I have never watched a single episode of the Sopranos. I haven't watched an episode of Breaking Bad. However, I have never missed an episode of the Brent Pry show, where an offensive line can't generate enough in the run game to overcome a shaky defensive start. Purdue controlled both lines of scrimmage, and the Hokies didn't have enough consistency in the passing game to exploit the Boilermakers' biggest weakness. With another Big Ten opponent looming, and the Hokies' depth already being tested with injuries to their two best playmakers, a hopeful start to the season suddenly looks very grim.
Bowen Tried, but the Offensive Line Couldn't Deliver
While many will be quick to blame offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen, he tried to make many of the adjustments suggested by this writer last week. By my count, the Hokies threw on first down about 66% of the time (as opposed to 30% last week). While some of that discrepancy stemmed from the Hokies having the football in two reasonably well orchestrated two-minute drills, throughout the game the Hokies were relatively well balanced in terms of play-calling. Bowen incorporated more RPO, having receivers try to run off the secondary or option-stalk their defender instead of flowing into the middle of the field to block. Finally, Bowen adjusted his blocking scheme, incorporating more outside zone to stretch the defense laterally. None of the adjustments mattered though, because Tech's offensive line couldn't move the massive defensive front, which often aligned in a Bear front.
Here is an example of Bowen's adjustments having little impact.
The Hokies ran a traditional inside zone read, designed to stretch the defense into the boundary and then open a cut back into the bubble created by a combination block on the nose tackle Cole Brevard (No. 91) by left guard Braelin Moore (No. 61) and center Kaden Moore (No. 68).
Purdue shifted late into a Bear look. Brevard was head up on Moore and Malik Langham (No. 35) shifted to the B-gap as 4i-technique. Left tackle Xavier Chaplin (No. 65) did a nice job of adjusting from trying to scoop Langham to drive him down inside, creating a nice bubble for a cutback lane. But beyond Chaplin's block, nobody on the offense executed their assignment. Kaden was pushed a step into the backfield by Brevard. Braelin combo blocked down to Brevard but didn't have enough leg drive to slide Brevard towards the boundary. Then Kaden failed to release the block to cut off inside linebacker OC Brothers (No. 8). Tight end Dae'Quan Wright (No. 8) took a nice angle to scoop edge defender Kydran Jenkins (No. 4), but when Wright made contact, the 260-pound Jenkins got under his left shoulder and tossed him into the backfield.
While Jenkins posterization of Wright gave running back Bhayshul Tuten nowhere to go, Wells didn't option the play correctly. The optioned defender, safety Sanoussi Kane (No. 21), crashed hard to the inside on the dive. Wells should have kept the football, putting him in a one-on-one situation against deep safety Dillon Thieneman (No. 31), who had little other help available. Wells may not have broken a long gain, but he should have gotten a first down.
Bowen also tried to incorporate the outside zone to stretch the field.
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