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What We Talk About When We Talk About 2020 Purdue Football

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Objective one: get the Bucket Back

Purdue v Indiana

In the normal times we would be getting ready to head to Boston College for the final non-conference game and a fun unique road trip. Instead, we’re still a month from the season kicking off. I will try to play out the Boston College game later this week in our virtual season when I find the time, but in the meantime the staff and I decided to have another roundtable to put out some of our thoughts on the strange 2020 season we’re looking to have.

I asked a few basic questions:

Who wins the starting QB job?

Does Rondale come back?

What do you think of the schedule?

How many games does Purdue win?

How on earth does this build to a more normal 2021?

Here is what the staff had to say int he order the emails came in.

Dr. Juan Crespo, Deputy Manager Emeritus

I’m sorry, but I am not paid enough to answer these questions. Please venmo me $1500 for a response.

Chris Ford, H&R European Bureau Chief

I didn’t think we would have a season. I guess it’s a joy to be writing this but the Rondale stuff does take a little bit away from it. Ok. The questions:

Who wins the starting QB job?

This one has to be Jack Plummer, right? He’s got a bit more mobility and did a good job last year until the injury. But also, my over/under on us announcing our Week 1 starter is somewhere around week 6.5, with how it’s been the last few years. Remember when we knew who our QB was before October? Side note, how many AOC jokes did Travis make above me? Is anyone still reading after Travis talked about “AOC redistributing the ball across the offense”? Im sorry.

Does Rondale come back?

I think he *should* but I don’t think he *will*. I think it could only help his draft stock, because there would potentially be lingering injury questions that wouldn’t be solved with a Pro Day, I don’t think. And frankly, if I were going to come back, I wouldn’t mind coming back to......

What do you think of the schedule?

.... the absolute GIFT of a schedule we got this year. We may not have the talent of a playoff team but good lord this schedule is IU-OOC-level easy relative to what it could’ve been. No UM, MSU, OSU, PSU? Yes, where do I sign? Though I will admit I am disappointed we can’t dash OSU’s playoff hopes (maybe week 9!!!)

How many games does Purdue win?

Vegas says 3.5. I, a terrible gambler, look at that and say “Bet your house on the over”. Yet I also thought we could go 8-4 last year, so what do I know. This team without an injury bug could top out at 6-2. I think I will play it conservative and say 4-4 should be the play here going into the last game with that being a likely loss.

How on earth does this build to a more normal 2021?

Gosh who knows. Here in Germany the hockey league is on the brink of insolvency missing just half a season and about to start a new one. The financial impacts of not being able to have fans will be far reaching to the point where this will be seen as a point of inflection. The post 2020 sports world is likely to look much different than the pre-2020 world. After a year of everyone watching from their couch and realizing that it’s just as fun, perhaps attendance struggles. Or does everyone just want to go do stuff since they haven’t for a year. Such a spaghetti mess of a question to try and figure out at this point. I’m just bummed the 2021 Final Four in Indy will be a bubble (jinxing it so I get to use my tickets here, and sorry for bringing this up in a football story).

Drew Schneider, H&R Great Plains Bureau Chief

Who wins the starting QB job?

Initially, no one. I think the quarterback competition will linger throughout this season, and you may see as many as 3 starting quarterbacks. Best case scenario, whoever starts first gets hot and holds onto the position. It could be any one of the quarterbacks on the roster at this point.

Does Rondale come back?

No, Purdue has an unsettled quarterback position and that doesn’t bode well for a receiver looking to boost his stock. I initially thought he wouldn’t opt out because he only has 1 season of film for the NFL to look at, but after further consideration, he had so many receptions in that one year, that I don’t think doing it again does him any good. He’ll continue training, put up a killer combine, and go somewhere in the first round.

What do you think of the schedule?

I wasn’t optimistic about this season before things were turned upside down, and I remain skeptical. Rutgers is the only layup, and they will be significantly improved with Schiano and an influx of transfers. Northwestern would be the other “Purdue should win this game” but I don’t know what to expect out of either team this season. Northwestern has a similar quarterback situation as Purdue, with Indiana transfer Peyton Ramsey, Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson, and 6th year senior TJ Green all viable options to start for the Wildcats. Throw in Aidan Smith, who played against Purdue last season, and you’ve got a 4 way battle at quarterback that I don’t anticipate being decided anytime soon.

