Rants, ravings, and somewhat sensical opinions following Purdue’s 27-13 loss to the Notre Dame F’in Irish.
Gather around, youngin’s and let me learn ya’ll something. I’ve watched my share of Boilermaker football in over three decades of relative constant misery, and I have noticed a few things. Three rules for Boilermaker football.
- Things are never as good as you think they are.
- Things might be as bad as you think they are, but often aren’t.
- Never bet on Purdue football winning in South Bend.
Never bet on Purdue winning in South Bend is probably the most constant of three. Why is that?
Well, you see, Notre Dame as a whole is a better program than Purdue is. Just facts. Another thing? You’re not JUST playing the Irish. You’re playing the voodoo. You’re playing against 80 thousand townies who treat Saturdays as a holy day. You’re playing against the officials. You’re playing against a brainwashed media empire. You’re playing Touchdown Jesus, for crying out loud. You’re playing against tradition, or something. There’s real gold in their helmets. Their helmets! Gold in their athletic equipment level of tradition!
Did I also mention that Notre Dame is a good program too? I did? Ok.
In my lifetime, Purdue football has beaten Notre Dame exactly 1 time in South Bend. I happened to be in attendance, and despite Purdue being favorites that game, I still lived in fear that ND would make some inconceivable 25 point comeback in the final minute of the game, just to plant the little monogram ND flag firmly into my heart…
You see, weird stuff happens to Purdue in South Bend. Drew Brees throws interceptions in the endzone, where the officials forget that “tie goes to the offense”. Players who haven’t done anything before or since throws for touchdowns. I once went to a Purdue vs Notre Dame game in 2006 in which it rained for 1/2 of the game. The half that it rained? The half of the game that Purdue had the ball. It seemed to only rain when Purdue had the ball. They lost by 27-13, by the way, but Selwyn Lymon still managed 238 yards receiving and 2 TDs.
Concentrate, Ben, get back on task.
Saturday was more of the same. ND scores on 4th down in double coverage. The normally explosive Purdue offense lays an egg. The officials refuse to call holding on anyone blocking George Karlaftis. Pass interference is optional. A tipped pass here, a tired defense there, and Notre Dame wins by two scores, in a game that was much closer than the score indicated.
Jack Plummer overcame vanilla playcalling to go 25/36 (69.4%) and passing for 187 yards and a TD, continuing his efficient productive start to the season. Despite a frustrating offensive coordination effort from Brohm, pounding the run regardless of non-successful results, Purdue remained competitive in the game. They were carried on the shoulders of Jack Plummer.
Oh, and Plummer was also pulled in the 4th quarter. Why? Well, according to Brohm, he had been hit a couple times. Aidan O’Connell came in and passed 11/18 (61%) for 104 yds, 0 TD and 2 INTs. With O’Connell in the game, and playing against a prevent defense, the play calling got more aggressive. The ball moved up the field, but resulted in no points.
Purdue ran 25 times for 57 yards (2.3 yards/carry), forcing the backups to get pounded by ND repeatedly, putting Purdue behind the sticks.
The bright spot for Purdue was the oft maligned defense, who really held the Irish in check this game. Notre Dame scored a late TD against a tired defense who was carrying the Boilermakers all game. Other than that, the defensive unit did exactly what they needed, to keep the game competitive.
George Karlaftis was a wrecking ball, despite only totaling 2 tackles. He got his first sack of the year, but required multiple blockers to hold him, LITERALLY, every single snap that he played. (Props to the
officials Notre Dame third string offensive linemen for not getting caught holding Karlaftis every single play, despite regular replay evidence showing the opposite).
Cam Allen had 9 tackles, Marvin Grant had 8, and Jaylan Alexander had 7 to lead the Boilermakers. The group put pressure on the Irish, with Alexander, Graham, Mitchell, Johnson, Sullivan, and Karlaftis getting sacks, making the road difficult for the home team.
