Purdue Preview 2006

Posted Aug 5, 2006

Purdue sent a holiday card to Tennessee thanking the flaming orange for taking the title of 2005's most disappointing team. Otherwise, the focus would've been solely on Joe Tiller's first losing season in West Lafayette.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

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 off-season.

Head coach: Joe Tiller
10th year: 67-43
16th year overall: 106-73-1
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 21, Def. 20, ST 0
Lettermen Lost: 20
Ten 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.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 7-6

9/2 Indiana State
9/9 Miami Univ.
9/16 Ball State
9/23 Minnesota
9/30 at Notre Dame
10/7 at Iowa
10/14 at Northwestern
10/21 Wisconsin
10/28 Penn State
11/4 at Michigan State
11/11 at Illinois
11/18 Indiana
11/25 at Hawaii

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record:
Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/10 Akron  W 49-24
9/17 at Arizona W 31-24
9/24 at Minn.  L 42-35 2OT
10/1 Notre Dame L 49-28
10/8 Iowa L 34-17
10/15 Northwestern L 34-29 
10/22 at Wisconsin L 31-20
10/29 at Penn State L 33-15
11/5 Michigan State W 28-21
11/12 Illinois W 37-3
11/19 at Indiana W 41-14

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.

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.

Best 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.

Best 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 get healthy.

Key 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.

The 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.

Key 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.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- 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)
…went undefeated…1943
…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)

Related Stories
Purdue Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 5, 2006
Purdue Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 5, 2006
Purdue Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 5, 2006

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