Final Grades: Passing Offense Shines, Even With 3 Different QBs

Brady Extin

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue's passing offense was forced to do a lot this season, and it responded week after week.

As with the running game, the Purdue passing attack dealt with a plethora of injuries all season, but they didn’t let that get in the way of a productive season. 

Purdue started the year with senior Elijah Sindelar as the starter at quarterback, but that didn’t last long. Sindelar started just two games before suffering a concussion and then later breaking his clavicle, and he was gone for the year by the end of September.

 Following him was redshirt freshman Jack Plummer, who appeared in seven games and started six. After he went down with a broken ankle, the next man up was walk-on Aidan O’Connell. Even with a carousel of different quarterbacks, the Boilermakers managed to lead the Big Ten in passing yards (3,719) and yards per game (308.7). All three quarterbacks were productive in their time as the starter, with the trio finishing with a combined 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

Sindelar got the Purdue passing attack off to a hot start to begin the season, leading the NCAA in passing yards and touchdowns through the first two games with 932 yards and nine touchdowns. Sindelar tacked on 46 more yards before his injury to finish the season with 978.

Plummer finished his freshman campaign with 1,603 yards, 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions before his injury. Lastly, O’Connell, who appeared in five games and started three, threw for 1,101 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Each guy added some big moments to Purdue’s 2019 season, with Sindelar getting off to the league- leading start, Plummer winning a Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week Award and O’Connell leading Purdue to two come-from-behind victories.

It wasn’t just the quarterback position where the passing attack had to deal with injuries. On the same play as Sindelar’s injury, star wide receiver Rondale Moore suffered a leg injury that kept him out for the rest of the season. Moore was off to a scorching hot start, catching 27 passes for 369 yards and two touchdowns in the first three games prior to his injury.

Along with his injury, junior Jackson Anthrop, who was expected to be a big part of the offense, dealt with on-and-off injuries all season long. With those two down, Purdue was forced to turn to a trio of freshmen in David Bell, Milton Wright and Amad Anderson Jr., along with NFL prospect tight end Brycen Hopkins. Each guy stepped up and performed well, but Bell and Hopkins were on a level of their own. 

In his first season, Bell caught 86 passes for 1,035 yards and seven touchdowns. He broke the 100-yard mark in six different games and earned four Big Ten Freshman of the Week Awards. Bell clearly showed that he can be a No. 1 receiver, but with Moore returning, it won’t be all on him next season. 

Hopkins had a monster season along with Bell, and likely solidified himself as an early- round NFL draft pick. The senior caught 61 passes for 830 yards and seven touchdowns. His real production came, with the switch to O’Connell, where he served as a security blanket for the inexperienced quarterback.

Through all the injuries and changes at each position, the Purdue passing offense continued to produce all season. The Boilermakers got some early looks at several freshman who will play big roles in the coming years, and got to see both quarterbacks that will compete for the starting job next season.

Final Grade for Purdue's Passing Offense: B-plus