2007 Purdue Preview

Posted May 8, 2007

Who had the best offense in the Big Ten last year? Ohio State? Michigan? Wisconsin? The Buckeyes scored the most, but no one in the league gained more yards than Purdue, and now the offense should be unstoppable with everyone back, led by underappreciated star receiver Dorien Bryant.

Purdue Boilermakers

Preview 2007

By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Purdue Offense Preview | 2007 Purdue Defense Preview
2007 Purdue Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Purdue Preview 

There was a time when Purdue was the Big Ten’s rising star.

Thanks to Drew Brees and a thrilling passing attack, the Boilermakers went to the Rose Bowl and had Big Ten folks worried about trying to keep pace with the high-octane offense. Somewhere along the way, however, the idea of generating more balance and more of a running game kicked in, right about the time when the Purdue defense went completely into the tank.   

Head coach: Joe Tiller
11h year: 75-49
17th year overall: 114-79-1
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 25, Def. 26, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best Purdue Players
1. WR Dorien Bryant, Sr.
2. QB Curtis Painter, Jr.
3. DE Cliff Avril, Sr.
4. RB Kory Sheets, Jr.
5. OG Jordan Grimes, Sr.
6. RB Jaycen Taylor, Jr.
7. C Robbie Powell, Sr.
8. OT Sean Sester, Jr.
9. DT/DE Alex Magee, Jr.
10. P Jared Armstrong, Sr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

Sept. 1

at Toledo

Sept. 8

Eastern Illinois

Sept. 15

Central Michigan

Sept. 22

at Minnesota

Sept. 29

Notre Dame

Oct. 6

Ohio State

Oct. 13

at Michigan

Oct. 20


Oct. 27


Nov. 3

at Penn State

Nov. 10

Michigan State

Nov. 17

at Indiana

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 7-6
2005 Record: 8
Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 Indiana State W 60-35
9/9 Miami Univ. W 38-31 OT
9/16 Ball State W 38-28
9/23 Minnesota W 27-21
9/30 at Notre Dame L 35-21
10/7 at Iowa L 47-17
10/14 at Nwestern W 31-10
10/21 Wisconsin L 24-3
10/28 Penn State L 12-0
11/4 at Michigan St W 17-15
11/11 at Illinois W 42-31
11/18 Indiana W 28-19
11/25 at Hawaii L 42-35
12/29 Champs Sports Bowl
Maryland L 24-7

Awful in 2005, the Boilermaker defense didn’t make any big strides in 2006, giving up 432 yards and 27 points per game. Making matters worse was an inconsistent offense that put up a ton of yards, but rarely scored against a defense with a pulse. 

Head coach Joe Tiller has to find the right chemistry. He’s had talent in West Lafayette, maybe not the type you’d find in Columbus or Ann Arbor, but enough to get NFL scouts sniffing around. However, he hasn’t been able to find the right mix of personalities and talents to make Purdue anything special since Brees was in town.

While Purdue has hardly been lousy under Tiller over the last ten years, this might be his final chance to break through the ceiling. The team didn’t take advantage of all the experience it had over the last two years, and it really didn’t make the most of the monster scheduling break, missing Michigan and Ohio State. Now the two big boys are back on the slate, there are still questions about the defense, and it’s time for the offense to start to turn all the yards into more points.

With another team full of veterans and most of the key players returning on both sides of the ball, there’s no real reason Purdue can’t go to its tenth bowl game in 11 years. But it’s time the program accomplished more.

What to watch for on offense: An unstoppable passing game. Kory Sheets and Jaycen Taylor form a solid 1-2 rushing punch, and QB Curtis Painter is mobile enough to be a rushing threat, but with Dorien Bryant, Selwyn Lymon, Greg Orton and Dustin Keller returning, the passing game that ranked sixth nationally last year should be unstoppable. Now with all the experience, it needs to be more efficient.

What to watch for on defense: It’s all about creating pressure, and using speed and quickness to be around the ball. While that’s good in theory, it doesn’t work when you’re getting steamrolled. All four starters return to a secondary that should be better, but the front seven has to be far tougher against the power running teams. Tackles Mike Neal, Jermaine Guynn, Ryan Baker and Alex Magee have to be nastier and more productive.

The team will be far better if … there’s more offensive consistency. The yards were there in bunches, but there weren’t enough points against the better teams scoring just 17 against Iowa, three against Wisconsin, none against Penn State, and seven against Maryland. All were losses. The offense can’t just be good against the lousy defenses.   

The Schedule: It could be tough early if the team isn’t awake. Going to Toledo and hosting defending MAC champion Central Michigan requires some attention, and then there’s a nasty five-game stretch going to Minnesota, hosting Notre Dame and Ohio State, going to Michigan, and hosting Iowa. There’s also a road trip to Penn State.

Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Dorien Bryant.  Over the last two seasons, just one player in America has caught more passes than Bryant, a sure-handed gnat of a route runner who’s got the speed to go the distance on short hitch routes.  A lethal all-purpose threat, he’s also scored six rushing touchdowns in his Boilermaker career and is very dangerous on kickoff returns.    

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Cliff Avril.  At 6-3 and 245 pounds, Avril is going to be an outside linebacker on Sundays, but in West Lafayette these days he’s a menacing rush end, conjuring up memories of former Boilermaker Akin Ayodele.  What he lacks in size and strength he makes up for with an explosive first step and the long arms needed to bat away passes.       

Key player to a successful season: Junior DT Ryan Baker, sophomore Mike Neal and junior Alex Magee (who might move to end). If the Purdue defense is going to be any better, there has to be more production up the middle, and it starts with the tackles. The have decent size, good quickness, and experience, but they have to hold up against the decent running teams.

The season will be a success if ... Purdue wins eight games. That might be setting the bar way too low for a team with an offense like this, but the defense is still extremely suspect, and the schedule is potentially too nasty to expect any sort of flirtation with double-digit wins without a few big upsets.

Key game: Sept. 22 at Minnesota. Even though games against Toledo and Central Michigan should be tough, Purdue will be favored, If all goes well against those two, and in the home opener against Eastern Illinois, the trip to Minnesota could be vital to bowl hopes. A 4-0 start might be a must with Notre Dame, Ohio State, at Michigan, and Iowa over the next four games.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Field goals: Opponents 20 of 27; Purdue 9 of 21
- Fumbles: Opponents 35 (lost 17); Purdue 19 (lost 9)
- Average rushing yards per game: Opponents 191.2; Purdue 124.1


Related Stories
2007 Purdue Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 7, 2007
2007 Purdue Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 7, 2007
2007 Purdue Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 7, 2007

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