2008 CFN Purdue Preview |
2008 Purdue Defense |
Purdue Depth Chart
2007 CFN Purdue Preview |
What you need to know: Offensive coordinator Ed Zaunbrecher
has some holes to fill at wide receiver and the line, and while
the receivers should turn out to be fine with good speed and
size likely make up for the lack of experience, the line could
be an issue if the myriad of health issues suffered this
off-season carry over into the fall. The running game will be
better with the return of Kory Sheets and Jaycen Taylor, a
talented, but underutilized, 1-2 punch. Running the show is
Curtis Painter, considered by some to be the best quarterback
prospect for the 2009 NFL Draft. He'll have to make his green
receiving corps shine and he'll have to show he can light up the
better secondaries and not just the ones on the average teams.
Passing: Curtis Painter
356-569, 3,846 yds, 29 TD, 11 INT
Rushing: Kory Sheets
168 carries, 859 yds, 11 TD
Receiving: Greg Orton
67 catches, 752 yds, 3 TD
Star of the offense: Senior QB Curtis Painter
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior WR
Unsung star on the rise: Junior TE Kyle Adams
Best pro prospect: Junior OT Sean Sester
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Painter, 2) RB Kory
Sheets, 3) OT Sean Sester
Strength of the offense: Quarterback, running back
Weakness of the offense:
Veteran receivers, line
Projected Starter: Senior Curtis Painter replaced
Brandon Kirsch in 2005 because he was better at making the pitch
on the option. Now the 6-4, 230-pound senior might be the No. 1
quarterback taken in the 2009 NFL Draft. While he hasn't exactly
captured the limelight like Drew Brees did almost a decade ago,
Painter has been ultra-productive throwing for 8,763 career
yards with 54 touchdown passes and 35 interceptions, while
running for 13 scores. Extremely accurate, he completed 63% of
his passes last year for 3,846 yards and 29 touchdown and 11
interceptions, highlighted b a 546-yard day in the Motor City
Bowl over Central Michigan. Now he has to be better against the
top teams, he struggled against Ohio State and Michigan last
year, and he has to make everyone around him better with a new
receiving corps to work with an a shaky line to operate behind.
Projected Top Reserves: While Painter is the
unquestioned star and No. 1, 6-2, 211-pound junior Joey
Elliott isn't a bad option and he should be the main man
going into next year. He has seen a little bit of mop-up duty
here and there completing 13 of 24 passes for 154 yards and 147
yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. 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 likely get more work this year to prepare for 2009.
One of the team's more
interesting options will be 6-4, 220-pound redshirt freshman
Justin Siller, the star of last year's recruiting class with
size, 4.7 speed, and a good arm. He adds are more of a rushing
threat than Painter or Elliott, and he'll get every chance at
the starting job next year.
Watch Out For ... Siller. He's too good an athlete
and too strong a prospect to not be on the field in some way.
He's not going to push Elliott out of a number two job, but he
could be the change-of-pace quarterback to throw a wrench into
Strength: Good passers. 2009 might be a lousy year
for pro quarterback prospects, but Painter is still considered a
first round talent. That Elliott can hold his own with a future
millionaire shows how strong the backup situation is. Siller
might be the most dangerous college player of the three.
Weakness: The rest of the team. The line was
decent in pass protection, but it wasn't superior. Now Painter
will have less time to work and a worse receiving corps to throw
Outlook: The passing game was among the best in
the nation last year, and now it'll have to be more efficient
with Painter needing to use all his experience to make everyone
around him better. He doesn't have last year's receiving corps
to work with, but if he can make quicker decisions and better
reads, that might not matter. Elliott is a good backup and
Siller is a strong No. 3.
Projected Starter: Senior Kory Sheets is
officially listed as the backup going into the season, but that
was the case last year too, and then he ended up starting most
of the second half of the season and was the team's leading
rusher with 859 yards and 11 touchdowns averaging 5.1 yards per
carry. A good receiver, he caught 30 passes for 216 yards and
two touchdowns. The 6-0, 206-pounder hasn't quite busted out as
expected, but he's great at getting into the end zone with 37
career scores. His problem? Fumbles. He wants to be a 1,000-yard
back, but that might not happen if he continues to have problems
putting the ball on the ground.