Other than those 2 games, I don’t see Purdue as the favorite in any of their other 6 matchups. I give them even odds against Illinois and Indiana and see them as underdogs against Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Nebraska.

Overall, the schedule could have been worse, but I don’t have any sort of feel for this Purdue team coming into the season. It’s tough to gauge the competition when I’m not exactly sure what I’m comparing them against.

How many games does Purdue win?

I’ll refer back to my previous answer, and say I have no idea. I think somewhere in the range of 3-5 is reasonable. If they fall outside that range, it will be on the bad side of the equation.

How on earth does this build to a normal 2021?

Jeff Brohm has to get things sorted out on both sides of the ball in this abridged 2020 slate. That’s the only way they go into 2021 with a chance for a bounce back year. The only position I can confidently give a depth chart for on offense is wide receiver. I don’t know who will start at quarterback, running back, on the offensive line, or at tight end, and I spend an inordinate amount of my time thinking about Purdue football. By the end of this season, I would like to know, with confidence, what most of the positions on offense look like heading into the spring.

The same can be said with the defense, with Bob Diaco now in the fold, things will look different. Diaco has one of the weirdest coaching resumes you’ll come across. This will be his fourth stop in four years after being fired as the UConn head coach. At Louisiana Tech, he ran a bend, don’t break, style of defense and I’m not sure how that meshes with Brohm’s desire to attack on offense. How many games Brohm can handle watching Diaco play a soft zone, give up long drives, and hope to make stops in the red zone, while his offense socially distances on the sidelines?

At the same time, I think Purdue’s defense has the potential to be much better this year, as long as everyone (knock on every piece of wood you can find) stays healthy. The defensive line is thin, but the starters should be great. If the Boilermakers turn in a good season on defense, and guys like Neal, Watts, and Barnes decide to come back for their 2nd senior year in 2021, this defense could be the best of the Brohm era in 2021, but who knows how any of this will play out.

Jace “The Young Buck” Jellison, Our Campus Connection

1. I got Plummer winning the job, because of the familiarity of the system he has after starting last season. He has the higher upside to AOC and more experience in Brohm’s offense to get the nod over Burton. If Plummer struggles, AOC and Burton could make a run at the starting job but I anticipate Plummer will be trotting out there on Purdue’s first drive of the season.

2. No. Although it would be amazing if he did, I don’t think he will come back and risk getting hurt again. Brohm is an excellent recruiter though, so you never know what could happen...

3. This is the best case scenario in terms of scheduling for Purdue. We are playing the Big Ten West which is tough as it is every year, but drawing Rutgers and Indiana from the East is a blessing. We avoided Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State.

4. 6-2. (Excluding East/West game at end of season.) I think Purdue will play well out of the gates against Iowa and Illinois before losing two of three against Wisconsin and Minnesota. Then go 3-0 down the stretch to salvage the season.

5. I’ve learned to not make predictions after 2020.

Donald Ledman Esq, Our On Staff attorney As Required By Blogging Law

It seems weird to try and put myself back into the mindset of Purdue football happening again. When the Big Ten cancelled the season I thought, and still think, it was the right thing to do. There are so many unknowns at this point. But capitalism is a hell of a drug and here we are.

With Rondale Moore moving on from the team due to these fears and the additional fear of injury derailing yet another season for him Purdue loses its star player and he only played a season and a half. A once in a generation talent and he played a season and a half. I don’t expect him to come back despite new testing protocols and this strange new season format. Instead Purdue will rely on David Bell and Milton Wright among others to pick up the slack. I expect the receiving corps will be just fine.

One of the main questions for this team, as it seemingly has been for the last dozen or so years, is who will be QB1 and will they make it the entire season in that role? Both Aidan O’Connell and Jack Plummer had their moments last year in a strange QB situation yet again for Purdue. If I had to put money on it I’d say Plummer will get the nod. The wildcard to me is the transfer Austin Burton. I don’t think you’d transfer to a B1G school unless you thought you’d have a chance to play, plus I don’t think Brohm would just take this guy unless he thought he had some potential. We will have to wait and see what comes of it.

