WEST LAFAYETTE — Jack Plummer didn’t know the history and tradition of Purdue quarterbacks when he was recruited to play for the Boilermakers out of Gilbert, Arizona.
He didn’t even know Purdue was in the state of Indiana.
All Plummer knew was he wanted to learn the game under a pair of former NFL quarterbacks, Purdue coach Jeff Brohm and his brother, Boilermakers quarterbacks coach Brian Brohm.
A redshirt freshman, Plummer will make his second career start at quarterback and first Big Ten start when Purdue plays at No. 12 Penn State on Saturday (noon, ESPN).
With Purdue starter Elijah Sindelar out a reported six-to-eight weeks with a broken clavicle, Plummer takes the reigns of a team that has been snakebit by injuries on both sides of the ball. Sophomore wide receiver and preseason All-America candidate Rondale Moore also is out indefinitely with a leg injury, another blow to Purdue’s passing attack.
“You obviously don’t ever want to see a guy go down,” Plummer said. “Elijah is a really good guy, a really good person, but it feels good to have confidence in yourself, that for right now, it’s your team and you are going to get the one reps, and you are going to be the guy to lead the team. That’s what you come here for, and that’s what you dream about.”
One thing is for certain, Plummer will prepare himself. Brian Brohm said Plummer absorbed the Purdue playbook as a true freshman and is meticulous in his film study and attention to detail.
“Jack has been the ideal student,” Brian Brohm said. “He has come in and worked his tail off on learning the game, learning the offense and really he wants more and more.
“He wants more information. He wants more than even sometimes we can even give him. I have to slow him down and say, ‘Hey, we don’t need to know all of these things at the same time.’ So he has a great knowledge for the game. He thirsts for more knowledge, so he’s done a great job since he’s been here of preparing himself for this opportunity.”
Plummer has always been drawn to the mental aspect of football.
“That’s kind of my favorite part of the game, the strategy,” Plummer said. “I mean a lot of people think it’s just a bunch of idiots banging heads. But they don’t know the strategy that goes into the game, the preparation, how much time the coaches spend in the facility.”
Physically, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Plummer doesn’t have the arm strength of Sindelar, whom Brian Brohm said is close to the level of arm talent of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (Brohm backed up Rodgers with the Packers).
But Plummer has shown the ability to scramble, having gained 60 yards on 15 scrambles this season, with a long of 18 yards.
“He adds a little dimension of being able to carry the football, and he can run with it. He make some plays with his feet,” Brian Brohm said.
Plummer has been up and down throwing the football, completing 36 of 70 passes for 426 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions in a start against TCU and relief appearance against Minnesota.
“I feel like I showed progress from the two games that I played in,” Plummer said. “So hopefully we keep going up.”
Plummer will not only need to deal with a ferocious Penn State pass rush, led by junior defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos (3.5 sacks), but with a crowd of 106,000 in his first road start.
Brohm is getting Plummer focused on being loud with his cadence and other communication plans to deal with the crowd noise. Plummer hasn’t been fazed so far playing in college stadiums.
“When I was in Ross-Ade, I didn’t really pay attention to the fans,” Plummer said. “When you are on the field, it’s just a normal football field, 100 yards, 53 yards wide. So I think it will just be the noise factor. I don’t think the size of the stadium or anything will affect me.”
Jeff Brohm said on his weekly radio show Wednesday he doesn’t expect Moore’s injury to be season ending.
“He’ll try to get as healthy as fast as he can, and whenever that time comes we’ll get him back on the field,” Brohm said. “We’re fortunate that it isn’t something as serious as it could’ve been. Really, speaking on that in talking to the doctors, with the way his leg bent and reacted, 90-plus percent of those would be complete tears of all your ligaments in your knee.”
Brohm said following Thursday’s practice safety Marvin Grant is out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.