West Lafayette, IN – This is not how many Purdue Boilermaker fans saw the start of the season going. Sure you could see a loss to a veteran Northwestern Wildcat team. Not many though, could have foreseen back to back losses. This time coming at the hands of the Eastern Michigan Eagles. In reality however, the Wildcats nor the Eagles have really beaten the Boilers. Purdue has beaten themselves. Turnovers and penalties at the absolute worst times have become a calling card of the season so far. Purdue is minus four in the turnover category. They have two penalties that have given 1st downs on the game winning drives for both the Wildcats and Eagles.
This is a young and inexperienced team. They lost a lot senior leadership and it showed on the defensive side of the ball. Head coach Jeff Brohm said after the game they had a “lack of discipline” late in the game and it cost them. last week it was Lorenzo Neal’s unsportsmanlike conduct for throwing Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin to the ground after the whistle blew. Today it was Cornel Jones getting his own unsportsmanlike penalty on a sack when he pushed the EMU quarterback Tyler Wiegers’ head into the ground in celebration. Purdue simply doesn’t have the talent or depth to shoot themselves in the foot like this over and over. They keep playing with fire and they keep getting burned.
Yes the weather played a factor in the game today but the truth is both teams had to play in it. It wasn’t as if it was only raining when Purdue was on offense. Purdue fumbled the ball five times and lost it twice. One of those fumbles came inside the red zone costing Purdue a chance at three points. A bad snap on an extra point for Purdue caused the Spencer Evans kick to go wide right. Evans also missed a 38 yard field goal that never looked good. Purdue’s two losses are by a combined five points. If you are minus four in turnovers, miss an extra point and have two game winning penalties for the other team it becomes very difficult to win football games.
The one bright spot of the game for Purdue was the running game. They rushed 341 yards on the ground. D.J. Knox led the way with 152 yards and a 45 yard touchdown, Markell Jones added 109 and Rondale Moore had two carries for 49. Those are the type of numbers that usually result in a team winning a football game by a wide margin. Purdue’s inability to score in the red zone is a major problem. They were three for five today in the red zone but that only resulted in 13 points. If you need help with the math that means Purdue left 22 points off the board because they couldn’t find the end zone.
Give credit to Eastern Michigan for getting their second win ever against a Big Ten team. They are now 2-38 in program history. Wiegers picked Purdue apart for 312 yards through the air. When he had time, and he had a lot of more often than not, he made excellent throws to open receivers. Compare that to the 135 yards passing for the high powered Purdue offense and you wonder how a MAC school beat Purdue at their own game in their house? Whenever they needed a big play they were either able to convert or draw a penalty on Purdue to give them the first.
Purdue is now in a very precarious position. They are 0-2 on the season and have a daunting schedule left to play. Home games the next two weeks against power five foes Missouri Tigers and the Boston College Golden Eagles. Those are two very talented teams and some are even consider BC a dark horse to challenge for the ACC crown. They still have games against Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State. Purdue needs to find a way to scratch and claw their way to six wins and make a bowl game. They do have the talent to do it but their youth might be the death of them. At least it is to this point. Brohm and company have a lot to figure out going into next weeks game. If Purdue drops to 0-3 on the season things will start to look bleak on the 2018 season.
Nick Konkel is a Senior Writer for the Indiana Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Purdue University and has full media access. Follow @NickKonkelISR and the @IndySportsRep on Twitter.