Brohm, Boilermakers ready to take next step toward national relevancy
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Jeff Brohm likes what he sees at Purdue.
The offense can rely on an experienced quarterback and a game-breaking receiver. The defense can build around a stout defensive line and some playmaking linebackers. There’s even a manageable schedule.
With that combination, it’s no wonder Brohm decided to stay.
“I’m sure people appreciate the fact that we’re sticking true to our commitment and we’re honoring that,” Brohm said. “I think it’s important that coaches, players, instructors have confidence that you do what you say you’re going to do.”
When Brohm was hired in December 2016, he promised to bring excitement back to a program built around a high-flying, high-scoring attack. And he delivered.
In his first two seasons, the Boilermakers reached consecutive bowl games for the first time in six years and won 13 games — only two fewer than the program had in the previous five seasons combined. So when his alma mater, Louisville, came calling last season, Brohm looked at the athletes, coaches and administrators he made promises to and decided the pay raise, the foundation he’d built and a chance to put the Boilermakers back in the national conversation were worth seeing it through.
Those inside the program couldn’t be happier with the decision and the possibilities this season presents.
“Bigger bowl games, competing for a national championship, I think that’s the next step for us,” said receiver Rondale Moore, who is being tabbed as a Heisman Trophy candidate after his breakout freshman season.
MORE FROM MOORE
Brohm is looking for new ways to deploy Moore, last year’s Big Ten freshman of the year, and it could make things even more challenging for defenders who struggled to chase down the smallish receiver with big playmaking ability.
Moore has a different approach, too. He is not taking every snap at practice and has a better sense of what to expect in his second season. He arrived at summer workouts at 185 pounds, roughly 13 pounds heavier than a year ago. He believes the additional weight will help his strength without sacrificing any speed.
“I think the heavier I get, if I can keep my speed, it will be beneficial to me as a player and everything that comes with playing football,” he said.
For the first time in three years, Elijah Sindelar isn’t battling his close friend, David Blough, for the starting quarterback job. It’s his to lose and Sindelar intends to take full advantage of the opportunity. While he wants to complete 70% of his throws, Sindelar acknowledges he might take more chances downfield this fall without the worry of being pulled.
“When you have a guy over your shoulder or you’re playing the first or second quarter, then you might not take as many risks,” Sindelar said. “You take more risks when you’re the guy, I think you try to make more big plays.”
BIG AND YOUNG
The Boilermakers’ fate may rest with the offensive and defensive lines.
Lorenzo Neal, a 315-pound defensive tackle, has the size to plug running lanes while 270-pound defensive end Giovanni Reviere puts pressure on quarterbacks and linebacker Markus Bailey piles up tackles.
On the offensive line, Purdue must replace three starters and is likely to rely on youngsters in crucial roles.
“That’s been an issue we’ve been concerned about, but we’re making some strides,” Brohm said. “There will probably be more guys playing at this point than we normally do because we don’t know what will happen when the bright lights go on.”
ABOUT THAT SCHEDULE
Playing in the Big Ten West has its advantages. The Boilermakers won’t be dealing with Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State. Purdue opens the season at Nevada on Aug. 30 before hosting Vanderbilt, TCU and Minnesota. There are October trips to Penn State and Iowa followed by a late-season slate that includes home games against Nebraska on Nov. 2 and Indiana on Nov. 30 along with trips to Northwestern on Nov. 9 and Wisconsin on Nov. 23.