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What you need to know: The Purdue offense was like a big
budget action movie with a ton of fireworks and explosions, but
had a plot that goes nowhere. It cranked out yards in bunches
but did absolutely nothing against the big boys scoring three
points against Wisconsin, seven against Maryland, 17 against
Iowa, and was shut out by Penn State. It'll be in the top ten in
the nation in yards again with Curtis Painter getting a
jaw-dropping good receiving corps to work with led by the
amazing Dorien Bryant in the slot. The 1-2 rushing punch of
Jaycen Taylor and Kory Sheets is the best yet in the Joe Tiller
era, while the right side of the line, Sean Sester at tackle and
Jordan Grimes at guard, along with center Robbie Powell, will be
dominant. The left side of the line is a concern and there's no
developed depth anywhere, but the starting 11 should move the
ball at will.
Passing: Curtis Painter
315-530, 3,985 yds, 22 TD, 19 INT
Rushing: Kory Sheets
158 carries, 780 yds, 11 TD
Receiving: Dorien Bryant
87 catches, 1,068 yds, 6 TD
Star of the offense: Senior WR Dorien Bryant
Overall depth, the left side of the
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore OG
Unsung star on the rise: Junior RB Jaycen Taylor
Best pro prospect: Junior OT Sean Sester
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Bryant, 2) OG Jordan
Grimes, 3) QB Curtis Painter
Strength of the offense: Receiving corps, experience
Weakness of the offense:
Projected Starter: Junior Curtis Painter replaced
Brandon Kirsch in 2005 because he could run the option well.
Last year, Painter proved he could throw a little bit, too,
bombing away 530 times completing 59% of his throws for 3,985
yards and 22 touchdowns. It's hard to avoid mistakes when you
throw that often, but Painter still needs to cut down on the 19
interceptions he spread throughout the year. He bombed away for
over 400 yards twice, threw for 398 against Notre Dame, and
averaged a whopping 284.6 yards per game. At 6-4 and 223 pounds,
he's a big, strong passer with the mobility to run for 181 yards
and six touchdowns.
Projected Top Reserves: 6-2, 211-pound sophomore
Joey Elliott saw a little bit of mop-up duty completing six
of ten passes for 72 yards and a touchdown with an interception.
While he's not the runner Painter can occasionally be, he's
mobile for a pro-style quarterback. Known as a clutch passer in
high school throwing for 7,797 yards and 80 touchdowns at
Evansville High in Indiana, he'll get his shot next year. Maybe.
6-4 true freshman Justin Siller
was the star of the recruiting class. With wide receiver speed
and a decent arm, he has the tools to be fantastic, but he needs
time to grow into a passer. Able to run the 40 in 4.7, he could
be moved around if needed.
Watch Out For ... Painter to chuck it as much as
ever. With the receiving corps he has to work with and the
veteran line in front of him, there's no reason not to keep
throwing and throwing and throwing some more.
Strength: Versatility. Painter and Elliott can
both throw and run. Painter is more versatile than Elliot, but
the offense has options with either one under center.
Weakness: Elliott doesn't have any appreciable
experience. He's seen a little time here and there, but not
enough to feel comfortable if Painter is slow getting up.
Outlook: Quarterbacks coach and co-offensive
coordinator Ed Zaunbrecher is known for cranking out high-octane
passers, and he's doing it again with Painter. Now Painter has
to be even more efficient, make better decisions, and try to get
his completion percentage up to around 65%. If he can cut down
on his interceptions just a little bit, the Big Ten's most
productive offense will become one of the most effective.
Projected Starter: Junior Jaycen Taylor is
officially listed as the starter coming out of spring ball
coming off a strong season averaging six yards per carry with
677 yards and four touchdowns. A good receiver, he brought more
pop to the passing game catching 26 passes for 261 yards and a
touchdown as a consistent producer over the second half of the
season. What he hasn't been is a workhorse only getting
double-digit carries in four games. The former JUCO transfer
isn't going to power over anyone, but he has the 4.5 speed to
blaze through holes and around the corner.
