making some photos of it. Some of my family was putting it on that day, and it was a good opportunity to photograph the band among other things. As I was waiting for the band to come I saw NFL and College Football Hall of Fame Rod Woodson talking with Dale Samuels one of the first members in the ‘Cradle of Quarterbacks.’ Dale is one of my favorite people to talk football with so I hurried up and made this image.

14. Speaking of hurrying to make an image I made this one of a Bilal Marshall touchdown with my grab camera early in the season. I always have a camera with a shorter lens on it ready to go in case the play comes to me. This long touchdown was one of those moments made for the grab camera. It is a little loose for my taste though so it comes in at #14 on the countdown. It is still a great moment from an early season win.

13. I am not going to lie about why I made this image. At the time with a loss I was pretty sure that Purdue would let coach Darrell Hazell go. A great win in Illinois made sure that he was not fired, but of course we all know now that he was fired the following week. I liked this photo of Darrell surveying his team prior to the Illinois game. When I made the image I had a black and white conversion in mind, and it looked good that way.

12. Late in the season I was playing around with some lens and camera combinations. When this pass was thrown I had my Canon 7D Mark II on my 400mm lens making it roughly a 640mm lens. I found the receiver just as the ball was getting to him, and I made this shot. As the season was coming to a conclusion I was starting to like having the 7D II on the 400 again. That seemed to get me where I wanted to be most of the time. 

11. This is one of those moments that can be photographed many ways. I like this version of this picture enough that it makes the countdown. The photo is more of the seal off block than it is the score. The definitive version of this touchdown photo was made by Purdue photographer Charles Jischke. His angle and choice of lens made for a great photo. I like the stacking of the players here enough for it to make the top 16 though.

10. When I saw the new grey uniforms that Purdue came out with prior to the season I thought that they would look amazing in black and white. I was not wrong. I don’t know why I like this shot so much, but I have since I made it. Of course I knew I would convert it to black and white, but I didn’t realize how much that would make me like it. It really is a snapshot, but for some reason I like it and it makes the countdown.

9. Purdue senior Jake Replogle did not have the season that I think he had in mind when the season started. An injury cost him most of his senior year. This early season celebration between Jake and Evan Panfil makes you wonder what could have been for these two seniors. Evan had to move around because of Jake’s injury so we never really got to see the two have the year we thought they could have. When they were both in the game though they made it hard on the opponents offense.

8. Peter Read Miller talks often about his camera on the ground technique. When he does it he uses a right angle finder to see the action. He is on higher profile sidelines than I am so that is what he has to do. At the games I cover I can just lay down on the grass (or turf) to make my image. I have a right angle finder, but I don’t like the position it puts me in if the plays comes my way. Here I was laying on the turf as Richard Worship pounded his way into the end zone against Illinois. I think the low angle makes the picture. Had I been up higher I would not have liked it as much.

7. One player who seemingly never dropped a pass this season was Cameron Posey. Late in the Penn State game I stayed behind the play to try and get some passes. Nearly every pass these days is thrown so that the receiver has to look back to catch it. With that in mind I stayed behind the offense to capture a couple of those passes. This was my favorite of those moments.

6. I have shot the Purdue runout many times in the four years that I have been on the sidelines. At some point you start to feel as if you have covered it in every way possible. Before the Penn State game I hung back in the North end zone where the players would run to. I had the idea to cover their prayer with my wide angle lens. When I saw Kirk Barron though I grabbed my 400mm lens and pointed it at him. With the Canon 7D Mark II mounted on it the lens acted more like a 640mm lens allowing me to get in tight on Kirk. I loved this moment then, and I still love it now.

5. As Purdue was setting up to kick the game winning field goal against Illinois I decided that since I was really not bound to anyone that day that I could pick what I wanted to shoot. I decided that the kicker was important, but not my best option at that time. I focused on the Purdue bench, and more importantly Coach Darrell Hazell. He was showing a little more emotion that day, and I knew that he would give me something here. In the end the shot was not about him, but rather what those around him were doing. It was the beginning of a fun party.

4. After Brian Lankford-Johnson scored his touchdown against Illinois I kept on him with my 70-200mm lens as the players were coming up and congratulating him. Jason King came up and gave him this great hug. There is something about this moment that I love. The sun glint off the helmets just seem to add to the photo. This is what shooting football is all about right here. This is hard to beat.

3. Of course as I talk about not wanting to shoot the runout above I would have a runout shot later in the countdown. This one was more accident than anything else. With no real tunnel for the players to run out of I wondered where I should stand. The photographers usually just mingle in with the tunnel of fans/alumni. Here I chose to stand with a few other photographers to create a larger group so that we wouldn’t get hit. Of course we did, but I loved this shot of the smoke from the Boilermaker Xtra Special creeping across the players. It adds a little mood to the shot.

2. Before my last game of the season I was out early shooting pregame. I get out early and shoot for many reasons, but one of those reasons is that most other people are not out there. They are up in the media area eating popcorn. This gives me an opportunity to make photos that nobody else has. Here during a normal drill Boilermaker center Kirk Barron took his helmet off and gave a rallying war cry. It was pure luck that he was near me and facing me, but I was able to make the photo. It was probably my favorite photo of the day, and the game was far from even starting yet. Next year if I am lucky enough to be back on the sidelines you can bet that I will be down there early to try and capture more moments. The game consists of much more than what goes on in between the lines for 60 minutes.

  1. There was no doubt to me what my top photo of this countdown would be. At times I debated about where to place most of the other photos above, but this one was always at number one. At this point in the season Purdue desperately needed a win badly. As time was winding down in regulation things did not look good for the Boilers. A botched field goal sent the game into overtime where the Boilers took control. The celebration was one that was amazing with the players eager to get their hands on the Purdue Cannon. The time of day paired with the celebration made for a photo that I really liked. It was by far my favorite Purdue football image that I made this past season.

So there are my favorite sixteen images from this past year. Did I get the order right? If I am lucky enough to get to shoot Purdue football again next season I will have a hard time topping some of the images on this list. It will be fun trying though.

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About Pinola Photo

I am a sports and lifestyle photographer based in West Lafayette, IN home of Purdue University. I cover sports for Big Ten teams as well as other colleges. You can follow me on twitter @pinolaphoto. You can also view my website at www.davewegielphoto.net

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