If you’re here as a random college football fan, welcome! I probably know the main reason you stopped by. You have heard about Rondale Moore and want to know more about him. Yes, he is a special player. He is arguably the most electrifying receiver in the college game and a highlight waiting to happen. That is what makes him such a joy for Purdue fans. After decades of dull football that was mediocre in the best of time since 2004 we have a guy that is the envy of every other team.
This post is about questions, however. We’re trying to answer some of them in advance of an interest 2019 season. Purdue just shelled out a bunch of money to Jeff Brohm after seasons where he went a combined 13-13. Don’t be surprised if he goes 6-6 yet again because this is a really young Purdue team. We’re at roughly 77 scholarships used and of those only 33 are not freshmen of some type (true or redshirt). There has been a major recruiting uptick with another top 30 class coming next season, but we may not see a true breakthrough until 2020 or 2021 because we’ll be so damned young.
Still, there are definite questions to answer.
1) Who is your most important player on offense this season?
I am going to cheat and say it is a unit, that being the offensive line. Matt McCann and Grant Hermanns, when healthy, will be just fine. Viktor Beach and whoever wins the offensive guard spots will be huge. I’d be lying if I said this was not a major concern coming into the year, and the reports coming out of camp aren’t promising. Moore is going to be Moore. Keep Elijah Sindelar upright and he’ll be fine. The runnings backs will be fine. We have an embarrassment of riches in young talent at receiver and an NFL caliber tight end with Brycen Hopkins. The line, however, is a major concern.
2) Who is your most important player on defense this season?
True freshman George Karlaftis. It is a lot of of pressure to put on such a young player, but Purdue could really benefit from a Moore-like debut by big George. He is one of the most highly touted recruits in Purdue history and we really need him to provide a consistent pass rush. If he has the same impact on the defense that Moore had offensively last season it will be a huge boost tot he team as a whole. Purdue’s pass rush sucked last year and as a result the Boilers kept getting beat deep. Karlaftis can change a lot of that in a hurry by consistently causing havoc in the backfield.
3) What should be the biggest change between last year and this year?
An influx of young talent and depth. Last year Purdue’s defensive starters were decent, but there was virtually no depth behind them. When we were missing three starters in the bowl game against Auburn that turned an already tough matchup into a rout of epic proportions.
Many of the starters are back, but there is a solid youth movement behind them. Karlaftis, Marvin Grant, Steven Faucheux, Cam Allen, Nyles Beverly, Dontay Hunter, Jalen Graham... These are all guys that will challenge immediately for playing time as true freshmen. Just having some actual depth will be huge going forward.
4) What is the most important game on this schedule, and why?
The opener at Nevada. Purdue is 0-2 in openers under Brohm with narrow losses that came down to the final minutes in both. It is a long road trip and this team absolutely must take care of business in this game. It is important to build confidence for the rest of the season and have a win in our back pocket with tough home non-conference games against Vanderbilt and TCU following it. Beating the Wolf Pack opens the door for an excellent start and maybe 4-0. Another loss in an opener could be a tad demoralizing because Nevada, at least on paper, is one of our weaker opponents. It is not quite the 2015 opener when Hazell bet everything on the opener at Marshall and it resulted in a 10-point loss before a 2-10 season, but it is a pretty big game.
5) What is your prediction for W/L record and postseason destination?
Personally, I think we win 7-8 games and go to a fairly decent bowl game. The schedule is tough, but it is far from overwhelming. All seven home games are very winnable and I can see us winning at Nevada, plus grabbing a game at Iowa or Northwestern. I think it is an important season that builds toward a big 2020 year.