Purdue will play 8 conference games and one (what are we calling it?) championship week game. It’s a season unlike any other in recent memory. This season very well could come down to the old adage of “it’s not who you play it’s when you play them.” Imagine if some coach doesn’t plan properly and nearly their entire offensive line has to sit out for 21 days. Or what if the top two QBs have to quarantine? No one has any idea how any of this is gonna work but it could come down to how well coaches and staff plan to prevent outbreaks of the virus.

Just looking at the schedule my off the cuff not really studying guess is 4-4 but you could easily convince me of a 3-5 or 5-3 season prior to the final conference matchup. I may feel conflicted about if playing is the right thing to do but on October 24th at, probably, noon I’ll be sitting down to watch my Boilermakers and the world will feel normal for just those few hours and for that I’ll be thankful.

Coach Kyle Holderfield, X’s and O’s Expert

I believe Plummer wins the race. But it is a tight race and Austin Burton brings some qualities I think Coach Brohm wants in a change of pace quarterback, don’t be surprised if there are certain sets where he can use his running ability a bit more. I am cautiously optimistic about Rondale MAYBE coming back. You have seen some O$U players opt back in as they chase a national championship, but for Rondale, there isn’t much left to prove, many will say he needs to prove durability. But as a freshman he played just about every snap. Last year was a freak injury.

The schedule for us played out very well. We avoided Michigan, Penn State or O$U and got Rutgers as well as the protected rivalry with Indiana. Personally, anything less than 5 wins is underachieving. I see us at 5-3 for the 8 games and potentially 6-3. For 2021. who knows what it will look like. Let’s take the rest of this year day by day and see where we are at when it comes to Spring Ball with Purdue Football.

T-Mill, H&R Benevolent Dictator-for-Life

2020 is by far the weirdest year ever. Ever since I was chased out of Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 12th it has been odd not going to basketball, baseball all summer, then football in the fall. My wife’s Hurricanes just played 100 miles away in Louisville and we didn’t even consider going because of insane ticket prices and that entire pandemic going on.

As far as the QB position goes, I think it is Plummer’s to lose. He was typically up and down last season as a freshman but I liked what I saw. Having the talent he has at receiver really helps matters and as long as the line is improved (I think it is) it will help. Burton is the real mystery. Does a handful of games played at UCLA give him an edge coming in? Aidan O’Connell also was really strong to close last season. At least we will have depth, but I think Plummer has the edge and I made him the No. 1 going into the virtual season. He has 817 yards and 10 TDs against one INT through three games so he will be fine.

When it comes to Rondale I am a pessimist. I just don’t see him coming back, but Minnesota convincing Rashod Bateman to return is encouraging. Since Rondale announced before the season was initially cancelled I don’t know what there is to change his mind, but maybe the slightly shorter season changes his mind. I would love it if he did come back, but I am not counting on it.

The schedule is an absolute gift. When your toughest games are Minnesota (who has had Purdue’s number of late) and Wisconsin (who owns us, though we’re closing the gap) you take it any day of the week. We need to send a fruit basket to the Big Ten offices for them letting us keep Rutgers but not Michigan. Illinois doesn’t really scare me, Northwestern was really bad a year ago, and our walking MASH unit of a team still took the best Indiana team in three decades to double overtime. Brohm has also done extremely well against Iowa so far and Nebraska has been a mess. I think we win five games before the “Champions Week”, and would be ecstatic with that because I have long thought that 2021 would be the real breakout year as the 2019 and 2020 classes came to maturity.

In regards to that 2021, I could not be more excited, but the questions about the scholarship situation will make things really interesting now. Remember; everyone basically gets a free pass this year, including the seniors, so the likes of Jackson Anthrop, Tyler Coyle, and more can return for a free year. There is also still an incoming freshman class. Purdue will never has as deep of a roster as it will in 2021, but so will everyone else. Yes, some will be lost, but the 2019 and 2020 class will have experience then. I think it is a breakout year and will help mitigate the slight dip in recruiting that the 2021 class has been.