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Spring Ball: What Have we Learned?

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Today will be the 3rd practice of the Spring for our Boilermakers.

NCAA Basketball: Cleveland State at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

These coaches aren’t hiding it like the last ones. When it is a bad practice, they will tell us. When it is good they will tell us. If a position group plays poorly they will tell us.

So, with two practices down and today will be the third, what have we learned? I had a chance to swing by there Wednesday and this is what I noticed.

Offense:

- We are going to be very up-tempo. The entirety of the practice is usually non-stop if it is an offensive period. The only time it stops is to address or fix something, other than that if a player messes up, a coach is on them. If a player makes a play a coach is congratulating them.

Quarterback:

- David Blough is getting first team reps, but Jared Sparks, a dual threat RS Freshman was impressive. He might push Sindelar for 2nd team reps this summer, he can run and has a strong arm. His accuracy was what people were worried about and he seems to be better this year.

Running Back:

- Markell Jones is the front leader. D.J. Knox looks good coming off the ACL injury, but there hasn’t been any contact yet. Richie Worship fumbled & Tario Fuller is upbeat and always playing hard. Carries behind Markell will be interesting, with no incoming players this summer at RB, these are our guys. Look for BLJ to tote the rock too.

Wide Receiver:

- I am generally concerned about the spot. Greg Phillips was hurt (of course), so Jackson Anthrop got a lot of time in the slot Wednesday. Terrance Landers, Jr. is sporadic at best, dropping a plethora of passes. Anthony Mahoungou plays hard 75% of the time, other 25% seems to dog it. DJ Edwards, mid year enrollee, a freshman, might push our Frenchman for first team reps. Our incoming JuCo WR’s can’t get here soon enough. A guy you will never miss on the field is WR coach JaMarcus Shepard, he is a god send and while he jumps on players for messing up, he also congratulates them, his upbeat personality will grow on the players.

Tight Ends:

- This is our best position group next to running backs. Herdman and Hopkins will have great years, they look like grown ass men out there.

Offensive Line:

- Another worrisome spot. Mike Mendez wasn’t there Monday, but was there Wednesday. We need him. Kirk Barron will be our center unless he gets hurt. We have 2 or 3 walk ons playing in spring ball right now with injuries to Neal and McCann, hopefully with Coach Williams leading them they will improve. If you haven’t seen, a WKU OY Forrest Lamp might be a first round pick, he was a 2* 6’4 260 pounder coming out of HS, he is a monster now, if Coach Williams can improve him I have hope for our line too.

Defense:

- I have learned we are going to be a base 4-3 defense with using multiple sets. Defensive Coordinator, Nick Holt, like tall long edge rushers and outside backers to cloud of the passing lanes of quarterbacks, whether it be on a blitz or dropping into coverage. This is seen with the move of Rob Simmons, a former tall skinny DE, he is now a 6’6” 240 pound OLB. He stands out.

Defensive Line:

- Gelen Robinson has been playing interior DL, more of a 3 tech DT, with Eddy Wilson in the 1 Tech. That is a nice interior DL, but not much behind them at the two positions. Under achieving Antoine Miles was at some defensive end, as well with Austin Larkin, Anthony Watts & Chazmyn Turner. We need to find some depth across the defensive front. If we can get a pass rush it will help our defensive backs tremendously.

Linebackers:

- The Linebackers is a position group we should feel comfortable about. With Bailey, Bentley & Danny E back we were already in good shape. 5th year transfer TJ McCollum gives Coach Holt more depth, even a chance to make Danny E or Bailey to rush off the end every so often. Coach Holt has said his defensive scheme for his LB’s is a down hill approach, to fill gaps and to be the playmakers. Much different than Ross Els last season that wanted a 4-2-5 defense (stupid) and for LB’s to play pass first, also stupid. A surprising newcomer to the linebacking core is Rob Simmons. Hazell’s staff recruited him as a DE, but Holt & Brohm have a different plan for him. He will add some nice depth, versatility and athleticism, he had a fumble recovery Wednesday.

Secondary:

- TJ Jallow is a grown man, he will help the secondary with a hard hitting athletic safety. Hunte is proven, if we get an improved pass rush he will look much better. Some younger guys I like is Tim Cason at corner, tall, athletic, fast corner. Also, Navon Mosely at free safety makes sense, he played some there last season under the previous staff. This is another position with the incoming class that depth will help out. But, I am telling you, if we can have a good pass rush our secondary will look great. We have playmakers back there, but they can only cover for so long. Look for Holt to be creative to get some pressure of Qb’s