There is an uphill climb for Purdue Football.
2021 is a pivotal season and this spring and summer is probably the most important off-season in the Jeff Brohm Era.
After starting his career at Purdue with two feel good seasons, since the Auburn blow out loss in the Music City Bowl, there has been little to be happy about.
Back to back losing seasons, including this year’s Covid Season that players and coaches appeared to be apathetic about.
Yet, we have sun at the end of the tunnel and maybe some normalcy on the horizon, which should be a nice change of pace for Purdue Football after a lost 2020 season, a wasted year of defensive development and a wasted season overall.
A new defensive staff will be implemented with Brad Lambert leading the charge, bringing Mark Hagen back to Purdue, hiring former head coach Ron English and having the always stable Anthony Poindexter.
There is a lot to be excited about, too. The team has an experienced defensive staff, maybe the best Coach has put together since he arrived. To go with that experience, it has 3rd and 4th year players that will be starters and that have been starting since they were freshmen or sophomores.
The offensive staff remained intact, allowing for continuing growth on that side of the ball. Rondale Moore is gone, but an experienced offensive line is back, David Bell is back and every quarterback on the roster from 2020 is returning.
But, in the end, there is still plenty to do. Here are my Top 5 Items that need to be addressed this off-season for Purdue Football.
1. Installation of the new Defensive Scheme.
- I have stated this before, but last year with Bob Diaco was a disaster. With moving on to Coach Lambert, this spring is vital to the defense. Diaco did not get a spring, but with the assumption there will be some type of spring ball for Purdue, it seems more important than ever.
- The defense had high points last year, but mostly low points. This off-season, it seems like this would be a great time to find out what scheme will work best with our personnel and install it during this time period.
2. Somehow, find a way to gain consistency in the run game.
- Down Tirek Murphy, Horvath is back to lead the show in the backfield, with king Doerue as Plan B. Outside of those two though, there is not a whole lot of experience in the backfield though. Hewitt needs to make some type of jump to be part of the offense or return game this season. He should be our back that catches passes - I would imagine the staff is active in the transfer market for this position.
3. Find the best personnel to generate a pass rush in 2021.
- We know George Karlaftis can get it done. But, outside of him, who else can be an edge rusher? Jack Sullivan is talented, but he did not provide much of a rush in 2020. If we go to a 4 man front, I would think that DeMarcus Mitchell would be the guy to move down. At 6-3, 260 pounds, he can move and get after the quarterback.
4. Let the Quarterbacks Battle, but find the front runner by mid summer
- Every year, it is the same story. Who is the quarterback? That seems like the case since Coach Tiller retired. Wouldn’t it be nice, just for once, to know the starter coming into the next season? Each year appears to be a competition, which makes me believe we just have a lot of average guys at the position, I would like to have a concrete answer for quarterback by Mid Summer. AOC will be coming off surgery.
5. For the love of God, get special teams on the right path.
- It has been a disaster since the 2017 season. Punting has been bad, the other day it was announced that an Aussie Punter will be here by summer. Can he fix it? Let us all hope and pray he is.
- Other than punting, we need some juice in the return game. Guys have to buy into special teams, it is 1/3rd of the game and we need to win this phase. It isn’t necessarily the guys returning the ball, it can be the guys blocking for them as well.