No. 100 Purdue
The days of Joe Tiller's consistent competitiveness at Purdue are long gone. The Boilermakers, coming off their fourth-straight season of three or fewer wins, made a coaching change for the third time since 2009 after missing a bowl game for the seventh time in nine years and enter 2017 with a pile of question marks.
2016 Record: 3-9 (1-8, Big Ten)
Despite three victories in their first six games — tying the most wins in a season since 2012 — fourth-year head coach Darrell Hazell was dismissed. Hazell went just 9-33 at Purdue, never winning more than one Big Ten game in a season and never finishing above sixth in their division.
Eight of their nine losses came by 13 or more points, and they ranked in the bottom quarter of the country in most offensive and defensive categories, including tied for last with 25 interceptions.
Head Coach: Jeff Brohm (1st year)
Jeff Brohm won more games in each of his last two seasons at Western Kentucky (10 and 12) than Purdue won in the last four years (nine). The former Louisville and NFL journeyman quarterback is the Boilermakers' fourth permanent head coach since 2008, Joe Tiller's final season.
“I’m just trying to get Purdue back in the mix,’’ Brohm said in May. “Trying to win some big games and build history and tradition back.’’
Key Returning Offensive Players
QB David Blough, RB Markell Jones, RB Brian Lankford-Johnson, TE Cole Herdman, TE Brycen Hopkins, C Kirk Barron, OT Matt McCann
David Blough threw an FBS-high 21 interceptions and completed 57.1 percent of his passes in 2016. He badly needs the touch of Brohm, a revered offensive mind and quarterbacks coach who worked wonders with Brandon Doughty and Mike White at WKU.
Blough's top three receivers are gone but he welcomes back running backs Markell Jones and Brian Lankford-Johnson (averaged 6.5 yards per carry), both of whom are capable pass-catchers. Herdman (6-foot-4, 245 pounds) Hopkins (6-foot-5, 245 pounds) combined for seven touchdowns and are legitimate red-zone targets.
They will all rely on veteran linemen Kirk Barron and Matt McCann.
Key Returning Defensive Players
DT Eddy Wilson, DE Gelen Robinson, DE Austin Larkin, LB Markus Bailey, LB Danny Ezechukwu, LB Ja'Whaun Bentley, CB De'Wan Hunte
Purdue yielded 446 yards and 38.3 points per game, second-worst and worst in the Big Ten, respectively. Their run defense in particular was atrocious, allowing nearly 240 yards per game, 115th nationally.
Three returning linebackers — Markus Bailey, Danny Ezechukwu and Ja'Whaun Bentley — will be tasked with improving the unit. Bailey led the team in tackles and interceptions as a freshman and the trio combined for 15 tackles for loss.
Gelen Robinson and his five sacks return, as do Eddy Wilson and Austin Larkin (2.5 sacks each). De'Wan Hunte added 47 tackles and six defended passes at cornerback.
Notable Player Losses
WR DeAngelo Yancey, WR Bilal Marshall, WR Cameron Posey, OG Jordan Roos, OG Jason King, DE Evan Panfil, DT Jake Replogle, S Leroy Clark
As mentioned above, David Blough lost his top three targets from 2016 (Yancey, Marshall, Posey). Yancey, a fifth-round pick of the Green Bay Packers, was their lone deep threat, averaging 19.4 yards on 49 catches (951 yards, 10 touchdowns). Blough will also be working with a mostly unsettled after longtime starters Jordan Roos and Jason King graduated.
Defensively, new coordinator Nick Holt does get senior defensive end Gelen Robinson back, but he'll be without Evan Panfil and Jake Replogle, who combined for 55 tackles for loss and 17 sacks the last three seasons. Also gone is Leroy Clark, a hard-hitting safety who racked up 170 tackles the last two years.
Notable Player Additions
LB T.J. McCollum, CB T.J Jallow, DT Jalen Jackson, DE Kai Higgins, OT Ethan Smart
Purdue had five early enrollees over the winter, namely JUCO transfers Kai Higgins, T.J. Jallow and Ethan Smart, all of whom are expected to compete for starting jobs.
“In the secondary, we wanted to get some help,” Brohm said of Jallow, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound cornerback from East Mississippi Community College. “We think he’ll be an outstanding player for us. He’s a strong young man, he’s played quite a bit.
Jalen Jackson is another mid-year enrollee to keep an eye on. The 6-foot-3, 260-pounder from Georgia was recruited as an offensive tackle but played on the defensive line during spring practice.
McCollum is a grad transfer from Western Kentucky who originally started his career at UAB in 2014 before the program disbanded. The 6-foot-3, 234-pounder had 191 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and three sacks the last two years for the Hilltoppers.
Jeff Brohm's first task? Slowing down the best player in college football. Purdue faces Lamar Jackson and Louisville at Lucas Oil Stadium in their 2017 opener. It's the first of two non-conference games against Power Five schools (Missouri).
They won't play a Big Ten road game until Oct. 14 at Wisconsin, which is also their third and final game against a team that finished in the top 25 of the final CFP rankings.
|Saturday, Sept. 2||vs. Louisville|
|Friday, Sept. 8||vs. Ohio|
|Saturday, Sept. 16||at Missouri|
|Saturday, Sept. 23||vs. Michigan|
|Saturday, Oct. 7||vs. Minnesota|
|Saturday, Oct. 14||at Wisconsin|
|Saturday, Oct. 21||at Rutgers|
|Saturday, Oct. 28||vs. Nebraska|
|Saturday, Nov. 4||vs. Illinois|
|Saturday, Nov. 11||at Northwestern|
|Saturday, Nov. 18||at Iowa|
|Saturday, Nov. 25||vs. Indiana|