BOZICH | First check of The Brohm Effect at Purdue and WKU
The Jeff Brohm Effect will be a storyline during this college football season -- at Purdue as well as at Western Kentucky.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – This is a column that will be more meaningful on the fourth Saturday of November than the second Thursday in September.
This is not intended to be a final judgment. Not close to that. Remind me to check on Purdue, Western Kentucky and the Jeff Brohm Effect storyline in October, November, December and beyond.
But considering Jeff Brohm played and coached at the University of Louisville, worked four seasons at Western Kentucky and began his Purdue coaching career against his alma mater 12 days ago, I believe The Brohm Effect will be a legitimate, ongoing story.
What has Brohm’s arrival done for Purdue football?
What has Brohm’s departure signaled for WKU football?
I’ll start with these numbers: 1 and 45,633.
1 is the number of touchdown passes WKU quarterback Mike White has thrown in two games this season after White averaged better than 2.6 TD passes per game in Brohm’s offense last season.
When White finished the Illinois game last Saturday without a TD pass, it was the first time in 14 games he failed to throw one. The last team that blanked White was the Alabama team that won the 2016 national title. Don’t expect to see Lovie Smith and Illinois in the national playoffs.
After two games, White’s completion percentage has taken a minor dip (67.3 to 64) from last season. The alarming drop has been in his yards per attempt (10.5 to 6.8) as well the lack of touchdowns. (His early 2017 numbers are closer to his 2014 numbers at South Florida, when White averaged 6.8 yards per attempt and failed to throw a TD in three of his last four games.)
The real-time social media reaction Saturday night during WKU’s 20-7 loss was intense, occasionally harsh and certainly pre-mature. It reminded me of the bile that percolated quickly in Louisville fans after Steve Kragthorpe replaced Bobby Petrino a decade ago, but in 140-character Twitter chunks.
I expect new WKU coach Mike Sanford to figure it out but I also believe it is necessary to remind the faithful that WKU lost more than Brohm.
The Hilltoppers are without tackle Forrest Lamp (the top NFL draft pick in school history); Taywan Taylor (second team wide receiver with Tennessee Titans who caught two passes in his NFL debut); receiver Nicholas Norris and halfback Anthony Wales (who ran for 209 yards and four touchdowns when WKU won the Conference USA title against the Louisiana Tech program the Hilltoppers will play in Bowling Green Saturday).
Until White rings up a 325-yard, three touchdown games against those usually shaky CUSA defenses, blood pressure will remain elevated in Bowling Green.
At Purdue, the exhale is underway – and enough gates were open at Ross-Ade Stadium that 45,633 folks gathered to watch the Boilermakers make Drew Brees proud again.
That’s how many people attended Brohm’s home debut, a 44-21 victory over Ohio University last Friday.
That’s a 42 percent increase over the Boilermakers’ attendance at their 2016 home opener as well as a jump of nearly 25 percent over their home average last season. It was larger any Purdue home crowd last season.
In other words, by playing Louisville to a one-touchdown game, Brohm engaged a fan base beaten down by five straight losing seasons.
What have they seen?
Purdue’s scoring (+11 points) and total offense (+60) are improved, but the jump is a result of a stronger running game. The Boilermakers are plus-61 yards per game running the ball.
Purdue quarterbacks appear to be more efficient. The Boilermakers have completed 60.5 percent of their passes with a touchdown/interception ratio of 8 to 3. A year ago the Purdue quarterbacks completed 56 percent of their throws with 25 touchdowns and 25 picks.
In other words, the Boilermakers are making fewer knucklehead plays while averaging one passing touchdown per quarter.
Defense? Purdue has allowed an extra 14 yards per game. Purdue has also played 60 minutes against the most dynamic college football player in America, Mr. Lamar Jackson.
Are the Boilermakers better?
It certainly appears they are, but they can prove it Saturday at Missouri. Purdue is a 7 1/2 –point underdog against a Mizzou program that fired its defensive coordinator last weekend.
When was Purdue’s last non-conference road game against a Power Five program?
Try Sept. 17, 2005 when the Boilermakers scored at Arizona, 31-24.
That will be another opportunity to check The Brohm Effect, guaranteed to remain a story line this season.
Copyright 2017 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.