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It’s Purdue Bowl (Practice) Season

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3 QBs are trying to win the open starters spot next season, the competition starts now.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Purdue Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

As we all know by now, Purdue will be playing Auburn in the Music City Bowl. It’ll be a fun, but otherwise meaningless game. A win in the Music City Bowl won’t make the program and a loss won’t break the program. Obviously, winning is preferable to losing, but in the long run, when a 6 win team plays a 7 win team, it isn’t consequential.

What is consequential about playing in the Music City Bowl is the extra 15 practices the coaching staff now have at their disposal (even though Brohm says he’s not going to use them all). During the season, the coaching staff is 100% focused on putting together and installing a game plan every week. The coaching staff will spend some of their time working on Auburn, but will also have time to evaluate some guys they haven’t seen much this year.

The red-shirt freshman from the ‘18 class and the members of the ‘17 class that haven’t cracked the depth chart yet will get another chance to impress the coaching staff before the ‘19 class hits campus.

For some of these guys, how they perform in bowl practice just might dictate how the rest of their career plays out at Purdue. Flash in bowl practice and you’ve got a chance to come into spring camp with momentum and a chance at increased reps. Fail to impress during bowl practice and risk getting slotted further down the depth chart coming into the spring.

Over the next week I’ll be breaking down position battles heading into spring ball, and what each player needs to show in bowl practice to give them the upperhand coming into fall camp.

I’ll start with the obvious.

Quarterback

The quarterback position for Purdue will be wide open for the first time in the Brohm era. The ‘18 season featured a two man race between David Blough and Elijah Sindelar. This Spring, with Blough graduating and Sindelar’s health a giant question mark, Purdue will have (at least) a 3 way competition for the starting job in ‘19.

Elijah Sindelar - RS JR

Sindelar will come into spring camp as the odds on favorite to win the positions. He will be the only quarterback on the roster with any meaningful snaps and he’s won the job in camp before. That said, he also comes into camp with questions surrounding his twice (or possibly thrice) repaired knee.

Sindelar was slated to play a major role in the ‘18 season after winning the starting job in fall camp after his electric performance to finish off the ‘17 season but that all fell apart after some terrible decisions against Northwestern and a mystery injury against Eastern Michigan saw him sent to the bench for the remainder of the season.

Purdue has been extremely cagey on what exactly has been going on with Sindelar this season. After Blough ascended to starting position, Sindelar disappeared. Blough struggled mightily in a few games, but the deposed starter never made an on field appearance. It’s hard to say if he was still trying to recover from his second ACL surgery, picked up another, unknown injury or if Purdue was attempting to set up a medical red-shirt argument for the red-shirt junior.

Bowl camp for Sindelar is all about health. He has to show that the knee is healed and he can move around in the pocket enough to protect himself. His arm strength has never been a question, but if he’s going to be a sitting duck in the pocket, the quarterback situation at Purdue will be up in the air heading into the spring.

Nick Sipe - RS FR

These 15 (or so) practices are going to be crucial for Sipe. His time to make a move on the Purdue starting job is starting to run out, with the possibility of Sindelar picking up an extra year of eligibility and the talented duo of Jack Plummer and incoming freshman Paul Piferi looking to overtake him, his best opportunity appears to be winning the starting job in ‘19.

In fact, 2019 looks like a “now or never” situation for the Sipe. His main advantage over Plummer is an extra year of experience in the Brohm system, and he needs to show his mastery of the offense in bowl preparation. Coming out of high school, Sipe was a skinny kid with a big arm. He has filled out some, and still has a big arm, so now it’s all about his ability to execute the offense at a high level.

If he can show an advanced grasp of the offense, and the requisite physical ability for the position, I think Sipe could surprise everyone next year in spring and fall camp, but that has to start in the next few weeks.

He can’t lose ground to Jack Plummer.

Jack Plummer - Currently Red-Shirting Freshman

Plummer is the current soup de jour for Purdue fans. The freshman from Arizona certainly appears to check all the boxes for a Brohm quarterback from a physical standpoint, and he delivered some nice passes in the Spring game to further whet the Boilermaker faithful's appetites.

Plummer will be in the mix with Sindelar and Sipe to replace Blough. At this point, I put him third on the depth chart, but if ended up as the starter next year, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. While Sindelar and Sipe are both players initially recruited by Hazell, Plummer was hand picked by Brohm to run his offense.

When Plummer signed, Brohm said, “For us, he’s the top quarterback in the country.” Now, that might be a bit of a stretch considering the fact that Trevor Lawrence has Clemson heading back to the CFP, but Brohm obviously thinks highly of Plummer. If Brohm truly believes he was the best QB in the ‘18 recruiting class, you’ve got to think the future is now for young Mr. Plummer.

In the next 15ish practices, Plummer gets to show what he’s learned over the past year. Like Sindelar and Sipe, he brings a big arm to the table, but he also brings a little more athleticism to the position. He is still very much a drop back, pocket passer in the classic Brohm mold, but he also has the ability to move around a little and extend plays. Considering the fact that Purdue must replace their entire interior line next season, being able to elude pressure may be an important factor in the QB race.

Predicted Depth Chart Heading Into Spring Ball

  1. Elijah Sindelar
  2. Nick Sipe or Jack Plummer (too close to call, that’s how important these practices are for both young QBs)