Purdue Preview 2021

Well, this will be a crazy Saturday. Scott Frost got his first win against Jeff Brohm last year during a Covid season where people are saying it doesn’t count. However, previous to that Brohm was 2-0 against our staff, and even had a win against us starting a walk-on backup QB with no Rondale Moore. Brohm and his Purdue squad are basically mirror images of what Frost and Nebraska are, and they have been since both joined their programs. I have a ton of respect for Brohm as a coach, he just finds ways to win games he sometimes shouldn’t.

What will the Blackshirts see?

Going back to mirror images, while I like Purdue and their offense as it is basically exactly what we do (thus why Wandale came here, to be our Rondale Moore), they are struggling a bit this year. The Boilermakers are 99th in points per game at 22, and 66th in yards per game with 392. They can’t run the ball at all, and make their living with those short completions over and over. They throw the ball 60% of the time which is a ton, and that is top 10 in the country. Their QBs are completing nearly 70% of their passes and they are a top 15 offense in passing yards per game with 317. They also are rarely penalized, as they are averaging only 4.1 per game, good for 8th in the country.

So the negative I mentioned was their inability to run, but they also try playing 3 different quarterbacks at times. Jack Plummer is still there, but he has been unseated by Aiden O’Connell, who seems to be pretty composed until something goes wrong. Things really spiraled for him against Wisconsin once he threw that first interception. I’m hoping the Blackshirts get an early created turnover on him, as the Boilermakers are very turnover prone and it can get away from him in a hurry.

But the defense of Nebraska won’t have to do much in the way of preparing. Quite honestly, they could just go against our offense the entire time. This look familiar?

That’s basically Nebraska. But just like i’ve said all year with Nebraska’s offense, if they are too dependent on their QB to get the job done for them, it will be a long day. While their QB throws and Martinez tries running. They absolutely have to get their RB King Doerue going. It will be a tough task, as their OL is pretty beat up and a starting guard and starting tackle are TBD if they play this weekend. That bodes well for us. Further, their QB doesn’t really run anyway, as he has 14 yards on the season and Plummer has only 59 yards on 26 attempts. Nebraska defenses feast on immobile QBs, and they won’t have to worry about that this Saturday.

But Purdue does have a couple things the Blackshirts will have to watch out for. The first is their WR David Bell who has stepped in for the loss of Rondale Moore creating no drop off there.

If he has time to get the ball out to Bell, watch out. Especially keep an eye out for how Nebraska defends Bell. I’m not sure if Chinander has this in his arsenal, but could we see Cam Taylor-Britt shadow Bell no matter where he is on the field? I don’t think that’s likely especially with him bouncing between the slot and outside, but it may be interesting to see.

One other thing to watch out for, Purdue’s TE Payne Durham is very lethal as well. He has 32 receptions for 336 yards and 4 touchdowns and torched the Badger defense which is exactly like Nebraska’s. Also, if you remember, Michigan really hurt us with their TE delay game. Expect to see a lot more of that from Brohm and the Boilermakers. The first play of their offense I showed was Durham, and here’s another where he steps out to act like he’s helping block the OLB from Wisconsin, then leaks to the flat.

Keep an eye on if our LBs lose focus on the Purdue TEs if they act as if they are blocking for a bit. I really think between that TE and Bell, that is the only way they can hurt us.

I expect a really big day from the Nebraska defensive line with a few sacks and not much going on the ground for Purdue. But overall we shouldn’t have an issue with Purdue. If they could run i’d be much more worried. But their inability to do that along with being pretty banged up on the OL makes me very optimistic.

What does Purdue run defensively?

This is where we may have some trouble. If not for Purdue turning the ball over multiple times to the Badgers, that game is a lot closer. And Purdue even scored a defensive TD, so Purdue’s offense really did nothing, it was all up to the other side of the ball. They have a high draft pick on the defensive side of the ball as well, reminding us much of what we saw with Michigan and Hutchinson.

Karlaftis doesn’t have as much high end talent around him like the Wolverines did for their guy. But defensively they are very stout. They are 8th in the country in points allowed with 18 and 11th in yards allowed per game with 303. They are very mediocre against the run, ranking in the middle range trying to stop that. But they are very efficient against teams trying to throw on them, as they are 5th in the country in both opponent completion percentage 52.78 and opponent passing yards per game at 160.

