2012 Purdue Preview – Offense
Purdue QB Caleb TerBush
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Purdue Boilermaker Offense
Preview 2012 - Offense
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What You Need To Know:
The offense was great against the weak and the sad, but it sputtered and coughed against the defenses with a pulse. It was way too inconsistent and wasn’t explosive enough, but with eight starters returning and lots of good options the attack should be better. The quarterback situation is deep with Caleb TerBush, Robert Marve and Rob Henry all starters who can make the offense move, but they need to start generating more big plays with a speedy and dangerous receiving corps to work with. There are plenty of athletes and home run hitters in the backfield, and they should get lots of room to move with a veteran line that might seem like a bit of a ragtag bunch, but should be solid as long as injuries don’t strike.
Star of the offense: Senior QB Caleb TerBush
Passing: Caleb TerBush
171--277, 1,905 yds, 13 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Ralph Bolden
148 carries, 674 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: Antavian Edison
44 catches, 584 yds, 3 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior RB Akeem Shavers
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Gary Bush
Best pro prospect: Senior OG Peters Drey
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Drey, 2) WR Antavian Edison, 3) OT Trevor Foy
Strength of the offense: Experience, Speed
Weakness of the offense: Depth, Consistency
The passing game wasn’t efficient or consistent, but now there are plenty of options to choose from and lots of veteran talents led by senior Caleb TerBush, a 6-5, 225-pound all-around playmaker who completed 62% of his passes for 1,905 yards and 13 touchdowns and six picks while running for 219 yards and a score. Out for a year after being ruled academically ineligible, he came back and showed off his skills as a big, pure passer with nice accuracy and poise. He didn’t have any big games, but he turned into a game manager who showed he could lead the way to wins.
While TerBush will be the best option, getting back senior Robert Marve for one more season will also make for a few interesting storylines. The former super-recruit for Miami had legal and academic problems off the field, and struggled on it, leaving Coral Gables as a huge misfire. He took his talents to West Lafayette where he played early on before suffering a torn ACL, but last year he was back and ready to go completing 56% of his throws for 633 yards and four touchdowns with five picks to go along with 51 yards and a touchdown. The 6-1, 212-pound veteran has been through it all and has matured into the type of quarterback who can step in and lead the way when needed, like he did completing 10-of-13 passes for 94 yards and a score, along with a very big rushing touchdown, in the win over Ohio State.
Potentially the main man next year, junior Rob Henry is back after missing last year with a torn ACL. The 2010 starter competed 53% of his passes with eight scores and seven picks two years ago, but he was mobile leading the team with 547 yards and four touchdowns. While he’s not all that big at 6-2 and 200 pounds, he’s a tough runner and has the upside to be great when he gets his chances. The 2008 Mr. Florida football has the skills and the experience to step in and produce.
Watch Out For … Henry. Now that he’s back and healthy, he’ll get every chance to show what he can do. However, he’ll be an interesting call if TerBush and Marve struggle. He adds more running ability and could be an X factor, but in a perfect world he’ll get a full year to let his injured knee heal.
Strength: Options. Not only do the Boilermakers have three starting quarterbacks, but in a desperate emergency they have Sean Robinson to go to, who moved to linebacker with the logjam under center. TerBush, Marve and Henry can all play.
Weakness: Big plays. The Boilermaker quarterbacks were accurate and effective, but they didn’t exactly bomb away. The biggest pass play of the year was just 50 yards and the team averaged a mere 10.9 yards per catch.
Outlook: Years of various injuries and issues have led to this. Now there are three good quarterbacks who can all play, but the production has to come. Purdue was 112th in the nation in passing two years ago and just 83rd last year, but even if the big numbers aren’t there, the quarterbacks have to be a strength with so much experience and so many options.
Unit Rating: 7
Can Ralph Bolden stay healthy? The 5-9, 190-pound senior took the college football world by storm in 2009 opening up with 234 yards against Toledo and 123 against Oregon, but in 2010 he suffered a torn ACL that took the entire year to come back from. Last season he started off with 120 yards against Middle Tennessee, but he only finished with 674 yards and six scores with 13 catches for 129 yards before suffering another torn ACL against Indiana. Unlike his first knee injury that happened in the offseason, this one happened late and he’s not getting a lot of time to heal up. The coaching staff expects him to play, but he’s not a sure thing.
5-11, 203-pound senior Akeem Shavers picked up the slack for an injured Bolden in the bowl game with 149 yards on 22 carries against Western Michigan. The quick veteran finished with 519 yards and six touchdowns on the year, and caught five passes for 58 yards and a score, but now he should see an even bigger role with Bolden still hurting. The former JUCO transfer is a speedster with 4.5 wheels, and he can also bring a little bit of power.
Also in the rotation will be sophomore Akeem Hunt, a 5-9, 175-pound speedster out of Georgia who had offers to go to several big schools and was a nice get for the program. He’s a good enough athlete to be tried out at other positions, but he’s a running back finishing third on the team with 287 yards and two scores averaging a whopping 8.7 yards per carry.
When the offense needs a fullback it will be up to 6-4, 255-pound sophomore Brandon Cottom, a big blaster of a blocker who suffered a torn ACL late. He'll never catch any passes, but he ran eight times for 70 yards with all the production coming against SE Missouri State.
Watch Out For … Shavers. With Bolden questionable, Shavers should at the very least play a bigger role. He proved he could handle the work and he has the speed and ability to add more of a gamebreaking element to the ground attack.
Strength: Speed. It Bolden is back, the Boilermakers are loaded with excellent wheels. Shavers and Hunt can fly, and a healthy Bolden can break off big plays. Where’s home-run potential with all the backs.
Weakness: Bolden’s knee. He has only come up with big games against some of the weaker teams and can’t stay healthy. If he can’t go or if he’s limited, all of a sudden the running back situation isn’t all that deep.
