5 Questions Before Purdue Football’s Spring Game at Ross-Ade Stadium

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue’s spring football game returns to Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday for the first time since 2019. The intrasquad game is scheduled to start at noon ET with free admission for fans, and it will also be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network.

The event marks the end of the team’s 15 spring training sessions which began on February 28. It has been a period of developing young players while welcoming several new faces to the program, including four newly appointed assistant coaches, five first registrants from the 2022 recruiting class and eight transfer portal players.

The Boilermakers return 15 total starters on offense and defense from last year’s team, a squad that finished the season with a 9-4 overall record capped by a 48-45 win over Tennessee at TransPerfect Music City Bowl.

In a battle between the two sides of football, Purdue’s offense will have a traditional scoring system while the defense will be awarded points for making specific saves.

How many snaps for QB Aidan O’Connell?

There is no uncertainty at quarterback heading into the 2022 football season for Purdue. With Aidan O’Connell returning for his sixth year with the program, he sits atop the totem pole with Austin Burton, Michael Alaimo and freshman Brady Allen vying for the backup spot.

The Boilermakers will no doubt be looking to have O’Connell at center when the team opens its season Sept. 1 against Penn State at Ross-Ade Stadium. So the question for Saturday is simple: How much can we expect to see from O’Connell?

Expect the second-team All-Big Ten flagger to be used sparingly. I predict O’Connell will have a well-executed streak before he’s knocked out in favor of Burton or Alaimo.

Purdue will be without several of its best receivers. Milton Wright, Broc Thompson and Mershawn Rice were all kept out of spring training, and TJ Sheffield was another player who saw limited attendance.

Saturday’s spring game is not only a great opportunity for Burton and Alaimo to see live rehearsals, but it also allows Allen — a four-star freshman from Gibson Southern High School in Fort Branch, Indiana — to bring everything together. he learned as an early enrollee.

Not to mention that the Boilermakers will enter the game with a depleted secondary, especially at cornerback. I’m sure shredding reserve defenders in a spring game isn’t high on O’Connell’s list, and neither should it be.

Who replaces Cornerback?

Cornerback depth is a concern for Purdue entering Saturday’s game as projected starters Jamari Brown and Cory Trice have been sidelined all spring while rehabilitating with injury .

And with backup players coming in and out of the lineup over the past two months, the Boilermakers have at one point resorted to lining up quarterbacks across from wide receivers during practice. First-year cornerbacks coach Ashten Youboty has suggested they just stick to throwing the ball for now.

Transfers Reese Taylor and Bryce Hampton have seen more training time lately and should be ready for Saturday. The two are in the mix for playing time when the season kicks off, but that doesn’t mean the pair should take on all the playing time on the perimeter during the spring game.

Will Tyrone Tracy see playing time at RB?

Iowa transfer Tyrone Tracy is Purdue football’s next Swiss army knife on the offensive side of the ball. An explosive weapon that can run routes from anywhere on the field in addition to receiving transfers as a running back.

Coach Jeff Brohm won’t want to reveal all that’s in store for Tracy in the team’s spring game, but I’m curious to see how much work he’ll get heading the ball. What is certain is that he will get his fair share of goals as a wide receiver.

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The Decatur Central High School graduate posted just 16 rushing attempts for 93 yards and two touchdowns during his time with the Hawkeyes.

Running back King Doerue returns this season and is an expected starter for the Boilermakers, while Indiana transfer Sampson James will finally get a chance to see the field in 2022 after a year of waiting. Walk-on Devin Mockobee took a lot of reps this spring with Dylan Downing sidelined with injury.

How deep is the team’s defensive line?

No George Karlaftis, no problem. Well, sort of.

Purdue Football may not boast first-round NFL Draft talent along its defensive front for the upcoming season, but it is making up for the loss of its All-American defensive end with a steady rotation.

Co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Mark Hagen said the goal for the 2022 season is to have three players in each position ready to play. With defensive tackle Lawrence Johnson out through injury and Branson Deen unlikely to see heavy game time on Saturday as an expected starter, we’re unlikely to see any glimpse of the wave of defensive linemen from the team.

But behind the group of veterans along the defensive front are several players looking to prove themselves this spring and show off their improvements ahead of fall camp.

Can the first registrants cause a sensation?

Purdue Football recruited 19 high school players during the signing period in early December, and a handful headed to campus early to participate in the team’s spring practices. Allen and fellow four-star rookie defensive end Joe Strickland are the headliners of the group, and the two should see plenty of playing time on Saturday.

Others who took part in spring training are defensive tackles JP Deeter and Mo Omonode, alongside wide receiver Zion Steptoe. It was a great opportunity for the young recruits to grab the college reps before the other freshmen arrived in the fall.

Saturday’s spring game is a final opportunity for them to put on some valuable film to continue progressing in their development.

Return of the starters for the 2022 football season

Offense (7)

  • King Dore, running back
  • Payne Durham, tight end
  • Gus Hartwig, Center
  • Spencer Holstege left guard
  • Eric Miller, right tackle
  • Aidan O’Connell, quarterback
  • Milton Wright, wide receiver

Defense (8)

  • Cam Allen, strong security
  • Jamari Brown, cornerback
  • Branson Deen, defensive tackle
  • Kieren Douglas, linebacker
  • Jalen Graham, linebacker
  • Marvin Grant, Free Security
  • Kydran Jenkins, defensive end
  • Lawrence Johnson, defensive tackle

Special teams (4)

  • Mitchell Fineran, kicker
  • Jack Ansell, punter
  • Jack Albers, starter (quarterback)
  • Nick Zecchino, Longsnapper
  • HOW TO WATCH THE PURDUE FOOTBALL SPRING MATCH: Purdue Football will have its spring 2022 game at noon ET on Saturday, April 9, inside Ross-Ade Stadium. Admission is free for fans and the game will also be streamed live on the Big Ten Network. CLICK HERE
  • ROSS-ADE RENOVATIONS, BROHM APPROVED EXPANSION: Ross-Ade Stadium will undergo a $45.4 million renovation project and Purdue coach Jeff Brohm has agreed to a two-year contract extension through 2027. The Boilermakers come from complete a 9-4 season that included a Music City Bowl victory during the 2021 campaign. CLICK HERE
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