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Purdue Football: Breaking Down the Breakdowns - Volume 1

A little bit of everything went wrong for Purdue last Saturday. Here’s the video evidence.

TCU v Purdue Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

I was looking for a series of plays from the TCU game that fully encapsulated the offensive line problems. I could have picked a few series in the first half, but Purdue’s opening drive of the second half put every issue on full display. Simply put, the offensive line is bad at several positions and red shirt freshman quarterback Jack Plummer does them no favors.

I’ll make this a 4 post series. Look for the next 3 plays in this series a little later. I’ve already got the video cut, it’s coming...I promise.

1st and 10

There’s a lot going on, so I’m going to slow it down.

Offense - 5 Wide, Empty Backfield

Purdue starts the drive in 5 wide. If Purdue is going to abandon the run game; I don’t mind this look, but the ball has to get out quick. This is where the short passing game can be used as a replacement for a non-existent run game. Teams that run the air raid make a living on this play.

Defense - 4-2-5 Nickel - Man

When TCU sees an empty backfield they are going to attack. They fire both linebackers and play man across the board with no safety help. They are betting they can get to the quarterback with Purdue’s 5 linemen blocking their 6 defenders before the quarterback can beat them deep.

Defense - 4 - 2 - 5 Nickel - Man - B Gap LB Blitz

The defense is firing both linebackers on this play. I’ll focus on the left side of the line, because that’s where the blitz gets through. The right side does a nice job of picking up the TCU stunt and blitz, but all it takes is one mistake for everything to fall apart.

TCU is running a basic blitz on the left. Every team runs something like this. The defensive tackle attacks the center, the end attacks the edge, and the B Gap (between the guard and tackle) is wide open for a linebacker blitz.


WR/QB (Orange Circle)

Purdue is in good shape right now. At the top of the screen you see two Purdue receivers (green circle and orange circle) working on 1 TCU defensive back (pink triangle).

The TCU safety (out of frame) is responsible for crashing down and picking up the receiver in the orange circle.

The receiver in the orange circle hooks up underneath while the receiver other receiver (green circle) pulls the defense back (pink triangle) outside.

The receiver in the orange circle is about to be wide open.

OL (Yellow Circle)

Alex Criddle - Left Guard

This blitz puts all the pressure on Criddle. He has to pop the defensive tackle attacking the center and then slide back to the B gap and pick up the blitzing linebacker (blue triangle).

Grant Hermanns - Left Tackle

Hermanns is by far the most experienced, and best, offensive lineman for Purdue. TCU simply takes him out of the play with the outside rush. The job for the backside rusher is to set the edge so Plummer can’t escape the blitz coming up the B-gap.

WR/QB (Orange Circle)

The ball has to come out now.

If Eli’s in the game, this is a completion because the ball would already be out of his hand and on the way to the open receiver.

Rondale is also wide open in the void left by the blitzing linebacker at the bottom of the screen, but at this point, the primary receiver is open. The ball needs to go to the open receiver directly in the quarterbacks line of sight.

Plummer has to throw it to the primary receiver. Anything that happens now is on Plummer because his primary receiver is wide open.


Alex Criddle

Right about now, Criddle knows he’s toast. He doesn’t have the footwork to pop the defensive tackle and recover back to the blitzing linebacker in the B gap. TCU is singling out Criddle on the blitz for this exact reason.

Grant Hermanns

Grant is doing his job, but again, TCU is intentionally running him out of this play so he can’t help.


The ball is already late, but it can still come out of Plummer’s hand right now for a completion to either receiver (orange circles).

This has to be a completion 10/10 times.

Plummer, unfortunately, can’t keep his eyes down field, and instead is looking at the linebacker coming at him through the wide open B gap.

The best way for Plummer to keep himself safe on this play is to throw the ball to the open receiver(s). Purdue is in 5 wide, and TCU is blitzing. The ball has to come out quick.

The ensuing hold is squarely on Plummer.

The ball should be gone by now.


Alex Criddle - Left Guard

Criddle is toast. He has to be in the B gap right now, and he can’t get there. His only option is to reach out and grab the linebacker and save Plummer from certain destruction.

Grant Hermanns - Left Tackle

Grant has his man well under control, but that’s the plan for TCU. Make Hermanns play on an island so he can’t help his less experienced teammates.

Play Result

Purdue gets lucky. A defensive holding nullifies the play and they get to try 1st down again. This play should have resulted in an easy 5 yard+ reception.

What Went Wrong?

This holding call isn’t on the line.

Plummer has an open receiver. He’s got to see the blitz and complete the short pass. If he pulls the trigger early, the hold doesn’t happen later. I’m almost certain that Eli completes this pass. It’s basic Jeff Brohm football.

Unfortunately, Eli wasn’t available because he got a concussed in the previous game on a mind boggling QB draw late in the Vandy game.

When I say that Eli covers up a multitude of issues, this is exactly what I’m talking about.