EMUs Derail Boilermakers 20-19
Feature image from @Boilerball
Maybe it’s the national attention Jeff Brohm brings to Purdue, maybe it’s the depths of misery Purdue football reached during the Hope/Hazell years, maybe it’s the inescapable feeling (particularly after watching BTN’s Gold and Black Days) that Louisville will eventually come calling for their favorite son. But every game under Brohm feels like an urgent referendum on the re-emergence of Purdue football.
I sat down for this game, hoping to write a lofty takeaway about consistency as the bedrock of any athletic program. Consistency in play-calling, in effort, in starting quarterbacks and defensive intensity. Consistency that we were hoping to see with this exceptional coaching staff.
And then, reality hits. Purdue fell to Eastern Michigan 20-19, losing on a game-winning field goal as time expired on a cold and rainy West Lafayette afternoon.
Neither quarterback has staked his claim on the permanent starting spot, though Elijah Sindelar brought a little more energy on this dreary day. Outside of a phenomenal early completion, Rondale Moore couldn’t find solid footing on the damp field. Nick Holt’s defense is still working through the loss of 9 high-impact defensive players, evidenced by the truly awful missed plays by the outside corners.
We want each of these games to be memorable, because we want the Brohm era at Purdue to be something we talk about years after it ends. The 2017 game versus Ohio was one of those perfect storybook games, with chrome helmets and trick plays galore under the Friday night Ross Ade lights. We wanted another game like that, soothing any lingering doubts after a tough opening loss against Northwestern.
What we got was reality, which is often soggy and gray-skied.
It’s tough to hold on to the ball in the rain, and it’s tough to get separation 20 yards down the field in conditions like this. Purdue’s pass coverage along the sidelines was miserable, but the defensive line (led by Lorenzo Neal and Kai Higgins) was wonderful. Moore didn’t set any records, but running backs DJ Knox and Markell Jones combined for 261 yards (and ~450 fumbles, but who’s counting those anyway).
But unfortunately, instead of scraping away with a burn-the-tape win, the game slipped away from Purdue on three separate occasions – two self-imposed, one bad luck.
Opportunity #1: With 6:41 left in the game and Purdue seemingly on the ropes, DJ Knox busted a 45-yard touchdown run to put Purdue up. A two-point conversion would have given Purdue a 3-point lead, but instead a bizarre late celebration penalty moved Purdue’s extra point to the 18 yard line. It was still an odd decision by Brohm to kick the XP, but the points were banked I guess.
Opportunity #2: On the very next play, DT Giovanni Reviere tipped QB Tyler Wiegers’ pass, ending up in the hands of Kai Higgins. Purdue had an opportunity to seal the victory right there. Instead, three quick plays barely bled any time off the clock (with a touchdown called back as Sparks’ little toe was touching the sideline), and a damp 38 yard field goal attempt was missed.
Opportunity #3: Following a déjà vu 3rd down personal foul penalty on a defensive tackle (this time, it was Cornel Jones, who played a fantastic game outside this moment), EMU was facing a 4th-and-15 on their own 47 yard line. Wiegers converted a 23 yard pass against Purdue’s porous secondary, a pass interference got EMU even closer, and a chip-shot was drilled to give EMU the last-second win.
Purdue can’t afford to look like they did today against one of the toughest schedules in the country, particularly if they want to make a second consecutive bowl. The secondary remains a huge concern going forward, and could be in danger when Missouri and Boston College come to West Lafayette. Come out of this stretch 1-3 or 0-4, and this season is at risk of being a step in the wrong direction.
But, for now, a showing like today is out-of-the-ordinary when compared to the way Brohm’s Boilermakers have played (2017’s Rutgers game aside). I guess we’ll see reality next week.
So, while we were mostly miserable this afternoon, let’s try to make things a little more educational.
It’s a real and serious shame that Eastern Michigan University’s mascot isn’t an emu. I’m thinking about organizing a march on EMU’s campus or an online petition or threatening some sort of litigation to make this dream a reality.
But we need to be a well-educated movement if we’re going to make this happen. Therefore, let’s spend a few lines of this blog post describing the differences between emus and their nemesis, the dreaded ostrich. (All facts are from DifferenceBetween.net, which is where all deep fact dives must begin.)
- Emus live in Australia, ostriches live in Africa. Obviously.
- Emus have legs strong enough to kill a human. Ostriches have only two toes.
- Emus look like handsome turkeys. Ostriches have large, super creepy eyes and long, super creepy necks.
- Ostriches are faster (40mph versus the emu’s 30mph), but everyone knows it’s the shuttle time that matters way more than sprint times.
- Emu fathers raise their kids.
Do the right thing, Eastern Michigan. Ditch the eagle and adopt the emu.