Purdue Boilermakers College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season
Purdue Boilermakers Biggest Key: Offense
Score whenever there’s a chance. The Purdue offense is going to be the Purdue offense. The passing game might be the best in the Big Ten again, the running game will be along for the ride, and the team will always make defenses sweat.
Not the O has to score. Always.
The team isn’t good enough to give away points, and it showed with three of the four losses coming by seven points or fewer, and the fourth loss – to Nebraska – by ten, but it was a fight.
Purdue only scored on 21 of 28 times inside the red zone – 75%. Only 17 teams were worse, and the 54% touchdown conversion rate was among the most abysmal in college football.
2019 Purdue scored 95% of the time in the red zone and scored touchdowns on 70% of their chances.
The Minnesota game last year was the most glaring example.
Everyone likes to focus on the offensive pass interference call – more on that in a moment – but there were two missed field goals and a huge interception in the 34-31 loss. Purdue scored just four times in seven trips inside the 20.
Purdue Boilermakers Biggest Key: Defense
The pass rush has to reemerge. It’s been a long, long time since Purdue was steadily great at getting to the quarterback – 2010 was the last time the defense generated 30 sacks or more – and everything about 2020 has to be taken with several grains of salt, but …
Purdue came up with just five sacks in the six games, and three came in the first two games – the two wins.
It all ties together. The Boilermakers were awful at stopping teams on third downs, but it won those first two games when they had their two best games at coming up with stops. They held Iowa and Illinois to under 31% on third downs, and everyone else was way, way over.
There was another part of this – no takeaways. Purdue didn’t force any turnovers in the last three games.
No pass rush, no production, lots of problems.
Purdue Boilermakers Key Player To A Successful Season
DT Lawrence Johnson, Jr.
Or Anthony Watts, or Bryce Austin.
Lorenzo Neal was a four-year big-bodied part of the fun on the inside of the 3-4 defensive line. He grew into a 6-3, 325-pounder who, if nothing else, gave the Boilermakers some bulk. Now he’s off trying to be a New Orleans Saint.
Now Purdue needs a new top guy on the inside, and it’s going to take some work to do that with 6-3, 300-pound Lawrence Johnson, 6-2, 305-pound Bryce Austin and 6-4, 295-pound Anthony Watts accounting for the beef.
Purdue Boilermakers Key Game To The 2021 Season
Minnesota, Oct. 2
It was one of the key moments to the 2020 Purdue season. It was coming off a tough loss to a good Northwestern team, and it had a shot to go 3-1 with winnable games against Rutgers and Nebraska to go.
The Boilermakers connected on what a possible game-winning touchdown pass, but they were hit with a questionable offensive pass interference call, the next play was a pick, and it turned into a 34-31 loss.
They’ve lost the last three games in the series and seven of the last eight, but this year there’s a big chance for revenge in West Lafayette. Lose, and with at Iowa, Wisconsin and at Nebraska to follow, there’s a problem.
2020 Purdue Boilermakers Fun Stats
– Time of Possession: Opponents 32:24 – Purdue 27:36
– Punt Return Average: Opponents 16.7 – Purdue 5.3
– Rushing TDs: Opponents 12 – Purdue 4