11/20/2023 Boilermaker Water Cooler Chat: Wildcat Meltdown Edition

Photo: Corey Adams

Rants, ravings, and somewhat sensical opinions following the wild, wacky, and wide-wide world of Purdue sports.

One of my best friends, Andy, flew in from across the country, this weekend. We’ve been buddies since middle school, some 25 years or so, and still going strong. His birthday gift this year was a weekend trip back to the Midwest, to meet up with myself and his other buddies in the area.

So, I took the day off of work on Friday, and we went adventuring. First of all, it was a whirlwind Purdue experience filled with peanut butter cheeseburgers, funnel cake fries, bookstores, nostalgia campus walking, and meeting up with some of our other friends.

Saturday, we were joined by another friend and traveled to ‘West Lafayette North’, for the final game in Ryan Field’s history. Following a brief Boilermaker Special induced traffic jam, we finally parked at a hotdog joint called Mustard’s Last Stand. Nice people, delicious food, and fair prices. After a hot dog or three, an Italian Beef, a Polish sausage, and a good smattering of adult beverages, we were satiated.

Following the game, we ventured home. More cocktails and laughs ensued.

Nobody cares about my buddies and I going on an Evanston adventure. Here is why I have highlighted it.

I’ve been blessed, as a human being, to have a large, loving, circle of influence. We’re approaching Thanksgiving, a holiday that we are urged to give thanks for the blessings in our own life. I am humbled. Not that everything has been lollipops and gumdrops in my life, but on the whole, I have been blessed. I am thankful for the young middle-aged men that I have known for a generation, who have helped me become the person I am today, the very same that I could go on adventures with this weekend.

I am thankful for my God, my family, and my alma mater. I am thankful for the adventures that I have had a chance to experience. Raise one up for the nights we can’t remember and memories we wont forget. This weekend was kick-ass. This weekend, was absolutely perfect.

Except…

The Game:

About the time I was parking at ‘Mustard’s Last Stand’ news was curling that Purdue starting QB Hudson Card was out for the game with an apparent rib injury. Joining him was OLB Nic Scourton, meaning Purdue was going to be without two of their best players on each side of the ball. Well, let me tell you, something, it showed. Despite a very lack-luster yet very on-brand home field advantage for Northwestern, things did not look good for the Boilermakers.

Purdue bounced, seemingly patternlessly from two quarterbacks, Bennett Meredith and Ryan Browne. The two played similar snap totals, but Ryan Browne looked better, passing for 104 yards and 2 interceptions, but rushing for 85 yards on 21 attempts. Tyrone Tracy was the stud, rushing for 160 yards, on only 16 carries for a 10 ypc average, with a touchdown. Devin Mockobee looked electric as well, rushing for 54 yards and a TD.

Mainly this game boiled down to 2 lost fumbles, 2 interceptions, and 2 turnovers on downs in positive territory. Couple that with a missed field goal… and Purdue left dozen(s) of points or so on the field, and still only lost by a touchdown.

Defensively, Purdue did their job. Dillon Thieneman led the way with 10 tackles, and an interception. The Boilermakers tallied 5 sacks, from a combined Khorae Syndor, Mo Omononde, Yanni Karlaftis, Kydran Jenkins.

Break It Down:

Did you know, that Purdue had 443 yards of offense compared to Northwestern’s 329? Did you know that Purdue controlled the ball for over 9 more minutes than Northwestern? Did you know that Purdue rushed for 303 yards?

Did you know that Purdue turned the ball over 4 times? 6 times if you semantically count turnovers on downs.

Folks, there has been much consternation on Graham Harrel’s success this season, to which I say unfairly. People often claim the short yardage situations are cringeworthy for our Boilermakers. They absolutely have been.

Here is a list of Purdue head coaches who struggled in short yardage situations: Walters, Brohm, Hazell, Hope, Tiller…

Regardless, getting stuffed on the 1/2 yard line for 4 straight downs is unacceptable. Whether or not it is because of playing from shotgun, or because of the line, or because of the play call, or because, of because, of because, of because off…

At some point the players need to go out there and take care of business. At some point, they have to go get 1.5 feet of positive yardage.

Purdue gained 443 yards. They turned the ball over 4 times. They left 2 touchdowns on the field, a missed field goal, and a turnover driving late in the game. The doors to opportunities were opened.

Its difficult to blame the young QB’s here. They were thrown into the mix with little preparation and zero experience. None the less, this game was available for Purdue to win. Yet, they didn’t.

Par for the course in the 2023 football season.

What Went Well:

  • 5.6 YPC: Across the entire team, with Tyrone Tracey leading the way with a 10 YPC average. Totaling in 303 yards rushing, should win you a lot of games…
  • There Has To Be A Way: To somehow get Mockobee and Tracey on the field at the same time. In fairness its pretty late in the season and it doesn’t really matter at this point. They are the two most dynamic players on the field.

Opportunities for Improvement:

  • 4 Turnovers: Will will lose nearly every time they turn the ball over this many times. Three hundred and three yards of rushing mean nothing when gift wrap the ball to the opponent.
  • How About This: How about, now hear me out, if instead of flip flopping QBs, not allowing either one to get into the game flow, you pick one and stick with him? Momentum is a real thing, and by not allowing one single QB to get his feet underneath him, both quarterbacks were done a disservice.

Maui Wowi!!!!:

The Purdue Basketball Boilermakers are in Honolulu enjoying palm trees, grass skirts, poi, and some of the best basketball opponents that the NCAA has to offer. The Maui Invitational hosts the #1 Team in the nation Kansas, #2 Purdue, #4 Marquette, #7 Tennesee, #11 Gonzaga, Syracuse, UCLA, and Chaminade.

This is murderer’s row for ANY of these teams, not just the Purdue Boilermakers.

I would not be surprised if the Final 4 in March/April all come from this tournament.

A Look Ahead:

Purdue Football takes on Indiana at home to close the season for the Old Oaken Bucket. Winner gets one of the most storied historic trophies in the Big Ten! What does the loser get? Well the loser is mathematically the worst team in the conference. No pressure! This game kicks off at noon with Purdue opening as a 2.5 point favorite.

#2 Purdue Basketball takes on #11 Gonzaga on Monday at 5 PM ET. Purdue will be an approximate 3.5 point favorite going into this contest. Following that, there are multiple different ways for the tournament to go.

Its a big week for the Purdue Boilermakers! Boiler Up, and have a blessed Thanksgiving Holiday!

For more content like this follow @ISC_Purdue on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. For a deeper look into the mad mind of Ben Kolodzinski, follow him at @BRKolo on Twitter. WARNING: Viewer’s discretion is advised…

About Benjamin Kolodzinski 105 Articles
Blending the passion of a sports fan with years of media experience, Ben Kolodzinski is a unique personality for ISC Purdue. Since the 2017-18 NCAA seasons, Ben has written weekly columns for ISC, with a style that can only be described as snarky, irreverent, and often times irrelevant. A 2008 graduate from Purdue West Lafayette, Kolodzinski has worked for several local and regional media outlets. Best known for his television and radio work at Lakeshore Public Media (Lakeshore Public Television, and 89.1 The Lakeshore), Kolodzinski helped grow Northwest Indiana's only nightly news show Lakeshore News Tonight, along with The Region's only local sports shows Prep Sports Report, and Prep Football Report. As of 2022, Kolodzinski hosts Lakeshore Gamenight, a prep football radio show and cohosts Lakeshore PBS Scoreboard, a prep football TV highlight show. Kolodzinski is known, locally, for having a fun loving and gregarious personality, and for attempting to inject humor into his reporting... sometimes successfully.

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