9/18/2023 Boilermaker Water Cooler Chat: Orange Juice Edition

Photo: Mark Elsner

Rants, ravings, and somewhat sensical opinions following the wild, wacky, and wide-wide world of Purdue sports following the Boilermaker’s 35-20 home loss to the Syracuse Orange.

Yes, my fair readers, I have missed you.

For the eagle eyed ISC consumers, you’ve probably noticed that I have been missing a bit. I can’t outright tell you why there hasn’t been any articles the last few weeks, but I’ll give you some hints.

It could be because I was on sabbatical. It could be because I was in jail. It could be because I was on an exclusive three-week tour of Europe, Scandinavia, and the subcontinent. It could be because I was in Mordor. Or it could have been due to technical difficulties making it so our articles couldn’t be published.

It is one of those. I wont say which.

Regardless, I am back, and boy did I pick a good week to return!

Speaking of three week tours of Europe, Scandinavia, and the subcontinent. After fully accepting Purdue’s fate sometime in the second third fourth quarter on Saturday, I made a very “European” joke.

Ok, let me explain. I needed to consciously fix my mental state, so I started attempting to crack jokes at my wife in between the expletives I was hurling at my television. I had to pull out the big guns, I had to parody, perhaps the greatest stand-up comedian of the 1980s.

Legendarily hilarious comedian, and European born, Yakov Smirnoff made a living making observational jokes. Known for his catchphrases “America, what a country!” and “In Mother Russia…” Smirnoff made millions with a series of jokes which communication scholars refer to as “Russian Reversal” jokes. These take a supposedly mundane scenario in America, and relate it to a humorous situation when comparing it to his home country.

In America, you can always find a party! In Mother Russia, the party can always find you!

-Yakov Smirnoff

What a country!

So, as you could tell, I was being driven so deeply into madness by the 6th or 7th fumble, that I forced myself into “Yakov Smirnoff” mode. That’s how deep we were, folks. That’s how close I was to finally breaking. I couldn’t help it. It just happened. A groan inducing joke led to eye rolls so powerful that I could hear the friction against my wife’s eye lids… and I laughed, and laughed.

What a program! At Purdue, orange juice you!

Ben Kolodzinski

In my defense, it could’ve been worse. I’m just glad that I didn’t reach Sam Kinison mode.

The Game:

In a game that was never as close as the score indicated, Purdue fumbled the ball 7 times, losing 3 from Hudson Card in the first half. Card also threw for an interception, as Purdue turned the ball over multiple times in the redzone, and lost by 2 scores.

Meanwhile, the defense gave up 195 yards rushing to Syracuse QB Garrett Shrader, which is (if you’re keeping track at home), the highest total rushing yards that an opposing QB has ever gained against Purdue in their history.

I think that pretty much covers it.

Break it Down:

This breakdown could be a gut punch. You know, the gut, where Purdue has struggled to run but continues to try. The guts, where fortitude comes from. The stomach, where heartburn comes from. The intestines, where… you get it.

You think that I am going to go in hard here, but I am not. This program is still evolving. These players, these coaches want to win. Purdue turned the ball over 4 times, and only lost by 2 scores. Nobody is TRYING to fumble the ball. Nobody is trying to throw interceptions, or miss extra points, or let the defense have a free shot to sack Card and cause a turnover.

Was Saturday disappointing? Absolutely. Was Saturday embarrassing? Yep.

Purdue this season has lost to a G5 team and roughed up in primetime against a questionable ACC team. They’ve beaten a bottom rung ACC team on the road. There’s a lot of eyes watching, and some are filled with tears.

But we as fans need to realize, our frustrations are nowhere near those of these players. Nowhere near those of these coaches.

This team is well coached. These players have heart. They just need to continue to meld together, and tighten up on the things they can control. There are fans who are bailing already. Some who have said that “Not one fan should enter Ross-Ade next week” as if that type of protest proves anything. Others have said that this squad is WORSE than the Hazell years.

If you are one of those Purdue fans, then you can get lost. You’ve probably not even reading this article. Probably because one of two reasons.

  1. You’ve given up on the season already, or…
  2. You’re not literate enough to read this far into an article.

If anyone was expecting an undefeated season without hiccups, then they need to get a full examination. If anyone thought that any game this season was going to be a cakewalk, then do some soul searching.

This season is one where we need to see improvement. Purdue needs to be getting better week in and week out. This week may have been 2 steps back in the grand scheme of things, but there are plenty of positive steps going forward.

