Jeff Brohm wants to throw, throw and throw some more.

Ideally in his offensive system, he likes to generate big plays in the passing game that can put points on the scoreboard as quickly and frequently as possible. And that’s often why he’s treated the running game like it’s a second-rate option. But what happens if he finds a running back who can not only churn out critical yards in short-yardage situations, but is occasionally capable of hitting a home run as well?

We’re finding out the answer now.

Rookie walk-on Devin Mockobee, who has been getting a bigger chance with injuries in Purdue’s backfield, is proving to be the back who can alter Brohm’s approach, at least slightly. Mockobeelooks capable of taking any carry distance, and also has a knack for squeezing through the slimmest of holes for needed 1st downs. That’s hard to ignore.

Since emerging over the last few weeks, and making his 1st career start against Nebraska Saturday, the 6-foot back from Boonville, Ind. (Pop: 6,000), has changed Purdue for the better. Now, Brohm is showing much more willingness to incorporate the running game into his play-calling — perhaps with as much confidence as his 1st season at Purdue in ’17, when DJ Knox and Markell Jones shared the Boilermakers’ backfield — and it’s making the offense more dynamic.

In the 43-37 victory against the Cornhuskers, the Boilermakers had one of their more balanced games offensively, especially against a Big Ten opponent, with Aidan O’Connell throwing for 391 yards and 4 scores and Mockobee accounting for 178 of Purdue’s 217 rushing yards, plus the lone rushing TD. The yardage by Mockobee was the 2nd-most by a back during the Brohm Era, beaten only by Jones’ 217 vs. Indiana in ’17. In that game, Jones had 31 carries; Mockobee had 30 vs. the Huskers. Purdue had better balance 2 weeks ago in the win at Minnesota, too, when it passed for 199 and rushed for 160, including 112 from Mockobee.

But it’s more than just a willingness to hand the ball off.

As defenses have tried to take away the vertical passing game from O’Connell and the Boilermakers, mainly by playing defensive schemes that include 2 high safeties, Brohm and his quarterback have adjusted by dumping the ball down to running backs on the edges. It was part of the offense vs. Nebraska, when O’Connell targeted running backs 10 times, completing 6. Purdue’s running backs had only 7 receptions, total, in the first 3 games combined this year.

Purdue went to Mockobee early against the Cornhuskers, handing the ball to him on the 1st, 3rd and 4th plays of the game, as he picked up 27 yards on the opening drive. Brohm called his number again on first plays of the next drive, throwing it to him out of the backfield for a gain of 17, then handing it to him for 18.

“We thought we had a decent plan coming in, to get him on the edge early on, get him in space,” Brohm said. “Of course, he runs hard, so you’ve got to give Devin a lot of credit. This young man came in here and wanted to earn his stripes. He doesn’t care who he plays, he runs hard, bounces off tackles. He can still get a lot bigger and stronger, but at 180 pounds, we’re lucky to have him.”

Mockobee, a redshirt freshman, came to Purdue as a walk-on — he might not be one for much longer — choosing the Boilermakers over his only full-ride FBS offer from Navy, where he had once been committed. But the southern Indiana native thought he could make it on a Power 5 stage, figuring that he’d been under-recruited out of his small community. Turns out, he’s right.

There’s little doubt Mockobee will remain a central part of the Boilermakers’ offense, even as more veteran running backs on Purdue’s roster start to get healthy again. Former starter King Doerue was back on Saturday after missing several weeks with a calf injury, and Dylan Downing, the backup, is out with a foot injury now. But Mockobee has proven enough, and will be central to Brohm’s play-calling not only now, but for years to come.