November 20, 2010

Spotlight on Ricardo Allen

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Ricardo Allen's impressive freshman season continued at Michigan State with perhaps his best all-around game.

Allen had his second interception return for a touchdown in as many weeks, totaled nine solo tackles and two pass breakups against the No. 11 Spartans. It's the first time a Purdue player has returned two interceptions for a touchdown in a season since linebacker Mike Rose did so during 1997.

"He's one of the best players on our team and has a really bright future ahead of him," defensive end Ryan Kerrigan said.

Allen intercepted MSU quarterback Kirk Cousins in the first quarter and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown to give Purdue a 14-7 lead. He had a 94-yard interception touchdown return against Michigan on Nov. 13.

"It's just following the game plan," Allen said. "It's not me being athletic, I'm just going off what my coaches are telling me to do."

Allen has a team-high three interceptions this season.

"I feel like I'll never be like Ryan Kerrigan, but I can make plays, if I just listen to my coaches and do what I'm supposed to do.

Allen was pleased with his performance, but feels he's far from the peak of his potential.

"I feel I played pretty good, but the sky is the limit," Allen said. "I'll never take what I did as a plus, I always need to get better. I just try to practice hard every week. I want to go hard every day. I want to make every play and improve my confidence."

In the fourth quarter, Allen had a key pass breakup, though Michigan State would later score on the drive to pull to within one score, 31-28. On the play, Michigan State wide receiver B.J. Cunningham appeared to have caught a 37-yard touchdown pass, but Allen knocked the ball out as the two players hit the ground.

"It was in a perfect position to get my hand in," Allen said. "It was at the top shoulder.

The play was challenged by Michigan State, but upheld after instant replay.

"I felt I had made that play," Allen said.

Coach Danny Hope said Allen played well, but wasn't quite ready to label Saturday as the freshman's best game this season.

"The big plays are the key plays, so you would assume he just had one heck of a game," Hope said. "He made some great plays, he made some big plays, but he also had some plays he could have done better on. I can't say it's his best game until we look at it on film, but he certainly made big plays."

Cornerback Josh Johnson isn't surprised by Allen's strong play this season.

"He's playing phenomenal," Johnson said. "I love the way he plays. If he just keeps playing like that he has no choice but to be a great player."

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