CEDAR RAPIDS — Purdue scored five touchdowns last week in a surprising 40-14 romp over Maryland.
Do you know how many of those scores involved freshmen? How about all of them.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Plummer completed 33 of 41 passes for 420 yards and three TDs. He was named the Big Ten Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week.
True freshman wide receiver David Bell caught nine passes for 138 yards and two scores. He was named the conference’s Freshman of the Week.
True freshman Milton Wright caught a 59-yard touchdown pass in the game from Plummer. True freshman running back King Doerue had a 5-yard TD run.
“I think we have come a far ways from the first game to now,” Plummer told reporters postgame Saturday. “I think I saw something where, I don’t know, the last number of games, stretching into last season, a freshman has scored for Purdue. It’s good to look forward, too. I mean, you don’t want to look too far ahead, but looking at the future, when we’ve got freshmen scoring the ball, that’s good. That’s good for the program. Whoever is going to make plays is going to get on the field at this point.”
Injuries have necessitated a lot of this frosh flurry.
Fifth-year senior quarterback Elijah Sindelar suffered a concussion that kept him out of Purdue’s third game of the season, against TCU, came back the following week and injurred a shoulder injury. That forced Plummer, an Arizona native, into the lineup.
The same game Sindelar hurt his shoulder, against Minnesota, superstar receiver Rondale Moore also hurt a leg that has kept him out of action. Head coach Jeff Brohm said he doubted Moore would return for Saturday morning’s game at Kinnick Stadium against No. 23 Iowa.
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A whopping 22 true and redshirt freshmen are on Purdue’s two-deep roster this week and 30 already have played in games. Brohm was asked at his weekly press conference Monday how many more could see time.
He produced a slightly weary smile.
“I don’t know that there’s many new faces left to put out there,” he said. “There might be one or two more, but there’s not a whole lot left that haven’t played yet. It’ll all be based on injury situations and performance situations. We do want to have some depth, which is limited right now ... But I think we are pressing the limit as far as not having anybody left that’s new and who hasn’t played.”
Doerue, who was recruited out of Amarillo, Texas, is Purdue’s leading rusher, though that’s only 226 yards in six games. Four true or redshirt freshmen have caught passes for the Boilers, with Bell ranking second on the team with 26 grabs.
He was a teammate of Iowa true freshman guard Justin Britt at Indianapolis’ Warren Central High School, and the Hawkeyes recruited him hard, to no avail.
“He’s a big-time player,” Brohm said, after Saturday’s game. “He’s somebody who has to be a big part of this offense. As we continue to get better around him, I think he can showcase himself some more.”
Purdue (2-4) broke a three-game losing streak with the Maryland victory. Any future success this season will be heavily predicated on how all these new guys progress.
“I think we’ve got some good young talent,” Brohm said. “Those guys are up due to our situation, and we just want to see them continue to grow and improve.”
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