Ten observations from Purdue's 34-31 loss at Minnesota
Ten observations from Purdue’s 34-31 loss at Minnesota.
1. Yes, let’s start here, with the phantom PI call on tight end Payne Durham on what would have been the game-winning TD late in the fourth quarter. It will burn for a while. Purdue trailed, 34-31, and was driving for the winning score. That’s when Durham got flagged. Purdue settled for a trying a field goal … and J.D. Dellinger missed wide right from 33 yards. What did Brohm think of the call?
“I think you know what I think,” he said. “I didn’t like it a lot, but I can't really comment on it. It’s part of the game. We got to move forward. But, yes, I didn’t like it.”
Did Brohm get an explanation from officials?
“I didn’t get a good explanation,” said Brohm. “Your guess is as good as mine. We didn’t make enough plays to win. We didn’t stop them enough, we didn’t score enough points. So, we’ll take the loss and try to move forward. But, yes, it that was disappointing to not get that touchdown.”
2. He’s baaaaaaaack! Finally, Rondale Moore made his debut. And he made his presence felt on his second touch, when he zoomed 33 yards with a short pass. The sophomore hadn’t played since Sept. 28, 2019, when he went down on the same play as quarterback Elijah Sindelar in one of the most surreal moments in Ross-Ade Stadium annals. Moore opted out of the 2020 season, and then opted back in. But his return to the field was shrouded in mystery. Why wasn’t he playing?
“I know you guys don't believe me,” said Brohm. “But we work hard to get him and everyone ready, and I’m not gonna put him out on the field before he’s ready to play. We want to respect all of our players and their injuries. We’d love to have him play every game, trust me. You saw today. We’d love to have every game. Anybody that gets injured, we're going to help them get off the field as fast as they can. He was able to do a few more things in practice this week. So, we had some optimism. But you never know until you get out there for pregame warmup. So, I was proud that he got out there and made some plays for us and made people miss and looked like the old Rondale Moore.”
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3. David Bell saw his run of 100-yard receiving games end at five last week. But he started a new one on this night … even with Rondale Moore back in action. Bell finished with 8 catches for 104 yards and two scores. His third quarter TD catch in the corner of the end zone was a thing of beauty. And he nearly made a jaw-dropper late in the game. Yes, No. 3 is really good.
4. With junior Aidan O’Connell out with a suspected left foot/ankle injury, sophomore Jack Plummer got his first start of 2020. And, Plummer played very well. He completed 35-of-42 passes for 367 yards with three TDs and a pick. And was on the money with most of his throws. Plus, Plummer used his feet to buy time on occasion with 22 yards rushing.
“Well, Aidan is injured,” said Brohm. “... Did a good job. Think he has a bright future. For him to step in, on the road and really play a very good game, maybe one or two throws you'd like to take (back), I get it. But other than that, he threw the football well, he got it to our receivers, he stepped up when things weren't there and made plays with the feet. That's huge. That's huge. … “
Is O’Connell out long term? "We’ll see,” said Brohm. “I’m not for sure.”
5. Purdue’s defense no doubt missed the presence of fifth-year senior tackle Anthony Watts (injury). And sophomore end George Karlaftis wasn’t 100 percent as he played through a foot/ankle injury. Then, JC transfer CAT DaMarcus Mitchell apparently was hurt along the way. Not having his fire-breathing effort was a huge loss for Purdue, which often couldn’t get off the field. Minnesota converted 7-of-11 on third downs.
"Well, he got injured," said Brohm when asked about Mitchell. "I'm not sure what exactly it is to the extent. But he got injured. Trust me, we would have loved for him to be on the field."
6. A missed field goal, a blocked field goal … it was a tough night for special teams and kicker J.D. Dellinger, who made a field goal earlier in the game and was 5-of-5 before the tough run. His 33-yarder that missed with 4:08 to go would have forged a tie.
7. That sequence at the end of the first half was tough to ignore. First, Rondale Moore had a TD catch overturned. Then, Dellinger had his aforementioned field-goal attempt blocked from 27 yards. So, Minnesota led, 21-10, at the half.
“Well, that was a bad sequence,” said Brohm. “I forgot about that one with everything that happened at the end. But, yeah, we thought we had a touchdown there. We didn't. So, we lined up to kick the field goal. We can’t have field goals being blocked … we've got to get points.”
8. Tough blow for Minnesota, when hours before kickoff it was revealed 20 players would be out with a combination of COVID-19 diagnoses, contact tracing and injuries. Also, offensive line coach Brian Callahan had tested positive for COVID-19. He and two other unnamed members of the coaching staff weren’t at the game. No matter, the Gophers rolled on for much of the game unabated. This, after Minnesota scored just seven points last week at home vs. Iowa.
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9. With Minnesota's offense in full gear, Purdue needed to keep the ball away from it by running well. The Boilermakers failed at that. Purdue came into the game last in the Big Ten in rushing (63.7 ypg). Minnesota had the No. 14 rush defense (238.3 ypg), allowing a whopping 7.2 ypc and 13 rush TDs. Zander Horvath saw his streak of 100-yard rushing games end at three last week, but the junior still caught nine passes for 100 yards. He was largely a non-factor tonight, running for 68 yards. King Doerue had just 15 yards rushing. The final total of 125 yards was good. But, considering how soft Minnesota’s defense is, it probably should have been better.
"I'm gonna have to watch the video,” said Brohm. “We had a hard time stopping the run, and that's what they like to do. If you can’t game stop run, you’re going to have hard time winning.”
“There’s a plethora of things that we got to get better at. Now, our guys fought until the end and found ways to get stops at the end of the game that gave us a chance to win again. But we couldn't close the deal. So, there's plenty of things to work on.”
10. What's next? Purdue comes home to play its next two games: Rutgers and Nebraska. Both presumably are winnable games. And, honestly, the Boilermakers need to find a way to win them both. Getting to a bowl this season is diminished to some extent—with no win requirement. Finishing over .500 is what matters for Purdue. And, it needed, and should have had a win tonight. Still opportunity looms.
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