What Went Well:

  • Always Trust a Thieneman: Dylan Thieneman led the team with 14 tackles 10 of which were solo. There is always that old cliché that you don’t want your safety leading in tackles, but Thieneman is in the mix. He’s not dragging players down 40 yards down field, he is making things happen. THE bright spot of the defense.
  • Other Than The Mistakes, The Offense Was Humming: Things were going well. The ball was getting whipped around the field. 7 receivers made a catch, led by Yaseen’s 10 receptions. Purdue marched down the field frequently, but didn’t capitalize as well as they should have. There were more than just glimpses of good offense. Purdue went for over 400 yards.
  • Ross Ade at Night: Is special. The field looked great. The stadium looked shiny. The crowd was hot. Great job to the maniacs who filled the stands for the sellout!

Opportunities for Improvement:

  • Pregame Popcorn: … was probably not a great snack idea. Purdue’s fingertips were obviously coated in thick layer of buttery goodness, because they could clearly not hold onto the football. 7 fumbles (3 lost), 2 of which in the redzone, will lose the game for you 95% of the time. I think its time for the Boilermakers to carry a football with them around campus this week.
  • Short Yardage: … is the bane of this team. I feel much more confident that Purdue will pick up a 3rd & 7 than I do a 3rd & 1. Why is that? Could it be play calling? On the first drive, Purdue had a 2nd & 1 stuffed. Purdue then had a 3rd & 1 stuffed. Then Purdue fumbled on a 4th & 1, giving away any chance on scoring. The Boilermakers have a tendency to run between the guards in sort yardage situations, unsuccessfully. Spectacularly unsuccessfully. It has happened so frequently this season, that my buddies can text me what play is coming on 3rd and 1, and how successful it will be. There are plenty of reasons why plays like this can fail. It could be a timing issue. It could be a push issue. It could be that the interior line is still playing without their best player, still out with injury. It could be that new players are gaining familiarity with each other, and are not finely tuned as of yet. Who knows, exactly? What IS known, is that Purdue dips into that well far to frequently vs. the success rate. The Boilermakers need some creativity in these situations, or this season will spiral out of control quickly.
  • 3: The amount of kicks that Ben Freehill has missed this season, following a missed extra point on Saturday. Yes, it is early, and, yes, kickers tend to improve as the season moves on. All reports say that Freehill is a dedicated player, and he is absolutely killing it in practice. As of right now, however, he is averaging 1 missed kick per game. I do believe that the kicking unit will get this figured out, but as of right now Purdue is not in position to be leaving points on the field.
  • Speaking of Leaving Points On The Field: Another week, another reckless 4th down attempt. This week, on the first drive of the game, Purdue looked dominant marching right down the field, only to get stuffed on the goal line. As the 2023 version of Purdue does, they went for it, leading to a busted play, and a Hudson Card fumble inside the 5. If you have a hot-crowd, and your offense is showing momentum, you must capitalize on it. If you don’t, the crowd can get deflated. The offense doesn’t get the satisfaction of scoring points. “Now Ben,” someone might claim, “Purdue lost by 15 points. What does 3 points early do?” Well, I’ll tell you what it does. It changes the complexity of the game. It puts Syracuse a possession down, 3 points behind, and the crowd is still fired up. A stop energizes Syracuse, changing the trajectory of the next 3.5 quarters.

Big Man on Campus:

Due to popular demand there will be no BMOC awarded this week. Coffee is for closers.

Purdue – Syracuse Photo Gallery: https://snapsbyme.smugmug.com/PurdueFootball/2023/Syracuse/

A Look Ahead:

Purdue takes on the Wisconsin Badgers on FRIDAY this week. I personally hate Friday games for multiple reasons. 1) It changes the internal clock of the players. Less rest and recovery do not help. 2) I have a 4 hour radio/TV show on Friday nights covering local prep football in Northwest Indiana (check your local listings!), so I won’t be able to watch live anyways.

That being said, Wisconsin hasn’t lost to Purdue since before my college aged son was born. So, that’s cool too. Vegas knows that too! Purdue will be a home dog once again, as of the writing of this article, Wisconsin is a 7 point favorite. ESPN’s matchup predictor gives Purdue an approximate 37% chance of victory, if you care about that sort of thing.

Who knows what will happen Friday? Recent history doesn’t favor Purdue… but stranger things have happened. Either way, Boiler Up!!

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 93 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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