Former Louisville quarterback Jeff Brohm was a hot name in coaching over the last few years before he decided to take a surprising jump to Purdue. Brohm’s offense put up video game numbers at Western Kentucky and he was on the radar for a handful of schools this off-season. Purdue had plenty of success back in the 90’s under Joe Tiller and his pass-happy offense, so maybe Brohm saw that possibility.
Purdue has been flat out bad for about a decade due, in part, to the inability to recruit. Purdue went from having guys like Drew Brees and Mike Alstott to struggling to have guy even get a sniff from the NFL. You can blame some of that on the Big Ten in general, but I think the issue is that Purdue hasn’t been able to find those underrated kids that turn into key players. Brohm’s system finds those types of kids and fits them into what he does. He showed that over the last few years and his early recruiting at Purdue shows he’s continuing that trend.
David Blough is arguably the best player on Purdue’s team and he just happens to play the most important position. Blough led the Big Ten in passing yards per game as well as attempts per game. Blough is a “gunslinger” type of player that gets the ball out of his hand as quickly as he makes the decision to throw it. That, of course, leads to bad throws and poor decisions and that’s why he led the country in interceptions.
Blough is a kid who can extend plays with his legs and he really does a good job of throwing on the run. If he can find some consistency, Purdue could have some success on offense. Louisville has an experienced secondary, but Brohm’s offense has played well even when overmatched in the past. Brohm has had really impressive success with his quarterbacks.
As of now, Blough hasn’t been cleared to play next week because of a shoulder injury but I would be surprised if he can’t go. Conventional thinking would have Brohm benching him so that he doesn’t make the injury worse but he’s not one to take it easy or back down from a challenge. Western went toe-to-toe with SEC teams the last two seasons and they took on the personality of their coach and played like they belonged. Purdue will turn to Elijah Sindelar if Blough can’t go. I loved him as a recruit out of Caldwell County here in Kentucky, but he hasn’t been able to see the field much so far.
The running game for Purdue was fairly decent last season with Markell Jones leading the team with 616 yards. The issue was that they didn’t run the ball enough. Jones (and the offensive line) weren’t overly impressive, but they definitely good enough that Purdue should have tried to be more balanced in their play calling. The depth chart for Purdue list five (5!) co-starters at running back so we will have to wait to see how they utilize them all. I personally think that their best option might be former UofL target Brian Lankford-Johnson who averaged about 7 yards per carry last year.
While Brohm inherits a roster with experience in the backfield, he takes over a receiver core that lost pretty much everyone from last season. Brohm loves to throw the ball down the field but I think that his use of tight ends hasn’t been noticed much. Cole Herdman is the leading returning receiver for the Boilermakers and he has the size and receiving ability to be a focal point for the offense. Peter Sirmon’s defense gave a lot of cushion at MSU last year so if that holds true this year I could see Herdman being a popular target.
The receivers for Purdue will be almost completely new from last year. Gregory Phillips is a guy that impressed me in the limited snaps I saw him play last year. He’s got the type of quickness and speed that seems to work well in Brohm’s scheme. Corey Holmes is a guy that I’m interested in seeing out there. Holmes is a Notre Dame transfer that never got much playing time there. Notre Dame had a lot of talent at that spot so Holmes could have just been passed over. Jared Sparks is a real wildcard at receiver to me. He’s listed as a 3rd stringer there and at quarterback. I’d be shocked if Brohm didn’t find a way to involve him in a trick play as well as a true package at quarterback.
The Boilermakers are looking to replace three seniors from an offensive line that was on the bad side of “solid”. Purdue allowed too many sacks last year but weren’t nearly as bad when it comes to overall negative plays. Most of that can be attributed to their play calling. Also, David Blough stretched plays at times and took a few sacks that were more on him than the line. WKU had really strong offensive line play for Brohm even with substantial injury issues. I would expect his system to be able to help the line as well as a couple of grad transfers who are taking over starting spots.
Jeff Brohm’s Hilltopper teams took on his aggressive and confident mentality over the last few years. I don’t think that he’s inheriting the athletes that he had at Western, but I would be surprised to see him bow down in a game where he doesn’t have the athletes to match up. I would expect a good amount of trick plays and other misdirection plays to even the playing field, but I don’t think that Brohm will throw in the towel if his team gets down.