Purdue’s home opener is rapidly approaching; it takes place at noon this Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium against Vanderbilt. The Boilermakers (0-1) will have a lot to prove following the second half collapse that took place against Nevada.
Vanderbilt is also coming off of a tough loss, but the game was much different. The Commodores (0-1) faced No. 3 University of Georgia and the game was never close. The Bulldogs (1-0) trampled Vanderbilt and never slowed down, as opposed to Purdue, which was leading for most of the game before losing to a last-second field goal.
Fifth-year quarterback Elijah Sindelar is looking to make up for the Nevada game and start the season 1-0 at home. Sindelar did put up big numbers in Week One: 423 yards of offense and four touchdowns. However, he also threw two interceptions, which hurt the Boilers.
“There’s a lot of good things and bad things from the game,” Sindelar said about Nevada. “We should be putting up a lot of points.”
Based on the offensive tendencies of Purdue, Sindelar will likely be putting up similar numbers against the Commodores.
Sophomore wide receiver Rondale Moore will also have a spotlight on him, and with the spotlight comes complications. Vanderbilt will most likely have coverages that make it difficult for Moore to get open. However, with Moore taking most of the attention of the defensive secondary, other wide receivers will have the opportunity to go off. The receivers are the bread and butter of the offense and have to keep their speed and blocking up throughout the game.
“We’ve got to finish,” said JaMarcus Shephard, wide receiver coach and co-offensive coordinator. “We have to be able to finish in the fourth quarter, where it can be extremely hard to continue.”
The offensive line will outsize the defensive line of Vanderbilt and will have to take advantage of that. With less pressure on Sindelar, the offense can drive down the field smoothly.
The defense will also have a big responsibility on Saturday. After allowing more than 20 unanswered points, they will have to show they can play a whole game and keep the same intensity.
The defensive backs will have their hands full; Vanderbilt senior quarterback Riley Neal, who struggled against Georgia, will be looking to make a comeback. He completed 14 of 25 passes for 85 yards, but the Commodores also like to run the ball.
Senior running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn ran the ball 15 times for 74 yards, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. The linebackers and defensive line will have to keep Vaughn under control and limit his space to run. If Vaughn finds a rhythm, the pressure on Riley Neal will alleviate and Vanderbilt’s offense will thrive.
Purdue’s defense will also most likely not feature senior defensive tackle Lorenzo Neal. He was injured against Indiana last season and is still recovering from off-season surgery. Without the presence and experience of Lorenzo Neal, the defensive line remains young but features talent.
Freshman defensive end George Karlaftis III has made waves and showed real promise through camp and against Nevada. His size and strength offer good edge protection against the run and also present pressure in the pocket against the quarterback.