Man, I’ve got to tell you, I am absolutely pumped for this game. With David Bell gone, I think it is high time for Tyrone Tracy and Charlie Jones to show what they can do and finally stick it to Jeff Brohm and Purdue! *Ben stops writing as Ross whispers something in his ear* Really? Oh, um, nevermind. It turns out both Charlie and Tyrone will be playing for Purdue this year. Whoopsie.
So let’s get this out of the way. If for a second you think either one of these moves wasn’t in the best interest of either one of these players, look yourself in the mirror and say “Yikes” to yourself. Sure, Charlie Jones’ value to the NFL probably starts as a return specialist, but he has already established his special teams bona fides and the cold, hard fact is that he can return punts and kicks anywhere. As a receiver at Iowa, I doubt NFL scouts were going to salivate at the 100 shallow crosses and slants that he was going to run. At Purdue he can show whatever growth he is capable of. And as for Tyrone Tracy? He was already stuck with the measly jet sweep and bubble screen scraps that Brian was throwing his way. He simply had no chance to thrive in this offense. Both guys did what was best for their chances at making the NFL and may they succeed, in every game save one. (If you have any meaningful frustrations about the situation, please direct it at Iowa’s offensive staff.)
As to Purdue generally? They are a fairly easy team to figure out. After arriving as head coach in 2017 on the heels of the abysmal tenure of Darell Hazell, Jeff Brohm has produced decent, albeit semi-middling results in West Lafayette. Brohm turned Purdue into the worst rushing team in the Big Ten and the best passing team in the Big Ten west of Columbus, and paired a somewhat suspect defense with this dynamic passing offense. After a couple of 6-6 regular seasons, things trended downward in 2019 and 2020, before a breakout year for Purdue’s defense and an 8-4 finish in 2021. If Purdue can maintain their gains as a defensive team, they will officially become a “problem.”
Of course what really matters is how Purdue does against our Hawkeyes, and you all know the answer there is “obnoxiously good.” You have probably heard the expression football is a “match-up” game, and in no case is that more readily apparent than when Iowa plays Purdue. Rarely in the past five years would you have said that top-to-bottom Purdue has a “better” team or more talented roster than Iowa, but they have beaten Iowa 80% of the time in that span, a sterling 4-1 record for Brohm’s boys.
While typically all of our ire would be directed at the offense, the problem with this match-up is that Purdue has been kryptonite to our all-world defensive coordinator Phil Parker. Here is what I mean: In each of the last four years that Iowa has played Purdue, Purdue has not once failed to generate at least 350 yards of total offense. No other team in the Big Ten West can say this. (Wisconsin comes closest, having exceeded that total twice in the last four years.) Purdue’s M.O. is to dare Iowa into a relative shootout and eke it out with their superior offensive firepower or, in 2021, letting Iowa flail with the toy knife they brought to the bazooka fight. (Iowa meanwhile has topped 350 yards themselves in three of the contests, a productive total for Kirk’s Hawkeyes.)
For whatever reason — hubris, a stubborn unwillingness to make changes, brilliance on the part of Jeff Brohm — Iowa has been completely unable to disrupt Purdue’s passing game. Ignoring the 2017 year, Brohm’s first season, which was spent putting out the dumpster fire that Darell Hazell started in West Lafayette, Purdue’s lowest passing yardage in any game against Iowa has been 282 yards. This Purdue matchup is a sticky spot of slime on the otherwise sterling record of Phil Parker.
Are things likely to change in 2022 for Purdue? They lost their best defensive player, edge rusher George Karlaftis, who is now competing for Super Bowls in Kansas City, and with some other defenders moving on, maybe they regress defensively somewhat. Fine, whatever. Purdue’s defense isn’t half so scary as their offense. The trouble is, I find it foolish to expect any kind of notable regression for Purdue on the offensive side of things.
No doubt it is legitimately a massive relief that David Bell, a man who had over 550 yards receiving against Iowa in just three games, has moved on to the NFL. (The Bell truly tolled for Herky.) Purdue still has the best quarterback in the Big Ten West in Aiden O’Connell, (did you know he started his career as a flippin’ walk-on? Neat-o…) and the best offensive mind in the West to scheme for him. I’ll believe Iowa can slow down and beat Purdue when I see it. I mean, honestly, even if Purdue is 2-6 heading into this game and double-digit underdogs, who among you would actually feel confident heading into this match-up?
Homer Version: That run of four games that Purdue had against Iowa, did you notice that David Bell was involved in three of them? Yeah, takeoff, hoser. The Bell-less Boilermakers get their bell rung as Phil’s boys hold Purdue to 10 points and an easy Hawkeye victory.
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