Projected Top Reserves: Technically the starter,
senior Jaycen Taylor is an effective running mate with
Sheets rushing for 560 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 5.2
yards per carry last season, and those numbers came despite
missing a month with a broken arm. The 5-10, 180-pound is more
of a speed back than Sheets, and he has the skills to be used
more as a receiver catching 11 passes for 65 yards after making
26 grabs two years ago. 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.
Sophomore Dan Dierking got a start against
Michigan and was a decent backup running for 181 yards and two
touchdowns while catching five passes for 52 yards. The 5-10,
186-pounder was the 2006 Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year,
and while he's a good back, he'll make his biggest impact on
Watch Out For ... Sheets to get 1,000 yards. He has
rushed for 571, 780 and 859 yards over the past three seasons,
but he has the speed and talent to be a bigger-time back. With
so much uncertainty in the receiving corps, Sheets will be
needed more than ever.
Strength: Experience. Taylor and Sheets seem like
they've been around since Bob Griese was under center. These two
have been regulars for the offense for the last three seasons
and should be even bigger leaders going into this year.
Weakness: Work. Sheets and Taylor each averaged
over five yards per carry and combined for 1,410 yards and 15
touchdowns, but the ground game still took a backseat to the
passing attack, like always. That's part of the deal at Purdue,
but these two are good enough to see more action.
Outlook: Sheets and Taylor will combine for close
to 300 carries this year and they'll carry the offense at times,
even with a quarterback like Painter under center. The running
game will never be the focus of a Joe Tiller team, but it'll be
used more often this year as long as Sheets can hang on to the
Projected Starters: Four of the top five receivers are
gone, and the one returning starter, 6-3, 199-pound senior
Greg Orton is struggling with a groin injury. He was third
on the team with 67 catches for 752 yards and three touchdowns,
and while he has enough deep speed to open things up, and he has
the size and experience to create matchup problems, all that
matters will be his ability as a No. 1 receiver for Curtis
Trying to fill in for Dorien Bryant, the team's leading
receiver, is junior Aaron Valentin, a JUCO transfer who
was fantastic this spring and appears to be good enough to be
one of the team's new good targets. A JUCO All-American, he's
6-1 and 205 pounds with good deep speed catching 37 passes for
612 yards and 10 scores for Eric CC.
The third receiver slot, occupied by Selwyn Lymon last year,
will be senior Joe Whitest, a 6-2, 195-pound former JUCO
transfer who has mostly been a special teamer and caught a pass
against Illinois two years ago. With good size and sprinter's
speed, he has the tools, and now he has to show he can use them.
Taking over for speedy receiving tight end Dustin Keller will be
junior Kyle Adams, who's nowhere near the same athlete or
the player that Keller was, but he showed this off-season that
he's not a bad replacement. At 6-5 and 251 pounds he's a big
target with nice hands and good blocking skills. He caught eight
passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns last season, but Keller
caught 68 balls.
Projected Top Reserves: When will Desmond Tardy
be ready? A likely starter at one of the receiver slots,
possibly ahead of Valentin, Tardy has to get over a shoulder
problem and he has to emerge as a steady playmaker. The 6-1,
199-pound senior came to Purdue as a quarterback but was quickly
moved over to the receiving corps. He caught ten passes for 93
yards last season, but he hasn't gotten into the end zone.
Battling with Whitest for the outside job is 6-2, 226-pound
junior Keith Smith, a big, tough all-around high school
quarterback who came to Purdue to play QB, was moved to safety,
where he made 11 tackles, and then moved to wide receiver last
year. He has good size, toughness and athleticism, and he looked
the part this spring after missing most of last year to work on
Combining with Adams at tight end is Jerry Wasikowski, a
6-4, 255-pound veteran who caught two passes and scores a
touchdown against Eastern Illinois, and didn't see much work the
rest of the way. The former walk-on will mostly be a special
Watch Out For ... D.J. Donley ... next year.
The writing was on the way when Paul Johnson and his running
attack took over at Georgia Tech, and Donley moved on to Purdue.
