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Purdue offense thriving under Jeff Brohm as Boilermakers get set to host Badgers

November 16, 2018

Purdue coach Jeff Brohm

The University of Wisconsin football team isn’t paying attention to the red herring that was Purdue’s 41-10 loss at Minnesota last week.

The Boilermakers posted at least 30 points in six of their previous seven games, senior quarterback David Blough could be on his way to All-Big Ten honors after beginning the season as a backup and freshman Rondale Moore continues to emerge into one of the conference’s most dangerous receivers.

Purdue’s offense, still 25th nationally in total yards after last week, has taken off under second-year coach Jeff Brohm and enters Saturday’s game against the Badgers at Ross-Ade Stadium as a good bet to bounce back.

“They probably have the most explosive offense in the Big Ten,” UW safety D’Cota Dixon said. “I think as good of an offense we’ll see all year. I don’t care who you play against. I feel like they’re just as good as anybody in the country with the way they’ve been putting up points and using their guys.”

Brohm’s first head coaching job came at Western Kentucky from 2014-16, when the Hilltoppers ranked in the top 10 in total offense in each of those years. He’s brought the same aggressive style to Purdue and helped the program break a streak of five straight losing seasons in 2017.

The Boilermakers now hope they’ll have a chance to keep progressing with Brohm. Louisville fired coach Bobby Petrino on Sunday, and rumors suggest Brohm - a Louisville native and former Cardinals player and assistant coach - could be a top candidate to replace him.

“I’ve heard the noise just like everyone else,” Brohm told reporters Monday. “I think unfortunately it’s important for me to not comment on any speculation. ... I think any time things come about, it’s a product of how your team is doing and how they’re playing. They’ve done some good things.”

They certainly have, particularly on offense. Moore ranks in the top three among Big Ten players in receptions (82), receiving yards (909) and receiving touchdowns (8). His 82 catches are 16 more than anyone else in the conference, and his 8.2 receptions per game are more than any FBS player.

His season includes five 100-yard games, highlighted by his 12-catch, 170-yard, two-touchdown outburst in Purdue’s 49-20 upset of Ohio State on Oct. 20. Moore’s also carried the ball 11 times for 163 yards and a score this year.

“He’s an extremely dynamic, explosive athlete,” UW safety Scott Nelson said. “They’re going to get him the ball. They do a great job of finding ways to get him the ball, whether that’s receiving out of the backfield, kick returning, punt returning. He’s a very talented player.”

The Boilermakers have plenty of other playmakers at Blough’s disposal, including wide receiver Isaac Zico, tight end Bryce Hopkins and the senior running back duo of D.J. Knox and Markell Jones.

Blough’s also talented in his own right and appears to be putting it all together in his final year. He’s completing 65.8 percent of his passes for 2,825 yards with 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

“I think that he’s ultra competitive. He’s certainly talented,” UW coach Paul Chryst said of Blough. “It looks to me like he’s got a great feel for what they’re trying to do, that he has an understanding of the players around him. I love the way he competes. ... I (have) a lot of respect for Jeff and what he’s done and they do offensively.”

Taylor, Deiter semifinalists for major awards

UW running back Jonathan Taylor and left guard Michael Deiter were named semifinalists for major postseason honors Wednesday.

Taylor, who leads the nation in rushing with 1,548 yards, was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award, given annually to college football’s best running back.

Deiter’s one of eight semifinalists for the Outland Trophy, awarded to the best interior lineman in the nation. The senior’s set to make a program-record 52nd start Saturday at Purdue.

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