Today we saw the release of a new depth chart as well as coach Brohm’s weekly media conference. First, here is the depth chart headed into the Michigan game:
QB: 1. David Blough 2. Elijah Sindelar 3. Jared Sparks
RB: 1. Tario Fuller OR D.J. Knox OR Richie Worship OR Brian Lankford-Johnson
WR1: 1. Anthony Mahoungou 2. Corey Holmes 3. Jared Sparks
WR2: 1. Jackson Anthrop OR Terry Wright 2. KeyRon Catlett
WR3: 1. Gregory Phillips 2. Isaac Zico
TE: 1. Cole Herdman 2. Brycen Hopkins 3. Darius Pittman
LT: 1. Grant Hermanns 2. Eric Swingler
LG: 1. Shane Evans 2. Michael Mendez 3. Peyton Truitt
C: 1. Kirk Barron 2. Shane Evans 3. Bryce Brown
RG: 1. Matt McCann 2. Bearooz Yacoobi
RT: 1. Dave Steinmetz 2. Ethan Smart
There were no actual changes to the offensive depth chart, but this was the first game where Blough started over Sindelar. He is doing an excellent job as well. I think we will see him start he rest of the way, but the occasional series with Sindelar has been working.
What’s also impressive is the offensive balance. Purdue had 13 different players catch a pass Saturday. Guys like Terry Wright saw some of their most action of the season. Some of the other receivers like Benaiah Franklin got their first action. Suddenly, Purdue is at least 6 deep at receiver, and 4 deep at running back. The offense was really balanced, too. Here is what coach Brohm said about the offensive balance:
Well, our balance has definitely helped us. I'd love to be able to come in here and throw it every play. We're just not ready for that. That's not our team right now. I think we're going to continue to get better passing the football, pass protecting, finding some go-to players.
Right now in order to succeed and win, we've got to have balance. We can't rely on our passing game to win us games. Probably not going to happen. We have to be able to run the football, play-action, be able to move in the pocket, misdirection, take a few shots here and there, be smart with it, not lose the game for us.
Right now this past week our defense played at a high level. We had a very good first half on offense. I got conservative in the second half. I didn't want to give the game away by trying to get greedy and try to make a bunch of plays when we had control of the football game. We controlled the clock. We had the ball for close to 45 minutes of the game, which is a lot. We ran the ball. We were a little more boring in the second half.
But our guys took care of the football and we kept the lead, won the football game. So that's all good. It helped us try to get better running the ball. We definitely were stagnant there for a little bit.
I think in order to win, you've got to find a way to utilize your guys to the best of your ability, be smart with it. Right now we're going to try to be as smart as we can while we get better in the passing game.
Now, on to the defense:
DE: 1. Austin Larkin 2. Antoine Miles
DT: 1. Lorenzo Neal or Eddy Wilson
DT: 1. Gelen Robinson 2. Keiwan Jones
DE: 1. Danny Ezechukwu 2. Kai Higgins
WLB: 1. T.J. McCollum 2. Andy Chelf OR Sawyer Dawson
MLB: 1. Ja’Whaun Bentley 2. Garrett Hudson
SLB: 1. Markus Bailey 2. Rob Simmons
CB1: 1. Josh Okonye 2. Antonio Blackmon
CB2: 1. Da’Wan Hunte 2. Kamal Hardy
FS: 1. T.J. Jallow 2. Simeon Smiley
SS: 1. Jacob Thieneman 2. Navon Mosley
The defensive depth chart is the same, but we saw a few different looks. Derrick Barnes, a true freshman, got some major run at linebacker and now has six tackles on the season. Getting him play in the last two games will pay off for next season when he likely becomes a starter. Cornel Jones also played.
Brohm did address some injury issues regarding McCollum, Jallow, and Hunte:
We actually had more guys nicked up than I thought after the game. We're going to try to get them back for this week. May be a hodgepodge practice week as far as how many guys can really participate the whole week. We've got to be smart with it, but also we've got to get them to practice and get in the flow again. That's going to be a challenge.
But McCollum, he's played a lot, got experience. Of all the people, we can make sure we're very conservative and get him healthy, just try to get him whatever reps he needs.
Da'Wan, we got to get him healthy as well. He's played a lot of games for us, done a good job.
