EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — Purdue football followed up a season-opening victory with a masterful performance on the road against UConn on Saturday. Both the offense and defense executed their gameplans, leading to a dominant 49-0 win at Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, Connecticut.
After a three-and-out for the Boilermakers to start the game, they proceeded to reach the end zone on seven straight possessions. Several players found playing time as the team cruised to an easy win, including four different quarterbacks.
Purdue did exactly what was expected against a struggling UConn program. It was a necessary performance to keep confidence high as the team now prepares for a matchup against Notre Dame next week.
The tests ahead are only going to get tougher, but for now, coach Jeff Brohm and the Purdue football program should be proud of the way they executed in Week 2.
It was a short day for starting quarterback Jack Plummer. The junior only needed to play the first half against UConn to give Purdue a 35-0 lead. In two quarters, he completed 19 of his 24 passes for 273 yards and four touchdowns.
Star wide receiver David Bell was the beneficiary of three of those scoring throws, and tight end Payne Durham recorded a scoring grab for the second straight game. Bell caught just six passes for 121 yards before watching from the sidelines for the third and fourth quarters.
Backup quarterbacks Aidan O'Connell, Austin Burton and Michael Alaimo all saw playing time in the second half. O'Connell, a fifth-year senior, orchestrated two scoring drives to start the third quarter and completed six of his seven passes for 58 yards and two touchdowns.
Burton, a senior, was perfect in his passing attempts, hitting five throws for 44 yards. Alaimo did not attempt a pass during the game, and the redshirt freshman was sacked in the fourth quarter.
Overall, the Boilermakers' quarterbacks completed 83.3% of their passes while throwing for 375 yards and six touchdowns without turning the ball over. By the end of the game, 13 different receivers managed to catch a pass.
Overall, the passing game couldn't have gone better for Purdue on Saturday. UConn was unable to generate anything defensively, even when Brohm brought backups in the game.
While the Boilermakers managed to record their first 100-yard rushing game of the season, it came after losing starting running back Zander Horvath for the game. The fifth-year senior was injured on the first play of the team's second drive, and Brohm said will likely miss time with a lower leg injury.
In Horvath's place, junior King Doerue and redshirt freshman Dylan Downing stepped up. Doerue ran the ball 12 times for 74 yards and a one-yard touchdown, while Downing put up 72 yards on 14 carries.
As a team, Purdue totaled 187 yards on the ground with the help of 12 different rushers. The offensive line bullied UConn's defensive front all afternoon, which was a step in the right direction as this team looks to gain more consistent rushing yards.
Horvath going down was a huge loss, but Doerue and Downing carried the load without any issue. It was a much better performance compared to Week 1.
UConn turned to quarterback Steven Krajewski against Purdue in an attempt to spark the offense. However, Purdue's defense was relentless up front, which didn't give many opportunities to pass the ball downfield.
Krajewski was unable to reach 100 yards through the air, completing just 14 of his 25 passes for 99 yards and an interception in the game's final quarter. The Huskies completed a pass for 40 yards in the second quarter, the team's longest play of the game.
UConn's longest pass in the second half went for five yards, and junior safety Zane Greene intercepted Krajewski's final attempt of the game. Big plays are going to happen, but Purdue responded and didn't give UConn a chance to gain any momentum.
When the other team's leading rusher is a quarterback scrambling from the pocket, Purdue knows it's doing a solid job of shutting down the running game. Krajewski carried the ball more than any UConn running back on Saturday and picked up a total of 42 yards.
The Huskies attempted 34 rushes with five different players carrying the football. They combined for 123 yards and averaged 3.6 yards per carry. The only knock I can give to the Boilermakers this game was giving up four carries of 10 yards or more and allowing the Huskies to reach 100 yards on the ground.
Like the offense, the Purdue defense dominated on Saturday, even when the team's backups came into the game.
While the Purdue special teams units weren't provided with many game-changing opportunities, I felt as though the performance could've been better.
The Boilermakers punted just four times, and starting punter Jack Ansell averaged 36 yards in his two attempts. Backup punters Zac Collins and Brendan Cropsey each booted punts in the second half, but neither could muster a kick past 40 yards.
In the return game, sophomore wide receiver T.J. Sheffield saw his first game action of the year. He caught two punts for 18 yards and didn't see any returns on kickoffs. Track star Marcellus Moore brought out one kick for 37 yards.
In the kicking game, Mitchell Fineran converted on all of his extra point attempts for Purdue and didn't have to attempt a field goal.
With the offense and defense executing to near perfection, the Purdue coaching staff earns high marks for handling UConn as it was expected to. A shutout performance held strong even with multiple backup players seeing the field, and the offense continued to pick up yards in the second half without its best players.
The loss of Horvath was a big blow to the Boilermakers, but the team managed to escape East Hartford without any more major injuries. Tight end Garrett Miller and cornerback Jamari Brown each left Saturday's game, and their status will be reported on throughout the week.
Stories Related to Purdue Football
- DOERUE, DOWNING STEP UP IN THE BACKFIELD: Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said Zander Horvath is going to miss time after suffering a lower leg injury against UConn on Saturday. In his place, King Doerue and Dylan Downing combined for 146 yards on the ground during the team's 49-0 victory. CLICK HERE
- PURDUE-UCONN GAME STORY: David Bell caught just six passes for Purdue in a shutout against UConn on Saturday, but he put up 121 yards and three touchdowns. Starting quarterback Jack Plummer completed 19 passes for 273 yards and four scores in just one half of play. CLICK HERE
- PURDUE-UCONN LIVE BLOG: The Purdue Boilermakers hit the road for the first time this season Saturday against the UConn Huskies at Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, Connecticut. CLICK HERE
- PURDUE FOOTBALL 2021 SCHEDULE: Purdue's 2021 college football schedule includes nine Big Ten games and three nonconference matchups. The team will travel to South Bend, Indiana, next week to play Notre Dame for the first time since 2014. CLICK HERE