9/27/2021 Boilermaker Water Cooler Chat: I-L-L Edition

Rants, ravings, and somewhat sensical opinions following Purdue’s 13-9 Victory over the Illinois Fighting Illini

I always try to humanize things when I write these breakdowns. I attempt to make things somewhat relatable, as if there is some macro, more important aspect to the struggle of Purdue fandom. This week, was a struggle.

The closest thing that I could figure was the 1971 movie “A Clockwork Orange”. This surreal Stanley Kubrick flick is far from a sports movie, but it is a story about struggle.

You see, the lead character, Alex, is a thug of a kid who perpetrated a series of crimes in his youth. After being arrested, he agrees to undergo a psychological reprogramming to cure him of his thuggish tendency, in exchange for a limited sentence.

While he was blasted with classical music and other more peaceful therapies, Alex is led to a major test. An evil contraption is hooked to his eyelids, forcing them open. A medical professional applies eye drops to his eyes as horrid imagery is displayed on a screen. Alex, with his eyes pried open is forced to watch the nightmare fuel which is being forced into his consciousness. They called it Aversion Therapy, and Alex writhed in pain watching the disgusting images of war. He cried for it to stop. It was horrific, and an iconic piece of movie cinema even some 50 years from when it was put on film.

As I watched Purdue trail to Illinois 9-6, deep into the 4th quarter, I understood what Alex was going through. I felt that pain. Like Alex, I writhed. I begged for cessation. I wanted out so badly. Unlike Alex, I could shut my eyes, begging for the nightmare to end. This was ugly, ugly football, and I squeezed my eyelids tight like a coward. Like a child, I covered my face, shielding myself from any terrifying shrapnel flying from my televisions screen. I was a mess, cowering from the horror which I was witnessing.

Luckily, for Purdue fans, TJ Sheffield ended the suffering. A long awaited touchdown, like a breath of fresh air, filled the souls of the Boilermaker faithful. That moment carried the day, carrying the Boilers to a happy ending, for what looked at one point, to be a football tragedy in the making.

Photo: Robert Shipley

The Game:

Jack Plummer started the game, and led Purdue on two immediate scoring drives. Both of which ended up stalling out late, leading to field goal attempts. The offense slipped gears at that point, and simply stopped moving the ball. He ended the game 12/21 for 95 yards passing, and 0 interceptions.

For the second week in a row, he was replaced by Aidan O’Connell, who, for the second week in a row, threw two picks. This week, however, O’Connell showed more brilliance than he did the week prior, eventually finding the endzone in what is technically a 4th quarter comeback. TJ Sheffield took it to the house to give Purdue the 13-9 lead with 5:44 to go. Ended up being the game winning touchdown.

For the second game in a row, the Purdue DEFENSE carried the weight of the team on their shoulders. Illinois had 3 scoring drives, all of which were field goals, and none of which really threatened to score touchdowns. The defense also held Illinois on 4th down late to secure the victory for Purdue.

Break It Down:

This game was absolutely on the trajectory to be considered the worst football game that I have ever watched. Stalling offenses that led to field goals. Defensive battling to take away ineffective offense.

What saved it from being the worst game in football history? Aidan O’Connell, who came in the second half and started moving the ball. While Jack Plummer didn’t necessarily play poorly, O’Connell is the hot hand, and he provided the spark that Purdue needed. Under O’Connell’s leadership, Purdue found the endzone.

Not enough can be said about the defensive squad for Purdue right now. When they put this crew together, I was expecting an improvement from last season, but not a huge leap. Yes, we’re only 4 games into the season, but this team has made HUGE leaps. Hopefully this continues to trend in the right direction.

Photo: Robert Shipley

What Went Well:

  • Boilermaker Football, Defense Lives Here: 100 passing yards given up on 14 completions is a good night for the secondary. 175 yards rushing seems like a lot, but it was achieved on 42 rushes, behind an impressive 156 yards from Joshua McCray. The rushing offense racked up yards, but was never impressive enough to put Illinois into touchdown consideration. Excellent production from that side of the ball.
  • My Man Mitchell: Fineran continues to impress this season, going 2/2 on field goals and 1/1 on extra points.
  • Welcome to the Party: TJ Sheffield, finding the endzone for the the first time in his career. No better way to get on the board than with a game winning touchdown in a conference opener.
Photo: Robert Shipley

Opportunities for Improvement:

  • Jeff Brohm: Vanilla play calling in the first half, then opening the playbook only after replacing the quarterback with his backup… I’m over it. It looks like it is night and day difference between the plays being called. Give the backup opportunities to slinging it around is not helping your starter.
    • I am open to consider that the offenses aren’t necessarily different between the two quarterbacks, despite the glaring difference in ball placement and philosophy. If the offenses are the same, and Plummer can’t prosper in it, then O’Connell needs to be the guy at the helm.
  • Stall offenses never work…: Purdue needs to take advantage of the scoring opportunities that are presented to them. Had they turned their first two scores into TDs, and not thrown an interception in the endzone, then Purdue would’ve won in a laugher, instead of a heart attack ending. Keep that in mind.
  • Please get healthy: Boilermakers started their 4th string running back on Saturday, after Purdue’s 2nd string RB (and presumed starter) King Doerue was out with a non-covid medical issue. During the game Payne Durham, Branson Deen, and DaMarcus Mitchell succumbed to injuries as well. Add that to the already preposterous list of starters out due to injury, I am curious if Purdue is cursed by the injury gods. Wait, I am sure they are. We’re playing Minnesota next, right? Ugh.
Photo: Robert Shipley

A Look Ahead:

Despite being heavily depleted by injuries, Purdue is favored against Minnesota (2.5pts) on Saturday, as the Golden Gophers saunter into West Lafayette for a nooner.

As we all know, Minnesota was gifted a victory last year by one of the worst calls in modern football history, a phantom offensive PI call that derailed the game and the Boilermakers’ season. Simply because that official has no business being a side judge doesn’t matter. His ineptness aside, it still is a loss in the record books. No matter how many times that I can remind you that this was, perhaps, the worst call in football history, and that the official should absolutely not be working in football any longer… Purdue still lost. Wins and losses are counted. Incompetent officials are not counted by the Big Ten, and in many ways are even heralded (See Bo Boroski.) Anyways…

Minnesota is struggling at the moment having lost to Bowling Green as 30+ point favorites. I would hate to play them after that loss. (Big sigh)

PJ Fleck and the Flecktones have had Purdue’s number as of late, inept officiating or not. Time to get off the losing end.

Photo: Robert Shipley

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About Benjamin Kolodzinski 29 Articles
Blending the passion of a sports fan with years of media experience, Ben Kolodzinski is 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, 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. 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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