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Purdue Football: David Bell Open For The Touchdown - Part 1!

Purdue used a trips set to confound the Iowa defense for the first touchdown of the game.

NCAA Football: Iowa at Purdue Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the first game is out of the way, and for the most part, I thought Brian Brohm called an excellent game for his first time in the offense coordinator hot seat. I’m sure there are a plenty of things he would do differently, but overall, an outstanding job.

One play in particular that caught my attention was David Bell’s first touchdown catch of the day. The offensive line did their job, the pass routes were crisp and well timed, and Aiden O’Connell feathered in a sublime pass to Bell for the touchdown.

This play was truly a work of art.


I’ve highlighted to pertinent match ups on this play.

Orange Circle - Jared Sparks against man coverage (Orange Circle)

Yellow Circle - Amad Anderson Jr. against a blown coverage(Yellow Circle)

Green Square - David Bell against combination coverage (Blue Triangle and Green Square and probably Yellow Circle)


This is where the magic happens. The two receivers to the outside of Bell hook up at the 5 yard line. We’ll consider this the first level of the play. Bell is going to cut behind this first level to a wide open second level. I think Iowa had a hard time with the trips formation and messed up coverage.

I don’t understand why the safety in the middle of the field (green square) is taking away the middle of the field while the linebacker (blue triangle) is trying to reroute Bell to the corner.

This is potentially a bust by the defensive back in the yellow circle. As soon as Anderson hooks up (yellow circle) the Iowa defender (yellow circle) comes down hard. It’s possible he was supposed to pick up Bell if he releases outside and the safety (green square) is supposed to pick Bell up if he releases to the middle.

That obviously leaves Anderson open, but as you’ll see in a second, the linebacker attempts to come off the reroute and pick up Anderson. I don’t know the defensive call, but what happened on the field doesn’t make any sense to me.

Ball In The Air

The more I look at this play, the more I think the design forced a bust by the Iowa defense.

As you can see, Anderson (yellow circle) is double teamed by a linebacker and a defensive back while Bell (green square) is wide open. Now, Anderson is an excellent receiver, but double teaming him and leaving one of the premier red zone threats in the nation wide open doesn’t seem like a good idea. I’m almost certain that Purdue running trips to the left confused one of the Iowa defenders.

It’s possible the linebacker was supposed to reroute Bell inside to the safety. It’s possible the safety (green square) was supposed to come over and pick up Bell sooner. It’s also possible the defender in the yellow circle got antsy and crashed down too soon. Like I said, I don’t know what the defensive call was, but I’m almost certain they were trying to play Bell inside out with a reroute and 2 defenders and instead left him wide open.


I thought this was funny.

As soon as Anderson saw the defender crashing down, he knew the play worked exactly to plan. If you look closely, he’s signaling the touchdown right now.


I feel like I have a fairly decent understanding of football, and something tells me that Iowa wasn’t supposed to have 3 defenders crashing down on two Purdue receivers while leaving Purdue’s best receiver one on one with a safety who has to come from the middle of the field.

This is a great play design and it put the Iowa defense in a bind. They crashed down on the first level of the play, and Bell exploited the open second level for the touchdown.

Let it Run

Man, what a throw by O’Connell.

That thing had the perfect touch. I’ll admit, when he lobbed that thing out there I was nervous, but AOC hit his spot. He allowed Bell to make the sliding catch and avoid any sort of hit, while at the same time giving him plenty of room to slide in-bounds.

Sneak Preview

I’ll be back with another touchdown catch tomorrow, and let’s just say Iowa didn’t get this defense against trip wide receivers ironed out at half time and Brian Brohm ruthlessly exploited a similar look for the game winner.