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Purdue Football - Top 10 Questions - Defense

#10 is looking for a bounce back year

Purdue v Wisconsin Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Coming up with 10 questions for the defense is a little challenging, not because there aren’t enough questions, but because there are so many.

Purdue needs to replace...4 of their top 5 defensive linemen. 2 of their top 3 LBs, and their top DB. That’s quiet a few moving pieces on a roster that has been quickly turned over by Coach Brohm.

Purdue needs physically mature, experienced bodies to put on the field next season, and the those are sort of hard to come by on the current roster. This brings me to question #10 in my defensive countdown:

#10 - What Does Purdue Do With TJ Jallow?

Jallow, the highest rated player in Purdue’s 2017 recruiting class, came in with high expectation. He was a hard hitting, JuCo safety, and appeared on Last Chance U. Most people had him penned in as a day 1 starter for a Boilermaker defense seemingly short on talent. I was skeptical.

Don’t get me wrong, Jallow is a talented player. When you look at his JuCo film you see an aggressive, instinctive player with a mean streak. Jallow wants to hit you, and he wants to hit you hard. What you also see in his film is a guy that gambles to make the big hit and does a good bit of freelancing in the secondary.

See ball, hit player with ball, may work at the JuCo level, but FBS is an entirely different animal, and Jallow found that out quick.

Statistically speaking, Jallow’s best game came against Louisville in the opener. On the positive side of the ledger, he started the game for Purdue and recorded 6 tackles. On the negative side, he busted coverages and gave up deep passes, and that’s a tough trade for 6 tackles.

Jallow’s aggression was used against him, as the QB (Lamar Jackson in this case) pumped the underneath crossing route and watched Jallow take the bait, only to hit the vertical receiver in the seam Jallow abandoned.

Purdue coaches saw the exact same thing, and Jallow went from sure starter, to somewhat of an after thought. He appeared in 9 games, started 2, and recorded 16 tackles. I’m pretty sure that’s not what anyone envisioned when he signed at Purdue.

The good news is that he still has another year to compete, and he is still an aggressive, hard hitting athlete, I don’t usually see JuCo guys as a quick fix solution, because in general, it usually takes a year for them to get acclimated to the the speed of the college game. The acclimation year is over, and it’s now or never for Jallow.

I will say this about JuCo guys. I don’t usually bet against them. They have been offered numerous opportunities to quit football. I’m sure a few times along the way, quitting would have been easier than continuing. JuCo ball is tough, and if you’re not extremely self motivated, it is easy to slip through the cracks, head home, and tell everyone how good you could have been.

Personally, I see a position change in Jallow’s future. He is currently listed as a S/LB on the official Purdue roster, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the S part of the equation dropper all together.

He would be slightly under sized as a linebacker, but would allow Purdue to do some interesting things in coverage. While I don’t like him sitting back and playing center field, his man to man coverage abilities on a tight end or running back are intriguing. Equally intriguing is his speed coming of the edge as a blitzing option. This is especially true against primary spread teams.

Against the spread, you almost always drop a line backer for an additional DB, unless you want your outside linebacker chasing around a little guy in space. You can stay in your base defense more often if you have an athletic outside linebacker capable of holding up in coverage.

The depth chart at the linebacker position is wide open, and it would be ideal if Jallow could step in and fill one of the two openings. It would instantly make Purdue’s defense more athletic, and would allow the younger guys a little more time to work on their game. Purdue is still a developmental program, and if Jallow can provide a chance for some of the new guys to develop, while at the same time making a difference on the field, it’s a win/win in my book.

I’ll be interested to see how this plays out during fall camp, but for now, I think you’ll see Jallow on the field more, and closer to the line of scrimmage this season. He has the talent to be a break out star for Purdue if he can put everything together.