He might be the best receiver on the roster, but he won't be
eligible until next year.
Strength: Size and speed. At the very least, this
is a fast group that should create some matchup problems with
its size. Valentin is ready to step in from the JUCO ranks right
away and shine, and 6-4, 210-pound Arsenio Curry is
another one who might come in right away and add more size and
Weakness: Proven production. There's Orton, and
... ? There might be promise and potential, but there's no one
outside of Orton that the passing game can count on.
Outlook: Purdue can't replace the athleticism and
NFL talent of Keller, and Bryant was an underappreciated talent
who finally blossomed in his senior year, but for the most part,
Purdue succeeded with marginal talent that worked well in the
system. Now the key will be Curtis Painter trying to make
everyone better, but this will still be one of the team's
biggest concerns when it comes to consistency and overall
Projected Starters: The line needs all the
good players it can get, and it could go into the tank if 6-7, 325-pound
left tackle Sean Sester has problems. The honorable mention
All-Big Ten performer has a bulging disk in his back, and he'll be
desperately needed back after a great 2007. He has worked hard on his
strength and athleticism, and this is supposed to be the year he goes
from good to special.
The biggest replacement will be for Jordan Grimes at right guard, but
sophomore Justin Pierce was able to step in and start the final
three games of last season when Grimes went down. The 6-4, 314-pounder
is a very strong, very promising run blocker who should be a solid cog
up front for the next three years.
Replacing long-time veteran Robbie Powell in the middle will be 6-3,
287-pound Cory Benton, a senior who has spend most of his career
at guard. Far better suited for center, where he saw time as a reserve,
he's very athletic and has a great motor that doesn't stop. He makes up
for his lack of bulk by always going full-tilt.
Working next to Sester at left guard will be Zach Reckman, an
unsung rock on the inside who started every game and did a decent job
getting of getting better as the season went on. A former defensive
lineman, the 6-6, 308-pounder came from out of nowhere and now, after a
year of experience, he has to be even better.
Right tackle shouldn't be that big an issue with 6-5, 300-pound junior
Nate Jones back after starting every game but the opener. While
the former walk-on might not be an elite talent, he was effective enough
in pass protection to be considered a plus going into this year.
However, he's not great against the top speed rushers.
Projected Top Reserves: Will Eric Hedstrom
ever be healthy? The 6-2, 292-pound junior had problems with a shoulder
injury early in spring ball last year, and then suffered a knee injury
and never saw playing time. Considered a star recruit and one of the
nation's best guard prospects back in 2005, he has yet to see any
Working on the left side behind
Sester, and in his place until he's healthy, will be 6-8,
275-pound senior Garret Miller, an athlete backup who was
slated to be the starter last year but wasn't 100% healthy.
Injuries have been a problem throughout his career, and he has a
knee issue, but he's a smart player who can start at either
6-4, 293-pound junior Jared Zwilling has been a backup
defensive tackle throughout his career, and was a top end
recruit, but now he's moving over to the offensive side where
he'll work as both a backup guard and center. He'll start out
behind Benton in the middle, but could move one step either way
Watch Out For ... Benton to be strong at center.
Powell was a good quarterback for the line, and while Benton has
been a career backup, he's athletic enough to grow into a strong
starter now that he's getting the full-time chance.
Strength: Experience. There might be some concerns
about continuity up front after losing a few key starters, but
Sester, Reckman and Jones are good veterans to work around, and
the new starters should be ready from day one.
Weakness: Health. Did anyone stay healthy this
spring? The Boilermakers had too many injured players and lost
too much practice time. On the plus side, several unknowns got
meaningful work. However, if Sester's back or Miller's knee are
lingering problems, or if Reckman and Jones can't come back
healthy, it's uh-oh time.
Outlook: Next year's head man Danny Hope, the line
coach, has a little work to do. he line has been above average
for the most part, but it rarely wins against the better
defensive fronts. This year's group is big, experienced, and
potentially better, but it'll all go kaput if the injury
problems this off-season continue. The starting five of Sester,
Reckman, Benton, Pierce and Jones are good enough to win with,
but any variation will mean problems.