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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 6

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Page 24 of 110

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 26, ISSUE 6 23 QB the field to deep threats DeAngelo Yancey and Domonique Young. It'll mean taking advantage of mismatches by de- taching rising tight end Cole Herdman into the slot. But with Jones in the backfield, it'll also mean finding a balance of what likely will be a pass-first offense to hit de- fenses with an altered run game. With the addition of pow- er and counter plays, center Kirk Barron called it "smash- mouth" football. "I know with the offense that we're running now, you kind of get goose bumps about it because it's starting to turn into a Big Ten offense," Barron said. He's not the only lineman who's excited. "I really feel like it's tailored really well to the person- nel we have — as far as getting guys like me and Jordan (Roos) out in space and letting me get up and pull around and get out on the perimeter, even in the passing game, in screens and areas like that," fifth-year senior guard Jason King said. "The wide zones, the traps, the run game is go- ing to look a lot different than it has previously for Purdue. So I'm really pumped about that." Jones, the player expected to lead a resurgent run game, is more than willing to carry a heavy workload. But he may not have to. Malone wants to spread out defenses and hit them quick- ly — and often — in the passing game. He'll set defenses up to hit them over the top, to find holes in the middle, to zip passes into the slot. That has the receivers fired up because they want the opportunity; it has the quarterback excited because he wants to prove he can make sound decisions while also still delivering the ball accurately; and it has the O-line raring to go because it's eager to show it's better in pass protec- tion than it's been. "Coach Malone has a lot of experience, so he knows where people need to go in order to reach their potential," senior receiver Cameron Posey said. "We have a lot of weapons on offense. We have four senior receivers who have a lot of experience, so we will definitely try and utilize them. We have experience at the offensive line. We have some real good running backs. We're pretty confident in our quarterbacks. It's just a matter of putting the pieces together, which we think we can finally do." Here's a closer look at those "pieces" … David Blough has no delusions. He knows Purdue must get better production out of its quarterback position for the offense to reach its potential and for the team to rise from the depths. And he's convinced he's the guy to finally deliver. Even if in his eight starts last season, the Boilermakers won only once. So why is the third-year sophomore so confident? "Because in every situation growing up or every time I've needed to be counted on in my life, I pull through for it," Blough said. "The team has bought in. I think it comes from hard work and proving that I'll be there for (them) whenever it matters. The work (is) genuine work — not working so people will see it but working where people will see the im- provement of it. And then making it happen. Going out and proving it in fall camp when there's a quarterback competi- tion. Going out and proving that I deserve to be the guy. Then when the lights come on, just winning. Making it happen." Blough knows he didn't do that nearly enough in his first season as a starter. He replaced Austin Appleby in Week 4 and threw for 1,574 yards and 10 touchdowns with eight interceptions, which were respectable numbers for a first- year starting quarterback and only a redshirt freshman. But with games in the balance in the fourth quarter, Purdue couldn't make the plays necessary to shock second-ranked Michigan State in East Lansing in a three-point loss, solve Wisconsin's aggressive defense in a 14-point loss or take advantage of field position late in a seven-point loss at Northwestern. Those near-misses weren't entirely on Blough. But he certainly made it seem like it, looking defeated in press conferences after each one, feeling the weight especially heavily on his shoulders. He's quickly learned he will absorb the blame after a loss, deserved or not, and, likely, get credit heaped upon him when wins come. It's not all he learned in his first season as a starter — and the rest is what truly could transform him into a player who can lead Purdue to wins. He flashes to a bobbled exchange with D.J. Knox against Michigan State, a just-off-the-fingers-too-deep-pass for DeAngelo Yancey in the same game. In another, it's a fourth-down play in which he changed the protection in- correctly and then got hit. Or when he missed a read or couldn't pull the trigger fast enough. "There are things you only learn from taking live snaps

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