Jeff Brohm has gone 13-13 his first two years on the job. That hardly sounds impressive for someone who is college football’s hot new rising star, but to put it into context, Purdue’s last coach, Darrell Hazell, went 9-39 over his tenure. An incredible instant turnaround was capped off by a 49-20 drubbing of Ohio State in primetime last season, and the Boilermakers have stepped up their recruiting game under Brohm as well, as he tries to build a program to last. The Big Ten West is incredibly tight this year, with six teams in the preseason top-45, but Purdue feels like a team that isn’t getting hardly enough buzz as a darkhorse.
The Boilermakers will have to replace QB David Blough, five of the top eight receivers, and their top two rushers from last year’s team, so some new faces will have to step up. The new QB will likely by 2017 starter Elijah Sindelar, who was injured last season. Sindelar was far from thrilling at the QB spot but he was a solid starter and will now have an All-American wideout to throw to in Rondale Moore (114 catches as a freshman!), who is back to lead the receiving corps along with exciting four-star freshman David Bell.
It should be mentioned that four-star redshirt freshman Jack Plummer will challenge Sindelar for the starting job at QB, but I’d call them more experienced Sindelar the favorite there. The RB race is a little more interesting, as senior Tario Fuller took a big step back last year and will have to stave off challenges from a bevy of underclassmen. The run game also loses the entire interior of last year’s line. If Sindelar can step up this offense will be fine, but the losses of DJ Knox and Markell Jones in the run game make me think the offense takes a step back overall.
Nine starters are back along with most of the backups from last year’s team. The linebacking corps is up there with the best in the conference with Markus Bailey (5.5 sacks, 3.5 TFL) and Cornel Jones (3.5 sacks, nine TFL) returning alongside new addition Ben Holt, who was Western Kentucky’s leading tackler last year.
The line adds a high four-star end in George Karlaftis not to mention that pretty much the entire pass rush from last year returns alongside him. This defense looks to be one of the most improved in the Big Ten and will likely help this team continue to float above water if the offense indeed regresses.
The schedule opens with four games projected within five points, so getting off to a hot start will be important with games @ Penn State, @ Iowa, and @ Wisconsin in conference play. The schedule doesn’t shape up very well for a run at the division title, but I do think they make it back to a bowl despite some key losses on the offense.
|at penn state
Average Projected Record: 6.2 wins, 5.8 losses (4.3 wins, 4.7 losses)