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Creativity could help Brohm turn around Purdue's program

Purdue's Ja'Whaun Bentley strikes a pose during team's recent media day in West Lafayette. (By The Associated Press)
Purdue's Ja'Whaun Bentley strikes a pose during team's recent media day in West Lafayette. (By The Associated Press)
Purdue football coach Jeff Brohm fields questions during team's recent media day in West Lafayette. (By The Associated Press)
Purdue football coach Jeff Brohm fields questions during team's recent media day in West Lafayette. (By The Associated Press)
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Excitement, entertainment to be focus of new coach

Thursday, August 10, 2017 10:13 pm

WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue coach Jeff Brohm is following an old script. He wants players to have fun, fans to enjoy themselves and he expects to win games.

Twenty years ago, that philosophy helped Joe Tiller put the Boilermakers back on track. Now Brohm bringing it back to revive the struggling program again.

"I think it's important to make the game exciting and entertaining to watch, exciting and entertaining to play and exciting and entertaining to coach," Brohm said. "I think without question that has to be our goal here."

It's hard to ignore the similarities between Purdue's new coach and the winningest coach in school history.

Brohm, like Tiller, arrives with a history of having teams that put up points. The aerial shows Western Kentucky produced under Brohm were worth the admission. And while turning things around probably won't happen overnight or even in one season, the style will likely be appreciated.

"The features and creative things he did (at Western Kentucky), the success they had, lined up really well with the years that Purdue's been really good," athletic director Mike Bobinski said.

Brohm inherits a team that went 9-39 over the past four seasons. During those years, the Cradle of Quarterbacks evolved into a revolving door of quarterbacks, none of whom reached a bowl game or could get the Boilermakers out of the Big Ten West basement.

The Boilermakers finally have a solid incumbent starter in junior David Blough, but the supporting cast is lacking.

Graduation left the Boilermakers thin at receiver, and Purdue won't have a lot to work with on the offensive or defensive lines. After spring practiced, Brohm called the lack of depth a "serious concern."

But the bigger challenge may be getting the Boilermakers to believe they can bounce back when things don't go their way — a mentality that didn't exist last season.

"When something bad happens, there was that 'Here we go again syndrome,'" co-defensive coordinator Nick Holt said. "Adversity happens every day in life and it happens on game day. Good defenses and good football teams overcome that."

And if the wins don't come right away, Brohm at least wants to give people a reason to tune in and come back.

"It is important for us to be competitive this year," Brohm said. "Our fans need to see how hard we are playing, even if the effort does not produce a victory."

Here are some things to watch this season:

ON THE DEFENSIVE

The Boilermakers have six defensive starters returning — and Holt and Brohm know they must improve dramatically. A year ago, the Boilermakers allowed a league-high 38.3 points per game and 445.8 yards per game, barely ahead of Rutgers.

TURNOVER TURNAROUND

While Blough has certainly had promising moments over the past two seasons, he also caused some of his own problems. At Big Ten media days, Blough acknowledged he the Big Ten in turnovers last season, throwing 21 interceptions. Brohm was more impressed that Blough said he had learned from failure. If Blough puts those lessons to use and the Boilermakers improve on their league-worst minus-17 turnover ratio, Purdue could take a big step forward.

BACK TO BACKS

The Boilermakers' young, inexperienced receiving corps may force Brohm to make some adjustments. One possibility is throwing more to a stronger stable of running backs. Markell Jones returns after two strong seasons, former starter D.J. Knox is coming back from a season-ending knee injury and Brian Lankford-Johnson played well when Jones was hurt last season.

SCHEDULE STRENGTH

Don't expect Purdue's schedule to help this year, either. The Boilermakers open the season Sept. 2 against ACC contender Louisville, then host Mid-American Conference contender Ohio before traveling to Missouri. Conference play opens with a home date against Michigan. The Boilermakers also host Nebraska and visit Wisconsin. Purdue only has three Big Ten wins over the last four seasons, two of them against Illinois.

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