Boilermakers Look to Bounce Back

New Purdue Head Football Coach Jeff Brohm talks upcoming season.

Writer / Matt Roberts
Photography provided by Purdue University Athletics

Over the last 10 seasons, Purdue football has won 35 games and made two bowl appearances (both losses). In the last four years, the team has scraped together an average of two victories. Maybe most disturbing, Purdue hasn’t beaten arch-rival Indiana since 2012.

Several pre-season polls anticipate more of the same, projecting only a couple of wins for the Boilermakers in 2017.

New Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm isn’t promising any miracles, but optimism is again stirring in West Lafayette.

“We want to field a team that’s competitive and fights to win every game,” Brohm says. “Purdue is a place with great academics, and West Lafayette is a great college town. People are starving for success, and they want to see the football program step up and do well.

“We need to deliver.”

Brohm played college football at Louisville, where he was a three-year starter at quarterback. After graduation, he spent seven seasons in the NFL with stints at Cleveland, Denver, Tampa, San Francisco, Washington and San Diego. When his playing days ended, Brohm served as an assistant coach at Louisville, Florida Atlantic, Illinois, UAB and Western Kentucky before his selection as head coach at Western.

Brohm’s teams won 30 games over three seasons at WKU, including a pair of bowl victories. His 2016 team led the nation in scoring at over 45 points per game while Purdue was averaging under 25. The “Cradle of Quarterbacks” may see a return to lofty scoring levels at some point, but for now the coach sees his defense as being a bit ahead of the offense.

“Our running backs and tight ends are probably going to be our strengths on offense,” he says. “We have to continue to get better on the offensive line and build some depth. At quarterback, we must be more consistent.

“I’m probably a little more optimistic on defense. But once we get past the first team, we’re not where I’d like to be depth-wise.”

Brohm has been busily recruiting freshmen, but he’s also added immediate help with some graduate transfers. Josh Okonye is a versatile defensive back from Wake Forest, and wide receiver Corey Holmes will have two seasons of eligibility after graduating from Notre Dame. Despite the recent seasons of futility, Brohm believes Purdue can attract high-level student-athletes.

“We have a lot to offer at Purdue,” he says. “The academic reputation, the Big Ten conference and the opportunity to play against the best teams in the country. And, to be honest, playing time. We don’t have the depth we’d like, so a guy can come in and be a difference-maker.

“I think we’re making strides,” he adds. “It’s just going to be a matter of getting out there and competing, keeping guys healthy, getting a little momentum and maybe winning a game we’re not supposed to.”

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