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An early look at the Purdue Boilermakers

Our Q&A with Hammer and Rails about Jeff Brohm’s 2019 squad.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Purdue Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

It’s never too early to write about next season!

With spring football completed for college programs, and with what feels like a long offseason until late July/early August, B5Q wanted to check on the Wisconsin Badgers’ 2019 opponents—with the help of some of our SB Nation friends.

Note: These previews will not be in the chronological order of the games, but we hope to get through all of them at some point before fall camp rolls around.

Last season, the Purdue Boilermakers almost, almost broke their years’ long losing streak to Wisconsin—but a fourth quarter comeback led to a triple overtime victory for Bucky.

On Nov. 23, the two programs face off inside Camp Randall Stadium. Travis Miller from Hammer and Rails took some time out of their busy schedules to answer some questions we had about Jeff Brohm’s program heading into next season.

What are your overall thoughts about Purdue heading into the 2019 season?

Tempered expectations.

Jeff Brohm is getting paid $5 million despite going 13-13 in his first two seasons, but 13-13 is a far sight better than 9-39 in the previous four. He has the best recruiting class we have had possibly ever per the recruiting services, but they are still freshmen. Only 21 scholarship players are juniors or seniors eligibility-wise.

By my current count we are also nine scholarship under the 85 limit. There is going to be more talent than we have had in a long while, but it is young talent. I feel like this is a team that could make a ton of noise in 2020 or 2021, but because of youth I am reserving my judgment for later.

Who are the main players returning, and how could they help the Boilers next season?

Well, we have some guy named Rondale Moore who is a “how the hell do we stop that guy?” guy. He is coming off of a season where he shattered records and he is even gathering some Heisman consideration. Honestly, if he tops last year’s numbers while drawing the attention of every opponent I will be ecstatic.

Elijah Sindelar should be fully healthy after missing most of the season at quarterback rehabbing a knee injury. On defense I am excited to see what Markus Bailey does in his final season leading the defense. He is an all-Big Ten caliber linebacker that will be a disruptive force in the middle of the field. Those are probably our top three returning guys and they are a pretty good three.

Who are the critical departures from 2018, and has anyone stepped up to be the potential replacements?

Sindelar has a ton of potential at quarterback, but David Blough really played well in 2018. He is everything you want in a college QB and his final numbers are up there with the Brees’ and Griese’s of our Cradle of Quarterbacks hierarchy. Sindelar has all the physical tools you would ask for, but Blough has all the intangibles you want. Sindelar also has the health questions with his knee.

We’re also going to be a bit short at running back after D.J. Knox and Markell Jones graduated. Knox tore Ohio State apart in the second half of that upset [last season] and Jones was steady and consistent throughout his four years in the backfield. We also need to replace the entire interior of our offensive line, which is the largest question mark we are facing.

Who is your “way too early” breakout player of the year candidate based on the spring?

George Karlaftis. The true freshman enrolled early and was the jewel of the 2019 recruiting class. He attended West Lafayette High School and was a five-star recruit per 247Sports. He comes in at a position of dire need because we had pretty much no pass rush last year. In spring practice he looked like a grown-assed man compared to anyone else and he is the definition of “instant impact.” As much press as Moore received last year (which was considerable), I think Karlaftis could do even more coming off the end.

What is your way too early prediction of the Purdue/Wisconsin game on Nov. 23rd? What is your prediction for Purdue’s season?

I would love to end the streak. Wisconsin has the longest winning streak any team has had against us in our history. We had a great chance to end it last year at home and lost in triple OT. I felt we should have gone for the two at the end of the second OT because it was the one chance we had to end the game without Jonathan Taylor having a say in things. We’re getting closer and closer after years of domination in the series, but I also know that Wisconsin having five extremely large gentlemen clearing the way for an extremely talented running back is difficult to overcome. You know what is coming, but for 25 years or so now no one can stop it.

As far as our season, I am thinking we finish between 6-6 and 8-4. We’re building and gaining for 2020, and I feel the expectations really kick in next year.