Will Jeff Brohm Hit The Drum On Senior Day? – The Wisconsin Predicto
It’s Senior Day at Purdue this weekend, with long-dedicated soldiers like David Blough, DJ Knox, Markell Jones, Antonio Blackmon, Jacob Thieneman, Kirk Barron, Bearooz Yacoobi (still perhaps my favorite Purdue athlete name ever), Cole Herdman, Isaac Zico, Terry Wright, Joe Schopper, Spencer Evans and others making their final appearance in a Purdue uniform at Ross-Ade. Looking over that list and seeing that some were walk-on players or juco transfers who became critical parts of the team (think about what a drag it has been that Thieneman has been out) tells you a lot about the state of Purdue football in recent years. Darrell Hazell, in particular, left the cupboard so bare that the current team that but for some head-scratchers could easily be sitting at 7-8 wins is held together with duct tape and hope.
Guys like David Blough, Markell Jones and DJ Knox have been stalwart teammates and believers in Purdue throughout an incredibly tumultuous time. They’ve each dealt with injuries, losing, fans losing patience with them, and all the other fun stuff that goes with being a D-1 athlete. Through it all, these guys – and many, many others here – have all seemed to really enjoy being part of the Purdue family. I know I can speak on behalf of Boiled Sports when I say thank you to all the seniors – you guys fought through so much and will be very fondly remembered.
Of more debate is how fondly Jeff Brohm will be remembered if this is also his last appearance in Ross-Ade in the black and gold. We asked the BS crew to not only give their thoughts on the Wisconsin game but also on whether Brohm is going to stay or go.
I think coaches and media tend to overplay the notion of “distractions” to a football team most of the time. But I think in college football – and especially when you’re a program like Purdue that has razor-thin margin for error – major distractions can do a lot to the psyche and focus of a bunch of 18-22 year old guys. Not knowing what’s going on with the stable elements of their lives can be very unsettling. A coaching staff is immensely important to these guys and if they have any belief that Coach Brohm and company (and with him the talented future classes of this program) are heading out the door, the lack of focus could be palpable.
Wisconsin is always an ogre for Purdue and they have not beaten the big, cheese-smelling uglies in West Lafayette since 1997. A couple weeks ago, I wanted all of this game – but now I think the swagger may be gone.
Jeff Brohm: While things are hard to read during a period of obfuscation like we’re in now, if I had to guess right now I would say he’s gone to Louisville. As we so often like to say here at BS, I sincerely hope I’m wrong.
As hard as it is to predict the Boilers (insert joke about my predictions here), Wisconsin's been no better. Remember the team that was a TD from a playoff spot? That was last season. Since then, UW's 1-3 on the road, with their one win coming in Kinnick at night. (shruggie) The Badgers also fell at home to BYU, who later put up 6 points on a mediocre Northern Illinois team. Basically, this is #ChaosGame, and that's even before the most recent firing of Bobby Petrino and the obvious questions it raises.
While Vegas may like Purdue (or, to be precise, Vegas thinks they'll get people to bet against Wisconsin), analytics don't. S&P+ dropped the Boilers to their pre-OSU level, which is good enough for a bowl but not to stay within a field goal of the Badgers. Oh, Wisconsin's struggled too, but their pratfall came at the hands of Michigan; Minnesota is a harder loss to explain.
Saturday's forecast currently has a hint of a wintry mix in it, although that would fall prior to kickoff. Given what we've seen in the three bad-weather games so far, that's bad news for the Boilers. So is the current lack of depth that left Purdue's defense stunned in the wake of the rout that Minnesota's high-school offense put on them. (High schools run offenses like that for exactly the same reason Fleck's doing it: so they can focus on doing fewer things and doing them better.) Still, Wisconsin has obvious weaknesses. Their offense is still the slow, methodical, effective, painful-to-watch variety it's been for years (just like basketball), only it's less effective now that Alex Hornibrook has become inaccurate. The defense is good except when it isn't: big plays on the ground and on passing downs.
I'm going to hedge and throw out two predictions.
If the conditions suck, the offense sputters again. Wisconsin 19, Purdue 12
If the rain and ice give West Lafayette a pass, Senior Day is a lot brighter. Purdue 24, Wisconsin 22
Bonus answer: Brohm is staying. It's too early to leave, Louisville is still a mess, and Brohm hasn't shown he can win consistently at this level yet. Cardinal fans may want Brohm nownownow and may be willing to pay anything to get him, but a rebuilding job is tougher if you didn't finish the last one you had. Western Kentucky had multiple 10-win seasons under Brohm; if he gets Purdue near that range, then it's possible he'd listen, but until then, he's a Purdue guy. Besides, Louisville will always be there. Why trade Northwestern and Illinois for Clemson and Florida State now?
I think it's clear that this Purdue team isn't fully baked yet, the Minnesota and Michigan State games being all the evidence you really need for this. Having said that, I think they tend to recover well from disappointing losses. However, I'm wondering if this Brohm thing is hanging over everyone's heads. I'm feeling a little scattered about it, and I'm just a fan. This would be a tough game for Purdue anyway, but I'm going to predict a Purdue loss.
On to Jeff Brohm. As of my writing this, there are rumors that him going to UL is a done deal. I have long thought that he was going to leave, so I'll stick with that, but I'll also go on the record as saying those rumors are false. Make sense? Of course it doesn't.
Tough for a bunch of 18-20 year old student athletes to focus on a game when their leader simply won't tell them what's in his head...as every media outlet and fan on Twitter has a theory; these guys hear the chatter as much as we do. It's tough to see a clear game plan through the smoke of omission.
These seniors deserved a better last game.
More than anything else, the Minnesota game showed that inconsistency is the real defining trait of this young Purdue team. The playcalling was conservative (more "play not to lose" than "distracted by another job", but that interpretation is completely in the eye of the beholder), Blough looked rattled, Knox and Jones were neutralized, and the defense got torched. The MSU game was a slugfest coming off an emotional high - this Minnesota game was just flat out bad.
But I think Brohm and Co are too good to let *pre-emptive rumors* about Louisville effect their preparation and performance. If that hangover and lack of effort persists this week, on Senior Day against a below-average-for-Wisconsin team...well, then there's something to worry about.
I've always been skeptical Purdue would beat Wisconsin (even though the Boilermakers are 4 point favorites), and Jonathan Taylor (Thomas) might be too good for this Purdue defense without Thieneman to handle. But I think the fight is back this week.
And on the Brohm question - I'd be stunned if he's given any indications about his decision to Louisville, though his representation or otherwise. He doesn't seem like that kind of coach, or that kind of professional. I can also see him wanting to build something real and lasting at Purdue taking another job. That being said...UL is his Statue Job, it might be tough for him to turn down. I'm leaning 60/40 that he takes the Louisville job.