2009 CFN Purdue Preview
Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan
Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan
Posted Jun 8, 2009

Danny Hope takes over the head coaching reigns but he has some major rebuilding to do. Will the Boilermakers get production out of all the young talent, and can established veterans like Ryan Kerrigan carry the team? Check out the 2009 CFN Purdue Preview.

Purdue Boilermakers

Preview 2009

By Pete Fiutak

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- 2009 CFN Purdue Preview | 2009 Purdue Offense
- 2009 Purdue Defense | 2009 Purdue Depth Chart
- 2008 Purdue Preview | 2007 Purdue Preview | 2006 Purdue Preview   

Head coach: Danny Hope
1st year
6th year overall: 35-22
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 24, Def. 23, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 18
Ten Best Purdue Players
1. DE Ryan Kerrigan, Sr.
2. FS Torri Williams, Sr.
3. CB David Pender, Sr.
4. DT Mike Neal, Sr.
5. LB Joe Holland, Soph.
6. LB Chris Carlino, Soph.
7. DT Kawann Short, RFr.
8. RB Jaycen Taylor, Sr.
9. WR Keith Smith, Jr.
10. DE Gerald Gooden, Soph.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 3-9
2009 Record:

9/5 Toledo
9/12 at Oregon
9/19 Northern Illinois
9/26 Notre Dame
10/3 Northwestern
10/10 at Minnesota
10/17 Ohio State
10/24 Illinois
10/31 at Wisconsin
11/7 at Michigan
11/14 Michigan State
11/21 at Indiana

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 4-8

Sept. 6 No. Colorado W 42-10
Sept. 13 Oregon L 32-26 2OT
Sept. 20 Central Mich W 32-25
Sept. 27 at Notre Dame L 38-21
Oct. 4 Penn State L 20-6
Oct. 11 at Ohio State L 16-3
Oct. 18 at Northwestern L 46-28
Oct. 25 Minnesota L 17-6
Nov. 1 Michigan W 48-42
Nov. 8 at Michigan State L 21-7
Nov. 15 at Iowa L 22-17
Nov. 22 Indiana W 62-10

The last Purdue win to come against a team from a BCS conference that finished a season with a winning record? November of 2004 with a victory over Ohio State. Purdue football had become the working definition of a mediocre program, and last year things went from rocky to stale in Joe Tiller's final season. However, there's hope on the horizon, no pun intended, really.

New head man Danny Hope, who has been part of the show for the last few years as the appointed successor to the throne, isn't going to change too much considering he was partly responsible for how the team has been built, but he has something that Tiller didn't over the last few seasons: a ton of young talent.

Tiller always bemoaned having to recruit a different kind of player because Purdue couldn't necessarily compete with the Big Ten big boys for the top talent. That's fine, it's not like Wisconsin and Iowa have led the recruiting rankings over the years, but Purdue has been even more creative.

Instead of getting the star linebacker prospect, it might get a great high school quarterback and use his athleticism on defense. Every school does that to a point, but Purdue lives and dies off of finding athletes who might have been spurned by other places because they didn't fit a specific type. The NFL Combine hasn't had a problem with this over the last few seasons. Tiller and his staff got it right over the last few years with a slew of great athletes brought in, and if everyone can be patient and can accept a year of major growing pains, the payoff could be enormous.

The biggest issue early on will be to find steady playmakers on offense, but the situation isn't as dire as many might make it out to be with a nice blend of promising backups to go along with seniors who should be good enough to produce with more responsibility on their shoulders. The best quarterback on the team, Caleb TerBush, is a redshirt freshman, but he might need a little time (more on this in a moment). Ralph Bolden was the team's best running back in spring ball, and he's just a sophomore, and the team's top recruit this year was running back Al-Terek McBurse.

The defense is even more loaded with young prospects and has the potential to be fantastic if it can stop the run for the first time in several years. 6-4, 310-pound defensive tackle Kawann Short has NFL potential written all over him, while six of the nine top linebacker prospects, including two projected starters, are underclassmen. The secondary might be the team's strength, with all four starters going into the senior years, but the backups are all fast, they're all promising, and they're all coming back next year.

