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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 4

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Page 65 of 88

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 4 66 BY STACY CLARDIE J eff Brohm almost has a warn- ing tone. He realizes Purdue exceeded expectations in 2017 by finishing 7-6 and winning a bowl game in his first season as head coach. But that does not at all mean the Boilermakers have arrived. Which is why this spring, even only 15 practices, is so important. Especially considering Purdue's new makeup. The depth chart is not sprinkled with newcomers or previously little-used players. It's flooded with them. That's especially true on the defense where seven starters and three key reserves are being replaced. And, on Day 1 of spring practice on Feb. 26, that meant the two-deep looked like this: Only six players with at least one career start and 26 underclassmen. The offense may not have such extreme changes, but, at least in the spring, its first-team unit is not full of ex- perienced players either. Especially with either full-time or occasional starters Cole Herdman, Shane Evans, Jared Sparks, Richie Worship and Tario Fuller out with inju- ries. That means the elevation on the depth chart for soph- omore Darius Pittman, redshirt freshmen linemen Mark Stickford, D.J. Washington and Viktor Beach and receiv- ers KeyRon Catlett (sophomore), D'J Edwards (redshirt freshman), Tyler Hamilton (redshirt freshman) and ear- ly enrollee Amad Anderson. "We've got a lot to get accomplished this spring," Brohm said days before practices opened in late Febru- ary. "Our guys have been working hard the last couple months, but there's a lot of progress to be made with a lot of new people, a lot of new faces. We have to make sure we utilize every practice, every day that we have with them, get all these young guys schooled up and guys who maybe haven't played a whole lot schooled up so that come summer, we can continue upon that improvement. But there's just a lot of guys who haven't played a whole lot and we have to make sure every one of them is getting every opportunity they can to improve." Brohm said that lack of experience didn't change his staff's approach to practice — there isn't necessarily more focus on teaching, for example — but this is where Brohm's tone changes a bit. He admits the newness throughout the two-deep is a "concern." "It's more concerning than some other points through- out the process of where I've been, that we've got a lot of work to do," Brohm said. "While we finished strong and some good things happened (in the season), a lot of those seniors that were leaders and really good players Plenty To Improve This Spring Inexperienced roster offers challenges Tom Campbell David Blough predicted more than a month before spring ball started that he'd be recovered from ankle surgery and ready to go. He was right and was the team's No. 1 QB on Day 1.

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