What Purdue tries to do is just keep you to 3 or 4 yards per rush, and hope you make a mistake that backs you up and puts you in throwing downs. That is something that has really plagued Nebraska this season (and the last few years). Once they do that, they can unleash Karlaftis and their defense to rush the passer, which could spell bad news for us. They blitz from everywhere, and even when they don’t they have one of the best dudes in the country to get home against our average OTs.

Purdue will bounce between and odd and even front just like our defense does, but they ran a lot of 3-4 against Wisconsin. As long as we don’t let Karlaftis take over, we should be in good shape. Watch to see if we are sending TEs out on routes, or staying in to help on passing downs.

As i’ve said all along and for the entire season, if Nebraska is Adrian Martinez dependent to run, we are in trouble. Last game against Minnesota, once Rahmir Johnson left the game we had no hope of running the football. We have to establish Johnson on the ground and then let Martinez pick his spots to dice up the Boilermakers.

Summary and Prediction

Obviously this is a must win for Nebraska. I said it against Michigan State and it didn’t happen, I said it against Minnesota and it didn’t happen, but it will be different this weekend. I just don’t see much from Purdue except their defense. And with a bye week I like us scheming some stuff up against Brohm. I know that Frost has zero wins after a bye, but just like in gambling, that just means we are due!

To have any shot to get to a bowl, you have to beat Purdue. But the repercussions are even more than that. I worry about the team if we can’t get a win on Saturday and if they will fold up shop. Also, Purdue is the easiest game left on our schedule, so not beating them could spell disaster the remaining games this season. I just don’t see us struggling, and the fact that we will be able to lean on our defense while our offense figures out their counterpunches, that bodes well for us. This isn’t like playing Michigan or Ohio State where if we don’t figure things out fast we will fall too far behind. The game will be manageable from start to finish for us, unless we blow them out. Their offense just isn’t potent enough.

This is going to be one of those games that will be somewhat tough to watch from home in my opinion, unless you love good defense. If Nebraska and Purdue do not turn the ball over, it’s going to be a very low scoring game. Both offenses will have trouble getting big scores, so it will take some long drives to get things accomplished. But what killed Purdue against Wisconsin was their offense just continually turned the ball over and gave the Badgers a short field. If our defense forces those turnovers, it’s going to be a great day in Huskerland. Conversely, I don’t think Purdues offense can sustain drives on our defense if we give them a long field.

Frost needs to be ok playing field position now that our special teams look serviceable, and realize that our defense can handle Purdue. If we get up early by 14, this game is over, I don’t think their offense can get them back in it becoming one dimensional. They’ll try to run just because they have to, but they won’t be able to.

27-13 Nebraska. If turnovers happen that may look different. Go Big Red!

24 thoughts on “Purdue Preview 2021

  1. Always a great day when the preview is in my inbox. Thank you. Great job as usual.

    I’m guessing we will be in our 2-4-5 or 2-5-4 depending on how you look at Domann. Wisconsin put good pressure on Purdue with only 3 to 4 guys last week. Can we and how would be able to do the same thing?
    I totally agree with you about covering the TE being key. In our scheme, how can we as the viewer look to see who is responsible for that coverage?
    Now that Martinez is close to 100% after the bye week, how do you see us using the QB run the rest of the season? Seems like a fine line to me. Can’t get ihm beat up because the threat has to be there but if he gets dinged up and plays……we are back to Minn.
    I’m hoping some guys emerge from the bye week. Anyone you see popping that hasn’t gotten much run yet?

    1. I think our front 3 (or 2 as you said) will be able to get home. I don’t have a favorable opinion of the Purdue OL. Especially with their injuries.

      Purdue a lot of times will be in trips formations so many times it’s going to be someone right in your frame and our ILB. The reason the TE is so tough to cover for Wisconsin or Nebraska is because Reimer or Henrich have a gap to account for as well as coverage. If it’s nickel we have our corner over the slot and we don’t typically want Nelson/Tannor/Payne covering someone. Domann would be a great matchup for that guy but Brohm is smart enough to have him flip sides and we really don’t follow across the line.

