WEST LAFAYETTE — Soaking wet and covered in mud, Purdue quarterback Elijah Sindelar bashed off the football acreage two weeks ago at Ross-Ade Stadium.
The Boilermakers had aloof been baffled in what was the affliction accident of the Jeff Brohm era, a 20-19 abortion adjoin a mid-level, Mid-American Conference Eastern Michigan team, a d the drillmaster alleged “embarrassing.” Aloof two amateur into the season, Purdue sunk into an 0-2 hole. The year was at a crossroads. It was in that moment Sindelar issued an ultimatum.
“Man up or fold,” he said.
It was an alarming ambulatory cry. Sharp and absolute words from a aggregation captain. There was aloof one problem: Sindelar never had a adventitious to chase through on his words. He was afflicted in convenance that week, banishment Purdue to change starting quarterbacks to David Blough.
A aggregation hit adamantine by aboriginal division adversity, abundant of it their own making, was affected to face added of it. The Boilermakers fell into a 17-point arrears adjoin Missouri aftermost week. And afresh summoned every bit of activity to accumulate clip with the Tigers’ high-octane breach and assemblage aback in blood-tingling fashion.
It was a d effort. It was additionally addition loss, as Purdue watched the adversary win a additional beeline d with a walk-off acreage ambition at the buzzer.
So generally you see this from atrocious teams. The underdog finds a way to atom and action and accord a above adversary a run for its money in a prime-time game. But aback that fails, the bottomward circling begins, the division ends.
Go all in. Aback that doesn’t work, fold.
That’s what bad teams do. It’s what teams afterwards acceptable administration do. It’s what so abounding teams Purdue admirers are acclimated to watching do.
But this drillmaster and this aggregation are different.
After digging their aperture alike deeper, the Boilers didn’t cycle over and die in it. They responded Saturday with an agitated win over No. 23 Boston College. At atomic if you accept the rankings, Boston College was the best aggregation Purdue played so far this season. And the winless Boilers didn’t aloof exhausted the Eagles, they throttled them so abominably the aftermost division was a academism added than annihilation else.
“We aloof had to acquaint ourselves, the alone ones that are activity to accept in us are the ones in the locker room,” inferior linebacker and aggregation captain Markus Bailey said. “Everyone alfresco is activity to about-face up on us. Unfortunately, the way it goes … We can’t ascendancy that. The alone affair we can ascendancy is our assignment ethic, the way we appear in, the way we access practice, the way we access film.”
The win keeps animate the Boilers’ attenuated basin hopes. It’s not out of the branch of possibilities to brainstorm Purdue can beating off winless Nebraska and afresh exhausted abiding Big Ten basement-dweller Illinois the aing anniversary to get aback to 3-3 at the amid point in the season. The allowance for absurdity will be abbreviate with three ranked opponents (No. 4 Ohio State, No. 18 Wisconsin and No. 24 Michigan State) cat-and-mouse in the additional bisected of the schedule.
No amount how this division all-overs out, Saturday reaffirmed already afresh Brohm and his agents are the appropriate coaches for Purdue appropriate now. Yes, the players are the ones who won the game. Bailey fabricated 10 abandoned tackles. Blough threw for about 300 yards. Rondale Moore did Rondale Moore things.
But at the top, the coaches begin a way to accumulate a adolescent aggregation affianced and assured alike afterwards three demoralizing losses, which is added absorbing than the win itself.
“Even admitting we were 0-3, we begin aplomb alive we actual calmly could accept been on the cast of all three of those games,” Blough said. “If we put it calm on both abandon of the ball, booty affliction of the football, don’t accept penalties, we should accept the aftereffect we wanted.”
At 1-3, alike afterwards the agitated win, Purdue’s division hasn’t gone the way admirers hoped or expected. Afterwards aftermost year’s 7-6 season, they capital an eight or nine-win year. That’s how you admeasurement advance in the standings. But Saturday’s win was advance in its own regard.
Climbing out of the aphotic ages and rebuilding a affairs that suffered through as abundant abortion as Purdue did the aftermost bisected decade takes time. Brohm continues to appearance he has the eyes and blowing to advance that change. So no amount how this division all-overs out, bethink this win as addition attestation to Brohm’s leadership.
“I’m actual appreciative of our football team,” Brohm said. “I anticipate our guys absolutely formed adamantine over the aftermost three weeks to advance aloft a lot of weaknesses, a lot of things we were accomplishing wrong. I anticipation we came out today accessible to play. That shows you accept a airy team.”
And a airy coach.
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