Purdue Football: Secondary Improvement the Focus this Week

Brady Extin

Defending against the pass has been one of the more consistent areas of the Purdue defense. But according to Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm, the secondary had some struggles last week against Wisconsin.

“We did not play a great game on defense, without question,” Brohm said. “Our secondary did not have one of its better games.”

Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan didn’t put up big numbers, throwing for just 203 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He wasn’t asked to throw often though - just 19 times - with the Badgers running the ball 55 times for over 400 yards.

When he did throw, it was easy completions to wide open receivers, evident by his 79% completion rate. That’s something that can’t happen again this week against an Indiana team that loves to throw the ball.

“This team’s going to spread you out and throw it on the perimeter even more so than the last,” Brohm said. “We’ve got to not give too much cushion, challenge things, be able to make the tackle when the ball’s completed, or deflect it or intercept it.”

Indiana will be one of the toughest matchups that the Purdue secondary has faced this season. The Hoosiers currently rank first in the Big Ten in passing yards per game, averaging 306. That number is also good enough for 14th in the entire country.

The Hoosiers passing attack has seen some changes over the course of the season. With starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr. being sidelined with a shoulder injury a few weeks ago, Peyton Ramsey has taken over under center. Ramsey has looked just as good as Penix, posting almost identical numbers on the season, throwing for 1,890 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions.

To complement Ramsey, Indiana has a talented group of wide receivers in Whop Philyor, Ty Fryfogle, Nick Westbrook, Donavan Hale, and tight end Peyton Hendershot. Philyor leads the group, and it looks as though the Hoosiers will get him back this week after he was forced out of last week’s game against Michigan with a concussion. Philyor has caught 61 passes for 863 yards and three touchdowns this season. He’ll be the main guy the Boilermakers will have to contain on Saturday.

The Purdue secondary ranks 11th in the Big Ten, but they’ve been on a stretch of solid performances over the past month and a half. Prior to the last two games, Purdue had held opposing quarterbacks to zero touchdowns over a four-game stretch against Maryland, Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska. Indiana’s passing game will be tougher than those opponents, but if they can play like that it’ll be a big boost on Saturday. For Brohm though, those performances are a thing of the past. This week is all about improving and getting better as a team from what he saw last week against Wisconsin.

“I think we all have to do a better job, coaches and players this week, and make sure we put our players in the best position to succeed and win and then our players have to go out there and compete and challenge things,” Brohm said. “We have to do a better job this week.”