      I think Martinez will have a big day. We used a ton of QB power against them last year, and that seems to be our bread and butter on 2nd/3rd and short. That play where we snap the ball and the RB turns into the lead blocker for Martinez. We also have done a ton of speed option with Martinez when healthy so i’m curious what we do there, one way to neutralize their first round DE is to option off him and not even block him so he’s wrong every time.

  2. I don’t have a feel for this one either way. Honest to god nothing would surprise me at this point so I guess we’ll find out.

  3. I’m interesting to see the injury situation for Purdue. If they are down a couple starting o-linemen, that’s significant. That’s the best route to holding them to 13, as you suggest. If they can’t protect O’Connell (or Plummer), that’s a huge issue for that team.

    That said, Purdue has always passed well against us. 300+ yards each of the past 3 years. Last season, the Boilermakers rushed for -2 yards — but still scored 27. I don’t think they necessarily have to run well (maybe just enough to respect the pass). But they do need to protect their QB. Their problem last season was their defense sucked. That’s not the case this season. It’s the best Purdue defense since we joined the Big Ten.

    If we can run the ball with our RBs, we’ll be in great shape. But that’s not something I am counting on. Sure, may happen. May not. I know better than to count on it happening.

    So if it comes down to Purdue’s passing game versus our passing game, that may be in the Boilermakers’ favor. Heck, we may have our own issues protecting Martinez.

    Anyhow, 27-13 Nebraska is probably a best case scenario. Certainly possible, but there’s quite a few things that could make this game much more worrisome. I do think the 2021 Boilers are better than the 2020 version (thanks especially to their defense).

    1. As I said in my previous reply, Purdue beat Iowa and Oregon State, so they are no slouch. Just watching them against Wisconsin, they had no shot to really do much against them. If not for Purdues defensive TD, they scored only 6 points. And their QB threw 4 picks. Get him out of rhythm and we should be in good shape.

  4. It would seem that it’s down to this…

    Beat Purdon’t and Neb has one last chance to turn things around with an afternoon or night game atmosphere against tOSU.

    Lose to Purdon’t and Neb (and Frost) are finished with an 11:00 start next week and a likely blowout.

  5. SOS, simply want to say thanks for the great write ups, honestly you were the reason I joined the other site. I’ve been a fan for over sixty years, I remember in 1961? going to the movies (yes they were talkies) and listened on my ear phone to the Minnesota game on my transistor radio while my other friend watched the movie. Long story short I still love the Huskers however I decided my emotional attachment would end, watching them takes me back to high school dates where you were teased and teased only to have her say goodbye and walk in to her house. Trying to make a prediction on this team is impossible. Lastly, let’s let the season play out before we all jump on the fire SCOTT bandwagon, I hope he is successful. I got to see 70-71, 94-95 and 97 so I feel fortunate however I’d love to see the younger fans feel the same pride as I was, I’m getting too old to ride out too many more losing seasons. Sorry my post is a little convoluted, that’s why I don’t post much. Once again Thank You so much!

    1. I’m right there with you. They go 3-1 down the stretch and we are 6-6 and he’s safely here. He’s even here if we are 5-7 in my opinion. So that’s why I won’t really go there yet with a list of candidates.

  6. IMO, this is must win for Frost and the boys, can’t see the squad pulling an upset later in the year if they lose this Saturday

    1. Agreed. You can’t lose this game then have a 1% chance to beat Ohio State. That means your last win heading into the Wisconsin game on November 20th would be October 2nd.

  7. This was always a pretty optimistic preview because it assumed Nebraska could execute a game plan against a team they lost to 2 years ago with a 3rd string walk on QB. I think the biggest disappointment today is Purdue was able to line up and run against Nebraska. This team just isn’t close at all.

    This drives Nebraska fans nuts because Callahan is a trigger, but I always remember Sean Payton coming to Lincoln to speak at a coaching forum about 15 years ago and explaining the one thing he took from Bill Parcels that drives his coaching approach. He has 5 run plays and 5 pass plays that every spring he says ok this is who we are this is what we do. Every day we practice this and that will hold all season long. When things get tough and we make mistakes, we call one of these plays to get us in rhythm. Callahan clearly had this mindset too as we all remember those stretch runs he would call. The thing is, we throw a pick 6 or our QB oddly flips the ball to the defense, you run this and get 3 yards even though the whole stadium sees it coming and it gets your team back on track, looking forwards not backwards. I feel Frost is the reverse of this. Kellys system was notorious for its simplicity and practice repetition, very similar to the above. Frost comes in and says this is too simplistic, we need to add more to this. So every week we get a new offense installed using a spread scheme and you see guys out of rhythm and no plays we can call to get them moving in a positive direction. And Big 10 teams see this, know you cant execute at a high level and they take away your strengths and challenge you to show something else. This staff just doesn’t have it. We mix up personnel, we have no play calling rhythm or continuity and really just think we have our opponent scouted only to realize our guys arent properly prepped.

