2013 Purdue Preview – Offense
CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Purdue Boilermaker Offense
Preview 2013 - Offense
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What You Need To Know:
New offensive coordinator John Shoop will look to install more of a pro-style attack that gets the passing game moving, but can the big downfield plays start coming? The offense bogged down way too often last season, and now any hope of getting things moving starts at quarterback. Rob Henry might be an experienced veteran, but freshman Danny Etling is a better fit for the new attack. Akeem Hunt beefed up and should be ready to handle the rushing workload, while a decent receiving corps has upside with a nice mix of reliable veterans and big young reserves. The line needs some shuffling, but there are enough good pieces in place to hope for a decent starting five with a little bit of time.
Star of the offense: Junior RB Akeem Hunt
Passing: Rob Henry
21-38, 216 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Akeem Hunt
42 carries, 335 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: O.J. Ross
56 catches, 454 yds, 2 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior OG Devin Smith
Unsung star on the rise: Senior TE Gabe Holmes
Best pro prospect: Sophomore C Robert Kugler
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Hunt, 2) Kugler, 3) Holmes
Strength of the offense: Young Upside, Receivers
Weakness of the offense: Proven Depth, Consistency
For the last few seasons, Purdue had a glut of starting quarterback options. Now it's down to one veteran in senior Rob Henry, but is he the right fit? The 6-2, 200-pound veteran missed time two years ago with a torn ACL, but he came back to be a bit of a factor last season completing 21-of-38 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns with a pick. His strength is as a runner, and while he only took off for 74 yards and a touchdown in his limited time, he could add something a bit different to the attack. The key will be his passing ability. The new coaching staff wants a pro-style passer, and the 2008 Mr. Florida football isn't one.
At 6-3 and 218 pounds with a live arm and good poise, true freshman Danny Etling is the right fit for the offense. A pure passer, he showed this offseason that he's ready to get a shot right out of the box. He might not have the experience and he might be too young, but his mechanics are sound and his pocket mobility and presence are solid for a new guy.
Where does Austin Appleby fit into the equation? He's being given every shot at the starting job, and he has the 6-5, 235-pound size and enough athleticism to get by. He might not be quite the passer that Etling is, and he's not the runner that Henry is, but he's a good option who'll at the very least be pushing for a No. 2 job.
Watch Out For … Appleby. Etling is the star of the show and Henry is the solid veteran, but Appleby could find a way onto the field if he's able to be consistent and can push the passing game deep. He'll almost certainly be a backup, but he'll provide a huge push.
Strength: Youth. Henry has been around for forever, but there's a world of upside for the passing game with Etling and Appleby two talented pure passers who should add more to an inconsistent attack.
Weakness: Proven passers. Yeah, Etling and Appleby have talent, but they haven't done it yet. Henry has seen plenty of time, but he's not exactly Tom Brady when it comes to sending the ball deep.
Outlook: Last season the Boilermakers had Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve to play around with, but now it's a look to the future with the rise of Etling. There will be some rocky moments, and Henry will be a factor who could will his way to a good year, but offensive coordinator John Shoop will be looking for effective, efficient passing from his starter.
Unit Rating: 6
The starting running back job is now junior Akeem Hunt's, and he doesn't look ready to give it up any time soon. He hit the weights hard to get up to 184 pounds on his 5-9 frame, and while he's never going to be a power back, he'll be more physical as a blocker and should pack a little more punch. The speedster out of Georgia only ran for 335 yards and two scores last season, but he finished second on the team and averaged eight yards per pop highlighted by an 81-yard dash against Eastern Michigan. Also a nice receiver and kick returner, he caught 13 passes for 204 yards and two scores and averaged 22.2 yards per return with a 100-yard score against Ohio State.
It's going to be a battle among the untested freshmen for playing time behind Hunt. The 6-3, 195-pound Robert Gregory came to Purdue as a dual-threat quarterback prospect, and while he's built like a wide receiver, or a quarterback, he's going to use his slippery speed and quickness out of the backfield as a runner. It's possible he could be used in some Wildcat formations. He'll have to hold off Keyante Green, a 5-9, 205-pound freshman with tremendous quickness and cutback ability. He's like a pinball through the interior of the line and should be great around the goal line, while 5-10, 205-pound true freshman David Yancey is a dangerous home run hitter who can make things happen inside or out.
The fullback will be used more in the pro-style system meaning 6-2, 240-pound senior Kurt Freytag, a prototype-looking H-back, but the former walk-on hasn't handled the ball all that often with just 47 yards and a score on eight carries with three catches for 32 yards as a receiver. He'll be a much bigger part of the offense. 6-0, 260-pound junior Kendrick Adams is a massive blocker who'll be a sledgehammer.
Watch Out For … Dalyn Dawkins. Even with several freshmen proved ready to be in the mix after this offseason, it's Dawkins who should step off the bus this summer and be the best newcomer on the lot. The 5-9, 175-pounder out of Louisville can be used in a variety of ways and, despite his size, could turn into a bit of a workhorse. He was a terrific get for the program.
Strength: Young, quick talent. Hunt is the best on the lot, but there's a ton of really, really good speedsters waiting in the wings to show what they can do. The future is bright. However …
Weakness: Experience. Hunt is about it. It's going to take a leap of faith to hope for several of the new guys to make an impact right away. The coaching staff will have to get creative.
