You could not ask for beater weather for today’s spring football game in West Lafayette. There was ample sunshine with clouds and 70 degree weather, so the family and I went up to take advantage. The future of Purdue football was definitely on display as well. The big names like Markus Bailey, Elijah Sindelar, Tario Fuller, and more were held out entirely. Rondale Moore and a couple other offensive stars played only in the limited contact periods. That meant that the offense was taking on the defense, and the defense won 53-39 in the modified scoring system.
The scoring was as follows:
6 points for a touchdown
3 points for a field goal
2 points for a 2-point conversion
1 point for an extra point
7 points for a defensive touchdown
5 points for a turnover
3 points for a 3-and-out or 4th down stop
2 points for a defensive stop that forces a regular punt
The offense ruled on the first drive, as Jack Plummer hit Jackson Anthrop for a 44-yard screen pass to set up a 9-yard TD run by Alexander Horvath. It was only a 4-play, 80-yard drive for the score. On the next series the offense led by walk-on QB Aiden O’Connell went down and earned a 43-yard field goal from J.D. Dellinger.
That is when the defense took over. The defense reeled off 35 straight points thanks to a series of stops and defensive scores. Dedrick Mackey got a defensive touchdown after Tyler Hamilton caught a pass and fumble. Mackey picked up the loose ball and had a convoy of blockers for a fumble-six return. Jonah Williams then got an interception for 5 points, then walk-on Zane Greene delivered a pick-six for the defense.
Once the defense got ahead the positioning on the field favored the offense, but the defense made plays. It was some early enrollee freshmen that made plays too. George Karlaftis was every part of the difference maker we expected him to be. He had a sack and was often in the backfield causing disruptions. He is a grown-assed man that will start from day 1 and could have a Rondale Moore-like impact on the defense.
Redshirt freshman Elijah Ball was in on several plays at safety. Ball played a handful of minutes last season and was able to hold on to his redshirt. He looks like he will be a solid contributor in the year to come.
We got a great look at the future quarterbacks. Elijah Sindelar was out because of his knee and Nick Sipe, the only other QB on the roster that has completed a pass, was out with a minor back injury. Jack Plummer and Aiden O’Connell got most of the snaps, but early enrollee Paul Piferi also got some run. O’Connell looked good, but suffered from some drops. All quarterbacks showed some decent mobility in avoiding the rush, with Plummer having a really nice 20+ run on a broken play.
Payne Durham and Darius Pittman were used extensively as tight ends. Brycen Hopkins was limited like Moore to the limited contact periods, but he is a known quantity. Pittman had a touchdown catch and Durham looked good. It is most telling that the tight ends were featured extensively.
At receiver Jared Sparks and Jordan Bonner both had big days. This is important because Rondale is going to be Rondale and there is an embarrassment of riches coming in the fall. Jackson Anthrop is good, but suffers from playing the same position as Rondale. Sparks has a ton of experience and will be in the mix all year. The top two outside spots are up for grabs, however, and Sparks made a play today to be the elder statesman.
Overall there were a lot of drops by the offense. Tyler Hamilton, a former big name recruit, had an especially rough day in this category.
Overall it was a good day. It was nice to see the defense make some plays and the combination of experience and incoming talent will be huge. On offense there were drops, but many of the top players in the fall did not see action today. Sindelar, Fuller, Bell, Grant Hermanns, and Matt McCann are all likely starters and did not play. It was clear there are a lot of options offensively. Alexander Horvath and Alfred Armour are both huge running backs that can be used to punish teams and will be factors in the fall.