2017 PURDUE BOILERMAKERS FOOTBALL PREVIEW
HEAD COACH: Jeff Brohm (1st season)
2016 RECORD: 3 – 9, 1 – 8 Big Ten
ROSS –ADE STADIUM: (57,236)
RETURNING STARTERS OFFENSE: 5
RETURNING STARTERS DEFENSE: 6
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Brian Brohm/Tony Levine
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Nick Holt/Anthony Poindexter
LAST BOWL GAME: 2012, Heart of Texas
TOP NEWCOMER: SS TJ Jallow. Jallow is a transfer from East Mississippi Community College. He will bring athleticism and flash to Purdue’s secondary. Made several big plays in the spring practice and is a physical player.
W Eastern Kentucky 45 – 24
L Cincinnati 38 – 20
W Nevada 24 – 14
L Maryland 50 – 7
W Illinois 34 – 31 OT
L Iowa 49 – 35
L Nebraska 27 – 14
L Penn State 62–24
L Minnesota 44 – 31
L Northwestern 45 – 17
L Wisconsin 49 – 20
L Indiana 26 – 24
September 2 Louisville at Indianapolis
September 8 Ohio
September 16 at Missouri
September 23 Michigan
October 7 Minnesota
October 14 at Wisconsin
October 21 at Rutgers
October 28 Nebraska
November 4 Illinois
November 11 at Northwestern
November 18 at Iowa
November 25 Indiana
TURNOVER MARGIN: -17
PASSING: David Blough, 295 – 517 –3,352 – 25TD –21INT
RUSHING: Markell Jones, 153 – 616 – 4TD
RECEIVING: Cole Herdman, 35 – 344 – 3TD
TACKLES: Markus Bailey, 97
SACKS: Gelen Robinson, 5.0
INTERCEPTIONS: Markus Bailey, 4
Purdue returns the conference’s leading passer in David Blough (3,352, 25TD). His biggest challenge will be to cut down on interceptions and learn a new system with new head coach Jeff Brohm. Brohm is promising a wide – open passing attack and scoring at a high level. Blough may not have enough weapons surrounding him to accomplish that feat.
The Boilermakers have a bevy of running backs to choose from including Markell Jones, DJ Knox, Richie Worship, Brian Lankford – Johnson and Tario Fuller. This is by far the deepest position on the team. Jones fought through a shoulder injury last season and his production dipped from his freshman campaign.
Purdue loses its top four pass receivers from 2016. They will count on Gregory Phillips, Anthony Mahoungou, Terrence Landers, Jackson Anthrop and Notre Dame graduate transfer Corey Holmes. Holmes caught just 11 passes for the Fighting Irish in 2016. The Boilermakers will rely on tight ends Cole Herdman and Brycen Hopkins even more after the combined for 45 receptions and 527 yards.
The offensive line gave up 11 sacks in the spring game and the coaching staff will continue to search for more dependable options to go along with the two returning starters from 2016 in Center Kirk Barron and RT Matt McCann.
Purdue should be much improved on this side of the football after giving up over 38 points per game in 2016. They return six starters including leading tackler Marcus Bailey (97 tackles) at linebacker. Bailey will be joined by Danny Ezechukwu and Ja’Whaun Bentley, who combined for 102 tackles last season. New defensive coordinator Nick Holt will bring a hybrid 4 – 3 system that will embrace more blitzing and will feed off its play at linebacker.
The Boilermakers are very deep at defensive end led by Austin Larkin, Antoine Miles, Kai Higgins and Rob Simmons. Higgins and Simmons are newcomers to the Purdue defense and played well in the spring. At defensive tackle Purdue will count on Gelen Robinson, Eddy Wilson and Lorenzo Neal. Robinson produced 61 tackles in 2016, and Wilson added 36 tackles, six for loss.
The new staff had to address a poor secondary by adding a pair of safeties in junior-college transfer TJ Jallow and Wake Forest graduate transfer Josh Okonye. In 2016, Purdue’s secondary allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 59% of their passes for 22 touchdowns. Da’Wan Hunte and Navon Mosley are returning starters at corner and safety respectively. Tim Cason will take over at the other corner spot and CJ Parker will start at safety.
Kicker JD Dellinger and junior punter Joe Schopper are two of the best in the Big Ten. Dellinger made eight of his final nine field-goal attempts after missing his first five as a freshman. Schopper averaged 40.7 yards per kick, with 24 downed inside the 20–yard line. Malik Kimbrough and Lankford – Johnson will likely return kicks.
OUTLOOK FOR 2017:
Darrell Hazell went 9 – 33 in three – plus seasons at Purdue. Everyone in West Lafayette new was time for a change. Coach Brohm was hired in December from Western Kentucky to try to turn this program around. He will have to rely on young players, a below average offensive line and inexperienced receivers. Purdue will feature an exciting offense and an improved defense, but winning more than four games will be a challenge for Coach Brohm. The early portion of the schedule will be very difficult with matchups against Louisville, Ohio, Missouri and Michigan. That is a tough way to start a new campaign.
FORECAST: 3 – 9, 2 – 7 Big Ten