After Purdue allowed nearly 30 points per game last season, head coach Jeff Brohm decided enough was enough.
“I wanted to get on the defensive side of the ball myself quite a bit more,” he said. “We want a lot of voices in the (defensive) room giving their opinion, giving their input and putting the best plan together for our guys to go out there and make plays.”
Brohm has had only one winning record in his four seasons at Purdue (7-6 in 2017, his first year as head coach), so he decided to mix it up completely in 2021, hiring three co-coordinators to create a brain trust of sorts.
“We want to put the best package we can together but be aggressive in our approach, really play offensive offense on the defensive side this year,” Brohm said. “As much as we can, we want to allow our guys to take chances and make plays and have fun doing it.”
Based on 2020 statistics, the Boilermakers have to learn to stop the run if they are going to contend in the much-improved Big Ten. Purdue gave up a staggering 1,012 yards on the ground in just six games, including 12 rushing touchdowns. They also gave up 50 rushing first downs while only picking up 36 themselves, which tells the tale of long, sustained drives by the opponents that can physically and psychologically crush a defense. A five minute difference in average time of possession also reiterates the point: the Purdue defense just couldn’t get off the field in 2020.
The Boilermakers face a tough slate of conference and non-conference games, including road trips to Notre Dame, Iowa, and Ohio State. FanDuel Sportsbook has Purdue’s regular season win total set at 5 games, with an extra ten cents of juice favoring the over. One of those wins figures to be against opening day opponent Oregon State, a game in which Purdue is currently favored by six and a half.
Given the offensive-minded coaching staff already in place, if Purdue can stop the run this season, then this win total pushes with ease and likely wins. Maybe keep an eye on them in Weeks One and Two, specifically the run-stopping ability, and then look to play them weekly on a matchup basis. Their fundamental flaw was glaring last season, but sometimes that’s the best kind of flaw, because it shows you exactly what needs fixing.