In his first game as Purdue’s head coach, Jeff Brohm nearly landed a signature victory at the expense of the program where he first became a star.
Brohm’s Boilermakers led No. 16 Louisville in the 4th quarter before the heroics of Lamar Jackson, Stacy Thomas and Chucky Williams allowed the Cardinals to walk out of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis with a 35-28 win.
Let’s cut to the chase here: Lamar was phenomenal, and Chucky and Stacy made enormous defensive plays when the game was on the line. Outside of that, there wasn’t a whole hell of a lot to write home about tonight.
The false starts that plagued last season? They were there in even larger quantities Saturday night. The fumbles? They were back and even more costly, with two coming as Louisville was about to cross the goalline for scores. The run game outside of Lamar? Non-existent.
The easy thing to do is to say that Louisville was a few plays away from winning by 21 and that those are correctible mistakes that will be made right with time. While there’s certainly some truth to that, the problem is that’s the same thing we said throughout last season, and the issues never got fixed. The result was a 9-4 season that felt, for lack of a better word, awkward at the end of it all.
I would prefer for that not to be the fate of the 2017 campaign. If that’s going to happen, the offense has to get on the same page when it comes to cadence, and they have to make protecting the ball their top priority.
Look, No. 8 is special, and tonight was exhibit 9,000 of that. But to quote an awful ESPN personality, Louisville looked an awful lot like “Lamar Jackson and a bunch of dudes” for extended spells tonight. Someone needs to emerge at running back, and the issues on the offensive line need to diminish.
There were positives outside of Lamar. I thought Ronald Walker was terrific in replacement of the injured Jaire Alexander (please be ok). Zykiesis Cannon was tremendous as well, and Stacy Thomas made the type of play you’d expect out of a potential All-American. Trevon Young looked fully healthy and was dominant at times, and Dez Fitzpatrick gave a clear indication that he may be Louisville’s future at the wide receiver position.
Here’s your early box score:
More on all this later, but for now, let’s all exhale and drink a toast to the fact that tonight was merely a close call and not an all-out disaster that no one saw coming.