Purdue coach Jeff Brohm changed his mind.
Two days after announcing there would be an open competition for the Boilermakers’ starting quarterback job, Brohm said Monday that Jack Plummer has the job going into Saturday’s game against Nebraska.
“I think the quarterbacks will continue to work hard and get better, but Jack will be our starter,” he said.
Plummer was yanked twice in last weekend’s 24-6 loss to Illinois. He was replaced for two first-half series after throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown to give the Fighting Illini a 10-0 lead. Plummer returned for the final drive of the half and remained in the game until he lost a fumble that led to another Illinois touchdown. Plummer was 7 of 19 for 69 yards.
Aidan O’Connell made his debut in the first half and then finished the game, leading the Boilermakers to their only score on a 99-yard fourth-quarter drive. O’Connell was 8 of 14 with 67 yards and one TD pass.
It wasn’t the first time Brohm contemplated making a change. He also acknowledged considering using O’Connell in the previous week’s loss at Iowa.
Brohm watched the game tape and apparently concluded there were reasons other than Plummer to explain why Purdue’s offense struggled in last weekend’s heavy rain — and who might give the Boilermakers their best chance against Nebraska (4-4, 2-3).
“It was rough conditions, and it wasn’t the easiest to throw the football in,” Brohm explained. “Like always, it’s never as good as you think after a game and it’s never as bad as you think. We need to make some better decisions early on. I think we can find the check-downs better. I think we can locate the No. 2 receiver a little bit better. I think we can occasionally pull it back and run it a few times.”
They certainly need to do something different — and fast — to salvage this season.
The Boilermakers (2-6, 1-4) have lost two straight and five of six, putting them on the precipice of missing the postseason for the first time in Brohm’s three-year tenure and his six seasons as a head coach. To avoid that fate, they must win their final four games — perhaps all without Elijah Sindelar, the opening-day starting quarterback who continues to recover from a broken left collarbone.
Brohm also said he wouldn’t know the status of injured All-American receiver Rondale Moore (hamstring) until later this week.
Nebraska, meanwhile, faces a similar scenario after losing three of four and still needing two wins to become bowl-eligible.
Adrian Martinez has missed the last two games with an injured knee though he went through pregame warmups last weekend. Noah Vedral, who took over for Martinez, left last weekend’s loss to Indiana in the second quarter with an undisclosed injury and returned after Luke McCaffrey , a true freshman, hurt his knee in the second half.
Vedral was 14 of 16 with 201 yards and rushed for two TDs while McCaffrey was 5 of 6 with 71 yards and one TD. McCaffrey also had 12 carries for 76 yards.
The Cornhuskers have lost twice without Martinez and it’s unclear what options coach Scott Frost might have this weekend.
“To some other degree, we had to put our team in the best position to win (last weekend) and that meant some quarterback runs,” Frost said. “We got unlucky that both of them got nicked up. Noah was a little hurt going in and that can happen. It’s a little bit unlucky. Eventually we’ll be good enough we won’t have to rely as much on that.”