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Purdue Defense: Who is Returning?

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Coach Lambert should have some weapons at his disposal for a fun defense.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 07 Vanderbilt at Purdue Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Coach Lambert is a Boilermaker.

He has some experienced guys coming back that will make an impact in his defense. Being the third defensive coordinator in 3 years is no small task, he has an opportunity with an experienced defense to make some serious strides.

After looking at some past tape of Coach Lambert’s defenses, it looks like he is a 3-3 stack guy by trade, but he has been in a 3-4, 4-2-5, 4-3, 3-5, etc.

To me - he is going to cater his defense around his players and be very multiple - there is no one size fits all - like Bob Diaco wanted to do with his 3-4 defense.

By position group, here is what he has returning & Coming in

* designates years starting

Defensive Back:

  • Dedrick Mackey - Senior - Cornerback**
  • Geovonte’ Howard - Senior - Cornerback
  • D.J. Johnson - Junior - Cornerback
  • Anthony Romphf - RS Freshman - Cornerback
  • Kadin Smith - Junior - Cornerback
  • Nyles Beverly - Sophomore - Cornerback
  • Cory Trice - Junior - Cornerback **
  • Marvin Grant - Sophomore - Safety *
  • Jalen Graham - Junior - Safety/OLB**
  • Sanoussi Kane - RS Fr - Safety
  • Ryan Brandt - RS Fr - Safety
  • Antonio Stevens - RS Fr - Safety
  • Cam Allen - Junior - Safety **
  • Brandon Calloway - 3* - DB
  • Rickey Smith - 3* - DB
  • Jah’von Grigsby - 3* - DB

Linebacker:

  • DeMarcus Mitchell - Linebacker - Senior*
  • Elijah Ball - OLB - Junior
  • Jaylan Alexander - Senior - Inside Linebacker**
  • Jalen Graham - Junior - Safety/OLB**
  • Jacob Wahlberg - Sophomore - Linebacker
  • Khali Saunders - Sophomore - OLB
  • Clyde Washington - RS Fr - Linebacker
  • Chase Triplett - RS Fr - OLB
  • Ben Kreul - RS Fr - Linebacker
  • Trsitan Cox -3* - Linebacker
  • Yanni Karlaftis - 4* - OLB

Defensive Line:

  • George Karlaftis - Junior - Defensive End**
  • Dontay Hunter - Sophomore - Defensive End
  • Sulaiman Kpaka - Sophomore - Defensive End
  • Robert McWilliams - Senior - Defensive End*
  • Semisi Fakasiieiki - 6th Year (Taking additional year) - Defensive End*
  • Greg Hudgins - RS Fr - Defensive End
  • Jeff Marks - Junior - Defensive Tackle
  • Branson Deen - Junior - Defensive Tackle*
  • KJ Stokes - Junior - Defensive Tackle
  • Lawrence Johnson - Junior - Defensive Tackle*
  • Jack Sullivan - Junior - Defensive End*
  • Bryce Austin - RS Fr - Defensive Tackle
  • Steven Faucheux - Sophomore - Defensive Tackle
  • Khordae Sydnor - 3* - Defensive End

As you can see above, Coach Lambert will have plenty of players to work with and some talented incoming freshman, including Yanni Karlaftis.

He will have some explosive defensive players that have had two years of experience playing as freshmen and sophomores.

The defense is getting old, finally. This should only help the production of the defense under Coach Lambert during his first year.

A few things that need to be addressed.

  • Pass Rush - last year Purdue only tallied 5 sacks, this needs to be fixed, like yesterday. The healthy return of Karlaftis will help tremendously, but who will come off of the other edge? Jack Sullivan is promising, I would like to see Dontay Hunter make the jump.
  • First Down Defense - limited gains of 4 to 6 yards is huge. The playbook is wide open for an offense when it is 2 and 3 or 2nd and 4. This goes hand in hand with being able to stop the run early in an offensive series.
  • Turnovers - Purdue only forced 7 turnovers throughout the season. Good for 12th in the Big Ten. This needs to be addressed. It sounds like he will have an aggressive mindset - this could help with creating turnovers. 2017 was a great year for Purdue defense due to this stat.
  • Third Down Defense - Opponents converted nearly 45% of their third downs. This is truly terrible. If our early down defense improves, this will inherently improve as well.