Outlook: The rushing offense wasn't bad, but that's because of a nice rotation that including Akeem Shavers and Ralph Bolden. Hunt will be one of the Big Ten's most improved performers, but he needs help. The fight for the No. 2 job will be worth watching this year.
Unit Rating: 6.5
6-0, 185-pound senior Gary Bush should be a big beneficiary of the new offense. With his speed and his experience he should be able to build on his 41-catch, 360-yard, seven touchdown season. He exploded against Marshall with three scores, but he didn't come up with any big plays averaging just 8.8 yards per grab. The ability is there to start stretching the field, but 6-4, 223-pound junior Charles Torwudzo could do even more. A matchup nightmare, he's a terrific athlete who makes himself bigger with his leaping ability and great range. He caught two passes for 19 yards, but now he's going to be a large part of the rotation.
The team's biggest question mark is senior O.J. Ross, the second-leading receiver who was suspended this offseason for a violation of team rules. The Florida native missed time last offseason with academic issues, but he managed to shine right away and be one of the team's steadiest targets. At 5-10 and 188 pounds, the top prospect of the 2010 recruiting class isn't huge, but he's physical. If he can't go, 6-5, 220-pound junior Dolapo Macarthy should step in and do far more. Very big and very promising, the former quarterback has good deep ability and strong upside looking great at times this offseason.
What is the coaching staff going to do with junior Raheem Mostert? A devastating playmaker with the ball in his hands, he has yet to catch a pass and has only rushed for 193 yards and three scores, but he's at his best as a kickoff returner. At 5-11 and 180 pounds, he's not huge, but he's a flash of lightning.
Senior Gabe Holmes is a nice target who was good for a few catches a game over the course of the Big Ten season. At 6-5 and 247 pounds, he looks the part and has all the tools – he was a great recruit for the program – but he has to get the ball his way more on a regular basis. The speed is there and so are the hands and upside. He'll be backed up by Justin Sinz, a former quarterback who has been a small part of the rotation catching four passes for 48 yards and a score. Very smart and with nice hands, he could be a chain-mover.
Watch Out For … Dan Monteroso, a 6-3, 185-pound athlete who can jump out of the stadium and has a knack for finding the end zone. The Ohio native caught 17 scoring passes last year and should instantly fit the Boilermaker mold. He'll combine with fellow recruit Deangelo Yancey, a 6-2, 200-pounder from Atlanta with deep ball skills.
Strength: Size. This is a very, very big corps with Macarthy and Towudzo two massive targets, and they're the backups. The projected starters are big and can hit.
Weakness: Big plays. There's speed and upside on the outside, but where are the home runs? The biggest catch from the receiving corps was just 58 yards, and as a team the Boilermakers averaged 10.5 yards per pop.
Outlook: There are several question marks, but there's untapped potential and lots of upside. The corps has to go from steady to sensational, and the change of offensive style should do it. However, Torwudzo and Macarthy have to rock.
Unit Rating: 7
The offensive front struggled in pass protection, but it did a decent job for the ground game. It all starts at tackle with 6-5, 300-pound senior Kevin Pamphile starting on the left side after growing into the role late last season. A decent athlete, he has nice feet and is good on the move. 6-4, 294-pound senior Justin Kitchens is an even better athlete, but he can also hit a bit after bulking up 20 pounds over the last season. The former defensive lineman and tight end has the quickness and the toughness to grow into more of an anchor for the ground game.
It's sophomore Robert Kugler's time in the middle. The backup guard and center should shine at center after spending time as an understudy. At 6-3 and 280 pounds he's not huge, but he's a good technician with the smarts to handle the responsibility of leading the front five.
Former JUCO transfer Devin Smith became a key part of the blocking scheme right away after coming in as one of the team's top recruits. Very big and very strong, the 6-7, 320-pounder is a natural right tackle, but he'll likely start at left guard. 6-5, 286-pound senior Cody Davis can play either center or guard, and he'll start out working at right guard. Very smart and experienced, he's not huge, but he's versatile and can move.
6-5, 300-pound junior Josh Davis is a versatile blocker who'll see time at tackle but could push for time at either guard spot. He'll be one of the team's most important swing reserves, while redshirt freshmen Jordan Roos, J.J. Prince and Cameron Cermin will be tried out at several different spots to find the right fit. The 6-5, 305-pound Roos can play either center or guard, while the 6-6, 275-pound Prince is a smart, tall option at center but could see time anywhere up front. The 6-5, 300-pound Cermin will see time at both guard spots.
Watch Out For … lots and lots of shifting around. 6-6, 300-pound Jason Tretter was the team's only recruit for the offensive line, and there's a reason; the team is loaded with redshirt freshmen to build up the base. The coaching staff will do plenty of playing around with the lineup.
Strength: Versatility and athleticism. By design, the old staff came up with a quick group of athletes for the line with several of the prospects able to move around and play a variety of roles. It shouldn't be a problem taking the five best blockers and finding spots for them.
Weakness: Cohesion. It could take a while. The line wasn't exactly a rock last season with too many problems getting physical against the nastier teams and too much trouble in pass protection against the quicker lines. Yeah, there's versatility, but it's also going to be a problem for this group to jell.
Outlook: The key could be all the redshirt freshmen. The tackles should be set, and Smith and Kugler are certain starters, but the quality depth has to come right away from the young guys who can become a big part of the rotation. Once again, this will be a puzzle that needs to be put together, but this time around it'll be a new coaching staff that will ask for more in pass protection.
Unit Rating: 6.5
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