INDIANAPOLIS — For the second straight year, Purdue football will wage a quarterback battle before the team's season opener.
Brohm addressed the team's plan as it moves toward fall camp during the 2021 Big Ten Football Media Days on Friday. The Boilermakers will build the team around their quarterback, and they may even find ways to use multiple players at the position this season.
“I always think it’s beneficial to have more than one guy that can play," Brohm said. "We’ve had success playing multiple guys a lot of years and want to continue to build that depth there."
Jack Plummer and Aidan O'Connell, who played an equal number of games in 2020, headline the candidates, but coach Jeff Brohm was sure to mention the signal-callers behind them as well.
Senior Austin Burton, who transferred from UCLA, will enter his second season with the program this fall. Brohm said he now has an understanding of the playbook and is talented enough to play.
Brohm also praised redshirt freshman Michael Alaimo, saying he's made tremendous strides in the spring and has arguably the best arm in the entire group.
"I think after a couple weeks of camp we’ll be able to get an internal starter that we’ll feel good about and continue to rep things that way," Brohm said. "But it wouldn’t shock me if we’re always open to playing two quarterbacks if we need to. And if we need to play more, I wouldn’t hesitate to do that."
For the past few seasons, Purdue had one of the top passing offenses in the Big Ten. It's a system that allowed quarterbacks to boast inflated statistics while throwing to some of the most explosive athletes in the conference.
But those numbers only mean something if they contribute to a victory on game day. Brohm said the program must take pressure off their quarterbacks and not ask them to do too much.
“The quarterback position can be a lot of fun, especially when you’re winning," he said. "We want to build things around them, help them have success. And when that happens, normally you’re winning.”
Winning was something Purdue was void of in 2020. After winning the first two games of the season with O'Connell under center, the team's Week 3 game against Wisconsin was canceled due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
O'Connell took the field for his third and final start of the year in a loss against Northwestern before missing the rest of the season due to injury. Plummer took his place for the final three games, but Purdue failed to find another win, finishing with a 2-4 overall record.
Brohm, as a former quarterback himself, will look to bring out the best in each of his signal-callers while they continue to battle for the starting job throughout the upcoming weeks.
“I think you have to have a little fire playing the game of football in general, whatever position you play," Brohm said. "So I do want our quarterbacks to want to compete, I want it to mean something to them."
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