Kickoff is 19 days away, fall camp has been going on for longer than a week, and I am back from California. The excitement of the Jeff Brohm era is palpable even if we’re not likely to be very good this season. If everything comes together perfectly Purdue might win 6-7 games. More likely, there will be struggles and Purdue tops out at 3-4 wins.
Still, we want to see improvement. We want to see there is reason for excitement and hope after years of terrible football under Darrell Hazell. It will take time for sure. the reports from fall camp have not been encouraging, but that might be because we have had 8 years of smoke and happy thoughts blown up our rear ends. Brohm is a straight shooter. He is not going to do that. He is going to be blunt, but there is going to be improvement as well.
That improvement begins at the quarterback position.
David Blough - Jr.
464 of 810, 4,926 yards, 35 TDs, 29 INTs
107 yards and 8 TDs rushing
Blough is going to be the starter for the season opener. That is not something we’re used to seeing. He is the first player to start consecutive season openers at Purdue since Curtis Painter from 2006-08. Brohm has said Sindelar is improving, but almost everyone would be stunned if Blough doesn’t start the opener.
And he has earned it. He led the Big Ten in passing last season and at least showed improvement. He has had some good days in his career. The win over Nebraska in 2015 was excellent. Against Iowa last year he had 450 yards and 5 TDs as well.
His biggest problem has been his accuracy. He had 21 interceptions last year against 25 touchdowns. He had five against Cincinnati and three each against Wisconsin and Northwestern.
That is the biggest question with Blough: Can he cut down on the picks? If he cuts down on them by half it will go a long way towards Purdue making an immediate turnaround. Blough can also run a bit. The 8 TDs on the ground are nice, but he has also played behind a leaky offensive line that has led to a lot of sacks. He is good at running for his life, but in that, he can get a little trigger happy. He needs his line in front of him to come together, which is probably the biggest “if” of the season.
Elijah Sindelar - So.
14 of 32, 165 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs
9 yards rushing
There has been a lot of hype for Sindelar after he put up massive numbers in high school down in Kentucky, but at Purdue he has been quiet. He redshirted in 2015 and last year he saw spot duty in a lot of blowouts. In those games he didn’t look good, either. His “best” game was against Northwestern where he was 8 of 15 for 80 yards and an interception. He also played a lot at Maryland, but there was a common thread in those games: Purdue was getting blown out in both.
Sindelar has more size than Blough, but doesn’t have his running ability. His torn ACL on his final HS play robbed him of some of that. He is your traditional big, strong pocket passer that has been improving in camp. He’ll be the serviceable backup and if he is good enough to take the starting job from Blough he will have earned it.
The Wild Card
Jared Sparks - Fr. (RS)
Sparks has yet to play in his career, but Brohm has said that he may play more this season than Sindelar even though Sindelar is the primary backup. That’s because he has the athleticism that “cannot be kept off the field”. He looked decent in the spring at receiver, but there is a specific QB package being installed in the offense because he is a true dual-threat QB where Blough and Sindelar are more pocket passers.
This is where a rotating QB situation can work. Danny Hope rotated Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve and it was dumb because they were essentially the same type of QB. Giving Sparks his own package makes more sense because he is a much different type of quarterback. Sparks likely only becomes the starter if both Blough and Sindelar are hurt, but I am curious to see what he can do.
Griffin Alstott - Fr.
Nick Sipe - Fr.
One is the son of a legend, the other is an intriguing QB prospect that is probably at least two years from seeing the field. Both of them are probably going to redshirt.
Alstott was a bit of a dual-threat QB with 2,410 yards and 31 TDs last season through the air and 235 yards and 8 TDs on the ground. His high school career was decent., if not spectacular, but he was the first commitment in the 2017 class. Going forward, he is part of a crowded field at quarterback, so I don’t know if there is a position switch in his future. We’ll see what happens after his redshirt year.
As for Sipe, he was the second player to commit in 2017, giving us two quarterbacks int he same class. He threw for nearly 3,000 yards and 29 TDs against 9 INTs for Villa Park in California. He is a nice tall QB at 6’4, but still has a way to go. Also, he has a quarterback already recruited by Jeff Brohm coming behind him in 2018 with Jack Plummer.
Assuming Blough doesn’t go absolutely nuts enough to go pro after this season, Alstott and Sipe are both at least two years away from starting. Then they would likely have to beat out Sindelar in 2019. Do they stick around waiting until 2020? Does Plummer pass them?
Aiden O’Connell - Fr.
Danny Carollo - Fr. (RS)
Aaron Banks - Jr.
There are three walk-ons this year, with Banks having some actual game experiences from his few snaps against Indiana in 2015. he completed his only pass for four yards. He had a solid high school career at Brebeuf where he took them to a state finals. He even played basketball in the backcourt with P.J. Thompson there. If it was an absolute emergency, he could be serviceable because he does have experience with four years on the team.
None of these guys are playing without a rash of injuries ahead of them, however. I would probably put Banks above Sipe and Alstott if Blough, Sparks, and Sindelar all went down mostly because all three being out would likely happen late in the season. Brohm would more likely want to preserve the redshirt for Sipe and Alstott, but if we get to this point we’re in deeper trouble.
Overall Position Grade: B-
Blough’s experience goes a long way here. Sindelar and Sparks provide some depth with Sparks being an intriguing change of pace. The depth is there with five scholarship quarterbacks. There are a lot of questions with this team, but QB is not one of them.