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For Purdue football, the competition has just begun

Purdue quarterback David Blough throws a pass against Indiana last November at Memorial Stadium. (File photo by the Associated Press)
Purdue quarterback David Blough throws a pass against Indiana last November at Memorial Stadium. (File photo by the Associated Press)

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ONLINE: For more on sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Boiler difference makers wanted ASAP

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 09:26 pm

Jeff Brohm isn't messing around with this competitive mindset approach. He wants a Purdue football turnaround ASAP, and it starts, and certainly doesn't end, with being tougher than the other guy.

If that means playing two quarterbacks, or even three, and it looks like that will happen next season, so be it. If it includes showing everybody that everything is earned, nothing is given, deal with it.

Veteran defensive linemen Gelen Robinson sounds more than ready. So do all the Boilermakers. The worst four-year stretch in school history can do that to you, and now that Brohm aims to fix what former head coach Darrell Hazell broke, status quo ain't part of the plan.

“We'll be coming into (August) camp competing for jobs,” Robinson said. “I will be competing for jobs. So will the younger guys. Nothing is guaranteed.”

That's the way Brohm wants it, which is why he told starting quarterback David Blough, last year's Big Ten passing leader, that he will share playing duties with Elijah Sindelar and Jared Sparks (who could wind up throwing, running and catching his way to Saturday success)

But the competition goes way beyond quarterback. Take wide receiver, which took a big graduation hit. Guys such as Gregory Phillips, Terrance Landers and Jackson Anthrop showed in the spring game they're capable of difference-making plays.

They'll need to deliver.

“These guys have to step up,” Blough said. “They're getting pushed by (receivers coach JaMarcus Shephard), who has done a great job of pushing them. We'll work all summer and put out a product that Purdue can be proud of.

“Competition brings out the best. Those guys will be pushed by new guys coming in. That's when people thrive.”

Phillips showed his ability to thrive with a six-catches-for-74-yards spring game effort. Injuries had limited him most of the spring.

“Late in the spring practice we had a couple of good days together,” Blough said. “Greg's confidence was high. My confidence was high. I saw a lot of things worked on in the spring come to fruition (in the spring game). Greg made some great catches. He made plays.”

Blough paused for a smile

“He's my roommate. I've gotta give him the ball.”

Brohm wants to get the ball to the players who can do the most with it.

“Jackson Anthrop is a guy we're going to count on,” Brohm said. “He's a redshirt freshman who hasn't played, but he'll have to make plays. He made plays throughout the spring.

“Greg Phillips has struggled at times when he was injured, but he's gotten better. I've seen considerable improvement from him, which we will need.

“Anthony (Mahoungou) is a big target (at 6-3 and 210 pounds). He's been injured with a bad Achilles. That limited him quite a bit. He'll have to emerge. From there we'll have to find backups, guys getting here in the summer we'll have to throw in the mix and hope they can compete for jobs as well.”

Ultimately, it's about scoring, especially in the red zone. Offenses can bog down when they get inside the 20-yard line. Brohm's Western Kentucky success (a 30-10 three-year record with an average of 44.6 points a game) suggests he'll make it work with the Boilers.

“Sometimes when you get in the red zone, it gets tight and you have to have some creativity with the play call,” Brohm said. “They'll be up on you and take away everything short and take away the run. Unless you're willing to use a little trickery and miss-direction, it will be hard to get first downs.

“We have to find ways when it's third down and short is a tough down, have to find a way to be productive. Red zone will be important. When they get on you tighter, guys on the outside and tight ends have to make plays.”

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ONLINE: For more on sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

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