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What to watch for in Purdue Boilermakers 2017 Spring Game

Few new head coaches in the Power 5 conferences have the challenge ahead of them as Purdue Boilermakers Jeff Brohm does. The good news is Brohm hasn’t buried his head in the sand so far.

Instead, this spring has been all about “going to work” and taking it back to fundamentals. Purdue has broken things down to the basics in hopes of building a solid base to work with, and given the disaster that was the Darrell Hazell era in West Lafayette, Ind. it probably has been the wise move.

But, as all new coaching regimes go, intrigue on just how quickly a turnaround may happen starts with the first public event — the spring game. With so many questions to answer, what are going to be the biggest ones facing Purdue in this particular moment?

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest things to watch for on Saturday

Defensive Improvement

There’s no way to sugarcoat it, Purdue’s defense has been in decline for a long time and it hit rock bottom in the Darrell Hazell years. Of course, there were individually talented players, but as a unit this group has been brutal for a while now.

Brohm isn’t exactly know as a defensive coach, so he’ll be trusting co-defensive coordinators Nick Holt and Anthony Pointdexter to turn this train around. Holt and Pointdexter are familiar names to Brohm, with both coaching on his staff at Western Kentucky.

Reports from camp have highlighted a huge pick up in hard-hitting JUCO safety T.J. Jallow from the now infamous “Last Chance U” series about Eastern Mississippi Community College. He’s been laying the wood when he can this spring and that certainly will be helpful to a defensive scheme that wants to be aggressive.

Gelen Robinson has slid inside and been a monster and overall the aggressiveness of the defense has certainly been turned up. But, is it because of pure improvement from the players or because of offensive deficiencies? Saturday’s spring game should help provide some of the answers and if they are positive for the defense, that will be a welcome bit of news for Boilermakers fans everywhere.

Any Help for David Blough in Passing Game

Let’s just say new head coach Jeff Brohm has laid down the gauntlet for the wide receivers this offseason. Simply put, the cupboard appeared bare and anyone willing to step up and showcase themselves in a positive light is likely to see the field this fall.

Has anyone taken advantage of the opportunities presented to them? Reports out of practice have not been too positive for the receiving group so far. Instead, most have been about how good the secondary has looked.

If anyone can show some consistency and some pop in the spring game, they are certainly going to find themselves in the mix for large amounts of snaps this fall. Let’s see if anyone can actually show out on Saturday.

Offensive Line Play

If you’re familiar with the Big Ten, then you know championships are largely won with the play of the offensive and defensive lines. Have an elite group on both sides and watch your championship chances skyrocket.

Purdue has been as far from stellar on that front as possible for the last few years. Can Brohm and offensive line coach Dale Williams get this group to a quality level quickly? The good news is that this group is young and inexperienced, meaning Williams won’t have to break them of habits he doesn’t like and can mold this group in his image.

Judging by the fact he was able to get a player like Frank Martin, who was named third team All-American this past season, to elite levels, expect the Boilers offensive line to get better quickly.

However, it hasn’t been an easy spring. Reports indicate the offensive line has had trouble handling the aggressive nature of Purdue’s new-look defense. Will that show up in spring ball or will Williams be able to show his group has improved enough over 15 practices to be excited about come the fall?

There are a lot of holes to fill in on this team and this spring game will likely be about finding those players who want to step up and do something about those holes. The offensive line included.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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