You may remember Purdue from last year’s annihilation of Ohio St on national TV, when the Boilermakers put up 49 points, 28 of them in the final quarter. Even though they finished 6-7 (5-4 in the Big Ten), they had three wins over ranked opponents.
Last year, the Boilermakers average just over 30 points per game and 443 yards. The yardage was more prolific than the scoring ranking 29th nationally compared to the 52nd scoring ranking.
Their calling card was their explosiveness on offense. They averaged 6.3 yards per play, ranking 19th in the country, and scored 4.9 points per trip inside their opponents 40 yard line- and efficiency metric ranking 31st in the country (courtesy of Athlon).
This year’s team has similar upside but lots of question marks up front. At the QB position, Elijah Sindelar takes over from David Blough. Sindelar is 6’4” Senior looking to make the most of his only year under center.
In his only game of 2019, 423 yards and four TDs on 65% completion rate, but he also threw two picks. Those two picks were two of five total turnovers for the Boilermaker offense, killing its chance at putting away Nevada (they ended up losing on a last second field goal).
In the running game, the Boilermakers only ran the ball 29 times for 3.3 yards per carry. Leading rusher Zander Horvath ran for only 66 yards on 11 carries. Contrast that with the 8.1 yards per pass, and you can see where their bread is buttered.
Sindelar is a big pocket passer with a big arm, but the stand out on the team is WR Rondale Moore. He was a consensus All American at specialist/kick returner as a true Freshman. He had 2,215 all purpose yards. As a WR he caught 114 passes for 1,258 and 12 TD’s. The 5’9” 180lbs receiver is alleged to have 4.3 speed, making him a home run threat as well as a quick, shifty middle of the field target.
The rest of the receiving core is made up of underclassmen, including two four star recruits.
Against Nevada, Moore caught 11 passes for 124 yards with a long of 39. Bryce Hopkins and Amad Anderson Jr caught six passes each for 84 and 60 yards, respectively. Meanwhile, two WR’s caught one pass each but for yuuuugggee gains. David Bell and Jackson Anthrop only catchs went for 49 and 38 yards, respectively.
Which points to the Purdue feast or famine offense. Jeff Brohm, third year head coach is moving Purdue out of the doldrums of the Big Ten and into the offensive modern age. They take big shots and score lots of points.
Against the Wolfpack, Purdue gained over 500 yards on 82 plays. Brohm likes tempo and the points that tempo brings. 82 plays is a lot, and ranks 11th in the nation after the first full slate of games. Contrast that with 63, the number Georgia ran in Nashville last Saturday.
Yet, they were stymied in the second half with interceptions. When their run game isn’t setting up the pass, and the turnovers start to pile up, Purdue can’t manufacture points.
Like all teams, the game is won in the trenches. The Boilermakers lost three OL and have to show they can get a push for the ground game and protect Sindelar in the pocket. Against Nevada, Sindelar was only sacked once, and the team suffered seven total tackles for loss.
In their home opener, Purdue will want a palate cleanser from the opening loss. Expect an up tempo offense that challenges the raw Vandy secondary and forces the linebackers to cover a variety of wide outs and backs in space. Sindelar with throw early and often, but is loose with the ball. If Vandy can create havoc for him, Purdue will have trouble keeping and sustaining drives and points.