Odds and Ends
That was fun. Seriously, beating Nebraska in Lincoln while listening to their fans lose their minds over the officials made me smile so hard my face is still sore. I watched the game in Manhattan, Kansas, and I swear I could a low rumble of boos coming from the north in the 3rd quarter. It was beautiful.
It’s weird to say, but Purdue passed their first “must win” test of the year. I didn’t see a path forward to a bowl without a win over Nebraska. The road is still treacherous and will require Purdue to run the table on Illinois, Minnesota, and Indiana and knock off either Michigan State or Iowa (unless we pull a huge upset on Wisconsin or O.$.U.), but with the win, I’ll put the odds at 35-40%. A loss would have put Purdue at 0-5% in my estimation.
I should have seen this coming. I even vaguely remember writing an article about how Brohm fixes interception problems, but honestly, I didn’t see it coming. Blough has always been a guy that can get red hot for a few games, but is ultimately undone by an interception blow up. This year he’s putting the ball in better places and has abstained from throwing back breaking picks.
He still struggles some with the deep ball but he is more than making up for it in the intermediate passing game and with his legs. He doesn’t have to be perfect in the deep game if he continues to give his receivers a chance to run after the catch.
Shout out to my man Zico. Purdue desperately needed a second receiver to step up and Zico has answered the call. He’s averaging over 18.1 yards per reception this year, and averaged an astounding 23.7 yards per reception on his three receptions against Nebraska. He’s a legit downfield threat, and is feasting on single coverage because of the attention Rondale draws to the middle of the field. Now, we just need to get Terry Wright up and running and we’ll be cooking with hot grease.
I expected Rondale to be good this year. I didn’t expect him to be a record breaking phenom. His run after catch ability is next level stuff. As a Clemson fan, I’ve seen some of the best wide receivers in college football over the past 10 years, and I can’t think of a Clemson receiver that has Moore’s unique start/stop ability. I’ve been trying to come up with a comparison, and I haven’t come up with one yet. His unique size and strength just don’t show up in wide receivers. He’s basically an elite running back that runs precise routes and has an extra gear.
I think this is the biggest reason for the turn around on offense. Plugging Shane Evans in at right guard and kicking Matt McCann out to right tackle has been just what the doctor ordered.
McCann, in particular, has been impressive in pass protection, which is an area he has struggled with in his career. He lost some weight this year and looks significantly more athletic.
If Purdue gets this thing really rolling with Brohm over the next few years. We’ll look back at the time he was able to buy with Hazell recruits and grad transfers while his recruits hit the weight room and the training table as a huge part of the success.
If you want to know why Purdue is suddenly a destination location for tight ends, look no further than Saturday. Brohm is brilliant at incorporating the tight end into the game plan, and Hopkins has the physical ability to make it happen. You won’t find many tight ends in the college game with 5 receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown.
Speaking of surprises. D.J. has always been a hard running little dude but he’s taking his game to a new level this year. His footwork and ability to cut/spin/jump etc has improved exponentially this season. I thought he was the high floor, low ceiling option at running back this year, but he’s blown the roof off.
He just needs a small crease to burst through the line, and I swear he’s at least a step faster this year. In previous seasons, he might break out, but a safety would always track him down before he got to far down the field. This year, those same safeties are left swiping at his heels.
This is it. We’re getting closer to a fully functional Brohm offense. The only thing missing at this point is a physical outside receiver to catch jump balls and beat man coverage, but hey, maybe next year.
I hear David Bell is pretty good at that.