WEST LAFAYETTE — After Purdue’s 35-7 beatdown Saturday in State College, Pa., the Boilermakers may have a new quarterback to lead the charge this weekend at home against Maryland.
Penn State scored a touchdown on its first four possessions of the game, using a short field to its advantage multiple times. Although the defense eventually came around, the Boilermakers were already down 28-0 early in the second quarter.
Purdue’s defense kept the game competitive, but the offense could never find its rhythm due to the Nittany Lions’ consistent defensive pressure up front.
Enter Jack Plummer, Purdue’s freshman quarterback. He finished the game 13-of-27 passing for 119 yards and one touchdown – a 15-yard pass to Amad Anderson Jr. midway through the second quarter.
But Plummer spent most of the afternoon eating grass as the Nittany Lions’ defense sacked him 10 times for minus-86 yards.
On Monday, Plummer or Aiden McConnell were listed as first-team quarterback on the depth chart. When asked if that was “true,” Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm replied, “That is correct.”
That prompted a follow-up question: “Does Jack (Plummer) have an issue?”
“No. Jack competed extremely hard. He gave us great effort and he did some good things,” Brohm said. “When you get hit that many times, you know, you’re going to struggle a little towards the end and we took a lot of sacks. We just want to make sure there’s competition at every position.”
Enter McConnell, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound sophomore who could get his first start under center Saturday against the Terrapins. He completed one pass – his only attempt – for four yards last week against Penn State.
“I think Aidan O’Connell is a guy that could play or he may not play, depending on how this week goes,” Brohm said. “You know, every position, we want all of our guys to know that we are going to need production. I understand the circumstances and I am proud of the effort Jack has given us. I think he’s done some good things, but I do want to make sure that even at (the quarterback) position, we know there’s competition.”
In previous weeks, Brohm said he would like to see Plummer “spin the ball with more authority” since taking over for the injured Elijah Sindelar. At 1-4 (0-2 Big Ten West) and a long list of walking wounded, now may be the time to see what other players can do.
“Well, we’re playing a lot of young guys, so there are some that aren’t ready that are getting closer, and there are probably going to be more guys playing as we go through the season,” he said. “We just don’t want to put them in for a few plays. We want to make sure if someone goes down or that position is really, really struggling, they will go in.”
In addition to Sindelar, Purdue took the field against Penn State without star wide receiver Rondale Moore, as well as wideouts Milton Wright, Jared Sparks and T.J. Sheffield, linebacker Markus Bailey, defensive tackle Lorenzo Neal, offensive lineman D.J. Washington, and running backs Tario Fuller and Richie Worship.
Add to that list starting linebacker Cornell Jones and defensive tackle Antony Watts, who both left the Penn State game with injuries, and freshman defensive back Cameron Allen, who was ejected in the first quarter after being called for targeting.
Returning home to Ross-Ade Stadium should bring out some pride in the Boilermakers, according to Brohm. A capacity crowd is expected as Purdue will celebrate homecoming.
“I think our players understand, we come home and play in front of our home crowd, we have to take some pride in it,” he said. “It’s got to mean something to us. We have to be willing to put in the work in order to try to go out and compete and get better. We know it’s not going to be easy and we’re going to have to fight through it but that’s what has to happen.
“That’s what I want to see. I want to see some fight in our guys. I want to see our guys play hard, and I want to see some guys that want to win when they take the field.”