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B1G 2021 // Can Purdue put together a complete offense?

or: Can Purdue be successful without a running game?

Nebraska v Purdue Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The 2020 season was an odd one in many ways. For Purdue fans, it was mostly a disappointment. While the defense was the bigger contributor to the 2-4 record, Purdue’s offense was nothing to write home about. Let’s break down the passing and running game from last season and speculate about how it’s going to be next season.

The Passing Game

The Boilers ranked first in the conference in passing yards per game last season, but the offense seemed to be far from explosive. An average of 27 points per game put the Boilers in the middle of the pack for scoring offense. There were no big, explosive games, but no complete no-shows by the offense either.

Aiden O’Connell started at QB for the first three games, and Jack Plummer came in and finished the season after AOC was injured. Both of them did fine stats wise, but watching the games I was never bowled over by the passing attack. I never had confidence that the passing game was so good that Purdue would get a score when they needed it, and for the most part they didn’t.

The receiving corps, led by David Bell and Rondale Moore, was solid last season. Payne Durham had a solid season at TE, and had the most memorable bad call of the year when a phantom offensive pass interference call negated a go-ahead touchdown towards the end of the game against the boat rowers.

All of these players except for Moore will return, so the passing offense has the potential to be pretty good next season. It would be nice to see the coaching staff trust the quarterbacks to throw more downfield and take some chances, rather than rely on so many dump offs and short routes.

The running game

Purdue ranked 14 out of 14 in rushing yards per game last season. Zander Horvath had a couple of decent games, but overall, the running game was never a threat. Opposing defenses did not have to respect the running game, which had to hurt the passing game as well. And without a running game, it was hard for the Boilers to burn clock when they had a lead, and the Boiler defense ended up out on the field without much of a break in many games (especially the awful second half against Rutgers).

Hovrath and King Doerue (who had a good 2019 and was injured last season) should be the main guys at the position next season. While the running game will probably never be the go-to at Purdue, it would be great for the running game to be something the defense needs to prepare for and worry about.

Let’s predict how next season will go

I bought a crystal ball at a yard sale and looked into it this evening. It gave me a list of the 2021 conference rankings for the Purdue offense.

Scoring per game: 5th

Passing yards per game: 1st

Rushing yards per game: 14th

Wow! It looks like 2021 will end up being similar to 2020. Hopefully the defense improves and Purdue can pull out some close wins to have a successful season. The crystal ball for some reason did not predict wins and losses for some reason. Just general conference rankings.

I guess I got to the end of the article and realized that I have not answered the question of the headline: “Can Purdue put together a complete offense?” I will answer it now: No.