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Purdue's adjustments, including how it defended Martinez, pave the way for road victory
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Purdue's adjustments, including how it defended Martinez, pave the way for road victory

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Purdue vs. Nebraska, 10.30

Purdue's TJ Sheffield (8) dives for extra yardage as he is tackled by Nebraska's Nick Henrich in the fourth quarter Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Credit halftime adjustments for Purdue’s win Saturday as the Boilermaker defense made the changes needed to clamp down Nebraska’s offense and pave the way for a 28-23 win.

After halftime, Purdue gave up only a single first down on Nebraska’s first six possessions and intercepted Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez three times while the Boilermaker offense put up a pair of touchdowns to take a 28-17 lead early in the fourth quarter that the Huskers could not overcome.

“We definitely adjusted some things and focused more on the running back and less on the quarterback running the ball, and because of that, limited their plays,” said Purdue coach Jeff Brohm. “Then, of course, once we got the lead there, we knew they were going to throw the ball more than they wanted. That’s not their game.”

Those adjustments weren’t elaborate. In fact, defensive end George Karlaftis said, they were actually a return to basics.

“The biggest adjustment was just like we just started playing them straight, really just focused on the assignments we had, being in our gaps, not messing up assignments,” Karlaftis said. “I think that was the biggest issue. There in the first half, they were getting us a few times. So just by doing your assignments. That was the biggest adjustment.”

Purdue's biggest play of the first half was Jalen Graham’s interception return for a touchdown.

“I was in zone, they thought I was blitzing,” Graham said. “I kind of just dropped out. I was able to catch the pick and didn’t see anybody in front of me so I could run it. … The last time I carried it like that, I was in high school. I watched the video, I just seen the end of the video and there were people kind of close. I didn’t feel anybody. I was getting ready to celebrate with my teammates.”

Graham’s first-quarter pick-six knotted the game at 7 and lifted a struggling team.

“It was huge,” said wide receiver Jackson Anthrop, “That's just all I kept saying to myself because energy seemed a little down, things just weren't clicking. But once he got that, it was like, boom, there it is. OK, zero-zero ballgame. Now let's just go and play.”

Anthrop scored his first touchdown of the year, catching a 9-yard pass from quarterback Aidan O’Connell that put the Boilermakers up 28-17 with just under six minutes remaining to play.

Anthrop caught seven passes for 40 yards and ran for another 25 on five carries. O’Connell spread the ball to 10 different receivers, completing 34 of 45 passes. The Boilermakers ran the ball 41 times and picked up 116 yards.

Controlling the clock, especially in the first half, and committing to the run were among the keys to the win, Brohm said.

“In combination with making those adjustments, our offense playing well there at the beginning of the second half, getting the lead, now allowed us to do what we do well, rush the passer and get interceptions,” Brohm said.

Now 5-3 and one win away from bowl eligibility, Purdue rebounded from last week’s disappointing 30-13 loss to Wisconsin with one of its best efforts of the season.

"This might be the most proud I’ve been of our team," Brohm said. “I thought they showed great grit and played to the end. … It’s a huge win to come into this environment against this crowd and pull out a victory, and it really feels good right now.”

 

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Entertainment reporter/columnist

L. Kent Wolgamott, the recipient of the 2018 Mayor’s Arts Award, has written about arts and entertainment for Lincoln newspapers since 1985, reviewing thousands of movies and concerts and hundreds of art exhibitions.

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