Jeff Brohm paid immediate dividends for Purdue in his first year, achieving just the second winning season in a decade in West Lafayette. His second year was a rollercoaster featuring extremely tight losses, wild finishes, and a blowout of Ohio State. It ended in utter flames as the Boilermakers were boat-raced by Auburn in the Music City Bowl 63-14. So where do the train tracks lead for the 2019 Purdue squad?
|Head Coach||Jeff Brohm, Third season with Purdue (13-13), 43-23 overall|
|2018 Record||6-7, 5-4 (T-2nd Big Ten West)|
|2018 Postseason||Music City Bowl (63-14 loss vs. Auburn)|
|Biggest Losses||QB David Blough, RB D.J. Knox, RB Markell Jones, WR Isaac Zico, WR Terry Wright, C Kirk Barron, LT Eric Swingler, LG Shane Evans, RG Dennis Edwards, S Jacob Thieneman, CB Antonio Blackmon, P Joe Schopper, K Spencer Evans|
|Biggest Returnees||WR Rondale Moore, QB Elijah Sindelar, TE Brycen Hopkins, RB Tario Fuller, RT Matt McCann, LB Markus Bailey, S Navon Mosley, LB Derrick Barnes, LB Cornel Jones, CB Kenneth Major, DT Anthony Watts, DE Kai Higgins, DE Giovanni Reviere, DT Lorenzo Neal|
|Summary||Purdue was all over the place in 2018, lighting up Ohio State at home, blown out by Minnesota on the road, and everything in between.|
|Matchup with PSU||The Boilermakers visit Happy Valley for the first time in six years for Penn State's Homecoming.|
Rondale Moore burst onto the college football scene in 2018, pumping the Boilermaker pistons to the tune of 114 receptions for 1,258 yards and 12 TDs. He also chipped in over 200 yards and two scores in the running game. But other than Moore and mammoth tight end Brycen Hopkins, Brohm has a lot of green faces on the offensive side of the ball. As you can see in the chart above, Purdue graduated its top two running backs, its second and third wideouts, four starters on the offensive line, and quarterback David Blough (305/462, 3,705 yards, 25 TD, 10 INT).
What remains is quarterback Elijah Sindelar, who has flashed in his own right (career: 227/405, 2,547 yards, 20 TD, 13 INT), but will need to be more consistent and absorb some of the lack of experience on the rest of the offense. The key to his success will be figuring out the offensive line and any other skill player that can step up when Moore is triple covered.
That whole bit about having no clue who's going to emerge on the offense? Well the Boilermaker defense is the exact opposite. Of its top-14 tacklers in 2018, 12 return. That includes the entire defensive line and all three starting linebackers. The rub here is the unit was bad a year ago, ranking 88th nationally in S&P+, and allowing 30 or more points in six games. They'll certainly miss Antonio Blackmon, who led the team in pass breakups, and Jacob Thieneman who was second on the team in sacks and fourth in tackles for loss as a box safety. However, they really can only get better. Look for LB Cornel Jones, DE Giovanni Reviere, and DT Lorenzo Neal to set the tone for the defense.
Chalk up another huge question mark for Brohm here. He must replace his kicker and punter. He also has to seriously consider Moore's usage as a returner. If the sophomore phenom gets injured on special teams, there's next to nothing in this offense to scare opposing defenses. Losing both specialists from a unit that was already middle-of-the-pack is not a great thing with already so many questions at key positions.
I would love the warm-and-fuzzies to continue in West Lafayette, but it's going to be a tough year for Purdue. The non-conference is a trip to Nevada and home games against Vanderbilt and TCU. They also have to travel to Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Northwestern. So just to get bowl eligible they're going to have to win every game they're favored.