The Boilermaker football season kicked off Friday night, and it started hot. The team took an early lead before a total collapse that ended with Nevada kicking a game-winning field goal as the clock expired.
The second half was Purdue’s worst-case scenario. With a 31-14 lead late in the third quarter, both the offense and defense of the team seemed to disappear.
Nevada went on to score 20 unanswered points and won the game 34-31, shocking the Boilers and spoiling Purdue’s first game. But what went wrong to allow such a collapse?
The first issue was tackling. The first half showcased the defense’s ability to utterly stomp a team’s offense and stall drives, yet the second half showed a polar opposite behavior.
If the defense begins to struggle, the game can quickly get out of hand, as Boilermaker fans saw when the team unraveled.
The defense seemed to slow down in the second half — it couldn’t keep up with the renewed intensity and energy that Nevada brought after halftime.
To make things worse, senior defensive tackle Lorenzo Neal — returning from a knee injury suffered during Purdue’s 2018 game against Indiana — was hurt in the game and will most likely not be playing this Saturday.
The offense was unable to pick up the defense’s slack and the combination meant Nevada feasted late in the game. Going forward, fifth-year quarterback Elijah Sindelar will need to kickstart the offense and keep it moving. Despite going 34-for-52 for 423 yards, Sindelar’s two interceptions in the second half crippled the team’s momentum at critical times.
Despite this performance, Purdue fans have little to worry about moving forward. With a young roster and plenty of talent, the team has a lot of potential and room to grow. The first half was a perfect example of how good the Boilermakers can be when they eliminate mistakes. As the season progresses and the players start to gain more experience, these mistakes will likely begin to go away.