Purdue ready to put on home-opening light show against Ohio
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Jeff Brohm produced a blockbuster hit in his Purdue coaching debut.
He expects the encore to be even bigger.
The new Boilermakers coach will make his first home appearance in a rare Friday night contest against Ohio. The hope is that another impressive performance underneath Ross-Ade Stadium’s bright, new lights, will keep the Boilermakers’ box office hopping.
So Brohm is leaving nothing to chance.
”Any time you’re playing in a setting that you haven’t seen, you’ve got to practice in it,” he said before a night time practice this week. ”We have to make sure we understand the lights – are there any glares, where’s the problems if there are any and have a good feel and be comfortable that we can have good vision, see the football on both sides of it and feel good about it. Other than that, I don’t think it’s a huge deal.”
Actually, it’s a pretty big deal.
Purdue (0-1) spent roughly $5.6 million to put in the lighting system that was completed two weeks ago. School officials are hoping it gives the Boilermakers more flexibility in scheduling, allowing them to become a semi-regular under the Big Ten’s new Friday night lights policy and perhaps even generate more national television interest.
If nothing else, playing at different times could halt what has been a steady decline in attendance.
Last week’s solid start against No. 16 Louisville was encouraging. But fans want to see if the Boilermakers can play lights out this time against perennial Mid-American Conference contender Ohio (1-0), which has made seven bowl appearances in eight years.
Brohm made a few adjustments to make sure his team stayed fresh on a short week.
Longtime Bobcats coach Frank Solich, meanwhile, pretty much stuck to his usual game plan.
”We paid a little bit of attention to that (short week) prior to this week so it’s not like we are starting fresh in analyzing them,” Solich said. ”We are going to continue doing the same things that we have been doing. We are going to practice against their plays and defenses, but in saying that you are never sure what you are going to get.”
Especially if pulls out all the stops for his home premiere.
”We don’t want to adjust too much on both sides of the ball in a short week, unless it’s definitely going to help us win the football game,” Brohm said. ”We’ve got to make sure our guys are fresh and ready to go.”
Here are some other things to watch Friday:
Purdue defensive tackle Lorenzo Neal will miss the first half, serving his punishment for a targeting call last weekend. While Neal played well against the Cardinals, the Boilermakers remained relatively sturdy without him. He was ejected after hitting Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson in the chest and shoving him to the ground on a pass rush but a replay review appeared to show the top of Neal’s helmet grazing Jackson near the throat.
Both teams used two quarterbacks last week, and both coaches intend to do the same this week. Ohio’s Nathan Rourke was chosen the Mid-American Conference East Division offensive player of the week after rushing six times for 50 yards and three touchdowns. He also was 6 of 10 for 72 yards through the air against Hampton. Both Purdue quarterbacks, Elijah Sindelar and David Blough, threw two TD passes against Louisville. Sindelar, last week’s starter, only threw one interception. Blough had two. Brohm isn’t saying who will start.
When Purdue running back Markell Jones injured his knee last week, it forced Purdue to change its strategy. Jones is expected to miss at least a couple of weeks with the injury but that doesn’t mean the Boilermakers will be short-handed. Brohm plans to continue with a rotation that includes Tario Fuller, D.J. Knox, Richie Worship and Brian Lankford-Johnson.
Solich has turned the Bobcats’ program around with good, old-fashioned power football. Don’t expect to see anything different this weekend. Ohio returns its top two rushers from last season, Dorian Brown and A.J. Ouellette. And last week, Ohio ran for 248 yards with four players combining to score seven rushing TDs – the most by the Bobcats in one game since 2002.
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