Coach's corner: Cerebral Plummer takes over team with growing confidence
This is Jack Plummer's team now. And quarterback’s coach Brian Brohm has confidence in his new leader.
“I thought he did pretty good (vs. TCU), given the circumstance,” said Brohm. “You could see his growth, his confidence level being a lot higher in the Minnesota game.”
Plummer, a redshirt freshman, made his first career start Sept. 14 vs. TCU with Elijah Sindelar out with a concussion. Plummer came off the bench last Saturday vs. Minnesota after Sindelar suffered a left shoulder injury in the first quarter. The fifth-year senior could be out for several weeks. Plummer is learning all he can on the field and especially in the film room. It's his nature.
"If I know I can learn something, I'm gonna learn it," said Plummer. "It'll bug me if I don't know what's happening."
Against Minnesota, Plummer appeared to know what was happening. He connected on 23-of-41 passes for 245 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Purdue lost, 38-31, but Plummer rallied the team from a 38-17 hole to near victory.
Now, the 6-5, 220-pound Plummer will make his second career start on Saturday—and his first on he road—when 1-3 Purdue plays at 4-0 Penn State. Kickoff is noon ET.
“The offense doesn’t really change (with Plummer in for Sindelar),” said Brohm. “With Elijah, he has one of the best arms I’ve ever been around. I have been around Aaron Rodgers, and it’s close to that level of arm talent. Jack doesn’t throw it quite that hard so. The deep ball, the deep in cut, the deep over, we are still gone do that stuff. That was Elijah’s strengths. We did a lot of that stuff with Elijah and we’ll still do quite a bit of that stuff.
"Jack has a really good understanding of the offense, so the full playbook is wide open. And he adds a little dimension of being able to carry the football and run with it and make some plays with his feet.”
Plummer will be challenged by a rugged Penn State defense that pitched a shutout at Maryland last week. And Beaver Stadium traditionally is one of the loudest and most intimidating venues in the Big Ten.
“This will be his first time playing on the road,” said Brohm. “That's a pretty big atmosphere to go into for your first time getting into a game on the road. I think he'll handle it well. He will prepare himself the best he can. We have to get him all geared up for all of the noise communication it's gonna take with the offensive line, getting him to speak up, be loud, be confident. … I look forward to seeing what he can do out there.”
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Time to shine
Jack Plummer is ready for this moment. He’s ready to wade into 106,572-seat Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., and take on a Penn State defense that is allowing just 7.5 points,and 274.5 yards per game.
“It’s gonna be loud,” said Plummer. “When you are on the field, it’s just a normal football field, 100 yards, 53 yards wide. I think it will just be the noise factor. I don’t think size of the stadium or anything will effect me.”
This is a quarterback who is gaining a belief in himself that should go a long way in helping him grow up quickly. Purdue needs that. It needs to show it has life without Elijah Sindealr. This is a team that has been crippled by injuries, and it’s a roster littered with youth. Plummer is one of those fresh, young faces.
“It feels good to have confidence in yourself,” he said. “For right now, it’s your team, you get the ‘one’ reps and you are gonna be the guy to lead the team and that’s what you come here for ... ”
Talk to anyone about Plummer, and they’ll quickly tell you how cerebral he is, how quickly he picked up the playbook. But does he suffer from paralysis by analysis? Does he sometimes think too much?
“I felt like I (moved past that vs. Minnesota),” said Plummer. “I feel more comfortable out there. It was good to be able to see with my eyes. I felt like I knew what defense Minnesota was in every snap, so that was really good for my confidence."
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The Bell is tolling
David Bell arrived on campus as the most touted player in the 2019 recruiting class. But he has had to deal with the adversity of injury. He didn't let it sidetrack him.
First, he had a hamstring issue that derailed him in training camp. Then, he hurt a shoulder vs. TCU. But, the four-star recruit has keep battling and enjoyed a breakout effort vs. Minnesota last week in which he caught eight passes for 114 yards. Both were career highs.
“It was great to get out there and be with the guys,” said the true freshman from Warren Central High in Indianapolis. “We came up short. … it gave us a lot of confidence, too, to comeback and fight.”
A starter, Bell could see his role expand as Purdue moves forward without sophomore wideout Rondale Moore, who is out indefinitely after suffering an injury last week.
"He’s obviously a huge factor in our offense,” said Bell. “But I personally don't think our mind-set changes.”
And quarterback Jack Plummer doesn’t think other wideouts will press to fill the production lost without Moore, who leads the squad with 29 catches for 387 yards (13.3 ypc) and two TDs.
“I don’t think our guys feel any pressure to step up,” said Plummer. We are gonna run our offense. And if they are gonna run their job right and if we execute the play correctly with all 11 guys on the same page, then I think we are good.”
A four-star prospect and the No. 1 player in Indiana according to Rivals.com in 2019, Bell is eager to get going. He says his shoulder is fine. But what’s the biggest difference between working with Sindelar as opposed to Plummer?
“Elijah has a lot more power to it,” said Bell, who is third on the team with 14 grabs for 244 yards (17.4 ypc) and a TD. “His passes are a lot more softer.”
No broken fingers?
"No, not at all," said Bell, smiling
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