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Even though it had 41 returning lettermen and 20 returning starters,
Purdue finished 5-6 with a total breakdown on defense and surprising
ineptitude on offense. While it wasn't the season fans expected, it
wasn't quite as awful as it was made out to be.
The six-game midseason losing streak wasn't pretty, but the
Boilermakers were within a last second stop of beating Minnesota for
what would've been a 3-0 start before facing Notre Dame, and later lost to
Northwestern in the final two minutes. Two plays the right way and
Purdue would've been bowling at 7-4 and there'd be little drama this
Head coach: Joe Tiller
10th year: 67-43
16th year overall: 106-73-1
Off. 21, Def. 20, ST 0
Lettermen Lost: 20
Best Purdue Players
1. WR Dorien Bryant, Jr.
2. WR Kyle Ingraham, Sr.*
3. OG Jordan Grimes, Jr.
4. SS Torri Williams Soph.
5. OT Sean Sester Jr.
6. LB George Hall, Sr.
7. RB Kory Sheets, Jr.
8. OT Mike Otto, Sr.
9. QB Curtis Painter, Soph.
10. DE Anthony Spencer, Jr.
*Ingraham has to be back on the team.
at Notre Dame
at Michigan State
2005 predicted wins
L 42-35 2OT
at Wisconsin L 31-20
at Penn State L 33-15
On the plus side, all the
problems of last year allowed several young players to see time and gain
valuable experience coming into this season. The offensive line should
be among the Big Ten's best, the receiver combination of Dorien Bryant
and Kyle Ingraham (if he gets his grades back in order) should be deadly, Kory Sheets is a great looking
young running back, and quarterback Curtis Painter appears ready to be
the leader of the program for the next few seasons after taking his
lumps over the second half of last year. Then again, that's what the
Boilermakers were thinking about 2005's starting quarterback, Brandon
Kirsch is off to the NFL early after losing his starting job, the
secondary doesn't appear to be appreciably better than last year's
disaster, and there's no depth anywhere. O.K.., maybe there are a few
reliable backups at linebacker, but that's looking for a silver lining
in the cloud of reserves.
All the turmoil makes this a critical year for the program. In Tiller's
tenth season in West Lafayette, he hasn't been able to build on the Rose
Bowl appearance from the 2000 season and there's a growing sense that
the program has reached a plateau. The team should be significantly
better next season than it will be this year, but 2005 proved that
having a lot of experience means nothing without chemistry.
Tiller has said last year's squad had the
talent, but it wasn't a great team. It was a team full of egos and big
personalities that didn't mesh, so this year's group has to avoid the
pitfalls and band together to form a tight squad that can get through
the rough stretches. There shouldn't be nearly as many of those if
everything comes together early on.
The Schedule: It's
perfect for a young team in need of development with four home games
to start the season including three tune-ups against Indiana State,
Miami University and Ball State before the Big Ten opener against
Minnesota. However, there's a tough three game road stretch at Notre
Dame, Iowa and Northwestern along with a stretch of three road games
in the final four. On the plus side, the last three road games
(Michigan State, Illinois and Hawaii) are against teams that didn't
go bowling last year. There's no Ohio State or Michigan for the
second straight season.
Offensive Player: Junior WR
Dorien Bryant. He's not all that big, but the 5-10, 175-pound junior
is on the verge of being the Big Ten's best receiver. Even with all
the turmoil at quarterback he finished with a whopping 80 catches
growing into a top number one receiver. He's also an elite kickoff
returner averaging 23.8 yards per try.
Defensive Player: Sophomore SS Torri Williams. A broken leg and a
bad back have kept him down, but the coaching staff loves his
potential and athleticism. He'll be one of the Big Ten's top
defenders and a godsend for the porous Purdue secondary if he can
player to a successful season: Junior QB Curtis Painter. He's the
only real quarterback option with redshirt freshman Joey Elliott
still far away from being Big Ten ready. Painter is a big, fast
quarterback who needs work on his mechanics and has to get his
receiving corps involved more. Purdue can't improve unless he does.
season will be a success if ... Purdue wins eight games. The
13-game schedule has plenty of rough patches, but there are only six
games against bowl teams from last year. After not taking advantage
of a schedule without Ohio State or Michigan, the Boilermakers have
to come through this season.
game: September 23rd vs. Minnesota. The loss to the Gophers was
the beginning of the end last year, and another loss this season
could trigger another downward spiral through the tough part of the
slate. A win would likely mean a 4-0 start going into the showdown
against Notre Dame.
- Sacks: Purdue 28 for 195 yards - Opponents 9 for 57 yards
- Touchdown passes: Opponents 21 - Purdue 10
- Rushing touchdowns: Purdue 41 - Opponents 14
The Last Time Purdue…
…played in a bowl game…2004 (Sun Bowl v. Arizona State)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…2004 (Syracuse)
…was shutout…1996 (Notre Dame)
…scored 50 points…2004 (Indiana)
…won a conference title…2000 (share, Big 10)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2004 (Kyle Orton)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2002 (Joey Harris)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2003 (Taylor Stubblefield)
…had a first-round draft choice…1987 (DB Rod Woodson)