WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue’s offense is floundering in Big Ten Conference play, and coach Jeff Brohm would like to see junior quarterback David Blough or redshirt sophomore Elijah Sindelar emerge as a clear starter.
Through four conference games, the Boilermakers (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten) are a woeful 12 of 51 (23.5 percent) on third-down conversions and have scored only 21 points — one touchdown and five field goals — in the past 120 minutes, a 17-9 loss at Wisconsin and a 14-12 loss at Rutgers.
Brohm is eager to settle on one quarterback with Nebraska (3-4, 2-2) up next Saturday night.
“That would help,” Brohm said Monday. “In third-down situations, unless it’s 4 yards or less, most of the time, it’s a passing situation. We have not been able to produce in the passing game. That is just the fact of it. We have not been able to find a way to get that done. Lately, it probably has gotten a little bit worse. People are catching on to what our strengths and weaknesses are.”
Blough led a touchdown drive in the closing seconds at Rutgers and may be the favorite to start against the Huskers.
“We are not ready to hand the position over to one guy just yet,” he said. “No question, at the end of the game, David had some moxie and found a way to create some plays. At the end against man coverage, the quarterback has to run and make some plays. David was able to make some plays with his feet and kept a touchdown drive going.”
While Brohm liked his team’s effort during the first six games, he did not like what he saw at Rutgers, especially from his offense. Fifth-year senior starting cornerback Da’Wan Hunte delivered a blistering postgame speech in the locker room, words that Blough shared with reporters.
“He said, ‘We lost our day-by-day, practice-by-practice, rep-by-rep focus,’” Blough said. ‘”We need to hold each other accountable as leaders, especially grab people who are not focused. You have to make sure your stuff is tight if you are going to jump somebody else. In crunch time, guys did make plays. We have to do that consistently and prove we can do it.’”
Running back D.J. Knox, who carried 13 times for 84 yards at Rutgers, was devastated by the loss.
“That loss hurt me, just seeing how we can play,” Knox said. “We didn’t come out and play like we could have or should have. Rutgers exposed us.”
Wide receiver Anthony Mahoungou, who caught four passes for 47 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown pass from Blough with 25 seconds remaining, said he was disappointed in the way the offense performed.
“I was mad at myself after I caught the touchdown pass,” Mahoungou said. “That was supposed to happen in the first quarter. As wide receivers, we had a mediocre performance. We shouldn’t have let it come to that with 25 seconds left. It’s on the seniors, like me, showing average performance on the first drive of the game.”
Brohm also is waiting for junior college wide receivers Terry Wright and Isaac Zico and Notre Dame transfer Corey Holmes to become more familiar with the offense so they can add more speed to a relatively slow position.
“Two of them didn’t get here until the summer, and the other (Holmes) didn’t get here until fall camp, so they are behind,” Brohm said. “In college football, you have to study it, work at it and know it.”