Boilers End Spring Football Practice with a Scrimmage (I End My Two Week Silence)
(photo credit WLFI)
I haven't posted on here in two weeks...maybe like some of you, the end of the basketball season left me smarting a bit. Sure, I didn't think our Boilers would get past TT even prior to Drago's elbow injury. But, The Forces of Good not playing a great game and definitely not at 100% to end a great Senior class' time at Purdue was tough to swallow. I'll expound on those thoughts over the coming months in a QuickCast, I'd bet...as for tonight, I want to look ahead to football.
Many of you don't like Spring football games...and I get it. A scrimmage in which your favorite team plays your favorite team, and many of the best players aren't even available sounds a bit like torture. No one to root against...and some of the guys you love to root for are wearing sweat pants and hoodies. That was certainly the case today:
Sindelar is recovering from the ACL that he tore last November...he played with just one functioning ACL in December, but thought he'd need two next season. Tario Fuller's still not playing, and Worship is recovering from his ACL as well. That right there is a ton of backfield firepower that wasn't available. Add in DJ Knox not giving it a go, and you're left with Jones and a walk-on named Horvath. I'll talk about him later. Herdman and Hopkins didn't get to play either. I see why you might not have gone up to a frigid Ross-Ade...but c'mon, this one was on BTN. You shoulda given this one a gander.
Even with a ton of players out, I love the Spring game...I probably love it for its symbolism as much as anything. It means that we're getting closer to my favorite time of the year; Autumn. It means Purdue football is almost back...and since this new guy arrived from our South, I can't help but be excited about the future of this program. That sense of optimism is a welcomed pal as I've been dragging a bit the last few weeks. I didn't even watch another NCAA tourney game after Purdue's season ended at the hands of TT (not kidding).
Coach Brohm thinks football Saturday should be fun. But to get to the fun part, he holds his guys accountable. He wants his QBs to be better than everyone else's. He wants his WRs to be more precise than his competition's. He wants his OLine to be stronger, meaner and even faster than the guys on the other side of the ball...and he wants his defense to play with a massive chip on their shoulder, to make big plays and to compliment the innovation on the offensive side of the ball...that's why he gave Coach Holt a pay bump recently.
Today wasn't really football though...at least for most of the game. It was an appetizer...a tiny one to whet your football palate. Purdue played about a quarter of tackle football. The offense wore gray/charcoal jerseys...the defense wore white jerseys...both teams wore black helmets and pants. The Ross-Ade turf had an experimental paint job- White motion "P" in the center with gold/black outline...and the bold block letters in the end zone had the same scheme. Finally, the cold strain Bermuda blend grass of RA, the Ag. School's baby, looked notably better than it had in many Spring games during the last decade.
Purdue's offense was pass-happier than what it'll be next fall. Coach Brohm has shown us that he's willing to lean on the team's strength, where ever that may be, even if it isn't comfortable for him at times. He wants his teams to win...he wants to put the best athletes in position to succeed...next season, the talented corps of RBs will show their stuff. Today, the format of the game and attrition wouldn't allow it.
Markell Jones looked solid in limited action, but didn't really do much, honestly. His backfield mate, Alex Horvath was the novelty who seemed to get a bit more work. I haven't looked at the stats...don't think they really mattered today. Horvath wears the number 40 and is Caucasian. He's got good size- he's around 6'3" and 230 pounds...but he's not the tank or A-Train that Alstott once was. He was good though...kinda intriguing. He can catch, looked like a decent blocker and ran with a relatively low pad level in spite of his height. We didn't see him play last season, and I'm not sure he'll play much out of the offensive backfield this year...but I hope he ends up earning a scholly and a role in the next few years.
The next guy that got my attention was Isaac Zico. With the limited receiving corps due to so many guys graduating, Zico had to fill some big shoes. Phillips and Mahoungou are no longer eligible due to graduation...so the 6'1" JuCo product stepped in...and was solid in doing so. I counted only one drop...which is incredible improvement in the wake of what he did in limited action last season.
-Terry Wright got my attention too simply because he did a better job catching the ball...and displayed his wheels, at least on one or two plays, after making the grab. Anthrop got my attention because he was a part of one of the most bizarre plays I've ever seen:
Blough under center receives the snap...Anthrop is 15 yards directly behind him...Blough fires the ball straight back, Anthrop rolls left and throws it away. It was illegal because only the player who receives the snap can intentionally ground the ball outside of the tackles without penalty. Anthrop was also the recipient of a triple reverse, in which he attempted to pass, before deciding to eat it for a one or two yard gain.
Jeff Brohm's got tricks.
Oh, almost forgot- The offense ran a play out of the same formation that kept the drive alive versus Arizona- You know the one where DJ Knox ducked lower than the OLine just to carry the ball while hiding behind the line.
Jeff Brohm's got tricks.
The final receiver who grabbed my attention was Benaiah Franklin. He's listed at 6'1"...looks a bit smaller than that. BUT, he had the best catch of the day on a jump ball...also had a few vertical routes that he made a bit of space and made the grab. He'll be a Sophomore in the fall, and will probably put in some work.
-Blough played three series, Sipe played four and Plummer played four. Blough had decent zip on the ball, didn't scramble much...but QBs were off limits from getting hit all game (as opposed to the thud speed everyone else played at in which plays are blown dead after pads/helmets collide).
-Sipe looks like a kid; baby faced and thin...just a bit more thin than Plummer. Plummer looks like he has a bigger arm, but both look like they can/will be college football starters some day. Both made a few dumb mistakes, both struggled with the down by the slightest contact whistles. Plummer looked really good for a guy who's only been on campus since January.
A handfull of other QBs got snaps...most notably, Griffin Alstott played a bit more than all of the walk-ons, save Aaron Banks.
-I still think Blough will start, but I'm guessing his pal Elijah will have something to say about that. I don't see any reason why we won't see those two guys splitting reps, at least for the first third of the season, if they're both healthy enough to give it a go.
-The kicking game looked notably better as both Dellinger and Evans were blasting the ball in the no-pressure format. The punters (even Schopper) did not look as good...not that it matters.
-On the other side of the ball, it was tough to judge anyone. No really hard hitting, hardly any gametime tackling. Cornerback, Diedrick Mackey looked good in coverage a couple of times. Tobias Larry made a few good plays at LB. Fakasiieki seemed to be the most active DE. Derrick Barnes struggled getting to the outside with shifty slot receivers in mismatches (understandable) and Cason seemed to have gotten picked on a bit in the first half...but recovered with a few break-ups.
The program honored graduating Seniors at halftime with framed jerseys presented by legends and former players who wore the gold and black...it was a pretty cool thing that I hope becomes a new tradition.
Comment below on the guys you think I missed.
Next up, we wait though the summer doldrums before football practice begins in the heat of summer...quite a contrast to the frigid end of Spring.