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2010 Purdue Preview – Defense
Purdue LB Jason Werner
Purdue LB Jason Werner
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 31, 2010


CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Purdue Boilermaker Defense


Purdue Boilermakers

Preview 2010 - Defense


- 2010 Purdue Preview | 2010 Purdue Offense
- 2010 Purdue Defense | 2010 Purdue Depth Chart
- Purdue Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

What You Need To Know: The defense was supposed to need a little time for the young parts to come together, and now it’ll need even more. The D wasn’t awful and it had some tremendous strengths in the pass rush and the secondary, and while DE Ryan Kerrigan will make sure the pressure on the quarterback is there, the secondary could be a disaster with four new, inexperienced starters. There’s speed and upside among the defensive backs, but this will be a major work in progress. On the plus side, the run defense that was last in the Big Ten can’t help but be better with six starters returning on the front seven led by a fantastic linebacking corps that could be the best the program has had in years.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Joe Holland, 81
Sacks: Ryan Kerrigan, 13
Interceptions: Kawann Short, 2

Star of the defense: Senior DE Ryan Kerrigan
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior CB Charlton Williams
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore LB Dwayne Beckford
Best pro prospect: Kerrigan
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Kerrigan, 2) LB Jason Werner, 3) DT Kawann Short
Strength of the defense: Pass Rush, Linebackers
Weakness of the defense: Secondary, Run Defense

Defensive Line

Projected Starters: Three starters are back on the defensive front, but the one loss is a huge one. Mike Neal was a terrific anchor on the inside, and now it’ll be up to redshirt freshman Kevin Pamphile to try to fill the void. While he’s not build like a top tackle at 6-5 and 277 pounds, he’s a great looking interior pass rushing prospect who’s extremely raw and has a boatload of upside. He only played one season for Miami Central High, but he’s a natural with basketball athleticism and good toughness.

The star on the line, and possibly the team, is senior Ryan Kerrigan, a pass rushing terror who earned All-America honors last season after making 66 tackles with 13 sacks, seven forced fumbles and 18.5 tackles for loss. At 6-4 and 263 pounds he’s a big end who came to Purdue as a tight end and is becoming one of the school’s all-time greatest defenders with 21 career sacks, good for fifth all-time, and with the high motor and the quickness to shoot up the charts. If he can get help from the line and if he isn’t double-teamed on a regular basis, he should once again be an all-star and he should be a mortal lock for at least ten sacks.

With Mike Neal gone, sophomore Kawann Short becomes the big bodied main man on the inside. At 6-4 and 310 pounds he has been dominant at times in practices and came up with a solid first season as a starter making 48 tackles with four tackles for loss. He also shockingly came up with two interceptions with a big frame that’s tough to throw over and around. A great recruit, he’s the new star up front and the potential anchor with the girth to eat up the run and the quickness to get into the backfield on a regular basis. All the tools and all the measureables are there to be great.

6-3, 242-pound junior Gerald Gooden needs to take advantage of all the attention paid to Ryan Kerrigan. A great athlete with a tremendous burst, he has the potential to be a dangerous pass rusher, and he came up with 4.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss, and now he has to use his two years of experience and his athleticism to be a more complete defensive end. Originally considered a top linebacker prospect, he makes up for his mistakes with raw speed. Now he needs to be the one who needs to be game-planned around.

Projected Top Reserves: Can Robert Maci find a role as pass rushing specialist? The 6-4, 236-pound sophomore has a great motor and is a decent tackler making 17 stops last year, but he didn’t get into the backfield. While he didn’t necessarily get lost in the shuffle, he wasn’t nearly disruptive enough when he got his opportunities.

6-1, 284-pound redshirt freshman Brandon Taylor isn’t all that big for a Big Ten tackle, but he’s a fireplug who has the frame to get great leverage and grow into a good run stopper. “BLT” was a superior interior pass rusher in high school and as the son of Lawrence Taylor, he has the genes for the job. He’ll start out working behind Kawann Short.

Junior Adam Brockman found his way on the team as a walk-on after transferring from Eastern Michigan. The 6-3, 260-pounder saw time on special teams and was great in the classroom, but he has yet to do anything on defense even with good size and just enough quickness to potentially make a few plays working behind Ryan Kerrigan. He only made 13 tackle for the Eagles.

