Purdue defender says game plan against NU offense and Adrian Martinez was mostly 'dead-on'

Nebraska's Dedrick Mills is tackled by Purdue's Derrick Barnes, who said Purdue defenders followed their coaches instructions in keeping an eye on Adrian Martinez.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — After shredding Nebraska’s pass defense for 304 yards Saturday, Purdue went with some dipsy-do.

Boilermakers coach Jeff Brohm wasn’t sure another pass would work. He figured — correctly — that Nebraska’s defense would be bold in its approach, willing to take a risk to save a touchdown.

He called a reverse — to a freshman, with another freshman selling a fake into the middle of the line that had the Huskers biting — and the play helped earn the Boilermakers a 31-27 win. Running back King Doerue sold his fake so well that he was tackled by a defender. David Bell took the toss from Aidan O’Connell and went 9 yards with a two-lineman escort into the end zone for the winning points with 1:08 remaining.

“I knew they’d probably be aggressive on the call, so throwing a pass would be a little risky,” Brohm said. “This is a play we’ve worked on in that plus 10-yard area quite a bit. You’d like to get all-out pressure and blitz and hope that they bite down on the fake, then toss it to the guy on the reverse.

“It worked exactly the way we hoped. There’s some (bad) things that could happen, but we wanted to take the risk.”

Nebraska took a timeout prior to the play to set its defense. Purdue then lined up and took a timeout after seeing how the Blackshirts lined up.

Brohm said the reverse was called during the first timeout. The Huskers didn’t change their look after the second timeout, so Purdue didn’t change the play.

Before that, two Purdue quarterbacks carved up NU’s secondary to put the Boilermakers in position to win. It was the second time in as many weeks that the Huskers allowed more than 300 passing yards. Indiana threw for 351 yards in its 38-31 victory last weekend in Lincoln.

Nebraska now has given up more than 300 yards either passing or rushing in four of its past five games. Ohio State posted 368 rushing yards in a 48-7 rout and Minnesota went for 322 on the ground two weeks later.

Though the Boilermakers started slowly, they picked up steam in the second quarter. Nebraska took a 10-0 lead as Purdue had one play that went for double-digit yardage — a 15-yard pass from Jack Plummer to Brycen Hopkins.

The chunk plays began to pile up for Purdue in the second quarter, though. In addition to passes of 26, 17 and 16 yards, Plummer escaped for runs of 18 and 19 yards to help his team grab a 14-10 halftime lead.

“You have to try to get a few chunk plays to score points,” Brohm said. “I know we had some long drives, but a couple of key plays got us going there.”

Knowing the Huskers have a strong trio on the defensive line, Brohm said the Boilermakers needed to exploit weaker parts of the defense.

“I think when you look at Nebraska, they have three really big linemen that can clog up the run a little bit,” Brohm said. “You have to be able to mix a few runs in, but I don’t think maybe they have the speed rushers that can get to the passer quite as fast.”

Purdue’s defense, meanwhile, focused on keeping an eye on Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez. While Martinez completed 22 passes for 247 yards, the Boilermakers usually kept him in check when he tried to run.

Martinez gained 58 of Nebraska’s 128 rushing yards on 12 carries. That’s the part of the game where Purdue most wanted to limit the dual-threat quarterback.

“You have to make sure your eyes are on the quarterback, probably make the quarterback throw more than he wants and take away his running lanes,” Brohm said.

“When we kept him in the pocket and didn’t allow him to run outside, we had a little more success. I think that’s what you have to do with a dual-threat guy is just kind of make him do some things he’s not as good at and force him to do that.

“Because when you let him play his game, he can be lethal.”

Said defensive end Derrick Barnes: “We’re really taught to just keep him inside out. We always have a guy on him. ... They actually didn’t run as many read-option and power runs. Other than that, everything was dead-on.”

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