The Purdue Boilermakers had one of the most explosive days in program history on the offensive side of the ball against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on their way to a 49-30 victory on Veterans Day. The Boilers seemed to finally put things together on the offensive end and carried the Boilers for their second B1G conference win of the season to improve to 3-7 overall. How did the Boilers fare overall with the keys to victory?
Let’s get into it!
1 | Score Points in the First Quarter
Well, that’s how you help ensure the game isn’t over in the first quarter like it was against the Ohio State Buckeyes, Wisconsin Badgers, and Michigan Wolverines. The Boilers didn’t look particularly great to start the game with the kickoff going out of bounds and Minnesota needing only two minutes and two big plays to go up early against the Boilers 7-0. Purdue, however, was able to respond quickly with a scoring drive of their own and then get another one before the end of the first quarter to take the lead 14-10. This marked the first game all season Purdue had score in double figures in the first quarter and had only scored ten or more points in six previous quarters all season. They score 10 or more points in three quarters against the Gophers.
Purdue scored on their two possessions they got in the first quarter by putting the ball into the end zone. That’s about all you can ask of an offense when you start a game in the B1G.
2 | Stop Turning the Ball Over & Win the Turnover Margin
The Boilers didn’t generate any turnovers which typically makes your job much harder but luckily the Boilers had their first clean sheet game since the Ohio State game (which didn’t make much of a difference). Purdue had some chances to make big plays though as they dropped two interceptions and nearly had a third. One of those dropped interceptions came just before halftime that likely would have allowed Purdue to drive down the field for another score but Minnesota punted and pinned Purdue at the 5 yard line. Purdue would go three and out, punt, and give up a touchdown with 20 seconds left in the half.
It’s always good to not turn the ball over but when you are given multiple chances to make a big play and turn the other team over you’ve got to take it.
3 | Hit the Big Plays
This is where Purdue really hurt the Gophers on Saturday. After weeks and weeks of an anemic offense not generating any sort of big plays in either phase of the offensive game, Purdue exploded for four passing plays and six rushing plays of over 20 yards. Considering the Boilers only had 28 of those kinds of plays throughout the course of the season, I would say that constitutes as an explosion of offense.
Purdue ended up with the eleventh most yards in a single game in program history going for 251 yards passing and an astounding 353 yards rushing for a total of 604 yards. Even more impressive is that Purdue averaged 151 yards of offense per quarter and 8.8 yards per play. Simply put, Purdue looked like the explosive offense that Walters and Harrell had talked about since being hired.
Hard to give out a lower grade that this when the game produced an all time type of offensive output. Mockobee and Tracy were dynamic, Card looked comfortable in the pocket and used his legs as effectively as he has all season, and Burks looked like a primary target you could rely on again.
4 | Jenkins, Scourton, and Thieneman Need To Have Big Games
This was a bit of a disappointment on Saturday as Purdue’s big three kind of came up empty handed with the exception of Scourton’s sack late in the fourth quarter when Walters dialed up an all out blitz on 3rd down. That saw all three of these players meet in the backfield and generate a sack that forced Minnesota to take a long field goal attempt and all but sealed the game.
Thieneman led the team in tackles again with 9 while Jenkins totaled 6 tackles, a pass breakup, a tackle for loss, and a quarterback hurry.
Overall, not a great day for the defense overall and the big three seemed to struggle to make plays when they were needed. Other defenders dropped turnover opportunities but when they were needed in a big situation, they came through.
Welp, I’m glad to be wrong! Nobody saw that type of offensive explosion coming, especially against what was the 34th ranked defense headed into that game. Minnesota is a good but not great team that has gotten uneven quarterback play throughout the season but the defense had largely been solid. Anytime you can put up 49 points and 600+ yards of offense on a B1G defense, things were going well for you.
Overall Grade: A-
The offense was impressive and the defense made plays when they really needed them but the special teams were really bad. Ansell needs to find his confidence as he appears to rush his kicks and too often gets 30-35 yard punts while Sheffield fumbled a late kickoff that pinned the Boilers deep in their own territory. The offense held everything together, which is something we haven’t seen all season.
As much as I have maligned Graham Harrell throughout the season, I’ll also give him the credit that he deserves. The offense looked great and unpredictable and schematic changes appear to have helped.