Big Ten Football Previews – Part I
Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of my annual summer Big Ten football previews. Check back often to see who’s next...
Team: Purdue Boilermakers
Tidbits … The Boilermakers have made a bowl game in ten of the last 12 seasons, however last year was the second time in four seasons that Purdue was home for the holidays. Consensus has the Boilers as owning the worst rated incoming class in the Big Ten - BUT - a movement towards speed could pay huge dividends immediately.
2008 Prediction / actual: 7-5, 4-4 (6th), Insight / 4-8, 2-6 (T-9th)
2007 Prediction / actual: 8-4, 4-4 (T-6th), Alamo / 8-5, 3-5 (T-7th), Motor City
2006 Prediction / actual: 8-5, 4-4 (T-6th), Insight / 8-6, 5-3 (T-4th), Champs
2005 Prediction / actual: 7-4, 4-4 (T-5th), Outback / 5-6, 3-5 (8th)
2004 Prediction / actual: 7-4, 5-3 (4th), Outback / 7-5, 4-4 (T-5th), Sun
2003 Prediction / actual: 10-2, 6-2 (T-2nd) / 9-4, 6-2 (T-2nd)
2002 Prediction / actual: 8-4, 5-3 (T-4th) / 7-6, 4-4 (T-5th)
2001 Prediction / actual: 9-2, 6-2 (T-1st) / 6-6, 4-4 (T-4th
*Note, bowl shown only from 2004 on as I did not predict the bowl berths prior to that season.
Returning Starters: 4 offense, 7 defense, 2 kickers
Key Returnees: QB Joey Elliott, RB Jaycen Taylor, FS Torri Williams, DT Mike Neal
Key Losses: QB Curtis Painter, WR Greg Orton, RB Kory Sheets, LB Anthony Heygood
Looking Back ... Purdue fans would appreciate it if we all just swept 2008 under the rug. It was no way to end a solid tenure for Joe Tiller. Team turmoil and gripes over playing time, philosophies, etc. led to the worst season in West Lafayette in a long, long time.
Outlook - Offense ... Purdue's top four offensive weapons have moved on. Well, make that five. The very promising Justin Siller failed to meet academic expectations, forcing the Boilers to face the season with very little depth or experience at the quarterback position. The good news is that there is some - albeit rather limited - experience in signal caller Joey Elliott. Wide receiver Keith Smith and tailback Jaycen Taylor provide some big play potential and the strength is the offensive line, which returns four starters. I believe that this offense will bog down at times, but look for Danny Hope to inject some of his young speedsters into the fray and for the offense to improve as the season wears on.
Outlook - Defense ... This is where the Boilermakers will have to make hay early in the season. Seven starters return, including a couple of stalwarts up front and a nice wall of linebackers. Health has been an issue for a few of those being counted on for big things in 2009 (LB Jason Werner, FS Torri Williams) and that is a concern since the depth chart is littered with sophomores. Purdue doesn't have a real weakness on the defensive side of the ball, and that is good news considering the plight of the offense. If this group over-achieves at all, the Boilers will be far better than I predict.
Outlook - Special Teams ... Both kickers return, though neither is necessarily upper echelon in the conference. Look for one of the fast frosh to break onto the scene as a key play maker in the return game.
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
9/26 - Notre Dame, 11/21 - at Indiana
Prediction ... Did Joe Tiller leave the program in the condition it was when he inherited it? Don't hate on me Purdue friends. This season is gonna be ugly. But it won't last too long. Purdue will be in most games this season and a decent foundation will be laid for the future. Plus, you have a Top Ten - maybe Top Five - hoops program to look forward to watching, so I know you can't wait for winter...
OOC: 2-2 (wins over Toledo and Northern Illinois)
B10: 0-8 (tough sledding in W.L. this fall)
Overall: 2-8, 11th in the conference