Welcome to college football, circa 2014. It’s the first year of a new playoff system and even in places like West Lafayette, optimism reigns supreme on the first Saturday of the season.
Earlier this week, I predicted the Boilermakers would finish 4-8 overall with one victory in the Big Ten. For a fan base used to bowl games, that might not sound appetizing, but there’s a major youth movement occurring at Purdue.
The depth chart is loaded with underclassmen, giving hope for a bright future. Five true freshmen are pegged to see playing time today against Western Michigan, including starting linebacker Ja’Whan Bentley.
“When you work extremely hard like we’ve been doing all summer, you don’t expect anything less than to be where you expect to be,” Bentley told reporters this week. “I’ve worked extremely hard, but I’ve got to continue to push on because it doesn’t stop here. I constantly have stuff I need to work on every day.”
An unsatisfactory tune has been sung by each of the five freshmen expected to play in the season opener.
Two intriguing options are wide receivers Gregory Phillips and Trae Hart. Both could develop into fast friends – and welcome targets – for sophomore quarterback Danny Etling.
“I came in with a mindset that I’m going to play,” Hart said. “I’m going to work real hard to play, and that’s what I came here to do and that’s what is going to happen.”
- The status of linebacker Sean Robinson remains uncertain. The senior captain is fighting a knee infection. Hazell said Robinson doesn’t need to practice to be ready for today’s game.
- Wide receiver Dan Monteroso and nose guard Ra’Zahn Howard returned to practice this week and are available to play.