Projected Top Reserves: Taylor might technically
become the starter, but junior Kory Sheets will get more
than his share of carries. Last year's leading rusher with 780
yards and 11 touchdowns is great getting into the end zone with
24 scores in two seasons including a punt return for a
touchdown. At 206 pounds, he provides the power Taylor doesn't
bring to go along with his excellent hands in the passing game.
True freshman Malcolm Harris
is another do-it-all back who could see time right away if he
proves he can catch on a consistent basis. With 4.4 speed, it
might be too tempting to get him on the field right away.
Watch Out For ... a few more two-back sets. The
offense will almost always revolve around the one tailback, but
Sheets and Taylor will occasionally be in the backfield at the
same time just to offer a different look.
Strength: Backs who know their roles. The
Boilermakers aren't going to pound it 45 times a game, so the
backs have to know their place and be productive as receivers,
blockers, and hole-finders when defenses are on their heels
against the pass.
Weakness: Depth. Sheets and Taylor got 271 of the
team's 400 carries with Curtis Painter and Dorien Bryant
combining for 95 of the other 129. If something happens to one
of the two backs, there's no experienced backup ready to step in
with Dario Camacho announcing after spring ball that he's
Outlook: Sheets was the main ball-carrier when the
ground game was needed last season, but now it might be Taylor
setting things up for Sheets to knock them down. Sheets will
always be the closer around the goal line, but Taylor will get a
lot more work.
Projected Starters: There isn't a player in America
who's produced more and received less national love than senior
Dorien Bryant. All he's done is catch 205 passes over the
last three seasons for 2,612 yards (12.7 yards per catch) and 13
touchdowns. He might not be a scorer, but he's rock-solid steady
in the slot making play after play with only one game with fewer
than four grabs last season. While not necessarily a deep
blazer, he's lightning quick and tremendous at finding the
On the outside will eventually be junior Selwyn
Lymon as he returns from a stab wound to the chest that sent
him to the hospital and kept him out of school for an extended
period. He spent the spring recuperating and working on his
studies, but he's expected to be all-back-full in time for the
season. At 6-4 and 215
pounds, he has tremendous size for an outside receiver, and he
showed how explosive he could be ripping apart Notre Dame for
238 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches. Now he has to be
more consistent catching just 25 passes for 342 yards and one
touchdown against everyone else.
6-3, 199-pound junior Greg Orton returns to the other
receiver slot after finishing second on the team with 58 catches
for 790 yards and five scores highlighted by a 13-catch,
144-yard day against Northwestern. He has enough deep speed to
be used to open things up for Bryant and the tight ends, and his
size creates several matchup problems.
Also returning is senior
Dustin Keller, a former wide receiver who was the
steadiest target behind Bryant catching 56 passes for 771 yards
and four scores. He's not a bad blocker, but the 6-4,
240-pounder is like all Boilermaker tight ends and makes the
most noise as a receiver.
Projected Top Reserves: While it's hard to see
time with so many experienced receivers returning, but junior
Desmond Tardy emerged this spring as a possible option to
see more time in the slot. At 6-1 and 199 pounds, he's bigger
than Bryant and finally seems to have figured out what it takes
to be a receiver after coming to Purdue as a quarterbacks. He
caught seven passes for 88 yards and a touchdown last season,
and now he'll be more in the rotation.
Senior Jake Standeford, the brother of John, a former
Purdue star receiver, will play behind Lymon and could step in
and start if needed. He's not anywhere near the player his
brother was, but he's a smart veteran who finally became a
scholarship player last season catching 11 passes for 122 yards
and a touchdown.
Junior Joe Whitest is lightning fast,
but he's mostly a special teamer when he isn't backing up Orton.
