2012 Purdue Preview – The Time Is Now
Purdue WR/KR Raheem Mostert
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Purdue Boilermakers
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Purdue, this is your chance. You’ll never have a better chance.
Head coach: Danny Hope
4th year: 16-21
9th year overall: 51-43
Off. 26, Def. 21, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 26
Ten Best Purdue Players
1. DT Kawann Short, Sr.
2. CB Ricardo Allen, Jr.
3. LB Dwayne Beckford, Sr.
4. CB Josh Johnson, Sr.
5. DE Ryan Russell, Soph.
6. DT Bruce Gaston, Jr.
7. QB Caleb TerBush, Sr.
8. WR Antavian Edison, Sr.
9. KR/WR Raheem Mostert, Soph.
10. OG Peters Drey, Sr.
Sep. 1 Eastern Kentucky
Sep. 8 at Notre Dame
Sep. 15 Eastern Michigan
Sep. 22 OPEN DATE
Sep. 29 Marshall
Oct. 6 Michigan
Oct. 13 Wisconsin
Oct. 20 at Ohio State
Oct. 27 at Minnesota
Nov. 3 Penn State
Nov. 10 at Iowa
Nov. 17 at Illinois
Nov. 24 Indiana
It’s the exact same situation for Illinois, and if it wasn’t so far behind the pack, Indiana in a year when the Leaders is in a bit of turmoil. Penn State is a disaster and Ohio State isn’t eligible to play for the Big Ten title. That doesn’t mean Purdue can’t lose a slew of games and miss out on being in the hunt for the division title, but with Wisconsin coming to West Lafayette, and again, with Penn State and Indiana likely out of the mix, it’s a three-team race for the championship and the Boilermakers, this year, should be right in the mix.
Purdue will never get the top-shelf talents that Ohio State, Michigan and others can come up with, and it has to recruit to a type and take a few chances, but things have been built up over the last three years under head coach Danny Hope to get to this point. Now, Purdue is loaded with good veterans, lots of speed and athleticism, and enough talent among the starters to compete with anyone in the conference.
The big problem under Hope was staying healthy. For the first two years, the team was hamstrung by an almost comical array of injuries with absolutely no luck whatsoever. Last season, for the most part, the team was able to stay in one piece and it started to show what it could do. While the early loss to Rice and the close call against Middle Tennessee were inexcusable, the team came up with a great overtime win over Ohio State and it did what it needed to do to take a good step forward. And now, with an experienced team and lots of great pieces to work around, it’s time to become a threat.
Other than at quarterback, depth is a problem across the board, but the starters are good enough to battle and hold up well with the potential to start beating some of the better teams.
The Boilermakers boast a pair of NFL defensive tackles in Kawann Short and Bruce Gaston to work around, and while it’s a bit premature to start calling sophomore end Ryan Russell another Ryan Kerrigan, he might not be too far off. The corner tandem of Ricardo Allen and Josh Johnson are phenomenal open field tacklers, and Dwayne Beckford and Will Lucas are strong, active linebackers who should be able to come up with plenty of big plays.
There’s speed to burn in a receiving corps full of great athletes and experience playmakers, and the line should be a rock with, effectively, four returning starters and a veteran JUCO transfer filling in the fifth spot.
The running backs are quick, the quarterback play should be strong with three good starting options, and the special teams boasts the nation’s best kickoff returner in Raheem Mostert.
And now it’s time to take advantage of the quickly-shutting window with Urban Meyer reloading at Ohio State and Wisconsin not going anywhere. This Purdue team might be able to do it.
What to watch for on offense: The running backs. Purdue is much, much better when it can the running game is working going 5-0 last season when rushing for 200 yards or more. A lot of the production will come from the mobile quarterbacks, with Caleb TerBush, Robert Marve and Rob Henry all able to take off at any time and produce, but the more the backs can produce, the better. The problem is that leading rusher Ralph Bolden is trying to get back to normal after a second knee injury, but Akeem Shavers and Akeem Hunt are two of the teams quickest players and can hit the home run from anywhere on the field. Behind a good line full of veterans, it’s possible the Purdue ground game could average close to 200 yards per game.
