The program’s starting quarterback offers an evaluation after the first five days of practice
Mike Carmin, Journal & Courier
The Boilermakers return to practice March 18 after spring break
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Taking stock of the Boilermakers after five spring practices.
• This is a natural place to pause and reflect on what’s happened with coach Jeff Brohm’s team.
Purdue is one-third of the way through spring practice. It has several key players out – most of them won’t return due to injuries – but their absence gives younger and inexperienced players a chance to prove their worth.
“I feel like we’ve made some progress in two weeks, which has to happen,” Brohm said. “I feel our guys have worked hard. We understand we have a long way to go.”
Purdue coach Jeff Brohm at spring practice (Photo: Frank Oliver/For the Journal & Courier)
Here’s a small sample size of progress from quarterback Elijah Sindelar.
“The defense kicked our butts the first three practices. Now, we’ve started to kick their butts a little bit this week,” Sindelar said. “It’s good to see it coming back and forth.”
• The questions about the offensive line probably won’t stop until the season opener at Nevada.
Projected starting center Viktor Beach (back) was on the field for the first practice but hasn’t returned. The rotating centers are walk-on Sam Garvin, freshman Spencer Holstege and junior Bryce Brown.
As expected, there have been a handful of bad snaps in the shotgun formation. Part of that is inexperience, especially with Holstege, who played tackle last season on his high school team.
“Some of those bad snaps came from a guy who was playing tackle his whole life,” Sindelar said. “He’s doing a great job. We can use him. We’ve just got to work on getting his confidence.”
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Before Wednesday’s practice, Alex Criddle – who moved from the defensive line during last season’s bowl practices – was working at center. With Beach out indefinitely, the Boilermakers are looking at all options.
“We’re going to have to give him a lot more time to get the thing healed as much as we can,” Brohm said about Beach. “We need him to get experience and get out there and play and that’s what we’re losing out on, but we need to get him healthy.”
Brohm and offensive line coach Dale Williams continue to rotate bodies, especially at the guard positions.
“We’ve moved some guys around and tried some different combinations and get them where a few guys could possibly swing and figure out who the best five are and get those guys ready to play,” Brohm said.
Brohm evaluates the first five days of practice
Mike Carmin, Journal & Courier
• Backup quarterback Nick Sipe has also been absent starting with the second practice a week ago.
Brohm said Sipe is dealing with a lower back issue but should return after spring break.
Linebacker is already thin, and sophomore Jaylan Alexander left Wednesday’s practice after suffering an ankle injury. He had to be helped to the locker room. Markus Bailey and Cornel Jones are out with injuries and won’t return.
• The competition at receiver remains strong.
All the talk and hype about the incoming freshmen – David Bell, Milton Wright, T.J. Sheffield and Mershawn Rice – has this group focused and competing on nearly every play.
“They’re trying to show out every day, coming to practice and working hard,” Sindelar said. “It’s making the offense look better when those guys are going hard even if the play isn’t designed for them. They’re still running the routes hard.”
• West Lafayette graduate George Karlaftis continues to impress.
During 11-on-11 drills Wednesday, the defensive end had a sack – he touched the quarterback in the pocket – and tipped a pass thrown by Jack Plummer because of his quickness off the edge.
“George has a motor and creates disruption and a push that we haven’t seen here to this point,” Brohm said. “He gets better and better.”
Karlaftis is part of a defensive line that is starting to make strides in creating more pressure, a big emphasis this spring.
“I’ve seen progress on the defensive side of the ball, I’ve seen better disruption to the quarterback,” Brohm said. “That’s a sign of the D-line getting better and it’s a sign we have a ways to go on the offensive line. I think there has been improvement.”
• On Thursday, Rondale Moore will be recognized as the Paul Hornung Award winner during a banquet in Louisville. The award is given to the most versatile player in major college football.
The dynamic receiver and return specialist became the first true freshman in school and Big Ten history to be named a consensus All-American. The Big Ten Freshman and Receiver of the Year led the nation with 114 receptions, becoming only the second player in league history with 100 or more catches in a single season.
Moore was absent from Wednesday’s practice because he was in Louisville.
Contact Journal & Courier Purdue football and women’s basketball reporter Mike Carmin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @carmin_jc