He only made one catch for 20 yards after coming over from the
Quickly emerging at tight end is sophomore Kyle
Adams, a 6-5, 251-pound target who caught six passes for 58
yards and a touchdown. He'll see far more time this year.
Watch Out For ... Lymon and Orton to get more work.
Once Lymon returns, and assuming he'll quickly be in game shape,
the offense will push the ball down the field even more. Now
that the outside targets have experience, they should be able to
torch the single coverage they'll see.
Strength: Experience. If you include the running
backs, the top eight receivers from last year are back
accounting for 306 catches for close to 4,000 yards. The
receiving corps is loaded.
Weakness: Depth. Yeah, Tardy is better and Whitest
has wheels, but there's no one of note to rely on if something
happens to the top starters. The coaching staff will have to do
everything possible to play the inexperienced backups just to
get more options on the field.
Outlook: The receiving corps will be unstoppable.
Dorien Bryant is an All-America talent who'll be good for 70+
catches, Selwyn Lymon, when he returns, and Greg Orton will be used
even more to stretch the field. If you can handle the receivers,
there's tight end Dustin Keller to deal with underneath. It's a talented, veteran
group that should pave the way for another top ten season for
the passing game.
Projected Starters: Loaded on the right
side, the Boilermaker have one of the best tandems in America in guard
Jordan Grimes and tackle Sean Sester. The 6-3, 325-pound
Grimes is one of the Big Ten's best run blockers and doesn't quite fit
the Purdue mold. He's a mauler playing in a finesse offense, and he's
adapting as he became a great pass protector last season. Tremendously
strong, he simply overwhelms most tackles.
The 6-7, 325-pound Sester
came into his own hitting the weight room and getting much stronger
while keeping his athleticism. He's
quickly growing into an all-star, literally, as he continues to fill out
Also returning to the starting mix is fifth-year senior
Robbie Powell, a 6-5, 307-pound tone-setter for the line with a high
motor and nasty attitude. Versatile enough to play guard, which he did
as a sophomore, he found a home in the middle.
The question marks are on the left side where Mike Otto and Uche Nwaneri
have to be replaced. 6-8, 275-pound junior Garret Miller is
expected to start at left tackle despite missing most of spring ball
with a shoulder problem. While not heavy, his big frame and long arms
make him impossible to get around in passing situations. Injuries has
been a problem throughout his career, but he's a smart player who's
ready to take over. 6-6, 303-pound sophomore Eric Hedstrom also had
a shoulder injury this spring as he's trying to fill in for Nwaneri at
guard. He's a big-time prospect who hasn't gotten any real work
yet and will be the X factor of the offense.
Projected Top Reserves: With Miller missing time
this spring. 6-4, 295-pound senior Dan Zaleski stepped in and
played extremely well. A reserve throughout his career, the walk-on has been
around long enough to be part of the rotation.
Pushing for time behind Hedstrom will be sophomore Justin Pierce, who at 6-4 and 332
pounds is the biggest player up front. He's very, very strong and should
be great for the running game.
Former tight end Cory Benton is an
athletic, but light, reserve behind Powell at center. The 275-pounder
saw a little bit of time and has played a little at tackle.
Watch Out For ... the left side to be fine. Miller
and Hedstrom can each play, but Miller has to prove he can stay healthy
and Hedstrom has to live up to his potential.
Strength: The three starters. Sester, Grimes and
Powell will all be worthy of All-Big Ten honors. They're all
tremendously talented and they'll be the ones the offense works behind.
Weakness: Depth. The coaching staff is trying to
piece together the starters on the right side much less the depth. The
machine will quickly break down if injuries strike early on.
Outlook: How good was the line last season? It
allowed 22 sacks in 542 pass attempts. It's not a pounding front five
for the ground game, but it's good for what the offense wants to do and
opens up the lanes for the backs without much of a problem. Sester,
Grimes and Powell are special, and if the left side can come together,
something it wasn't able to do this spring, the line will be a strength