Break It Down:
The Boilers weren’t scared of the Irish, but Jeff Brohm coached like he was.
The play calling in the first three quarters was borderline humorous, as Purdue ran short crossing and flare routes, combined with an ineffective and oft-attempted run game that garnered little to now production.
After the Irish scored their first touchdown, the Boilermakers needed to regain momentum and score some points. Three straight runs and a punt had my non-sports-fan wife saying that it looked like, “Purdue is trying to lose.”
That combination brought the box closer to the line of scrimmage. It wasn’t until Jack Plummer hit David Bell on a 32 yard pass in the 3rd quarter that the playbook looked to be opened at all. This led to Purdue’s final touchdown of the game.
What Went Well:
- Defense Travels: “New Look” or not, I am finally not embarrassed of the defensive product on the field. The defense gave ND fits, and only relented when they were exhausted from bailing the offense out. Oh, they also did this without one of their starting cornerbacks, Corey Trice, who is rumored to have broken his ankle earlier in the week.
- Consistency is key: Mitchell Fineran continues his solid play, hitting his kicks. It is nice to not have to worry about the kicking game to this point.
Opportunities for Improvement:
- Jeff Brohm: The play calling in the first half was… unimpressive. Short passing routes, completions behind the line of scrimmage, and continuing to pound the run, when it is going nowhere, leads to a non-scoring offense. You need points to win football games, and Brohm was supposed to be the return to the Tiller high-scoring style of coach. Yes, Purdue has its limitations right now. Missing their starting running back, with a struggling offensive line, you’d think that they would sling the ball around. Do what you do best, right? You’d think…
- Jeff Brohm, again: I was hoping for a year in which there wasn’t a quarterback controversy. Find a guy, and stick with him, right? Of course a change should be made when there is reason to believe that it should happen. Injury? Sure! Ineffective play? Sure! Jack Plummer has completed 72+% of his passes to this point. He has thrown 7 TDs. 0 Interceptions, and 745 yards this season. That is about 250 yards per game. Keep in mind he didn’t play in the second half against UConn, or the 4th quarter against ND. The move to pull Plummer, in favor of O’Connell, for no apparent reason, and then open up the playbook with vertical passing that was not called in the first half… creates dissent within the program and the fanbase. Brohm went ahead and said, Jack is the starter in his presser. I’m sure that helps with Plummer’s confidence.
- Not so special teams: Fineran has been a solid player to this point in the year. Other than him… The Boilers only averaged 38 yards per punt, with one of the two punters only averaging 35 yards. Purdue had punt returners fielding the ball at the 2 yard line, retreating into the endzone, and barely making their way out to the field of play. Purdue had the momentum and kicked the ball off out of bounds to give the Irish good field position. Mercy.
- Dropsies: There were some fantastic catches throughout the game. There were some horrific drops as well. Some of the drops hurt momentum and ended drives. This needs to be improved upon, and quickly.
Big Man on Campus:
By popular demand, there will be no awarding of BMOC this week. Coffee is for closers.
Hang in there, David:
In the 4th, David Bell took a nasty shot and remained motionless on the field for some time. He eventually was loaded onto the cart, and sent back to the locker rooms for treatment.
It was a horrific play, but luckily it appears that any catastrophic injury is off the table as the Boilermaker star tweeted that he was ok on Sunday. While long term prognosis is still up in the air, it is good to hear that he is ok.
Football is a violent sport, and a nasty hit can alter a young man’s future. Prayers up for this shining star of the Boilermaker family.
A Look Ahead:
The Big Ten season is upon us, as Purdue returns home to host Illinois on Saturday. The battle for the Cannon is important for Purdue, as they need all of the victories that they can get in order to move forward towards bowl eligibility.
As we currently stand, Purdue is an 11 point favorite.
ND Photo Gallery: https://snapsbyme.smugmug.com/PurdueFootball/NotreDame/
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