What to watch for on defense: The starting 11. The depth is lacking and there are some question marks at safety, weakside linebacker and one end spot, but if the starting 11 can stay healthy, Purdue should be able to hold its own with just about everyone on the slate. The defensive line has the potential to be truly special if Ryan Russell is the pass rusher everyone expects him to become, and tackling isn’t an issue for the feisty veteran back seven. This won’t be a brick wall of a D and it’ll probably get flattened by Wisconsin and Michigan again, but it should also be more consistent if, and it’s a huge if, injuries don’t strike.
The team will be far better if … it doesn’t screw up. Just about everything about the 2011 Purdue season was dead even. The regular season record was 6-6; Purdue outscored its opponents 26.9 to 26.8; and was outgained 5,147 yards to 4,899. While there were some games against teams like Wisconsin and Michigan when the Boilermakers were blown away by simply being not as good, for the most part, the difference in most games came down to errors. Middle Tennessee was awful, but Purdue had to battle to a 27-24 win after committing 11 penalties and turning it over twice. The 13 penalties against Notre Dame didn’t help. The O turned it over three times in a loss to Iowa, gave away three picks in the tight loss to Penn State and threw three picks and committed 16 penalties in losses to Michigan and Wisconsin.
The schedule: There’s no reason to shoot for anything less than a winning season with a decent team returning and a not-that-bad schedule to help the cause. Going to Notre Dame is more winnable for the Boilermakers than it might seem, but even if that’s a loss, hosting Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan, and Marshall should ensure a big start.
There’s a brutal midseason stretch of Michigan, Wisconsin, and at Ohio State, but the Boilermakers don’t leave the state of Indiana until October 20th. Then it’s time road warrior time with four away games in five weeks with an oasis against Penn State in the middle. Coming up with a win at Minnesota could be a must, and beating the Nittany Lions at home would be nice, but it’ll be all about the final three weeks with winnable road games at Iowa and Illinois before closing out against Indiana. Win two of those three, and it’ll be time to go bowling.
Best offensive player: Senior QB Caleb TerBush, but it’s debatable. The Boilermakers have several fast receivers with the potential for one of them to blow up into a star – possible Antavian Edison or O.J. Ross. Guard Peters Dray is probably the best pro prospect on the Purdue offense with the talent and potential to become a good swing blocker. But it’s TerBush, along with Robert Marve and Rob Henry, who should be the catalyst of the attack. Purdue has three starting quarterbacks and all can produce, but TerBush, when he’s on, is the steadiest and most consistent. He might not be flashy, but he’s a good leader for a veteran attack.
Best defensive player: Senior DT Kawann Short. He might have been a top 50 draft pick if he chose to come out early, but it was a huge year for pro defensive tackle prospects and he might have slipped a bit. Now he’s a hotter prospect with first round potential and the talent to anchor a great line with Bruce Gaston a high-rising tackle and Ryan Russell the next-big-thing at end. He’s not going to have to do everything, but he should be the one everything works around as a top-shelf interior pass rusher and a tough rock against the run.
Key player to a successful season: Freshman PK Paul Griggs. The Boilermakers needed a 47-yard Carson Wiggs kick late in the fourth to help beat Middle Tennessee. He also nailed a 44-yarder against Ohio State in the terrific overtime win. In all, Purdue played seven games decided by seven points or fewer, and there should be more close games this year. If Griggs, a true freshman, doesn’t come up with a big year it could be the difference between six wins and nine.
The season will be a success if … Purdue wins eight games. There isn’t enough depth and there’s not enough overall talent to challenge for the Leaders title, but it’s the best team yet under Hope by far and it’s time to get to eight wins again for the first time since 2007. With Eastern Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Marshall, Penn State and Indiana all very winnable, there should be a nice base of wins to build on. If injuries don’t strike, the team should be good enough to give Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois on the road.
Key game: Oct. 6 vs. Michigan. If Purdue really wants to show that it’s ready to make a big splash in the Big Ten, then it needs to come out hot right away or else things could get really bad really fast with Wisconsin and a trip to Ohio State to follow. Michigan has beaten Purdue seven times in the last nine years and dominated over the last two seasons with a 36-14 win last season. It’s the Big Ten opener and the team should be fully gelled.
2011 Fun Stats:
- Purdue Scoring: 1st 109, 2nd 122, 3rd 36, 4th 77
- Penalties: Purdue 96 for 782 yards – Opponents 71 for 641 yards
- Fourth Down Conversions: Opponents 11-of-20 (55%) – Purdue 4-of-9 (44%)
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