Week 1 scouting report: Purdue

After what seemed like a never-ending offseason, football is back.



Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore (4) runs with the ball after the catch against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Sept. 7, 2019 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind. (John Mersits/CSM/Zuma Press/TNS)

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

Big Ten football has returned and, somewhat surprisingly, so has Purdue’s Rondale Moore.

The Boilermakers’ star wide receiver will be one of the biggest threats for Purdue this season and Iowa will have to stop or at least contain the redshirt sophomore to secure a Week 1 victory

Moore, who originally opted out of the 2020 season because of “unprecedented circumstances” surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and was going to prepare for next year’s NFL draft instead, opted back into the 2020 season to “prove what I think I’m worth,” he told ESPN.

Moore only appeared in four games last season because of a knee injury. In those four contests, the 5-foot-9, 180-pounder reeled in nearly 30 receptions and a pair of touchdowns.

In 2018, his only full season thus far in his Purdue career, Moore caught 114 passes for 1,258 and 12 touchdowns in 13 games. He also returned kicks for Purdue in 2018 and 19 and has shown an ability to be an explosive special teams weapon, too.

Purdue’s offense is one of the most unique in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers air raid attack causes fits for teams around the conference, including the Hawkeyes. Last season, Purdue tallied 327 passing yards against Iowa. The season before, in a 38-36 Purdue victory, it was 333.

Moore suffered his injury in last season’s conference-opener against Minnesota and didn’t play against the Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium last year, when Iowa narrowly defeated the Boilermakers 26-20. Another standout Purdue receiver, David Bell, did torch the Hawkeye secondary for 197 receiving yards and a score. This season, Moore and Bell form maybe the most dynamic receiver duo in the conference.

Sophomore quarterback Jake Plummer, who orchestrated last season as a redshirt freshman signal-caller, completed 30 of a whopping 50 pass attempts and threw for two touchdowns in 2019’s game.

With a younger, less experienced secondary than last year after Michael Ojemudia graduated and moved up to the NFL ranks—currently seeing significant playing time with the Denver Broncos— and Geno Stone entered the draft after his junior season —now with the Baltimore Ravens—the Hawkeyes will have their work cut out for them to stop an impressive Purdue passing attack.

According to Iowa’s depth chart, Matt Hankins, who started at right cornerback last year, will move over to Ojemudia’s spot on the left side and Riley Moss is slated to take over Hankins’ spot on the right. Dane Belton will replace Stone at strong safety.

Belton played in eight games last season as a freshman and made four starts. Against Purdue, the Tampa, Florida, native had a season-high six tackles and three solo stops.

Moss had one of his finest games of 2019 versus the Boilermakers. He recorded two unassisted tackles, one tackle for loss, a pass breakup, and his first interception of the season.

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Iowa allowed just 33 net rushing yards to Purdue last year, but A.J Epenesa, Cedrick Lattimore, Brady Reiff, and Kristian Welch, all members of the front seven, have moved on to the NFL and Dijmon Colbert opted out of this season because of COVID-19 concerns.

As many of Iowa’s offensive weapons are back this year and hope to pick up right where they left off after putting up 49 points in the Holiday Bowl last year, if the new Iowa defensive starters, throughout all three levels, can contain Moore and Purdue’s offense, the Hawkeyes will get a win in Spencer Petras’ first career start.

It could be a shoot out to open Iowa’s 2020 season.