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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 6

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Page 26 of 117

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 6 27 just dissect that. "That's probably the perfect offense to be running. I'm not exactly sure how defenses plan on stopping it. It doesn't seem like it's worked too well in the last year. It's something we can roll with, and I love this offense." The key personnel: QB David Blough threw for 3,352 yards last season, the most by a Purdue quarterback since 2007. He completed 295 passes, the most by a Purdue quar- terback since 2007. He threw 25 touchdowns, completed 57 percent of passes and had a 119.4 efficiency rating. He led the Big Ten in conference play in several major categories. And yet, often when fans talk about Blough, they point to the high interception total (21, the most since 1977) and deem his numbers largely meaningless, they say, be- cause they came in situations in which Purdue was down and forced to throw to get back into games. It's true: Pur- due rarely held commanding leads last season. Also true: Purdue struggled to run the football — its 96.2 yards-per-game average was dead last in the league — and Blough was sacked more than any other quarter- back during Big Ten play. So, perhaps, Blough's numbers may be legitimately impressive considering he simply was spreading the ball to the team's strength — its ex- perienced receiving corps — as Purdue's offense largely was one-dimensional, and he also showed considerable toughness to keep popping up off the ground after being driven into it. Still, the fourth-year junior is the first to admit he can be much better — and has to be, really, for the Boiler- makers to win — but he also knows his first season as a full-time starter was not exactly shabby. "We hit some big-chunk plays that added to it. We missed some," said Blough, smiling. "We had a very good receiving corps. We took a lot of shots. We threw it more than anybody, so rightfully so the yardage and the touch- downs and interceptions are all where they are. But I don't think they're hollow. We played all 12 games, for 60 min- utes, against other college football players." But Blough knows those other players are going to be even stronger and faster this season with a challenging schedule that likely will include at least three ranked teams among the first six games. He knows he needs to continue to be a more accurate quarterback with great anticipation skills — those are the physical traits he thinks QBs need to be great — as well as become a better decision-maker. There are technique things he'll use to try to improve in the for- mer. During his month away from campus in May, he worked with his personal QB coach, Kevin Murray, on getting back to driving the ball better, which meant a lot of footwork. With a pair of former quarterbacks — and good ones — in the Brohm brothers on staff, he's getting loads of detailed information on how to improve in other areas, too. And perhaps all of that will help Blough be the kind of quarterback Jeff Brohm can be comfortable with and one QB coach Brian Brohm can trust. "David is a guy who has a strong arm. He's accurate most of the time. Got good, quick feet," Brian Brohm said in mid-June. "There's times where we need to set- tle his feet down a little bit, be a little bit calmer in the pocket. When he's calm and knows where to go with the ball and has a lane to throw it, he's as good as any- body out there. He's got the arm, the talent, the accura- cy. We've just got to keep developing those things, get them even better, and then be able to do it consistently Tom Campbell No one on Purdue's roster had the rate of production tight end Brycen Hopkins did last season, as four of his 10 catches went for touchdowns. A greater volume of opportunities should be coming in 2017.

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