West Lafayette, Ind. — Jeff Brohm, who came to Purdue in December with a reputation as an offensive gunslinger, said Monday that he would love for the Boilermakers to pass for 500 yards every game. He labeled his play-calling during the second half of Saturday’s 35-3 victory at Missouri as boring and dull.
But with eighth-ranked Michigan (3-0) coming to Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday for the first time since 2012, Purdue’s balanced offense has produced a 2-1 start. The loss came to Lamar Jackson and Louisville, 35-28 in the season opener.
In 2016, Purdue ranked 126th in rushing among 128 FBS programs with a woeful 81.4 yards a game. The Boilermakers currently rank 63rd among 130 FBS schools at 173 rushing yards per game, led by Tario Fuller’s 87-yards-per-game average.
In his three seasons at Western Kentucky, Brohm’s teams averaged 356.6 passing yards per game, 526.2 yards of total offense and 44.6 points per game.
Through three non-conference games, Purdue ranks fourth in Big Ten scoring at 35.7 points, third in passing yards with 286.7, eighth in total offense (374.3) and 10th in rushing (173).
With limited experience at wide receiver for quarterback David Blough and backup Elijah Sindelar to target, a balanced offense is the answer.
“Our balance has definitely helped us,” Brohm said. “I would love to be able to come in here and throw it every play. We’re just not ready for that. That’s not our team right now. I think we’re going to continue to get better passing the football, pass protecting, finding some go-to players. Right now, in order to succeed and win, we’ve got to have balance. We can’t rely on our passing game to win us games. … We have to be able to run the football, play-action, be smart and take a few shots with it.”
Blough, who has completed 51 of 67 passes (76.1 percent) for 597 yards, six touchdowns and only two interceptions, said the strong running game at Missouri — 50 carries for 205 yards — made the final 15 minutes enjoyable.
“At a point in the fourth quarter, I realized, ‘Man, this is what it is supposed to feel like,’” Blough said. “I was completely relaxed, and my mind was shut off from everything from the outside world. It felt great being in a situation being up 35-3. I have been through a lot in my years here, ups and downs. The Missouri game was easily the biggest win I have been a part of. It was fun.”
Not so much fun for creative play-caller Brohm, but the result, especially against an SEC opponent on the road, is all that matters.
“It’s not the most fun,” Brohm said.
“It was a little painful over there having to run the ball so much. But as a head coach, you kind of have to do what you think is going to help your team win.”