2017 Penn State Football Preview: Purdue Boilermakers

By Kevin Fay on August 17, 2017 at 9:15 am
Purdue head coach Jeff Brown
Patrick Gorski, USA Today
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Gonna be honest here folks, after missing out on their guy and number one choice Pat Narduzzi, I am not sure how Purdue will recover and move on this season. But, as they say, the show must go on. They moved on to Jeff Brohm who some say “is a better fit” to their basketball on grass roots. Whatever. I don’t buy it.

Purdue AT A GLANCE

Head Coach Jeff Brohm (First year at Purdue, 30-10 at Western Kentucky)
2016 Record 3-9 (1-8 Big Ten West)
2016 Postseason Uhhh, no. Last bowl appearance: 58-14 loss to Oklahoma State in the 2013 Heart of Dallas Bowl
Biggest Losses WR DeAngelo Yancey, WR Cameron Posey, WR Domonique Young, WR Bilal Marshall, DT  Jake Replogle, DE Evan Panfil
Biggest Returnees QB David Blough, TEs Cole Herdman and Brycen Hopkins, OC Kirk Barron, Former NBA Great Glenn Robinson's large adult son DE Gelen Robinson, LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, LB Marcus Bailey
Summary Jeff Brohm brings a winning pedigree and a strong offensive background from Western Kentucky. Can he translate that in to a winning program in the Big Ten? It will be a tall task in 2017.
Matchup with PSU N/A

OFFENSE

Jeff Brohm has a history of producing strong quarterback play and did an excellent job turning USF transfer Mike White in to a solid quarterback in 2016. In 2014 White threw for 1,639 yards and 8 touchdowns to 7 interceptions. After transferring to Western Kentucky, White threw for 4,363(!!!) yards and 37 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions. That is an incredible turnaround.

Now imagine Brohm having much more to work with in West Lafayette. David Blough finished the 2016 season third in passing yards in the Big Ten with 3,352 and tossing 25 touchdowns with 21 interceptions. If we scale that at the same rate as Mike White, Blough is slated to throw for 8,922 yards, 116 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions. Mark it down.

If Blough is going to reach those lofty numbers however, he will have to do so losing three wide receivers to the NFL and one to graduation. Notre Dame transfer Corey Holmes is expected to shoulder a lot of that load, as well as returning tight ends Cole Herdman and Brycen Hopkins.

Running back and offensive line play will also be a big question mark. The Boilermakers return Markell Jones, but Purdue’s rushing attack wasn’t great with him leading the way last year. On the offensive line, outside of center Kirk Barron, there isn’t a lot to work with. They do bring in grad transfer and three-year Rhode Island starter David Steinmetz. After giving up 11 sacks in the spring game, there is clearly some work to be done. Maybe 9,000 yards isn’t quite attainable this year.

DEFENSE

Purdue returns a defense that was both injury plagued and inexperienced in 2016. They should be improved, but considering they were at near rock bottom in 2016, 99th in S&P+ giving up 38.3 points per game, better is somewhat relative.

In case you weren't paying attention in the table above, I would be remiss if I did not mention that former NBA Star Glenn Robinson’s son Gelen Robinson is a bright spot on the defensive line. Purdue has depth at both the end and tackle spots, and they all played well in the spring game, recording the 11 sacks noted e.

At linebacker, they return one of the better trios in the West. Markus Bailey had 97 tackles last season. He is joined by Danny Ezechukwu and Ja’Whaun Bentley. Those three form a solid group in the middle of the defense.

Purdue’s secondary was susceptible to giving up the big play last year, a big contributor to those 38 points allowed per game. Corners Da’Wan Hunte and Tim Cason return along with safety Navon Mosley. Junior college transfer safety T.J. Jallow and graduate transfer Josh Okonye from Wake Forest add some needed depth and experience.

The unit as a whole won’t win Purdue any games, but they will likely be good enough to keep them in one or two and maybe allow the offense to steal one.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Purdue returns all of its specialists to a unit that finished 83rd overall in S&P+ last year.

2017 OUTLOOK

If nothing else, 2017 will be interesting to watch as Jeff Brohm looks to continue his success on the offensive side of the ball after moving to the Big Ten. He will likely have to do it with a patchwork offensive line and running back by committee, so immediate success seems unlikely. If he can leverage his sophisticated passing attack that masks weaknesses, they may be able to sneak up on a middle of the road team in the Big Ten and steal one.

A bowl game is unlikely with a tough early season schedule that includes games against Louisville and Missouri, but four wins including three in conference isn’t too big of a stretch. If he can pull that off in year one, Boilermaker fan(s) might just consider that a win in year one of the Brohm era.

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