Jeff Brohm and his highly-anticipated offense had a soft debut in Purdue’s Black-Gold spring finale, giving the public its first glimpse of the Boilermakers under new direction.
Want a quick analysis? There’s still a lot of work to do.
Purdue’s offense was more interesting and will be more fun to watch than it has been in some time. A fake flea-flicker and a few long pass plays were just a sampling of the creativity Brohm brings to West Lafayette. That, alone, is an improvement for the Boilermakers.
But there were plenty of concerns, too. The offensive and defensive lines struggled and the lack of talented depth was evident. At times, the game was downright ugly, but thankfully, there’s still five months for Purdue to submit a more complete finished product.
The Black-Gold game was filled with positives and negatives on both sides of the ball. Here are just a few observations from Purdue’s spring game:
The tempo is much quicker
It was the most noticeable and predictable change in Purdue’s spring game. Brohm has emphasized the importance of playing fast since the beginning of the spring season and it has been a focal point for the offense over the last three months.
An up-tempo style would be an advantage for the Boilermakers this year, but there’s still several kinks that need to be cleaned up. It wasn’t perfect but it seems to be catching on pretty well.
Jackson Anthrop is learning quickly
Purdue doesn’t have many answers at receiver but redshirt freshman Jackson Anthrop looked like a playmaker in the Gold-Black game.
Anthrop might’ve been the best route-runner for the Boilermakers in the spring game and showcased some pretty good speed, too. The homegrown product was able to turn this quick-strike into a 69-yard gain that set up a scoring drive:
— Purdue On BTN (@PurdueOnBTN) April 8, 2017
He also hauled in a touchdown catch in the spring finale.
The Boilermakers need help at receiver. Lots of it. Anthrop’s ability to step in immediately would be a positive for Brohm as he tries to restructure the passing attack.
The defensive line is still way behind
Last year, Purdue’s defense was atrocious against the run, ranking 13th in the B1G by surrendering 238.4 yards per game. Right now, it doesn’t look like that number will decrease much.
The line had trouble against the run for most of the afternoon, even against a struggling offensive line. Guys were getting pushed around too easily at times and had trouble fighting off blockers. It’s an area in need of some major improvement before the season-opener against Louisville.
Gelen Robinson was one of the few bright spots up front and will be the anchor for the unit. He’s going to need a lot more help if Purdue’s defense hopes to shut down any rushing attack this season, though.
Rob Simmons’ move to linebacker is paying off
The coaching staff looks incredibly smart moving Simmons from defensive end to linebacker after his performance Saturday. Simmons was all over the field, but was a real handful in the backfield. He was one of the few Boilermakers to get consistent pressure on the quarterback throughout the game.
Linebacker was already Purdue’s top position group defensively with Ja’Whaun Bentley and Danny Ezechukwu, but the addition of Simmons has made that unit even more formidable.
Simmons will be a household name in the B1G this fall.
Play on the offensive line is inconsistent
Inconsistent is really the best word to describe it. At times, the line opened big gaps for the running backs and gave quarterbacks David Blough, Elijah Sindelar and Jared Sparks plenty of time in the pocket. At other times, the guys up front collapsed.
Quality depth plays a role in Purdue’s struggles in the trenches and there’s still a learning curve for this quicker tempo. Considering how quickly the quarterbacks will be expected to get the ball out of their hands, this shouldn’t be a huge problem for the Boilermakers moving forward.
The run blocking did look better than the pass protection. It’ll be interesting to see if the offensive line becomes more well-rounded by September.