The offense will have a difficult task going into Saturday’s matchup with University of Maryland.
At quarterback, there seems to be a potential shakeup in the making. On the latest depth chart released, it lists the starting quarterback as either Jack Plummer or Aidan O’Connell. The key word is “or,” as it means that it’s possible both will see the field. Most of the quarterback struggles can be tied to the offensive line and youth, but Purdue will look to get more out of their quarterbacks. To do that, head coach Jeff Brohm is trying to create more competition.
“I think O’Connell is a guy that could play, ... depending on how this week goes. ... I do want to make sure that even at that position, we know there’s competition,” Brohm said.
At running back, fifth-years Richie Worship and Tario Fuller are out against Maryland, but Brohm is hopeful that both with play at some point this season.
“I wouldn’t count on it, but we’re working hard to get him and (Fuller) back,” Brohm said. “They have both been able to practice a little bit. I am hopeful at some point, but no, I would doubt this week.”
The depth chart has not changed much for Purdue at running back. Purdue has struggled with their run game, but it looks like freshman King Doerue has solidified his spot at the top of the depth chart with sophomore Zander Horvath and freshman Da’Joun Hewitt at backup.
The wide receiver position has been hit extremely hard by the injury bug. Numerous players, including sophomore Rondale Moore, have been injured or banged up this season. It is still unknown when Moore will be back from his injury. Freshman TJ Sheffield, freshman Milton Wright and junior Jared Sparks are still out this week, and freshman Mershawn Rice still looks to be banged up.
“That one, too early to tell,” Brohm said about Sparks’s chances of playing.
The starting wide receivers will be freshman David Bell, junior Jackson Anthrop and redshirt freshman Amad Anderson Jr, while redshirt freshman Jordan Bonner is once again the backup. Making his first appearance on the depth chart is redshirt freshman Kory Taylor. If Sparks does not play, then it is possible that Bonner and Taylor could see the field for the first time this year.
“Next man up; ... the guys behind them have gotta do a good job of stepping up and going forward,” receivers coach JaMarcus Shephard told GoldandBlack.com.
Since Darius Pittman’s transfer from the program, there has been limited news at the tight end spot. Fifth-year Brycen Hopkins is still the starter and redshirt freshman Payne Durham is the backup. Brohm has been frustrated with the tight end play this season, and he’s looking to get them more involved.
“We’ve called multiple plays that are designed to go to the tight end. ... We’ve struggled quite a bit when our tight ends are pressed,” Brohm said.
The offensive line saw a major reorganization this week after a lot of new lineups were tested against Pennsylvania State Univeristy. The new starting lineup includes junior Grant Hermanns at left tackle and sophomore Mark Stickford at left guard. Sophomore Viktor Beach has battled a nagging injury all season, so sophomore Sam Garvin is now the starting center. Fifth-year Matt McCann is the starting right guard and redshirt freshman Eric Miller will make his first career start at right tackle.
Purdue’s offense is going to look to take advantage of Maryland’s below-average pass defense and try to get either Plummer or O’Connell in a rhythm in the passing game. It will also look to improve on the running game and get some of the tight ends more involved in the offense. The offensive line has seen some major changes this week, and they will look to protect the quarterback and open holes for the running back better than last week.