Report Card: Grades All Over the Map for Purdue
Purdue’s bowl hopes disappeared on Saturday after a 45-24 loss to Wisconsin. The defeat moves the Boilermakers to 4-7 overall and 3-5 in the Big Ten.
Next up, the final game of the season, will be the Old Oaken Bucket game against Indiana next Saturday at Noon ET (TV: ESPN2)
Here’s how Purdue graded out in Saturday’s loss.
Rushing Offense: F
Purdue's rushing offense has been a lost cause all season long, but coach Jeff Brohm made it seem as though the running game would have to play a big role in Saturday’s game if the Boilermakers were to keep the game close. For that reason, their performance on Saturday is even more disappointing.
On the day, the Boilermakers ran for a lowly 50 yards on 20 attempts and averaged just 2.5 yards per carry. They were lucky to even reach that number, though. If it wasn’t for a 27-yard run by Zander Horvath — Purdue’s longest of the season — they would have rushed for an embarrassing 23 yards on 19 carries. Wisconsin's defense is very good, and a poor running game is becoming a constant for Purdue, so this performance isn’t much of a shock.
Passing Offense: B-plus
No moment seems to be too big for walk-on quarterback Aidan O’Connell. He showed poise and the ability to make tough throws on Saturday. He finished the day 26-for-43 passing for 289 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.
Wide receiver Milton Wright got in on the action as well, throwing a 37-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brycen Hopkins on a trick play. That was one of Hopkins' two scores in what was a huge day for the senior. He ended with eight catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns. As per usual, David Bell had a big day as well, catching 10 passes for 102 yards and a score.
In a hostile environment, O’Connell and the rest of the passing offense was able to keep Purdue in the game for a while with some big plays through the air. They held their own against a tough Badgers secondary and continued to play well.
Rush Defense: D-minus
Everybody knew it was going to be a difficult task slowing down Jonathon Tayor and the rest of Wisconsin's dominant running game and, as expected, the Badgers ran all over Purdue.
Taylor continued his streak of 200-yard games and dominated Purdue for the third straight season, rushing for 222 yards and one touchdown. It wasn’t all Taylor on Saturday, though. Kendric Pryor broke off a 49-yard run, Garret Grochek ran for 55 yards and a touchdown and Aron Cruickshank ran for 47 yards and score. Overall, the Badgers rushed 55 times for 403 yards and four touchdowns.
Pass Defense: B-minus
It’s tough to judge how the Purdue secondary played on Saturday because with 55 rushing attempts, Wisconsin rarely threw the ball. When they did though, the Purdue secondary responded pretty well. Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan completed 15 of his 19 pass attempts for 203 yards and two touchdowns. The Purdue secondary came up with a big play near the end of the third quarter, intercepting Coan near the end zone to keep the game at 38-24.
This group played well for the most part and came up with a big interception. All in all, this was far from Purdue’s problems on defense.
Special Teams: B-plus
There isn’t really much to say about Purdue’s special teams on Saturday. They did their job, with J.D. Dellinger connecting on his lone field goal attempt from 28 yards out. The punting game looked fine and didn’t have any glaring mistakes.
Brohm’s ability to compete with such a young, inexperienced team was shown in Saturday’s loss. He was able to draw up some creative plays to keep Purdue in the game for the first half. Most notably was his trick play that resulted in Milton Wright throwing a 37-yard touchdown pass.
Brohm and the rest of the coaching staff had the right game plan heading into Madison, but it’s just tough to execute it fully with the depleted roster that Purdue currently has.
Purdue didn’t seemed too overwhelmed by the atmosphere of Camp Randall and was able to compete for a good portion of the game. This young group continues to show poise and calmness not often seen from so many freshman. They didn’t back down or play scared on Saturday, they were just beaten by a better team.