For the first time since Drew Brees was under center for the Boilermakers in the early 2000’s, there seems to be a palpable level of excitement from the students about the upcoming football season.
After all, the past 10-plus years, Purdue football has been commonly referred to as “Purdon’t” or “Pur-WHO?” Then came in Jeff Brohm, the former Western Kentucky head coach and highly-regarded offensive mastermind.
Brohm proceeded to lead the Boilermakers to places the program hasn’t sniffed since 2011 by nearly upending reigning Heisman Trophy-winner, Lamar Jackson, and the No. 16 Louisville Cardinals in the season opener. Then by staying competitive for the entirety of its contest with the then-ranked No. 7 ranked Michigan Wolverines. Then capped off the season with a thrilling victory in the Foster Farms Bowl against Arizona.
With Purdue performing at the level they did last year, they will not be sneaking up on anyone during this season. According to ESPN’s newly released FPI (Football Power Index) Strength of Schedule, the Boilers boast the 7th toughest schedule in the country. While this may not sound sanguine, I believe there are three reasons Purdue will take another step forward in 2018:
Top two QB’s return with plenty of experience
Senior quarterback David Blough and redshirt junior Elijah Sindelar both return after posting a combined completion percentage of 60.9 percent and throwing for 3,202 passing yards, 27 passing touchdowns and only 11 interceptions.
Sindelar is known for his arm strength and ability to stretch defenses vertically, while Blough is the more mobile, accurate passer that picks apart defenses underneath.
Their veteran leadership and ability to complement each other effectively will dictate how well the Boilermakers will fare this year.
The majority of tough games are at home
With the 7th toughest schedule in the country, it isn’t easy to find many positives with their schedule. However, I believe Purdue’s schedule is favorable enough to pull off a few upsets.
To start, Brohm’s team doesn’t even play a road game through the first four weeks of the season, and all four games are winnable.
The following two road contests following that home-stretch are against Nebraska and Illinois, the former having just hired a new coach and the latter being a far-less talented team. If they can come out of their first six games with a 4-2 record or better, they will put themselves in great position to make bowl season again.
The most underrated coaching staff in the country
Before Brohm and staff arrived here, the Boilermakers only won a total of nine football games from the years 2013-2016.
The first year Brohm took over as head coach, he almost matched the win total of the previous four years. More impressively, he did it with all of the previous head coach’s players.
Per Purdue football’s Twitter page, since 2014, teams coached by Jeff Brohm have scored the second most touchdowns in the country only trailing Urban Meyer’s NFL pipeline at Ohio State.
Brohm may not have the talent that some programs do, but the numbers clearly illustrate that he is in the elite ranks of college football coaches today.
Whether you like it or not, Purdue football is back, and if you are smart, they should be your dark-horse Big Ten Conference contender.