This year we get a unique look at our own football program. BTN is running Gold and Black Days: An Inside Purdue Training Camp as a look at the 2018 team leading up to the season. As always, the production from BTN is excellent. It has the look of “The Journey” that comes out every football and basketball season. It also gives us a first look at the 2018 team. You can watch now through BTN’s streaming service.
The first episode has a few big beats. We first get a look at the quarterback battle between Elijah Sindelar and David Blough. It is great to see these guys supporting each other and I don’t know if there is a real edge between the two. You also have a ride along to the first practice with Markus Bailey and various looks at practice and drills. It is a good intro that blows through the first six days of practice pretty quickly. There are some key themes I saw.
The Coaches Have a Theme Song
Brohm and Nick Holt will never be satisfied, and I love it. They brought back the fire we saw last season from day one. It is clear from the beginning that last season is over. The first words (aside from Pete Quinn’s voiceover from the end of last year’s Bucket Game) set the tone:
“There are some people out there that think last year is just a fluke, just so you know. So we gotta be out to prove people wrong.”
This is absolutely great. It would be easy to rest on last season’s laurels after so long in the wilderness. Brohm goes on to talk about playing hard just like last year. This same point is made over and over again throughout the episode. Coach Brohm and his staff have fit in with Purdue’s culture because they are business-like and hardworking. That will carry over to year two.
Conversely, I love the energy that receivers coach Jamarcus Shepherd and running backs coach Chris Barclay show. They want their guys out there being confident and playing with an edge of cockiness. They are demanding, but they want to have fun. Even then, there is one point where Barclay runs through the running back fumble machine without pads to show the right way to a more timid Evan Anderson. These are some of the younger guys on staff and they provide a nice balance to Brohm’s intensity and Holt’s overall hard-assedness.
True Freshmen Will Have an Impact
After Purdue lost so many key players to graduation it is clear that we need freshmen to step up, both ones coming off of a redshirt and true freshmen. Given that Coach Brohm’s first recruiting class was so much better than any of Hazell’s that means we have to have guys ready to go from the start. There were a few that stood out.
Rondale Moore – He got his own soft feature and it showed that he is going to be a playmaker. As we have heard all summer, Purdue wants to get him the ball in a variety of ways. As the secondary coach says after he burns Simeon Smiley to a crisp, he is the fastest player on the team.
Jeff Marks – It was brief near the end, but the freshman defensive end got a little extra involved with senior captain Kirk Barron. Barron is a definite leader, a ridiculously strong guy, and one of the most established players on the team. Marks showed he is not going to take any crap. At one point he also trucks D.J. Knox, much to his chagrin.
Jaylan Alexander – The freshman linebacker had some good moments in the board drill on the first day in pads. He is pretty much going to play out of necessity, but from the brief look we saw here it is clear he is not going to be a total liability.
Bailey Needs to Lead
It is clear that not only will Bailey need to lead as “the best player on the team”, but coaches are demanding it early on. There is one point where Holt is frustrated with the defense and he demands that Bailey be the one that lines them up. In playing body language doctor it looks throughout as if it is a tad overwhelming to Bailey, but it is still early. I think he will emerge as a fine leader for the team. At other times he is definitely brnging it. He has to.
The Overall Vibe is Different
It goes without saying, but this coaching staff has brought a new attitude to West Lafayette. Danny Hope said a lot of good things, but the team seemed to lack confidence. The less said about Hazell, the better. With Brohm and his staff it just feels more like everyone is on the same page. There is no fracturing of the locker room. Everyone brings everyone else up. I don’t know if it comes from the continuity of bringing most of the same staff over from Western Kentucky or what, but even the canned practice sound bites sound better.
Moreover, Brohm clearly trusts his assistants. He functions as a very competent CEO delegated practice plans, then trusting his assistants to run drills while he goes about the practice field. Of course, part of this comes from having great assistant.
We have to wait a bit for Episode 2, but I am excited. It will be on August 23 at 7pm on BTN.