By Ryan Coleman
With Purdue coming off a seven-win season under rookie coach Jeff Brohm in 2017, only the second time with at least a seven-win season in the past ten years, expectations are high for the Boilermakers coming into 2018. The only problem is that they are in the Big Ten West, a conference that gets better and better every year.
Other complications linger over Purdue this year as well, with a big one being their front seven on defense. The Boilermakers completely turned the tables from 2016 to 2017 in terms of defensive success, especially against the run. Now, they have to do it all over again, as only one of the top six tacklers on the line and one of four linebackers return for the 2018 season.
Since the defense is so new and underdeveloped, Purdue is going to rely a lot on their offense to carry them through the season. The biggest issue on this side of the ball is clearly the health problems that Purdue faces. David Blough, the squad’s leader, suffered from an ankle injury and is still recovering. Elijah Sindelar played through a torn ACL at the end of last season and his availability remains in question.
Purdue also lost their elite wide receiver Anthony Mahoungou to the NFL but return 10 out of 12 backs who had at least 19 targets including Brycen Hopkins, and Cole Herdman, the team’s two star tight ends. The Boilermakers biggest hope looks to be from the ground game, as Purdue has solid options with a four RB rotation in Markell Jones, D.J. Knox, Richie Worship, and Tario Fuller as well as a good-enough O-line with six returnees.
Jeff Brohm will hope to lead Purdue to a second straight seven-win season. The college football world will watch to see if lightning can strike twice for these Boilermakers and see if they can compete with the league’s best. Will they be in the running for a Big Ten title? Absolutely not.