We’re not going with a depth chart this week, as the published Purdue depth chart is exactly the same as last week. The important thing to look at is the injury front, where coach Brohm updated us on several players, starting with running back Tario Fuller:
(When asked about TV saying Fuller had surgery): I don't think he -- what's the date on it? Yeah, you have me confused there because I think it's coming up, but he is going to have surgery on his ankle before the season is over. I don't have the exact date in front of me. Is it -- yeah, around the 20th, I think, is what I think it is.
That has Fuller joining Blough as out for the remainder of the season, depriving Purdue of two of its best playmakers from earlier in the year. Fuller has been out since the Missouri game, anyway.
We also got an update on linebacker T.J. McCollum, who returned for the first time since Minnesota:
I think T.J. came out very well, and I think he felt better after the game than he thought he would, and hopefully he'll be even healthier this week for game time.
Coach Brohm spoke of what a bowl game would mean:
Well, I think everybody at this time of the year, you want to try to just concentrate on playing the season one game at a time, and normally if you look too far down the tunnel, it's going to affect your play.
I think our guys will handle it well, and everybody has a dream of playing at the highest level, but in order to get there, you've got to put on your best performance every time you step on the field. You never know when you can elevate your game to even a higher level and improve maybe your stock, and I think it's important our guys against a very good football team come ready to play and showcase what they're all about.
Coach Brohm made some changes int he secondary this week, most notably going with Tim Cason in the second half:
Well, I think our guys are playing hard. Jacob Thieneman is the most steady guy in the back end that we have. He's sound. He knows what we're doing. He has had a very good year for us. Da'Wan Hunte has been very consistent when he's been in there, and then Josh has done a good job. It wasn't one of his better games by any means, and we've been able to rotate in the corner position, and the other safety position mostly is showing some good things. Played a little bit more man this last game and we were not effective in it as much, and we've got to learn how to be more physical, challenge things more. I didn't think we got our hands on guys. Nowadays in football, especially college football they're going to let you hold and grab and do all those things. We've got to utilize that. I thought we were too soft in man-to-man and didn't. We weren't nearly as physical and aggressive. We tried to just change things up. If one guy is not playing up to what we feel he should be playing, we'll rotate that a little bit, and we did. We've still got a ways to go in pass coverage, but I think we should and can get better.
And on Cason:
You know, he's done some pretty good things, and we knew that he had the ability to do it. It was just a matter of being consistent, show casing that he wanted to be a great player and spend the time in of working to improve and get better. I think if he takes everything serious and really is into it, he has the ability to be a very good player for us. He was out of position a few times, but overall I thought he did a good job when he went in there.
He also talked about where he has seen improvement:
Well, I think that defensively all year we've been a sound football team that does a great job against the run. We load the box. Our guys play hard. We have some good football players, a lot of experience. They're continuing to play hard. Just we're getting exposed a little bit in the passing game and in the secondary, but I think we can work hard to improve that.
On offense, you know, it's been a struggle to find ways to move the ball and get points. I do think our guys are playing hard. I do think our runners are running hard. I think our linemen are giving us as good an effort as they can. We've got to continue to improve there, but they're playing hard, it's just we're not able to be as consistent as we'd like.
I think our receivers finally have -- they made some strides this past game and made some plays for us. They've worked extremely hard the last three weeks under duress in some circumstances where they had not made the catches that we would like, and we practiced them hard. We focused. We've done as many things as we can to improve catching the football. I do think there was improvement even though we had some drops towards the end.
So you know, I think improvement is being made, but we have a ways to go, and we've got to be consistent, and while -- I told our team after the game, I do think we played hard, but I did not think we were the tougher team, and I did not think we were the smarter team in this game. You know, that doesn't mean that we didn't try. I just didn't think we won that battle. So we've just got to continue to fight our way through it. It's no fun to lose games. It doesn't give you a warm feeling. It doesn't make you feel great. But that's what's supposed to happen.
So I think as long as we try to respond in the right way as coaches and players and not lose confidence but understand, hey, this is where the work needs to be done and we've got to find a way to do it, hopefully improvement will be made. I think that special teams, we've gotten better. Are there a few weak elements we have? Yes, there are. But I think we've found ways to get better in that aspect.
There's a lot of improvement to be made. There's a lot of things we all need to do better. But I do think our guys want to improve and want to win, and it means something to them.
He also wants to go back to the passing game more:
Well, we would like to be wide open and be on the attack. I think that in the middle of the year we struggled in the passing game and we had a lot of drops and were able to run the ball a little bit better, so we kind of went that direction. With David we went that direction a little bit. We had some success. I think now that Elijah is back in there, it may have to be a little bit more back to the passing game.
I think without question we'd like to be diverse and throw the ball around quite a bit. Maybe not quite as much as we did in the second half, but I do think that we kind of just went to our base control passing game and we had some success with it. Yes, we'd like to spread this thing out and be on the attack and figure out ways to score points. We've kind of gone back and forth with some of the things that have gone on during the year, and we've got to just be more consistent at what we're doing.
Finally, he discussed recruiting:
Well, everywhere I've been, I've always tried to over-recruit the offensive line and the defensive line. I think it's important that you get those guys -- they don't get all the credit, but they'll take a lot of blame when things aren't going well, but they do all the dirty work. You've got to get tough, solid, athletic football players that love the game of football, and I think right now you obviously want to get size and you want to get guys that have toughness, but we want to get some guys that are athletes, as well, and that can grow into the position, and that's kind of where we've been able to find guys that I think can go on and play at the next level, guys that maybe don't have quite the weight that you would like at the time but they can put on weight and they have athleticism and they can move their feet and they can do some things on the perimeter occasionally if you ask.
But I think loving the game of football and being a competitor is important, too. So all those qualities are important. We try to recruit the best guys we can and that want to be a part of it, and we've got to make sure that we're on top of it and that we're turning over every stone and making sure that we get the best incoming players around our current ones.