Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, April 9, 2018
What will Purdue do for an encore after debuting with a 7-6 record (4-5 Big Ten) during Jeff Brohm's maiden voyage last season? Few could have envisioned Brohm taking the program to its first bowl since the 2012 season–and then winning it–after Purdue won nine games overall and three Big Ten tilts in the previous four seasons.
Now, the Boilermaker boss looks to keep the mojo going in Year Two. Brohm put the finishing touches on spring ball last Saturday.
I caught up with him on Monday to get his thoughts on a variety of subjects.
Q: If I had told you this time last year that you would be coming off a winning record and a bowl win, what would you have told me?
A: I would have told you that it would be a hard challenge to get to that point. I didn't think it was impossible. But I would have told you it would be a hard challenge.
Q: What are some positive/negative things from spring ball?
A: A positive is defensively, we have a chance to be personnel-wise as good as we were last year in the secondary. The concern for us is the front seven may not be as good. So those guys in the secondary may have to cover longer. So, I don't know if it will show if they are any better. I thought last year we had some really good players on the front seven. This year, I think we have some bodies that can be as good, but a lot of them are inexperienced. So, I don't know if it will happen right off the bat.
On offense, we feel more confident that we have multiple guys who can play quarterback, and it's the same at running back. I thought we could have gotten more production from our tight ends last year. I would like to see more production from that spot this year. I think we can play at a higher level at that position. At receiver, we have more bodies, which is good, but I don't think we have anyone who is above average. Terry Wright showed some speed but is very inconsistent, drops balls and fumbles. We have a true freshman (Rondale Moore) coming in who has some playmaking ability, but I don't know if he can the first year. I don't see anyone being special even though we have more people to rotate in.
Q: How will the QB spot shake out?
A: We will have a competition in fall camp. Without question, Elijah (Sindelar) finished well. We won the last three games and he played at a high level. That speaks for itself. David (Blough) played better in the middle of the year before he got injured. So I can't say one way or the other who will win it. Jack Plummer has looked good and we think he has a bright future. Nick Sipe has gotten better. I think those two guys will compete for the starting spot. We will see how it plays out. We will let them compete in fall camp and go from there. I am not overly concerned about it. I'm not going into it thinking I am gonna play two (quarterback), but I'm not gonna rule it out. We will see how close they are in camp.
Q: How did you develop an affinity for trick plays?
A: I have played for a lot of good coaches, from Howard Schnellenberger to the West Coast offense … and was a big fan of (Steve) Spurrier in his hey-day with Florida. We started running (trick plays) more when I became head coach. We tried to add to the mix a bit. Every year you are trying to think of new ones because you don't want to go stale. A lot of times they won't work, but it's good that you practice them. We probably went overboard in the spring game, but we had a lot of guys out and a lot of the game wasn't live tackling so I thought we needed to liven it up. We like to make the game fun and do something others don't do.
Q: For the first time, recruits can take official visits before their senior season starts, beginning April 1 through June. What are your thoughts?
A: I am open to trying anything. Some were skeptical of the early signing period (that was instituted in December for the first time last year). I was open to it. I didn't think it would be that big of a change. In the end, a lot of people liked it. Having early visit dates doesn't fire me up without having an earlier signing date, too. What you don't want to do is waste a visit in the spring and then they don't commit. You can't sign til December. If you are going to use your early singing visits, you would like the person to be honest with you, commit in the summer. If they wait (to commit), you aren't fresh on their mind, you have wasted a trip. We will be open to trying it and will do whatever the individual wants, but we want to make sure we all are on the same page. My guess is if we keep early visits, they eventually will have a June or July signing day. We will see how it goes.