Jeff Brohm said it in his introductory press conference. Purdue is going to have an identity again.
“We will play a brand of football that features the quarterback’s strengths,” he said in December. “Our style will be wide-open and exciting….we want to play the game in a fun fashion. We want to make it exciting to watch.”
That’s not exactly a new style in West Lafayette. After all, Joe Tiller was the one who introduced the spread offense to the B1G when he took over at Purdue in 1997. Brohm is rekindling the persona of a program that punched its ticket to 10 bowl games in 12 years and claimed a conference title and Rose Bowl berth.
It’s exactly the identity that Purdue needs to restore. Brohm’s arrival signifies the return of “basketball on grass,” which is welcomed with open arms.
But Brohm’s approach does have an additional wrinkle. One the Boilermakers are accustomed to seeing but hasn’t been instituted within its own city limits. It can be described in one word: fast.
Through the first few weeks of spring practice, tempo has been one of the focal points for Purdue’s offense. And it was emphasized from Day 1.
“Pretty fast-paced for the first practice,” junior quarterback David Blough told the Journal & Courier after the first spring practice concluded earlier this month. Backup gunslinger Elijah Sindelar echoed those same thoughts.
“Our goal is to go as fast as we can,” Sindelar said. “It’s a no-huddle offense. Everybody is going to be on the ball.”
In addition to a return to a more pass-heavy approach, Purdue is going to operate at a much faster pace, with the goal to wear down those powerful B1G defenses.
Where have the Boilermakers seen that before?
Travel 115 miles south to Bloomington.
Yep, it was Purdue’s arch-rival – and the winner of the last four Old Oaken Bucket battles – that nearly perfected that mentality.
Kevin Wilson implemented a similar style at Indiana. The Hoosiers became known for their quick pace and high-octane passing attack. Though it took awhile to get on track, it was a system that paid off for a program that hadn’t visited the postseason for the better part of a decade.
In 2015, Indiana wound up leading the B1G in total yards per game (504.3) passing yards per game (293.8) and points per game (36.5). It finished the regular season with a 6-6 mark and earned a spot in the Pinstripe Bowl, the Hoosiers’ first bowl appearance since 2007.
Though the offense did see a decline in 2016, that hurry-up pace was instrumental in getting the Hoosiers back-to-back bowl trips.
What Indiana mastered in six years under Kevin Wilson was how to play fast while being under control. That’s what Brohm wants to bring to the table. That’s what can be successful at Purdue.
There are some things to work through, though.
Blough showed solid improvement in his sophomore season, but he did throw a league-high 21 interceptions in addition to his 3,352 yards. And though the Boilermakers actually led the B1G in passing offense, 71 percent of their passing yards came while trailing.
The Boilermakers are also trying to replace their top three receivers from last season and the offensive line is stretched pretty thin. This is still a work-in-progress, but perfecting that quick pace can somewhat counterbalance the talent deficiency.
Indiana went through the same thing in 2011. Six years later, the Hoosiers clinched consecutive bowl berths for the first time in 25 years.
Maybe it will eventually elevate Purdue back to a level of relevancy in the B1G.