The question becomes if Hope can take the program over the hump and become a real, live player in Big Ten play again. Purdue might take a step back this year to take a giant leap forward, but the coaching staff isn't going to go to a total youth movement right away. Can Hope and the coaches find the right mix and the right blend to try to win now while getting everyone adequately prepared for a potentially big 2010? It'll be worth watching.

What to watch for on offense: The quarterback situation. Here's the biggest early debate of the Hope era. With Justin Siller booted off the team due to academic problems, Joey Elliott will be the main man early on. However, he's a limited talent and is gone next year. How quickly will Hope plug in Caleb TerBush, a big-armed redshirt freshman who'll be the triggerman when the program becomes bowl-good again? Playing TerBush might not be a concession for a rebuilding team; he's been almost as good as Elliott this offseason.

What to watch for on defense: How good can the line be? Shoved around against the run for the last several years, the line needs to be much better and far more productive against the better Big Ten O lines. End Ryan Kerrigan is one of the league's top pass rushers and can hold his own against the run, but the key to the season could be the play of tackles Mike Neal and Kawann Short. Neal is the veteran who appears to be on the verge of stepping up his game into all-star status, while Short could be special if he can take all his tools and grow into a consistent brick wall against the better ground attacks. If the line can get into the backfield more often, everyone in the back seven will be far better.

The team will be far better if … it can score on a consistent basis. Purdue has always been considered a team with a high-octane offense, it's almost always among the league leaders in passing, but the attack goes in the tank against any defense with a pulse. Consistency is the biggest issue, hanging 48 points on Michigan and 62 on Indiana, but only scoring 22 total points against Penn State, Ohio State, Minnesota and Michigan State combined. Purdue went 4-0 when it scored 32 points or more, and was 0-8 when it scored 26 or fewer.

The Schedule: The start of the Danny Hope era shouldn't be too bad if the team can hold serve at home. The Boilermakers likely won't have a shot at beating Oregon in Autzen Stadium, but they should be strong enough to get by Toledo and Northern Illinois and a statement could be made against Notre Dame. With the Big Ten opener against Northwestern at home, Purdue gets to play in West Lafayette four times in the first five games and six times in eight games before Halloween. However, there are three road games in the final four. Not playing Iowa or Penn State will be a huge help in the drive for a decent year.

Best Offensive Player: Senior RB Jaycen Taylor. He's not going to be Kory Sheets, but the veteran is a speed back who should be 100% recovered from a knee injury that sidelined him for all of 2008. He won't have to be a workhorse with good backs waiting in the wings to be part of a rotation, but he'll be the go-to back who could be the team's offense early on.

Best Defensive Player: Junior DE Ryan Kerrigan. If he played for Penn State or Ohio State he'd be on most All-America lists. The 6-4, 263-pounder not only made seven sacks last season, but he was fourth on the team with 56 tackles. Want-to was never a problem before, and now he cranked up the intensity a few levels and he should be even more of a terror into the backfield.

Key player to a successful season: Senior QB Joey Elliott. He was fine when he has seen time over the course of his career, but he hasn't been anything special. Now he has to not only lead the team and make a green receiving corps better, but he has to stay healthy after getting knocked out last year with a shoulder injury that he's just now starting to get over completely.

The season will be a success if ... Purdue gets to a bowl game. It would be a nice stepping-stone after last year's clunker to get a 13th game, and with no Penn State or Iowa to deal with, the Boilermakers have to take advantage. Getting off to a hot start will be a must, and there will need to be an upset on the road against either Michigan or Minnesota, but the team should be just good enough to play in December.

Key game: Sept. 26 vs. Notre Dame. Home wins over Toledo and Northern Illinois aren't going to be layups, but they're must-wins to have any real hope of going bowling. A good showing at Oregon would be nice, but a win is too much to ask for. Before Big Ten play kicks in, the Boilermakers could use a win over the Irish, after losing three of the last four in the series, to be 3-1 with Northwestern coming to town.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- Punt return average: Opponents 16.7 yards per try - Purdue 7.7 yards per try
- Penalties: Opponents 76 for 603 yards - Purdue 60 for 484 yards
- Purdue recovered three of its four onside kick attempts

- 2009 CFN Purdue Preview
| 2009 Purdue Offense
- 2009 Purdue Defense | 2009 Purdue Depth Chart
- 2008 Purdue Preview | 2007 Purdue Preview | 2006 Purdue Preview