Rants, ravings, and somewhat sensical opinions following the wild, wacky, and wide-wide world of Purdue sports.
In the 1920 presidential election, Warren G Harding coined the term “A Return to Normalcy”, which is a fairly straight forward (but only vaguely English) colloquialism. He implored the nation that it is time to get back do doing what we do best. While the statement isn’t grammatically correct, it still makes sense.
The world has been a strange place, the past few months. Almost as if, we entered a parallel universe where a Peacock can strangle a Boilermaker to death, and two programs under investigation for various improprieties can battle it out for a national title, sans a nod to the obvious ominous haze over the game.
But things have changed rapidly, over the past few months, and my head was starting to throb from the readjustments. To name a few:
- The transfer portal is running wild on the NCAA Universe.
- The NCAA as a whole has lost all assembelance of logic and reason.
- In broad daylight, a law firm can legally pay a player to play basketball for them… instead of under the cover of darkness as God intended.
- Mega conferences are being formed, including the addition of UCLA and USC into the… Big Ten.
- Scott Frost kept his job.
- Purdue is finally “closing” the endzone of Ross-Ade.
- Cats and dogs are living together. Mass hysteria.
Thursday was our “return to normalcy” moment. The more things change, the more they stayed the same. Just as I predictably woke my wife up yelling encouragement at the television in the waning hours of the night, The Purdue Boilermaker Football team predictably teased each and every one of us.
The Game: Penn State 35, Purdue 31
Purdue led the game with less than a minute to go, as a last second TD by PSU WR Keyvone Lee propelled the Nittany Lions to victory, in front of a jam packed, passionate Ross Ade crowd.
On the offense, King Doerue started hot with 2 TDs, and Aidan O’Connell passed for 356 yds and 1 TD. Breakout star Charlie Jones hauled in 12 catches and 153 yards, and looks to be a force going forward as an offensive weapon.
Defensively, Chris Jefferson had a tremendous, 72 yard interception return for touchdown, which electrified the West Lafayette crowd. He also led the way with 7 tackles, while Jalen Graham and Cam Allen each added 6.
Photo Credit: Mark Elsner
Break It Down:
What really can be said here? Purdue played well enough to win and fell short. We all know what happened, by now, so I will spare you fair readers the details. The bottom line is simple, Purdue lost this game by playing incredibly poorly for just a few minutes, leading to multiple Penn State scores.
When a team plays a challenging opponent early in the season, the more fundamentally sound team usually comes out victorious. TJ Sheffield is a dynamic athlete, who had a first down on an end around, as Purdue was threatening to score. Fundamentally, he did not protect the football, as Penn State poked it free and recovered with 28 seconds to play in the half.
Penn State, then, went 82 yards, in 2 plays, to score a TD to end the half. Fundamentally, Purdue forgot to wrap up, allowing Penn State to break easy tackles, and fly into the endzone.
Take a few points away from Purdue, add a touchdown to Penn State, and voila!
What Went Well:
- Raucous Ross Ade: The field looked great and the atmosphere seemed incredible. While Purdue’s home stadium isn’t particularly large, the passion that was shown on the broadcast showed why playing against a homestanding Purdue team is difficult.
- 426: For hundred and twenty six total yards on offense is quite impressive against this vicious Penn State defense. While Aidan O’Connell’s completion percentage was only 50% the yardage was there. He threw a good, catchable ball.
- Charlie Jones: Speaking of catching the ball, the Iowa Transfer was an absolute stud on Thursday. He caught 12 passes, which in itself is impressive. What is even more impressive, is that Jones only caught 18 passes in the totality of the 2021 season, while playing for Iowa. Clearly, playing WR for Iowa is not beneficial for your statistics. No wonder Mr. Jones is playing for the good guys now!
Opportunities for Improvement:
- Wrap it up: Early in the season, you will see some tackling mishaps. Full blown tackling isn’t practiced as hard as they normally are in the preseason. The risk of injury and concussions has coaches reliant upon muscle memory when it comes to full-go tackling. This is a problem, when Penn State is breaking multiple tackles while scoring last minute touchdowns. First thing they teach you in Pop-Warner football is… wrap up.
- 70 yards: Purdue is not known for their rushing offense. Likewise they were playing a very stout Penn State defense. 70 yards is not going to cut it.
- Clutch Gene: Allowing 2 last minute touchdowns is bad enough. When you have an opportunity to end a game, someone needs to step up. One game doesn’t make a season, but hopefully a few of these experienced players step up.
One Final Thing:
Following another frustrating loss, Purdue fans have returned to their “normalcy” as expected. Sifting through twitter, Facebook, text messages, you know the ways that kids communicate now a days… I am seeing a lot of heavy criticism of Jeff Brohm and his inability to close out close games like this.
Now I am not going to carry a sword for Brohm, some criticism is warranted. However, I am amazed by the vitriol from some Purdue fans. Some fans are calling for Jeff Brohm to be fired. I am going to type this out, I want people to read this next sentence slowly.
There are people who are calling for Jeff Brohm to be fired for losing to Penn State.
Lets play Devil’s Advocate here. Should Brohm have attempted to run the ball to bleed clock at the end of the game? In a perfect world, yes. King Doerue is a hearty runner, and was productive during a big part of the first 3 quarters. This was against a defense that selling out to stop the pass-heavy Purdue attack.
What happens when a good defense knows that you are going to run the ball to bleed the clock? They’re going to stack the box. How do you beat a defense selling out to stop the run… especially when you struggle to run the ball? I wonder.
Maybe, just maybe, Jeff Brohm knows his personnel. Just a thought. He probably knows more about the potential success rate of his play calls, than you do. Oh, another thought, maybe he wanted to put the ball in the hands of his best player, his potential All-Big Ten Quarterback. The sixth year guy. The senior leader.
If one of those receivers didn’t drop the ball, or if one of those PI’s get called. Then Purdue gets that first down and the game is over.
I want nothing more than Purdue to average 8 yards per carry. This Purdue team is not built to do that. Purdue isn’t Wisconsin. Purdue isn’t MSU. Purdue is the least likely team in the Big Ten to be able to run a game to death. Return to normalcy here, folks. There are a bunch of 2022 victories ahead.
You know who else couldn’t run a game to death? You know who had issues in these exact circumstances? Joe Tiller, Purdue’s greatest coach, could not run a game out. Lest we forget.
But we did forget.
Personally, in this wacky and wild off season, I forgot how knee-jerk the Purdue fans are. Shame on me. Also, shame on these people who think gutting the program for losing to Penn State is the right move. Remember where you came from. This football program was a laughing stock prior to Brohm. Like the program was a laughing stock prior to Joe Tiller. If you want Jim Colletto and Darrell Hazell, get all fire-happy. See what happens.
Or you can ride with the coach that won 9 games last year, and has rebuilt the program into a team that is competitive with a blue blood. What do I know?
A Look Ahead:
Purdue will host Indiana State next week for a 4 PM ET kick. Purdue will be astronomical favorites.
Also, I will be in attendance! My return to God’s country! Boiler Up!
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