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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 6

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Page 23 of 110

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 26, ISSUE 6 22 D avid Blough seemingly just throws out an arbitrary number: 50. And then he keeps talking about Purdue's of- fense, how he thinks new position coach Tim Lester has "vastly improved" the play of the quarterbacks in only months, how he loves new coordinator Terry Malone's simplified offense, how he can't believe the arsenal of re- ceivers that line up at the snap, how he believes there's a 1,000-yard-capable back behind him, how the fellas up front will rise to the challenge. And then you realize: 50 wasn't arbitrary. The quarterback likely charged with directing Malone's balanced-but-aggressive, wide-open-but-pounding, com- prehensive-but-not-overwhelming offense truly believes each element he raved about is a piece to a grander puzzle that will thrive. That Malone's insertion into the play-calling role, that new O-line coach Darrell Funk's blocking tweaks, that Les- ter's outside-the-box teaching tools, that DeAndre Smith's ability to mold all-league backs, that those will change ev- erything. That the unit will help produce results well beyond John Shoop's 25.1-per-game outfit of 2015. The one that at-times- overwhelmed Blough led for eight starts as a first-year start- ing quarterback. The one that averaged a second-to-last 131.3 yards rushing in the Big Ten. The one that allowed a second- to-last 30 sacks overall. The one that committed 26 turnovers, third-most in the league. This outlook, this powerhouse 50-point scoring machine dream, this is different. For actual reasons. For its less-wordy play calls. For its pared-down per- sonnel groupings and formations. For its easier-to-grasp language. For its change in how quarterbacks go through progressions. For its apparent overhaul in the run game, from the widened splits to the addition of gap blocking that creates angles to the actual plays that take advantage of athleticism up front. "When you look across the board at who's coming back and you look at (four) senior receivers, (look at) Markell (Jones) and if the quarterback position can be improved, which it's going to be, a returning tight end from youth, two guards who have started 30-some-odd games in the Big Ten and a center who is not going to miss a beat and a left tackle who is working his tail off to lose weight and is doing so successfully, you think, 'Wow, those are some guys,'" Blough said. "Then you get some confidence and score a lot of points and it just clicks. Then people are won- dering, 'What's different about this Purdue team? How can they score 50 on Eastern Kentucky?' "And when we do it Week 1, we've got to do it Week 2. I think it comes from everybody on the team doing their job. Everybody on the offense doing their job. And being com- pletely bought in. Whatever it takes. If you're a role guy, be a role guy. If you're starter, be a starter. If you're a star, be a star. Then we've got to make plays and believe in it because it's a mindset. Consistency, improvement and just believing that we're going to win because we are. That's all there is to it. There is no other option." Though Darrell Hazell's directive to the new coordinator was for the offense to be "quarterback friendly," which was important for Malone, it's also been Malone's emphasis to highlight the group's perceived strengths. That'd seem ob- vious but it hasn't always been executed of late. "I think it's important that you don't run an offense that you don't have enough imagination, (important)that you see a little outside the box and find ways of being produc- tive, and guys ready to be productive," Malone said. "You have to keep your eyes open. You have to keep discussing ways of making things difficult on the defense. "Every year we'll evaluate and come to a decision about, 'Hey, what group gives us the best chance to win?'" In Malone's version of the West Coast offense, that'll likely mean playing four-receiver sets to get that experi- enced talent on the field often. It'll mean getting the ball out of the quarterback's hands quickly to allow those poten- tial playmakers to do work. It'll mean pushing the ball down Simple Fix? With Malone's changes, offense looks for uptick in consistency, production

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