We've got some other guys, as well. It's going to be important that they utilize the entire week to get healthy, we take care of them during practice.
Punter: 1. Joe Schopper 2. Jake Herr
Placekicker: 1. J.D. Dellinger and Spencer Evans
Kickoffs: 1. Spencer Evans 2. Myles Homan
Long Snapper: 1. Ben Makowski 2. Ryan Sadkowski
Holder: 1. David Blough 2. Elijah Sindelar
KR: 1. KeyRon Catlett 2. D.J. Knox
PR: 1. Jackson Anthrop 2. Isaac Zico
No changes with the specialists this week. That is not a surprise, but it is not like we had to return many kickoffs. We had one and it was a touchback.
Here are some other notes from coach Brohm, first with more on Barnes:
Well, Derrick is a big, strong physical freshman. Normally that's what you have to get him to be, when they get here and it takes a year or two. He's already at that part. He likes football. He's probably exceeded our expectations a little bit as far as in fall camp, making tackles, being physical, being a little bit farther ahead than we thought he would.
We've had some injuries. Luckily after week one, we decided to go ahead and play Derrick Barnes, Tobias and Cornel Jones because physically and athletically they give us some size and speed. While they're not already there yet, getting them on the field, getting them ready, giving them some reps. It's like when someone goes down, we thought it was going to be beneficial. Luckily it played out. I thought Derrick came in and did a good job.
He likes football. He is a guy, if you look at high school video, he played runningback, he returned kicks. He has more athleticism than you think for a guy who is 6'2", 255 pounds, pretty solid. He's done a very good job. To come in as a true freshman and play against some very good teams is not easy to do. I think to this point he's exceeded our expectations.
Next he spoke about raising expecations:
We don't talk specifically a whole lot about that. With us, we try to simplify it down. Every week it's about trying to raise your level of play. If you played good the week before, that's great. But now you've set the bar a little bit higher. You have to go out and try to improve upon that.
We try not to worry about the score. We kind of let our actions and play take care of itself, then look at the score at the end and see if we won or lost.
Like I said, for three weeks the effort we want to see, the desire, the competitive spirit, we've won that battle. That's the most important thing. But because of it, our guys have realized if do you those small things, you can be in games and have a chance to win.
Even way back when I got here, I looked at the teams we were going to play, I looked at the Big Ten. Me being an outsider brand-new to the conference, there was about four teams in the Big Ten, Whew, these guys are really good. All the others, we're somewhere similar. It was a matter of who was going to play hard and who was going to play till the end, finish for 60 minutes, really want to win. I thought we could be in most games. You never know.
I think week one, probably played a little bit closer than a lot of people thought. I think our guys gained some confidence. Came out in the second week, had a good showing. Then the third week against a good opponent on the road, we raised up to the challenge and did a very good job.
Our guys are feeling it right now. They've worked hard. They put in the time. But they've played hard and done the small things to this point. We try to improve every week. So that has been good because we're going to need it because now we face one of those four teams that I mentioned that's very good.
We've got our hands full. In these type of games, you have to go in internally believing that you can get it done. You've got to be willing to fight the entire game. You have to be able to do the small things and not beat yourself so that you can get in the second half and be close. Then if you can do that, a few things go your way, you never know.
That's kind of what we have to make sure we do, is do all the small things in this game to keep it close until the second half.
Here is what he said about the progression of the offense:
Well, I don't know if it can get to what I want it to be. But we can make progress. I think our offensive line is playing hard. I'd like to see them play even better, find a way. We're giving up a few too many sacks. When you look at it, we're giving them up early as well. Sometimes it's coverage sacks, which I get that. Last game, it was early and quick. Like to be able to hit a few more deep shots up the field.
I probably didn't call as many as I should have this past week. Really, it's a bunch of small things. We'd like to be more dominant in the running game at times when we have a play called that we think works good versus the look.
But we've gone against our defense all fall. We had a hard time against them. I was hopeful our defense was really good, not that we were really bad. I think the defense has done a good job.
I think our offense, because we go against such multiple looks by our defense, have gotten better. They give us great work ethic. They want to win. They want to improve. They're into it. We are fairly young, so they're gaining experience. I think they'll continue to improve.
Isn’t it nice to have something good to hear in these quotes?