Purdue University

1949 - 54 Boilermakers
(Authentic Reproduction)




The nine years of Stu Holcomb's coaching tenure had a roller-coaster effect on fans and alumni as the Boilermakers emerged from battle with great victories and terrible defeats. They were inconsistent and often played well above their talent level, only to fall back to earth in subsequent games against weaker opponents. Holcomb, who had been the head coach at Miami in Ohio battled the press, students, alumni, and his own administration. Typical was his comment towards Indiana boosters when he told them, "You guys with cream in one eye and crimson in the other can go to hell." Game-to-game, the team was unpredictable. Holcomb took over in 1947 in time to enjoy the final two years of QB Bob DeMoss' contribution to Purdue's reputation as a "cradle of quarterbacks." After losing to Indiana 16-14 in his first season it was obvious that Holcomb did not understand the importance of the game but he vowed that he would not lose to them again, and he didn't, going 8-1 against the Hoosiers. The '48 game with IU was spiced up when a Hoosier booster dropped leaflets on the Purdue campus, referring to the school as a "Cow College." The rebuttal was "That's true, but up here we milk the cows, at Bloomington they date them" and a 39-0 Purdue win, the largest margin since 1902. In 1949, Purdue wore Riddell plastic RT helmets for the first time, black shells with old gold striping: a one-inch center stripe and two one-inch flanking stripes that followed the curve of the helmet and converged approximately three-inches before the center stripe ended at the bottom of the helmet's back end. One-inch Eagle style numbers were added to the rear of the helmet for player identification. Losing their first two games of the season due to ten critical fumbles, the Boilers then lost their third by becoming Notre Dame's thirty-first straight victim when the Irish intercepted two of QB Ken Gorgal's errant throws. Bill "Moose" Skowron who would later star on many N.Y. Yankee championship baseball teams scored on a fake punt and was a tough two-way player all season. The 4-5 season was not only an improvement over 1948's 3-6 mark, but the team played in an expanded Ross-Ade Stadium.      
Defeating heavily favored Miami of Florida 13-7 in 1949 first earned them the nickname, "The Spoilermakers" and they solidified that moniker in 1950 as QB Dale Samuels led them into Notre Dame and faced down the Irish thirty-nine game winning streak with a nationally televised 28-14 upset, considered to be the most significant game of that season. In what was typical Holcomb fashion, Purdue faced much weaker Miami of Florida the following week and lost 20-14, a game that garnered Miami a national level reputation. Bernie Flowers was consistently terrific, allowing Samuels to post 1069 passing yards with his receiving abilities. Darrel "Pete" Brewster and Leo Sugar added strength at the ends with Sugar a terror going both ways but most effective on defense. Entering the 1951 season, Holcomb had compiled 5-4, 3-5, 4-5, and 2-7 records.
In 1951, the 5-4 record was sparked by QB Samuels' passing and the receiving of ends  Flowers, Brewster, who starred for the Browns' championship teams and had a solid nine-year NFL career, and Sugar who also lasted nine-years in the NFL and was a '51 All American. Backfield coach and former Boilermaker player Henry "Hank" Stram introduced the "moving pocket" to protect the relatively diminutive Samuels, creating the first roll-out quarterback in college football history. Their three consecutive mid-season losses, one a 31-0 pounding by Wisconsin allowed Illinois to go to the Rose Bowl. '52 produced pre-season Rose Bowl fever with Samuels at the controls and in a nationally televised game against Illinois, they swamped the Illini with All American Flowers making three TD catches. Soph Tom Bettis was an excellent guard and the 4-1-1 record tied for the conference title but Wisconsin received the vote to go to the Rose Bowl and Purdue stayed home with their 4-3-2 slate. Due to the Korean War manpower shortage and in an effort to save institutions money, there was a return to mandatory one-platoon football in 1953. The Purdue alumni weren't pleased with the emphasis that Holcomb placed on passing in a run-first single-wing era. Senior Ray Evans took over the QB position for the departed Samuels and was erratic, then injured against Michigan State who entered the contest with a twenty-eight game win streak. Froncie Gutman took over and the "Spoilermakers" upset the Spartans and snapped their streak. Unfortunately, even with Jim Wojciehowski, Joe Krupa,Tom Bettis, and Walt Cudzik up front, they could only manage six points in the three games following MSU, all losses and typical of Purdue's inconsistency. The 2-7 finish included a win against IU in the closer and Cudzik went to play one year with the Redskins. He came back to pro football in 1960 with the new Boston Patriots and became their offensive captain as he started all fifty-six games between 1960 and 1963 before moving on to the Bills.The alum were complaining less as the Boilermakers passed more in 1954 because the new QB was Alliance, Ohio's soph Leonard Dawson. In the opener against Missouri, he tossed four TD's and followed that with four more against Notre Dame, one on a long bomb to fellow soph end Lamar Lundy whose 6'7" height had him taking huge strides downfield. Dawson finished his first season with 1464 passing yards and fifteen TD's to lead the Big 10 in total offense, but the rushing game, even with frosh HB Erich Barnes, FB Bill Murakowski and Bettis and Krupa up front was non-existent. Stacking everyone to stop Dawson, the Boilers finished at 5-3-1. Guard Bettis was All American for his linebacking play and the Packers first draft choice, and played nine years at linebacker, most with the Pack.

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