2019 College Football Preview: Purdue Boilermakers

(Photo: Danny Etling, 2014 Purdue Football)

Purdue Boilermakers

Head Coach: Jeff Brohm

2018 Record: 6-7, 5-4 Conference

Bowl: 14-63 Loss to Auburn at Music City Bowl

Season Win Prop: 7 wins (O +110, U -140)

Make 4 Team Playoff: +8500

For a sub-.500 season, the Purdue Boilermakers are probably as pleased as a football team could be. It defeated a then-No. 2 ranked Ohio State team badly, by a count of 49-20, and it also defeated Nebraska and Iowa last season.

The horrific bowl stomping at the hands of Auburn probably can just be forgotten, as the team managed to retain its head coach Jeff Brohm while inking him to a $36 million dollar contract. It makes Brohm the third-highest paid coach in the Big Ten, and despite a 13-13 record, one must remember this is Purdue, a program that has not ever been relevant, as it now nearly is. Purdue just secured its first top-25 recruiting class since 2004, and now Brohm has a fat contract that he has to make good on. Can Purdue top its 2018 campaign and produce a winning record this season?

Offense

Purdue said goodbye to its starting QB David Blough and three offensive linemen, two receivers, and its leading rusher. That is a pretty tough turnover to transition from, but Purdue still has ample opportunity to improve even with new faces at so many key positions. It ranked No. 5 in big plays last season, with 25 plays of 40-yards or better.

The loss of Blough may disrupt some continuity, but it comes with tremendous upside in the form of Elijah Sindelar. The 6’4” pocket passer has a great arm and is a baseball pitcher as well with a mid-90s fastball. Former NFL offensive lineman Brad Hopkins hopes his son, senior tight end Brycen, is able to take advantage of Sindelar’s arm and accuracy. But he is not even poised to be the primary beneficiary of it. Rather, expect Rondale Moore to make his presence known in a big way this season. Moore runs a 4.3 40-yard dash, and he is also able to squat in excess of 600 pounds.

Last year as a true freshman he set a Purdue record with 2,215 all-purpose yards and was a consensus All-American. He is not without talent around him, either. The team brings aboard four new freshmen receivers, and former quarterback David Bell is looking better as yet another option.

The running backs are strong, too, with Tario Fuller and Zander Horvath proving to be a steady 1-2 combo. The offensive line is where things get dicier, with only Grant Hermanns and Matt McCann having much experience. Brohm is hopeful the unit can gain some stability around those two, and the new faces may not be a bad thing considering how bad the blocking has been the previous two seasons, anyway.

Defense

The Boilermakers had a transition year defensively after losing seven of its 2017 starters going into last season. Now, the team manages to return nearly all of its defense, and it is hoping it can build on last season’s struggles and form some chemistry as a unit. Markus Bailey chose to forgo the NFL draft and return for his senior season, so the linebacker position is in good hands on one side. He had 115 tackles last season, and he should have another huge year in his final season as a Boilermaker. He will be joined at LB by Western Kentucky graduate transfer Ben Holt. Holt is the son of Purdue’s defensive coordinator, and he will split time with junior Cornel Jones and sophomore Jaylan Alexander.

The front was weak last season but could actually be the strength of this year’s defensive unit. Purdue picked up a top-75 recruit at defensive end in George Karlaftis. Derrick Barnes shifts from linebacker to LB/end and he will be used in more blitz plays this season. Nose tackle Lorenzo Neal is coming off ACL surgery, and if he is in good form the pressure on opposing teams should be strong this season. The secondary has the well-experienced Navon Mosley returning for his fourth season as a starter at safety.

The team recruited some long athletic secondary pieces, including redshirt freshman Cory Trice and true freshmen Jalen Graham and Marvin Grant.

Purdue was ranked top-25 nationally in points allowed in 2017, and it is hoping to return to that form in 2019. The loss of so many players set it back last season, but with a year’s experience, this unit could be very good this season.

Special Teams

JD Dellinger returns back to his role as starting kicker after redshirting last season. Purdue will have a new punter in freshman Brooks Cormier. Rondale Moore is a good return man and will handle both kickoffs and punts.

Final Word

Coming off back-to-back Bowl seasons and returning its full defense should be a boost to this program, and it brought in a great recruit class to keep that momentum trending in the right direction. Purdue is not quite in the realm of contention yet, but it is progressing towards it, and while this season might not represent the final leap into the elite teams in the Big Ten, it seems to be coming sooner than later.

Prediction: 7 wins

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