11/17/18 Wisconsin, Brennan Thieneman, Jonathon Taylor

Then-junior safety Brennan Thiemann prepares to pounce on Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor during a 2018 game.

Purdue football safeties coach Anthony Poindexter said he was excited to hear the news that his longtime friend Bob Diaco was joining him in leading the defense this season.

Poindexter and Diaco have a lot of experience together, having coached side by side at two Division I football programs. They met at Virginia in 2006, and worked together a second time at UConn in 2014. Poindexter was brought onto the Boilermaker staff to coach the safeties in 2017 by head coach Jeff Brohm.

Here are three big takeaways from the safeties press conference Wednesday night.

Everyone gets a fresh start

Injuries plagued the secondary in the 2019 season, forcing freshman safety Marvin Grant into a redshirt, and leaving former cornerback Allen to fill in during live game reps. While the pandemic presents challenges, it has given some time for the group to get ready for the season and step up to fill their new roles.

“I’m seeing the bigger picture,” Grant said. “I’ve never taken so much time off of football. I’m just ready to play.”

With the transfer of sophomore cornerback DJ Johnson from Iowa, Allen has been able to make the switch to safety permanently.

“Getting a feel for that last year has definitely helped my game coming into this year,” Allen said.

The long drought of playing time has the secondary antsy to make big hits.

“When the opportunity comes, I’m definitely going to try and lay a lick on somebody,” Allen said with a smile.

The defense is far from set

As the Boilermakers prepare for a unique 2020 season, there are still a few big questions looming in the secondary from the spring. With the depth in the defensive backs group, a lot of the players are still being evaluated.

“We don’t really have a rotation,” Poindexter said. “We’re just starting to put the pads on, as we draw near the game we’ll figure it out.”

Experience is an advantage

With players like fifth-year Brennan Thieneman, sophomore Cam Allen, and UConn grad transfer Tyler Coyle, the secondary is prepared to make an impact this season. Thieneman is the leader of the group and has been taking on the role of play-caller under Diaco’s defense. Diaco had nothing but praise for Thieneman.

“Brennan is a willing communicator and he’s really doing a nice job,” Diaco said.

Despite Thieneman’s success this offseason, he is focused on the younger players coming up beneath him.

“I think the safeties are looking good,” Thieneman said. “I think you can expect a lot of good things from them in the future.”

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