The offense was clicking on Saturday morning in West Lafayette as they crushed the Purdue defense by a score of 111 to 45 inside Ross-Ade Stadium. The Boilermakers started the scrimmage with the number one offense against the first team defense and then mixed in different groupings of 2nd and 3rd teams throughout the day.
The quarterback battle heated up a bit with strong performances from the three that performed. Austin Appleby remains the number one option and finished 12 of 14 for 183 yards. He had a nifty 49-yard toss to DeAngelo Yancey for his lone touchdown throw. Danny Etling was 14 of 24 for 206 yards and 2 touchdowns, one to Anthony Mahoungou and the other to Shane Mikesky. He was also responsible for the lone turnover of the day when he fumbled during a scramble.
Redshirt freshman David Blough also was very efficient, finishing 24 of 32 for 275 yards and a nice 63-yard touchdown pass to Dan Monteroso. Blough also rushed 11 times for 47 yards. At one point, he was able to lead a group of 2nd and 3rd stringers to a field goal against the first-team defense.
The best news of the day was how sharp the receivers looked with several of them stepping up and having huge days. Monteroso led the way with 7 catches for 161 yards and a TD, followed by Yancey's 6 receptions for 94 yards and a TD. Mikesky caught 3 balls for 75 yards including a 43-yard reception from Etling.
Freshman Markell Jones led the rushing attack with 19 attempts for 159 yards and 2 touchdowns. His second rush of the game went for 28 yards and a score. Redshirt sophomore Keyante Green also had a couple of touchdown runs and was reportedly the most difficult to tackle throughout the day.
Overall, the Purdue running game was able to average 5.4 yards per carry as they wore the defense down with quick play calls and consistently early snaps. Sophomore D.J. Knox has reportedly been the team's number one back up until this point, but he was sidelined for the scrimmage due to a head injury. Reserve back Keith Byars injured his shoulder early in the scrimmage and was sidelined for the remainder of the day. With Byars and Knox out, Jones was able to take advantage of the increased snaps and had an outstanding day.
The Purdue defense flat out got pummeled today and gave up huge play after huge play. Aside from all of the huge scoring drives, they were able to come up with a couple of safeties, a fumble recovery, and six sacks. Ja'Whaun Bentley looked good and led the way with eight tackles. Redshirt freshman Will Colmery had a productive day, coming up with two sacks and a safety.
The secondary was constantly getting burned by the deep ball (which I guess could be a good sign for the offense) and they allowed the Purdue quarterbacks to throw for a combined 664 yards and no interceptions. To be fair, there are some key injuries among the safeties and cornerbacks, so we are definitely not seeing this group perform at 100 percent quite yet, but they still have a long way to go to improve before September.
Overall, these scrimmages are a great tool for the coaching staff to evaluate where the different groups are as a whole as well as where each individual player is in their development process. I would not read too much into how poorly the defense played as a whole just yet. I think one of the biggest takeaways from today is how sharp all of the quarterbacks look and how they all seem to be on the same page with their receivers - something that they all struggled with mightily last season. Purdue's offense so far looks like they're heading more in the direction of the no-huddle, quick play variety, and that's great, but the defense needs to be ready to adapt to play against that. So far, I don't think that they have.
Purdue's annual Spring Game is this coming Saturday. Part of me wants to see more of the big plays by the offense and receivers bringing down the deep ball consistently along with Jones running wild, but the other part of me wants the defense to come in and play angry with something to prove. If they have a repeat of today's performance and don't show some significant improvement over the next couple of weeks, then I think that's a sign that we are in store for some high-scoring games this season.