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Purdue Football: Biggest Questions Heading Into Fall Camp - Quarterback

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Drew takes a look at a few crucial questions facing the Boilermaker offense in fall camp, starting with quarterback.

Purdue v Northwestern Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Spring football is over and the Boilermakers and Jeff Brohm have more questions than answers heading into fall camp. If anything, spring football shined a spotlight on the uncertainty at several key positions. Brohm and staff have done an admirable job of patching things together in the first two years and putting a quality product on the field.

The same will be true this season.

The Hazell recruiting hangover is almost over, but several key positions on the roster still lack depth, much less experienced depth. In another year or two, these articles will be much easier to write, but at this point, I’m having to make some guesses at key positions. That’s not a great place to be coming out of spring practice.

The talent and depth are coming, but this season will once again test the creativity and problem solving skills of the Boilermakers, and that starts with the most important position on the field.

Quarterback

An obvious solution with a huge caveat.

The Brohm offense begins and ends with the quarterback. A good quarterback can cover a multitude of sins. Purdue has a good, experienced quarterback on the roster in Elijah Sindelar, but the specter of knee problems once again haunted the gunslinger from Kentucky this spring. Eli needed a healthy spring to quiet the questions about his knee, and instead, he was forced to shut it down after “tweaking” his knee once again. This knee injury doesn’t appear to be anything serious, but when you add up all Sindelar’s knee injuries, it is more concerning than your average “tweak”.

Sindelar is the obvious answer to the quarterback question. The coaching staff has faith in his cannon right arm, but what about his notoriously balky knees? Outside of the coaching staff, you have to wonder about Sindelar’s faith in his own knee. In retrospect, some of the uncharacteristic throws you saw out of Eli in the first two games of the season last year could be attributed to his knee. He seemed to constantly be looking for more room to throw the ball instead of stepping up in the pocket and letting it rip. That could just be me playing amateur sports psychologist, but a few of his interceptions are otherwise inexplicable.

Who is the back up?

I will be interested in watching how the staff handles reps in fall camp. Sindelar needs the work, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the coaching staff hedged their bets because of the knee. I anticipate Sindelar getting plenty of “rest” and “days off” this fall to both save his knee and get a younger player more snaps.

That makes the backup quarterback position even more interesting.

Brohm has signed a mid-range 3* quarterback in each of his 3 recruiting classes. He’s going to have to figure out which one he likes best. Nick Sipe and Jack Plummer battled it out in spring camp for the back up role and got plenty of snaps after Eli was shut down. Based on the spring game depth chart, Plummer appears to have a slight lead in the competition, but I don’t think anything is written in stone yet. Brohm is going to have to pull the trigger on the back up position sooner than he wants because of Sindelar’s knee.

Normally, your back up quarterback gets significantly fewer snaps than the starter, but Sindelar’s knee makes this a little different. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the back up quarterback take an inordinate number of first team reps in the fall. Purdue is going to have to get two quarterbacks ready to go for the season, and you can’t do that by splitting the second team reps.

It’s hard to get two quarterbacks ready, it’s impossible to get three ready to go.

Overall

Hopefully this is all a moot question.

The best case scenario is Sindelar coming into fall camp healthy and ready to sling the ball around the field. If that’s the case, Purdue will be in great shape at quarterback, but if his knee starts acting up, things will get complicated.

The Boilermakers need to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. It will be interesting to see how Brohm goes about doing that in fall camp. Finding solutions for problems like this is why he gets paid the big bucks. I have faith he’ll handle this in the best possible way, but I have no idea what that way is at the moment.