Boilermaker Water Cooler Chat: 2020 Week Zero Edition

So, 2020, am I right?

Not sure if ya’ll heard or not, but this year has been a bit “difficult” to say the least. A disease has ravaged the world, sickening and killing hundreds of thousands of Americans, and millions worldwide. People lost their lives, their jobs, their freedoms, and their normal ways of life. I would like to take it upon myself, to express my most sincere condolences to all of those affected by COVID-19 from myself and from Indiana Sports Coverage Purdue.

From a sports world things weren’t great either. The 2020 NCAA Basketball Tournament was cancelled before it even began. Kobe Bryant and his daughter were tragically killed in a helicopter accident. Baseball season was pushed back and the NBA season took major delays. The NHL was out of sorts. The NFL too. The Big Ten cancelled their season, said that they wouldn’t reconsider, and then restarted their season, all because the cool kids went ahead and played. All American players were opting out. The Big Ten decided to release multiple schedules dealing with the pandemic. None of which made sense. The sports world was a real mess.

Also, social, racial, economic, and political unrest is flaring around the nation. Rallies, protests, riots, and incarcerations abound.

Oh, and there’s an election going on. That’s another “calming” influence on this whole year we have here…

To top it all off? The ISC Purdue server of past articles accidentally got wiped due to technical difficulties. Poof. Gone. Done. El Zilcho.

Things are stressful. With no sports to bring us back to some sort of normalcy, this Boilermaker is on edge.

Some have taken up new hobbies to cope. Others have sought counseling. I know a guy who has taken up jogging to keep himself occupied in these “uncertain times” … like a maniac.

How have I coped without my favorites past time? I have dealt with this like any Boilermaker would… by practicing my whiskey drinking.

What does a Boilermaker do with a whiskey bottle? He Hammers Down! Then he Hammers Down Again! AND, THEN, HE HAMMERS DOWN AGAIN!!

And then he throws a chair.

… and the next thing you know, its late October and Purdue is opening up what promises to be the strangest football season in their history.

The Good News:

  • We’re back, baby!
    • Although a small gesture, the return of college football is a major step towards normalcy for all of us.
  • More Moore:
    • The consensus All-American is returning, and has to logically be included on many Heisman watch lists.
    • His slot presence, along side returning B1G FOY David Bell means that weapons abound on the Purdue offense.
    • His return gave Purdue’s national brand a shot in the arm, and continued to keep the program nationally relevant. This will help recruiting.
  • Defensive Upgrayedd (Spelled with two d’s for a Double Dose of Defense):
    • Purdue brought in award winning defensive coordinator Bob Diaco this year, replacing the incumbent Nick Holt.
      • Diaco has been known for playing a linebacker heavy, 3-4 defense, which, if run correctly, can wreak havoc on opposing offenses.
    • George Karlaftis showed his brilliance last season, and looks to continue to build going forward. He is a force, that can eliminate half of the field with his dominance.
    • Lorenzo Neal returns from a knee injury which kept him out of the entire 2019 football year. His physical size will help clog the interior, and will be a vital cog for the defense.
    • Purdue’s secondary looks to be a strength of the team.
      • As of the writing of this article, Iowa transfer DJ Johnson has been cleared by the NCAA to be eligible at Purdue immediately. The Big Ten, however, has yet to announce a ruling.
        • This is not surprising, because, the Big Ten hasn’t exactly been making expedient decisions lately… or good ones for that matter. Judging by how the brain-trust at B1G headquarters operates, we should know if Johnson is eligible by mid to late November.
  • Positive Purdue Pete over here: Jeff Brohm has been particularly positive about his team coming into the season. While Brohm hasn’t ever been a negative coach, he was never known as a gushingly positive coach. He has given high praise for just about every unit on the team. While not a usual circumstance, it is a welcome development.
  • Leftovers are best served cold: Even though the ISC Purdue server yeet’ed out of here, killing all of my former articles, it means that I can reuse my old gimmicky material once again. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

The Bad News:

  • So, about that Pandemic:
    • Purdue head football coach Jeff Brohm, as of the writing of this article, has tested positive for COVID19 leading into the game against Iowa.
    • While there is no reports of any other illnesses right now in the program, there could be potential for this. Hopefully, for Coach Brohm, this is either a false positive, or a quick mend for him.
    • Lest we forget, Nick Saban (the head coach for a program called Alabama, from the State of Alabama, who are called the Red-Tide, but have an elephant mascot, and are, apparently, a well known football team) tested positive for COVID-19 last week, and after a series of negative tests, coached Saturday.
  • Say goodbye to bye weeks:
    • The Big Ten has crammed 9 games into 9 weeks this season. Its a football tuna can.
    • If there is a COVID-19 infection happens, according to Big Ten guidelines, a player will have to miss 21 straight days of football, or 1/3 of the season. See above bullet points to see why this is concerning.
  • Awfully quiet out there:
    • Adding to other concerning decisions made by the Big Ten lately, the rule that all games must be played without fans attending, is a disappointing development.
    • Notre Dame, despite having an outbreak on campus, still had their students snuggling during their “Alma Mater” song broadcasted on NBC this past weekend. The Indianapolis Colts have fans for their home games. Purdue? IU? Nah. No fans.
    • If the course continues, this will be the first football season of my life that I did not attend any Purdue football games. That is 35-ish years, folks.
  • Learning on the fly:
    • While there is plenty of returning firepower this year for the Boilermakers, questions still remain.
      • The quarterbacks.
      • The offensive line.
      • The linebackers.
      • The running backs.
    • With an untraditional off season, the normal repetitions that a player will get will be lacking. Do not be surprised if there are learning-curve issues early this year.

A Look Ahead:

Purdue has Iowa week 1… presuming that there isn’t a COVID -thing- that happens. While initially a 2.5 pt dog, this game looks to be an exciting one. The Boilermakers are a wildcard this year. Coming off a year in which there were a few-hundred-dozen injured starters, younger players were forced into production roles. Purdue lost multiple games by 1 possession or less, riding on the shoulders of freshmen and sophomores. What is expected this year? Vegas isn’t quite sure.

Iowa, on the other hand, has been a stalwart in the Big Ten West. Known for efficient offenses and tough defenses, they have been well coached and productive for the greater part of the last two decades. Coaching, however, is where this Iowa team might be setting up for failure.

This past offseason there has been tremendous distractions on the Iowa Hawkeye football team. Multiple players have accused the coaching staff of racism, which has spurred multiple players to transfer from the team. Is this a distraction? Is there a cohesive unit coming from Iowa City? It will be interesting.

See ya’ll Saturday! We’re less than a week away, folks! We’ve waited all this time… its time to Boiler Up, and Hammer Down!

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 25 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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