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Purdue Football: Offense in Review - Aidan O’Connell

It wasn’t a great statistical year for Purdue’s veteran signal caller, but it’s hatrd to argue

Purdue v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Purdue, in theory, should have put a dominant offense on the field in 2022. For the first time in Jeff Brohm’s stay in West Lafayette, he returned a talented, experienced quarterback. Charlie Jones had an All-American year at wide receiver. Payne Durham made for a reliable 2nd option and like mana from heaven, Devin Mockobee fell into his lap. The offensive line, while not dominant, wasn’t bad, and once the run game picked up, they looked good on occasion.

Despite having more pieces in place than most Brohm offenses, it’s hard to see the offense as anything but underwhelming in 2022. Sure, there were high points, but the lows were crushing, and most of season was simply average. I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that this offense finished 75th in the nation in points per game, at 26.6. The narrative around the offense didn’t meet the reality of the situation. I kept hearing how good the offense was, and then I kept seeing it be pedestrian at best. Purdue played 15 games, and cracked 30 points 6 times, and 40 once (excluding Indiana State). I expected more out of this group and coaching staff.

The Brohmfence, above all else, is a quarterback centric, passing offense. If the quarterback plays well, things go well, if the quarterback plays poorly, it doesn’t work. Aidan O’Connell didn’t play poorly, but “didn’t play poorly” isn’t what Purdue needed at quarterback, they needed “First Team All Big10” Aidan O’Connell.

Aidan O’Connell

I came into the season think Aidan O’Connell was a dark horse Heisman candidate . He was good, but took a step back from his 2021 performance instead of the step up I was anticipating.

Aidan O’Connell Stats

Year Games Played Comp Att Comp% Yards Y/A TD INT Rate
Year Games Played Comp Att Comp% Yards Y/A TD INT Rate
2021 12 315 440 71.6 3712 8.4 28 11 158.5
2022 12 320 499 64.1 3490 7 22 13 132.2


It’s hard to see this season as anything other than a disappointment from the passing game. O’Connell attempted 59 more passes in 2022 than in 2021, but only completed 5 more passes. His completion percentage, dipped precipitously from 71.6 to 64.1. Even more troubling is the regression in yards per attempt. It’s not that Brohm employed a more aggressive, downfield passing attack. Aidan didn’t throw more high risk, down field balls that bumped up his yards per attempt but lowered his completions percentage, both his yards per attempt (8.4 to 7) and completion percentage dropped. That’s significant regression.

None of that matters, if he figured out a way to put the ball in the end zone. The goal is to score points, not to complete passes. Unfortunately, the Purdue passing game regressed in that area as well. In 2021, O’Connell threw 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, in 2022 he threw 22 touchdowns and 13 picks. I was expecting his touchdowns to increase while his interceptions, stayed the same or went down. Instead, he threw 6 fewer interceptions and 2 additional picks.

Highs and Lows

The frustrating part for me, is the glimpses of greatness we saw along the way. He looked like a Heisman candidate against Syracuse, throwing for 424 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. The Nebraska game was great. The passing game put up 391 yards, 4 touchdowns and an interception. Against Illinois, he wasn’t efficient (62.5%) but still put up 3 touchdowns and 1 interception against one of the best defenses in the nation. I expect games like these to be the standard, not the exception in 2022.

Those glimpses were balanced out by total duds. He was bad against Minnesota, throwing from 199 yard, 0 touchdowns and 1 interception. He threw for 320 yards against Wisconsin, but only found the end zone once, and threw the ball to the wrong team 3 times. Iowa was abysmal. Purdue attempted 43 passes, put only threw for 168 yards, no touchdowns and 2 picks. It was one of the worst quarterback performances in the Brohm era at Purdue. It’s hard to fault his performance against Michigan, but the fact remains, Purdue’s only shot was for the passing game to go off, and it produced no touchdowns and 2 interceptions, despite covering 366 yards.

Beyond the Numbers

There are extenuating that explain some of his regression. Aidan missed the Florida Atlantic game after injuring his ribs against Syracuse. His first game back resulted in a win vs Minnesota, despite the passing game not producing. I’m guessing those ribs weren’t close to 100% in that game, and may not have felt great most of the season. Rib injuries suck. They take the joy out of sports. It’s hard to enjoy yourself when it hurts to breath, or talk, or sneeze, or laugh and getting hit against feels like getting cracked with a sledge hammer.

Then, of course, he dealt with (and is certainly sill dealing with) the tragedy of losing his brother prior to Indiana game. He played fine against I.U., but seemed to be slightly off against Michigan. The fact that he was able to play in either game shows his toughness and dedication to the team. I’ll never question that.


Aidan O’Connell is the epitome of a Boilermaker. Dude came from nowhere, seized his opportunity after injuries decimated Purdue’s quarterback depth in 2019 and parlayed that into two years as Purdue’s starting signal caller and a Big10 West Championship. I’m not writing this to personally disparage him in any way. He put his body on the line every week, and helped Purdue win the West. Saying he had a bad season would be a gross over simplification of the Boilermakers 2022 season.

2022 wasn’t a bad season for O’Connell, in fact, it was a good season, but it wasn’t close to an elite season. Maybe I expected too much coming into the year. I thought an extra year in the offense would help Purdue take the next step, but it’s possible the extra year gave defensive coordinators a chance to pick on his weaknesses and limit some of his strengths.

With all that said, Purdue won the West. That was the goal heading into the season, and without O’Connell, the Boilermakers wouldn’t have come close to reaching it. The numbers weren’t great, but it’s hard to argue against the outcome.

I wish Aidan the best of luck in the upcoming NFL draft. He’s got the physical attributes and production to hear his name called on the 3rd day. I think he has the potential to do well in the right system.