Purdue might have a “hodgepodge” lineup at times during practices this week, Jeff Brohm said, because of the number of players who might sit after being nicked up in the win at Missouri.
T.J. McCollum might be the most notable, as the veteran linebacker left Saturday’s game in the first quarter and did not return. After the game, Brohm said McCollum had missed practice time the week before, suffering from a hamstring injury.
But McCollum might be able to miss practice this week without being too severely hampered, Brohm noted, because the transfer has played in Nick Holt’s system the last two seasons at Western Kentucky.
“Of all the people, we can make sure we're very conservative and get him healthy, just try to get him whatever reps he needs,” Brohm said during his weekly Monday teleconference as Purdue starts prep for Michigan.
Injuries to others are a bit unclear.
Cornerback Da’Wan Hunte was hurt in the second half at Missouri, appearing to injure an ankle while fighting off a block — an offensive pass interference was called, as well — and falling to the turf. He had to be walked to the sideline, although he briefly reentered the game. Left tackle Grant Hermanns was checked out on the sideline, with trainers looking at his left knee. The redshirt freshman did play afterward, although he was lifted for Eric Swingler late. Senior Leo Danny Ezechukwu came out briefly in the second half, although perhaps only to get re-taped.
Purdue is thin at many positions — nearly all of them, aside from running back and tight end, perhaps — so it wouldn’t be surprising if Brohm sat players during practice to try to get them as healthy as possible by Saturday.
“(It) may be a hodgepodge practice week as far as how many guys can really participate the whole week,” he said. “We've got to be smart with it, but also we've got to get them to practice and get in the flow again. That's going to be a challenge.”
Maybe, though, Purdue will get others back.
Markell Jones has missed the last two weeks with a right knee injury suffered vs. Louisville. The running back has not practiced, but Brohm said if he’s ready to go for Michigan, he’ll go; Purdue won’t save Jones — or anyone else — knowing the bye week is coming.
But Purdue will have to find out if Jones can go this week.
“We have to try to go all out and win this game for us,” Brohm said. “It's a huge opportunity to play against an outstanding team that's very talented and playing at a high level, do it in front of our fans. I want to try to do the best job we can to try to win, see how it goes.
“But we'll make sure to be smart with Markell and make sure we do our best for him.”
The same scenario could be said for safety T.J. Jallow, who didn’t play at Missouri and only sparingly vs. Ohio. The J.C. transfer appears to be dealing with a lower-body injury, preventing him from practicing.
“We're hopeful he'll be ready to play this week,” Brohm said.
It sounds as though David Blough will be the starting QB vs. Michigan.
There’s little reason to think otherwise. Blough was excellent vs. the Tigers, throwing for 187 yards and a touchdown on 22-of-28 passing. He also had a rushing TD.
“I think David did a very good job,” Brohm said. “He was much better this week at running and getting a few first downs, not turning the ball over, which is huge. Then he was efficient when he threw the football. That's kind of what he is. I think he played within himself. He did a very good job. I like the way he performed.”
But Brohm said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Purdue continued to play two, and he — of course — is making the decisions. Elijah Sindelar played two series in the second quarter on Saturday, then one more after the game had been decided in the fourth, and led Purdue to a touchdown but had an interception.
“He did a very good job. He moved us down the field. He threw a touchdown, had us moving again until we had kind of a little bit of a high pass,” Brohm said. “Still hit our receiver (tight end Brycen Hopkins) in the hand, popped up in the air, stopped the drive. He's had some bad luck with some drops. But he's improved. Got a big arm.”
In three games this season, Blough has completed 76.1 percent of his passes — his career mark before this season was just better than 57 percent — with six touchdowns and two interceptions. In the three first halves this season, he is 30-of-34 passing for 402 yards and three touchdowns, and that’s without having played in the first quarter of the first two games or much in the second quarter of the third.
• Purdue might approach — or get to — a sellout on Saturday for its 4 p.m. Homecoming game against Michigan.
And that might have been unthinkable before the season.
But Monday, associate athletic director Tom Schott said Purdue had sold more than 3,000 tickets for Saturday since the end of the Missouri game, bringing the total to more than 48,000 for Michigan as of Monday morning.
Ross-Ade seats 57,236.
Officially, Purdue’s last sellout was Joe Tiller’s final game as Purdue’s head coach, when the Boilermakers beat Indiana on Nov. 22, 2008.
• Although both coaches this week were collegiate stars — Jim Harbaugh at Michigan and Brohm at Louisville and NFL professionals — they don’t know each other well.
Brohm, 46, is seven years Harbaugh’s junior and recalls watching him play for the Colts in the NFL.
“Captain Comeback,” Brohm said, using the moniker given Harbaugh during Indianapolis’ miraculous run to the ’97 AFC Championship. “Played the game he was supposed to. Tough. Found a way to win. He made plays.
“I think now as a coach, he's got the same mentality. He's tough. He likes the old-fashioned football of being more physical, pounding the football, wearing you down, winning it in that way.”
There’s another Harbaugh-Brohm connection. Jim Harbaugh’s dad, Jack, was the head coach at Western Kentucky from 1989-2002, where Brohm coached a dozen years later.
“They know the game of football, the whole family. They study it, live it, breath it,” Brohm said. “I have a lot of respect for (Jim Harbaugh). He knows how to coach the quarterback position as he played it. He's taken Michigan to a higher level than they had been just recently, even though they've had ton of success. He has the place rolling now. They've got great talent, they're well-coached.”
Brohm, a former quarterback who loves to scheme his offense around a dynamic passing game, at times seems to struggle with the notion of running the football.
Certainly, the idea of being conservative, as Purdue was in the second half while holding a big lead vs. Missouri, is almost nauseating.
“It's not the most fun,” he said, smiling. “It was a little painful over there having to run the ball so much.
“But as the head coach, you kind of have to do what you think is going to help your team win. At the time (vs. Missouri), our defense was playing well. We scored a lot of points in the first half. I wasn't about to get all aggressive and all of a sudden here comes some interceptions, a pick for a touchdown, a sack because we're trying to chuck it up the field, be stupid. Because of that, we kept the lead, we were in control the whole time.
“Would I like to be a little more aggressive? Yes. But we worked on the running game. We had some moments where it was good, had some moments where it was not. But, yeah, it was a little dull there the second half.”
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