Outlook: The Akeems will produce and should average just under five yards per carry, but it’s the quarterbacks who’ll make the running game a plus. There’s no power and the backs will often just be along for the ride, but 2,500 rushing yards as a team isn’t a crazy goal.
Unit Rating: 6.5
Can everyone stay out of trouble? Senior Antavian Edison is the leading returning receiver after making 44 grabs for 584 yards and three touchdowns, but he had issues with weapons charges and was iffy for a while. Everything appears to be fine and he should be ready to be the No. 1 target with tremendous quickness and 10.7 speed in the 100. At 5-11 and 175 pounds he’s not all that big, but he can move as both a runner and receiver. The former high school running back ran for 124 yards and a score, but he only came up with one 100-yard receiving game with seven grabs for 105 yards and a touchdown against Notre Dame.
Junior O.J. Ross was out this offseason with academic issues, but the 5-10, 192-pounder is expected to be back and has the potential to be one of the team’s top playmakers. Arguably the top prospect in the 2010 recruiting class, he was plucked out of Florida and should be one of the most explosive and dangerous targets after catching 33 passes for 356 yards and three touchdowns. He has to show he can last a season after getting banged up in each of the last two seasons.
6-0, 175-pound junior Gary Bush is a speedster out of Miami who was supposed to make a splash right away before tearing an abdominal muscle. The athleticism and pop are there catching 209 passes for 310 yards and three scores, growing into a steady target over the second half of the season finishing up with his best game in the bowl catching six balls for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Can Raheem Mostert show he can be more than just a special return man? The 5-11, 180-opund sophomore was arguably the nation’s top kickoff returner, but he didn’t do much for the offense running 16 times for 108 yards and two scores and didn’t catch any passes. With his quickness and open-field ability the coaching staff will find ways to get him the ball more.
The tight ends should be a strength thanks to the return of senior Crosby Wright, a 6-3, 248-pound pass catcher who made 16 grabs for 223 yards and two scores, but he’ll have to fight off Gabe Holmes, a 6-5, 247-pound junior who made 11 grabs for 133 yards and a score. Holmes, a junior, was a terrific prospect and a good get for the program with excellent hands and deep speed, playing like a big wide receiver with track athleticism and leaping ability. Also in the mix is former JUCO transfer Sterling Carter, 6-5, 233-pounder who was supposed to be a factor early, but didn’t do anything last year. He provides good athleticism to the spot.
Watch Out For … Bush. While he might not have been a regular starter, he has too much speed and quickness to not become a bigger factor in the rotation. He has the wheels to come up with a slew of big plays.
Strength: Speed. Ross, Bush and Edison can all fly, and if Mostert can find a bigger role then the Boilermakers will be more than loaded with athletes and home-run hitting potential. The tight ends can move, too.
Weakness: Proven explosion. With so much speed there should be more big plays. The receivers couldn’t seem to do much with the ball in their hands and there weren’t enough huge performances for a group this fast.
Outlook: The potential is there for this to be a very dangerous, very dominant group. Leading receiver Justin Siller might be gone, but he was a possession target. This year’s corps is full of explosion, but now it has to start coming. There’s good depth and the tight ends should be great. With veteran quarterbacks throwing their way, there’s no excuse for the receivers to not blow up.
Unit Rating: 7
The offensive line that was inconsistent and mediocre comes back experienced, getting a big boost with the return of junior Justin Kitchens, a 6-4, 275-pound athlete who was the starter at right tackle last year before getting knocked out with a shoulder injury. The former defensive lineman and tight end isn’t all that big, but he can move and can be a nice pass blocker.
Returning to his starting spot on the left side is junior Trevor Foy, a big 6-7, 287-pound blocker who has settled into a job and has shown nice upside and potential. A very tall pass rushing prospect, he moved from defensive end to tackle and proved he could handle the work. He’s just getting started.
6-3, 320-pound senior Rick Schmeig has improved by leaps and bounds since trying to find a spot on the inside. A former guard, he ended up showing he could put in the work necessary to be the main man up front at center. The unquestioned leader, he has made himself into a player and has done everything needed to be an anchor.
Senior Peters Drey is back as one of the team’s top all-around blockers. After starting out his career as a tackle, he moved to center before settling in at guard. The former honorable mention All-Big Ten performer is 6-6 and 310 pounds at left guard, and while he’s a bit tall for the position he has freakish strength and is great at moving the pile. He might not be an NFL starter, but he’ll make a roster because of his versatility as a key backup for any spot.
6-7, 325-pound JUCO transfer Devin Smith is the team’s top recruit and should be able to step in and produce right away at right guard. At least that’s the hope. Very big and very strong, his natural position is right tackle, but the team needs him to be an interior presence early on. Rotating in at a few spots will be sophomore Josh Davis, a 6-5, 294-pound tackle who might be needed more at guard in a pinch.
Watch Out For … Kitchens. While he might not be the best blocker on the line, he’s one of the quickest and should be terrific on the move for the running game. He’s the type of run blocker who fits the offense perfectly.
Strength: Experience. Considering Smith is a JUCO transfer and Kitchens started the first few games of last year, all five starters have plenty of playing time logged in and know what they’re doing. Given a little bit of time to mesh, the starting group should be a machine.
Weakness: Depth. The coaching staff is doing its best to come up with a good rotation, but there are too many new bodies to the mix and some creativity needed to find the right players for the right spots.
Outlook: The line didn’t do enough in pass protection allowing 29 sacks and 89 tackles for loss. This is an interesting puzzle the coaching staff has put together, but it’s experienced and should be able to shine if everyone can stay healthy. There might not be any superstars, but it’ll be a strong and consistent unit.
Unit Rating: 7
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