Purdue Boilermakers Spring Practice: Three Things We Learned

    Hiring Jeff Brohm away from Western Kentucky was a winning move by Purdue. But how long will it take for the new coach to deliver the kind of improvements that predecessor Darrell Hazell couldn’t in three-plus seasons? Spring drills afforded the new staff a chance to assess its inherited personnel to determine the most immediate need areas entering 2017.

    April 11, 2017

    A Purdue spring practice redux evaluating what we’ve learned following Jeff Brohm’s first extended series offseason drills with the Boilermakers.


    Hiring Jeff Brohm away from Western Kentucky was a winning move by Purdue. But how long will it take for the new coach to deliver the kind of improvements that predecessor Darrell Hazell couldn’t in three-plus seasons? Spring drills afforded the new staff a chance to assess its inherited personnel to determine the most immediate need areas entering 2017.

    Purdue Boilermakers Spring Practice Redux

    1. Tight Ends Will Play Integral Role In Attack

    Brohm has always liked making good use of the bigger pass-catchers in his arsenal. In this first year in West Lafayette, it’ll be an absolute necessity to continue doing so for the prosperity of the passing game.

    The Boilermakers’ top four wide receivers have graduated, and their replacements were patently inconsistent throughout spring drills. Fortunately, Cole Herdman and Brycen Hopkins, who combined for seven touchdown receptions in 2016, are prepared to form one of the more prolific tight end tandems in the Big Ten this fall. Incumbent starting QB David Blough already has a nice feel for both players, but he worked hard to further improve that chemistry in March.

    2. Blough Will Benefit From a Quick Trigger

    After ranking No. 9 in the league in sacks allowed in 2016, more of the same is feared at Purdue this season.

    The Boilermaker O-line is a serious work in progress that’ll require more time and patience before even approaching an acceptable level of proficiency. Not only did three of last year’s seasoned veterans graduate, but OT Martesse Patterson was also dismissed from the program last month. Testament to the issues up front, 11 sacks were allowed in the spring game. Brohm needs his true freshmen to step up in a hurry and he needs a healthy Matt McCann, the precocious tackle who sat out spring practice to nurse an ankle injury.

    3. Defensive Coordinator Nick Holt Loves His Linebackers

    Holt favors defenses that allow the linebackers to freelance and make plays all over the field. From Hazell, he inherited a talented collection that can carry out all of his schematic wishes.

    The Boilermakers return all three of last year’s starters, leading tackler Markus Bailey, veteran Ja’Whaun Bentley and Danny Ezechukwu. Bailey is a fast riser, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten in his first season of action. Plus, T.J. McCollum, who had 85 tackles in 11 games, followed Holt over from Western Kentucky and Rob Simmons is making progress after shifting back a level. Simmons is a 6-6 thoroughbred who gives the staff plenty of options on how to best utilize his dynamic skillset.

    MORE: Which B1G Players Should Go Pro, Which Should Stay Put

    DOWNLOAD THE APP

    Have the full Stadium experience

    Watch with friends

    Get rewards

    Join the discussion