Purdue might have been one of the more impressive losers in the country in Week 1.

But a loss is a loss. And the Boilermakers will look to bounce back from their 35-31 home defeat to Penn State when they host FCS Indiana State at 4 p.m. Saturday. Purdue has a lot to build on after the loss, most particularly a passing game that racked up 365 yards and a touchdown. But what else?

Let’s take a look at 5 building blocks for the Boilermakers before they take on the Sycamores.

Play-making options

Quarterback Aidan O’Connell looks to have found himself a primary receiving target in transfer Charlie Jones, who caught 12 passes — he was targeted 19 times — for 153 yards and a touchdown. Finding a No. 1 receiver was a big question heading in to the season, perhaps the biggest offensive question, following the early departure of David Bell to the NFL and the academic ineligibility of Milton Wright.

But Jones wasn’t the only receiver to get in on the act. Of the 8 who caught passes for the Boilermakers, perhaps the most notable is Mershawn Rice, as the oft-injured receiver had 3 catches for 59 yards. The 4th-year junior has appeared in only 5 games during his first 3 seasons in West Lafayette, being sidelined by a variety of lower-body injuries. Even before the PSU game, he had been nursing a hamstring, according to coach Jeff Brohm, but Rice has a ton of potential, some of which he showed on Thursday.

Broc Thompson, who had titanium rods placed in his shins during off-season surgeries, gutted out another performance, snagging 3 passes for 28 yards.

The Boilermakers would like to get transfer Tyrone Tracy more involved in the offense, after he had only 2 touches, receptions for 17 yards. Brohm had stated in camp that he would get Tracy involved in the running game, as well, but Tracy didn’t have a carry.

Creating a rush

Although much was made of Purdue’s inability — or unwillingness — to run the ball with the lead in the 4th quarter, the Boilermakers had moments of rushing success earlier in the game.

After King Doerue’s 4-yard run, the only rush among Purdue’s last 14 snaps, Purdue had 87 yards on 20 carries (excluding sack yardage), a respectable 4.4 yards per carry.

Unfortunately, however, the production dissipated late. At his press conference Monday, Brohm said he had to remain committed to the rush, something he’s strayed from during his tenure at Purdue, often with success but sometimes to Purdue’s detriment. At least, the Boilermakers need to maintain the threat of balance, that they can run the ball in necessary situations, like in the red zone, on short yardage and at the end of games.

Creating a rush (Part 2)

Purdue didn’t get a lot of pressure on Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford, especially for most of the first 3 quarters of the game Thursday. But maybe the Boilermakers found a pass-rush combination late.

Newcomer Scotty Humpich had a solid debut for the Boilermakers, finishing with a sack, 1.5 tackles for loss and 5 tackles. On the last play of the 3rd quarter, Humpich had a QB hurry, leading to an incompletion. He had a sack on the first play of the 4th, forcing PSU into a punt.

On both plays, the Boilermakers inserted Humpich as an edge rusher, but rather than take end Jack Sullivan out of the game, they moved him inside to a tackle position. The lineup appeared to be Purdue’s best pass-rushing combination and perhaps one it’ll utilize more against ISU and beyond.

Solid on the O-line

Purdue thought its offensive line had a chance to be one of the best in recent program history, because it has starters with experience and it’s deeper than is typical.

Through 1 game, it looks as though all is as expected. The O-line gave up 2 sacks, plus 1 hurry on the last play of the game when Purdue was looking for a desperation Hail Mary.

Yes, Purdue’s running game needs to be improved, but that’s likely a combination of O-line, running back and commitment.

Special on teams

Jones’ debut as a return man didn’t materialize to much, as he fair caught all but 1 punt and had only 43 yards on his 3 kickoffs.

But otherwise, Purdue’s special teams had a solid evening, especially in the kicking game. Senior Mitchell Fineran made his only field goal attempt, from 36 yards, in the 1st quarter, and punter Jack Ansell, who had been inconsistent much of his freshman year at Purdue in ’21, was great, hitting for an average of 43.4 yards on his 7 attempts.

If Jones, the Big Ten’s Return Man of the Year in ’21, can get going, then Purdue feels it has a big advantage on special teams.