    For anyone who was on the fence, this game should be it for you. You can complain all day every day about what Frost inherited but your not going to convince anybody this was worse than what Brohm inherited. Yet Brohm is 3-1 vs Frost, has a couple bowl appearances and looks headed to another. This is an easy call.

    1. I’ve been ready to move on for a while. I’m hoping this is the final straw that gives us a new start. I know it’s easier said than done, and maybe there’s no candidates out there we feel good about.

      We could go 3-9 this year. We have the talent to beat Wiscy or Iowa or both. I still don’t think 5-7 warrants returning even if we win both of those. I’m just hoping at this point for such a dumpster fire it forces Alberts’ hand, a buyout is feasible, and there’s a decent candidate somewhere.

      1. Hrock, after yesterday I am on board with you. So just for shits and giggles, what are some names people like? I know this is an exercise in futility but I don’t really care.

      2. I don’t think 5-7 should have a coach keep his job here after three straight losing seasons prior, but I do think he is retained if that happens.

    2. Ya, we really have no identity for plays. It drove me nuts from game 1 when Illinois came out in an even front instead of odd and it through us completely for a loop. If you have your base plays it shouldn’t matter.

  8. I will put a few out there but can admit Im not exactly in the loop of knowing potential candidates.

    Tom Herman – would be a big hire.
    Bill O’Brien – great get but may not be interested or stay long term
    Ed Orgeron – Not sure he wants it but would be a massive hire
    Luke Fickell – more likely to stay put or take a job at USC/LSU but should be on the radar
    Joe Moorehead – I really like this guy. No clue what happened at Miss State but great OC
    Dave Doeren – not sure he would leave but good coach and midwest ties

    1. @Self Proclaimed Nickname – I mean here’s some people I’ve seen others mention that I like. Note: I really have NO clue what the feasibility is on any of these guys.

      Guys like Bob Stoops or Chris Petersen I would love to coax out if retirement, would love Bill O’Brien, but probably not realistic they would take this job IMO. Same for Fickell.

      Have seen people throw out Kyle Wittingham or David Shaw. Like their fit here, but don’t know if they would view us as an upgrade. Plus, I think the luster is falling off Shaw a little bit, I personally think he bemiftted a bunch from Harbaughs moment for a while.

      Like Matt Rhule coming back from NFL, but again doubt it.

      I have no clue what the assistant market looks like. Maybe we could get Aranda from Baylor? Like what he’s done. Or the Wake Forest coach? Maybe they’d come if we threw $ at them.

      But yeah, those are mostly what I’ve seen other people say of names I’d be on board with, but I don’t really know. I only hope that Trev is looking.

    2. Can’t say I think Orgeron would do that well. I think he’s a good recruiter, but don’t know how well he’d recruit here, and think he just had that magic year with Burrow\Brady combo.

      To me I feel like he’s on of the top assistants I’d want on my staff, but not the HC.

  9. Shortside what has happened to Ethan at right guard. You had him pegged as a long term starter? I know this is way off subject, but curious.

    1. So my comment about Piper being a multi-year starter and if he isn’t something went horribly wrong was based on a couple things. First, he was much better than most of the guys in line to start in practice. So what I was basing that comment on is he was so much better he will be starting, and unless he regresses he will be a fixture on the OL. He started and looked really good game 1 and 2 of his starts, but he has fallen off a cliff with his regression and I have no idea why. Is he playing slow because he’s a bit confused with the playbook still? Is S/C taking him down? There is at least one guy on the line that shouldn’t be playing, if not two, but he can’t even get ahead of them.

      My answer to your question is, I don’t know. But “something went horribly wrong” is what’s going on.

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