Watch Out For … Short. Overshadowed by Kerrigan and Neal, Short had a terrific season that flew under the radar. Now he’s going to be one of the key players for the defensive front and has the upside to become the team’s best pro prospect with a little bit of time.
Strength: Kerrigan. With a pass rushing terror like Kerrigan on the outside, everything else becomes far easier. The Boilermakers should be able to generate pressure from all four spots.
Weakness: Run defense. Considering the talent and the size up front, Purdue’s inability to stop the run has been a major puzzler over the last several years. The D gave up 173 rushing yards per game and was the worst in the Big Ten against the run … again.
Outlook: The returning starters are terrific, there are some nice prospects to provide the depth, and there’s all-star potential in Kerrigan, Short and Gooden. So why can’t the line slow down the run? There will be plenty of sacks, plenty of plays in the backfield, and plenty of disruptive moments, but when push comes to shove, this group has to do some shoving.
Unit Rating: 7.5

Linebacker

Projected Starters: Can Jason Werner get and stay healthy? The 6-4, 221-pounder got a sixth year of eligibility after missing the 2006 and 2008 seasons hurt. He has had an Achilles injury and a back problem, but when he’s right, he’s a tremendous playmaker making 77 tackles with 4.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss last season. He’s not all that big, but he’s very smart, very tough, and very mobile on the strongside. The former safety can move and is versatile enough to play any of the three linebacking spots.

Taking over for Chris Carlino in the middle will be sophomore Dwayne Beckford, a 6-3, 223-pound tackling machine who was a superstar high school pass rusher making 17 sacks and 104 tackles in his senior year at Irvington High in New Jersey. He got to school early last year and saw plenty of action as a true freshman making 34 tackles and three tackles for loss working both as a key backup linebacker and a top special teamer. He’s a rock and he should be a statistical star in the middle.

Former safety Joe Holland didn’t get a whole bunch of attention, but he came up with a terrific season finishing second on the team with 81 tackles with 1.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss, and an interception. At 6-1 and 225 pounds he’s not all that big, but he’s extremely smart and talented enough to always be around the ball. He wasn’t used as much of a pass rusher on the weakside, but he has the burst to get into the backfield and he could be even more of a disruptive force.

Projected Top Reserves: Chris Carlino started every game last year in the middle finishing fourth on the team with 71 tackles with two tackles for loss and four broken up passes. A talented veteran with 107 stops in two seasons, he knows what he’s doing and can be plugged in at any of the three spots. At 6-2 and 226 pounds he’s not big, but he can move and is a pure baller finishing as the runner-up for Indiana’s Mr. Football honor three years ago before shining as a true freshman. While he might end up back in the middle, the emergence of Dwayne Beckford might mean more of a reserve role on the strongside.

How fast can Will Lucas be ready? The 6-1, 215-pound true freshman got to school early and was immediately plugged into the middle as a backup and will work right away on the weakside. A terrific tackler who plays bigger than his size, he has the sideline-to-sideline speed to chase anyone down from the middle.

Sophomore Antwon Higgs brings the most size to the equation. The 6-3, 254-pounder saw a little bit of time as a true freshman making nine tackles with a sack, and while he’ll work in the middle, he has the potential to play on the end and become a dangerous pass rusher. Big, active, and talented, he has the talent and the skills to be a devastating disruptive force with a little more time to heal after injuring his wrist.

Watch Out For … Beckford. Carlino might end up playing in the middle again, but there’s a reason Beckford was named the starter going into the fall. The sophomore has all the tools and all the talent to be special.
Strength: Players. It’s not a stretch to call this the best Purdue linebacking corps in several years with a healthy Werner and veterans who are ready to go from good to great. Everything will revolve around this group.
Weakness: Stopping the run. While this will be an active linebacking corps, it’s not a big group and it’ll get shoved around from time to time. For all the big things the linebackers did, the defense was still last in the Big Ten against the run.
Outlook: Last year was about letting the young talents take their lumps, and now the payoff should come. Not only are there top options and great players at all three spots, but there’s only one senior on the two deep. It’s not going to be the best linebacking corps in the Big Ten, but it’ll be among the most active.
Unit Rating: 8

Secondary

Projected Starters: All four starters need to be replaced in the secondary with the biggest loss at free safety where Torri Williams, the team’s leading tackler, is finally done after a long and tumultuous career. In will step Logan Link , a huge hitting prospect who’ll have the spotlight on from Day One at free safety. At 6-1 and 204 pounds has great size, but the walk-on is a bit limited and is more of a top tackler than potential playmaker when the ball is in the air.

