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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 6

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Page 22 of 117

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 6 23 J eff Brohm is standing with a marker in his right hand, with it hovering over a previously drawn play. It's a run-pass option, quickly sketched for a magazine photo shoot. Brohm's asked who the running back is in the drawing. He says, "Good question." And, after a pause, "The harder question is, 'Who are the receivers?'" Ideally, Brohm would like his quarterback to be chuck- ing the ball around the field, quick-hitters mixed in with bullets down the field; wide-open options possible from ridiculous route combinations that leave defenses con- founded; experienced playmakers who can use speed to break open games or shiftiness to slip away for big plays. But when Brohm surveyed what he inherited at Purdue, he knew he'd be forced to adapt. The offense probably wouldn't be able to be the same as he'd grown accustomed to, dialing it up under Bobby Petrino at Lou- isville and, then, as a head coach at Western Kentucky. Those offenses had prolific quarterbacks — including Jeff's younger brother Brian, who is Purdue's quarter- backs coach — and scored points at alarming rates. The strictly no-huddle look paired with fast-paced potential and playmakers made it difficult for defenses to slow, and, ultimately, made it appear to be incredibly balanced over Brohm's seasons at Western Kentucky. Not only did WKU's offense have a 3,000-yard passer and, naturally then, a 1,000-yard receiver, but also a 1,000-yard rusher in 2016. But former quarterback Jeff Brohm is a gunslinger at his core and would prefer to light it up in the air. Good thing, though, just as much at his core, is a very real desire to put players in positions to succeed. Because that's exactly what he's going to need to do in his first season running Purdue's unit, with poten- tial strengths that include the Big Ten's leading passer in David Blough, a pair of capable tight ends and what seems to be a crowded running back room. But receiv- ers? Purdue isn't flush with proven ones. Offensive line? Purdue has yet to prove it can protect consistently with nearly an entirely new group up front. "I do think that we're going to have to do things a lit- tle differently here at Purdue for right now to make sure that we're doing our part as coaches to give our players an advantage or at least help them get an edge," said Brohm, who will call the plays. "Are we going to be able to line up and just run traditional football and beat every Big Ten team we play? No, that's not going to happen for us. We have to be creative. I think that's the fun part of it. As much as we like to throw the ball around and be ag- gressive, I was a guy when I played, I was a run-around, athletic guy. So I don't mind doing a few creative things to make sure whoever is our best player gets the ball in his hands the most. "It does change things a little bit where you have to, for myself and some of our offensive coaches, study some other teams in the spring and summer so that you have a couple different packages ready. It can't just be what we did last year that worked. It has to be, OK, this is our best playmaker and maybe they're in the backfield. Maybe it's a running quarterback. I don't know. We have to have those elements ready in case we hit a lull and things ar- en't working instead of just beating our head against the wall. There will be plenty of different things we'll be able to do and we'll see which ones are effective and maybe concentrate on those." All Purdue's players see is how dynamic the offense can be, even if what they run this season isn't Brohm's ultimate vision. They spent the spring learning the extensive play- book, new terminology and hand signals to go no-huddle. They're hoping with a full summer and training camp, they'll completely grasp the many pass concepts and for- mations and how quickly one word can change every- thing. Most of Brohm's calls are based off the defense, play- ers said, so he can alter those soon before the snap, de- pending on whether there are two deep safeties, one high safety, a nickel, three down linemen, etc. "There's a lot of things in it," tight end Cole Herdman said. "I'm moving around a lot. The receivers are moving around a lot. There are a ton of different sets, a ton of different plays. I think it's going to be trouble for other defenses to figure out. It's hard to scout an offense that can do so many different things out of so many different formations as well. I think Coach Brohm's offense is re- ally, really good." Herdman could be one beneficiary of Brohm's creativ- ity. Because the tight end is so versatile, it's likely he could line up in a half-dozen spots on the offense. Markell Jones could just as easily slip from the back-

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