Teams across the nation have seen the flexibility and offensive prowess of the new three-quarterback rotation the Purdue football team debuted against then-No. 2 Iowa over the weekend.
Having three quarterbacks available for every kind of situation adds an extra layer opposing defenses now have to prepare for, junior quarterback Jack Plummer said Tuesday.
In an upset win vs. the Hawkeyes, the Boilermakers (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) unveiled quite an unorthodox game plan. With a QB room consisting of Plummer, fifth-year Aidan O’Connell and senior Austin Burton, the three managed to see the field on the same drive. None came out due to injury or poor performance: It was all pure strategy.
“We know that we got a good quarterback room of guys that are good players,” co-offensive coordinator Brian Brohm said Tuesday. “Why not get them out in the field and let them take part in the action?”
The idea of the three-QB system was first used in a game against Minnesota, where Burton would sub in to take a few reps both under center and in shotgun formation depending on a run or pass play call.
Even though Plummer didn’t get any snaps, the game against the Gophers acted as an opportunity to test Purdue’s new quarterback rotations. The clock was “really ticking” on the few plays Burton subbed in, said Plummer, causing quicker snaps and less time for important decision-making.
With an extra week to prepare due to the bye week, the coaching staff went all in with their idea, practicing the new system in preparation for Iowa.
“In the bye week, (head coach Jeff) Brohm came up to me and said, ‘Hey, be ready to go this week. I might have some plays for ya,’” Plummer said.
The three-headed monster was on full display on the first scoring drive of the game against the Hawkeyes, with each quarterback subbed in on a sequence of three plays.
With first and goal from the 8-yard line, Burton ran a QB keep for a five yard gain. If it weren’t for junior tight end Payne Durham tripping on the turf, Plummer would have had an easy escort to the end zone on the next play. Instead, O’Connell subbed in on third and goal, running it in for the touchdown after he couldn’t find an open receiver.
The funniest part about the play, Plummer said, was the irony of the least-mobile quarterback scoring a rushing touchdown on the drive.
“We were fired up about that, to say the least,” Burton added.
Neither quarterback had any hard feelings they aren’t getting more playing time. Plummer’s initially questioned the idea, but quickly realized the ultimate goal of winning. The quarterbacks rotation seems to feature very team-focused players who want to do whatever they can to “help the team win.”
In fact, both Burton and Plummer said they love the new system.
“We actually had a lot of fun doing it,” Plummer said.
Burton said the quarterback room had all reflected on the game, saying it was one of the most fun games of their lives.
Having each quarterback memorize their own specially-designed package of plays on top of the main playbook is what makes their system so unique, Brian Brohm said.
“We’ve always been a high volume offense, run a lot of plays, practice a lot of plays, make our guys learn a lot of football,” he said. “This is just another element that we are putting in there.”
The possibilities for the future creativity of their scheme are “limitless.” That factor of not knowing what plays Purdue can be running will be a daunting task for Wisconsin once it rolls into West Lafayette next Saturday.
That doesn’t mean that the Badgers (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) won’t cause the Boilers any problems. Coming in with an unusual .500 record, the usual-powerhouse program will be playing hard to show that they are still the top-notch Big Ten program that produced three NFL draft picks last year.
“Their front is really good,” Brian Brohm said. “On offense, they’re gonna try and control the ball.”
He wants the Boilermakers to take advantage of their opportunities by executing efficient plays on offense.
No matter what, the Boilers expect to see all three quarterbacks throughout the game, with each player coming in with their own specific plays designed for certain game situations.
Are the Boilers starting a new trend that will soon permeate college football?
“We could be,” Plummer said. “We could be.”