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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 4

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Page 66 of 88

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 4 67 are gone. So we've got to find guys to replace them. In our opinion, they're not there yet and they have a long ways to go. "But there has been some improvement. We just have to make sure we push as hard as we can this spring to make sure that they're getting ample opportunity and ample repetitions to improve their play because we're going to need every bit of it." Here are a handful of things and players to watch this spring, which wraps with the spring game on April 7 at Ross-Ade Stadium: Mix at QB David Blough's quicker-than-expected (at least by Brohm) return from a dislocated ankle means he's partic- ipating this spring. That changes the feel of the offense. Just a month ago, Brohm wasn't counting on Blough, a multi-year starter who's entering his final season. In- stead, Brohm figured first-team reps would be split by redshirt freshman Nick Sipe and freshman Jack Plum- mer, who enrolled early. While Sipe and Plummer still likely will get opportu- nities to run the first- and second-team offenses — en- tering spring, Brohm wasn't sure if he'd use Blough in 11-on-11 work — they'll have a lesser load and, probably, less pressure now with the veteran around. It'll be interesting to see how the highly touted Plummer looks this spring, if he's overwhelmed at all with the scope of Purdue's offense and the speed of the game or if he stays calm and poised. Before spring, Brohm said he thought Plummer had handled his first couple months on campus well — even with the first-semester freshman already tak- ing engineering courses — but he knows the football piece will provide a challenge. "Everything has not been perfect, and he understands that," Brohm said. "He'll be the first one to admit the speed of the game and being able to make decisions when maybe you truly don't know exactly what's going on, even though you know it from a book and on the chalkboard, that will take time. But we want him to go through that process. We want him to go through the struggles. "I don't think he's going to come out here and just set the world on fire from the beginning. He'll definitely struggle like every other good quarterback, but I think he has the makeup, I think he has the ability, I think he has the want-to and the desire to be great. The fact we have other guys at that position competing will help his development, actually, instead of having to throw him out there before he's ready." Staying aggressive? In his first season as Purdue's defensive play caller, Nick Holt had a talented linebacking corps, a game-changing disrupter at defensive tackle, a savvy hybrid end and two experienced cornerbacks. And tons and ample game-ex- perienced players. Those elements allowed Holt to call an aggressive de- fense that was incredibly creative and had an ability to continue to add to the package as the year progressed. Now? There are personnel questions across the entire de- fense, which begs the question whether Holt will dial it down this spring while getting the young players caught up. Tom Campbell Derrick Barnes is one of many young players on the depth chart who will have a consider- ably larger role this season than last. Barnes was one of three linebackers to play as a true freshman in 2017, and one who could compete for a starting job by the fall.

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