Taking over for Dwight McLean at strong safety will be Albert Evans, a 6-0, 206-pound junior who was supposed to be a key starter last year but turned out to be a reserve who made 30 tackles with two broken up passes. The former JUCO transfer was a high school wide receiver who was going to be a smallish linebacker before moving to the defensive backfield. A great special teamer, he has to be steady against the run and he has to show he can do something when the ball is in the air.

6-2, 200-pound junior Charlton Williams has the size, the speed, and the upside, and now he has to show he can play. A reserve and a special teamer, he made just three tackles and has yet to show he can be the playmaker he was expected to be a few years go. He’ll get the early look at one of the corner spots, but he’ll be on a short leash with little experience.

Sophomore Josh Johnson saw time in 11 games last season, mostly as a special teamer, making four tackles, but he has the upside to grow into a fantastic corner. At 5-11 and 191 pounds he has good size, but he’s still raw after spending most of his time in high school at wide receiver. The athleticism is there, but he’s going to take some major lumps before he starts producing.

Projected Top Reserves: Ishmael Aristide is a good-looking 5-11, 199-pound redshirt freshman with great ball-hawking potential and big time speed. He didn’t play his senior year in high school and hasn’t seen the field in two years, but he’s still fast, with 10.7 100-meter speed, and excellent quickness. He’ll start out at free safety but could play more of a nickel role to get his athleticism on the field.

Ready to make a big splash is sophomore Chris Quinn, a smallish 5-11, 185-pound special teamer who saw a little bit of time last season making one tackle. A great prospect who flew under the radar after getting hurt in his senior year of high school, he’s an elite athlete with 10.8 100-meter time and tremendous leaping ability to make him play bigger than his size.

6-0, 165-pound JUCO transfer Mike Eargle was a great pickup for the program and is expected to be a major part of the corner rotation right away. A high school wide receiver who was supposed to go to Oklahoma State, he played at corner for Lackawanna College and even saw a little time at quarterback. The junior has more experience than most of the Purdue corners.

Watch Out For … Evans. He was a great prospect who has yet to become a major player, but he’s due. In the strong safety spot he should be terrific against the run and he should be one of the team’s statistical stars.
Strength: Hope. The secondary will get a great pass rush to help the cause and it’ll be a godsend. There’s plenty of young talent and lots of athletes to hope will grow into the jobs. 2011 should be much better when everyone returns.
Weakness: Veterans. There’s nothing, absolutely nothing, the team can count on experience-wise. All four starters from last year are gone and none of the new starters are developed.
Outlook: The secondary came up with a great year allowing 203 yards per game and serving as a steadying, veteran force. Now the Boilermakers have to start from scratch with four new starters, and while there’s plenty of upside, there’s reason to panic.
Unit Rating: 5.5

Special Teams

Projected Starters: Junior Carson Wiggs stepped in and had a decent year as a placekicker and now he’ll try to help a struggling punting game. He nailed 14-of-21 field goals with six of the misses coming from beyond 40 yards including a 60-yard attempt, but he has excellent range connecting from 59 yards out against Toledo and from 55 yards away against Ohio State. Chris Summers only averaged 39.5 yards per punt, but Wiggs, on four tries, only averaged 36.5 yards per pop.

Sophomore WR Antavian Edison has tremendous quickness and should add more punch to the punt return game after the team averaged a solid 8.27 yards per try. He’ll also get a look, along with speedy RB Al-Terek McBurse, to take over for Aaron Valentin on kickoff returns. Watch Out For … Edison to be terrific. Valentin was solid averaging 12.1 yards per punt return, but he averaged a mere 19 yards per kickoff try. Edison might not be too much of a receiver this year, but he should be a weapon for the special teams.
Strength: Wiggs’ leg. He might not be consistent from midrange, but he has a cannon with range from 60 yards and in. However …
Weakness: Coverage teams. There’s no reason the Boilermakers should allow 24.7 yards per kickoff return considering Wiggs can put the ball deep in the end zone. The punting game needs to be better after finishing 106th in the nation.
Outlook: The kicking game will be fine with Wiggs handling all the duties and Edison should be fantastic. The Boilermakers should be decent, but they are hardly going to be special.
Unit Rating: 6.5

- 2010 Purdue Preview | 2010 Purdue Offense
- 2010 Purdue Defense | 2010 Purdue Depth Chart
- Purdue Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006