What to watch on offense
Danny Hope was an assistant under former Purdue HC Joe Tiller from 1997-2001. Hope returned to Purdue in 2007 as the named successor to Joe Tiller who retired a year later. An OL coach by trade, Hope maintained Tiller’s spread offense but has incorporated a zone based running attack to create some balance offensively. Purdue is still among the conference leaders in passing but they are no longer completely dependent on completing passes in order to win games.
Since taking over Purdue, Danny Hope has consistently used multiple QBs. Former Miami QB Robert Marve was expected to lock down the QB position when he transferred to Purdue in 2009. Injuries and the emergence of the more athletic Caleb Terbush has lead Purdue to continue the practice of rotating QBs. Marve is the better passer and is used primarily in that role while Terbush poses a duel-threat to opposing defenses.
RB Ralph Bolden was expected to carry a heavy load this season after posting more than 700 yds a year ago. Unfortunately for Purdue, Bolden’s late season injury from a year ago has kept him out of the lineup so far this season. Bolden has been a light participate in Purdue practices this week and he has stated that he’s ready to play. Danny Hope has kept his cards close to the vest in an effort to keep the Michigan coaches in the dark about the possibility of Bolden returning on Saturday. Akeem Shavers who filled in for Bolden at the end of last season has averaged 60 yds on the ground per game this season while in a time share with sophomore Akeem Hunt.
Purdue’s receiver core lost just one player from last year’s team, returning much of the unit intact. Senior Antavian Edison is the leading receiver but far from the only weapon in the Purdue WR core. Juniors OJ Ross and Gary Bush have also played key roles helping Purdue rank 2nd in the Big 10 in passing offense.
Purdue lost its best offensive linemen from a year ago to graduation but still returns 3 starters including Honorable Mention All-Big 10 guard Peters Drey. Purdue lacks size on the offensive line, especially at the tackles. Converted DT Justin Kitchens returns at the RT but weighs in at just 275lbs while brand new LT Trevor Foy checks in at 287lbs.
Best Offensive Player
WR Antavian Edison – If he was healthy and certain to play this spot would list Ralph Bolden as the best offensive player. As it stands the best offensive player for Purdue this season has been Antavian Edison who has averaged more than 11yds per reception and scored 5 TDs this season.
Head Coach– Danny Hope-4th year
Off Coor– Gary Nord-4th year
Def Coor– Tim Tibesar-1st year
WR Justin Siller
OT Dennis Kelly
OG Nick Mondek
LB Joe Holland
DE Gerald Gooden
FS Albert Evans
SS Logan Link
WR Antavian Edison
WR OJ Ross
QB Caleb Terbush
DT Kawann Short
CB Ricardo Allen
What to watch on defense
New defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar is an interesting case. After spending the previous 3 years in the CFL, Tibesar returns to the world of college football. Prior to his stint in the CFL, Tibesar was defensive coordinator at Kansas State. Tibesar has mainly used a 4 man front this season but used a 3 man, multiple front look when he ran the Kansas State defense.
Kawann Short anchors the Purdue defense up front and is one of the best defensive linemen in the conference if not the country. Short has teamed with sophomore DE Ryan Russell to form a potent 1-2 punch against opposing QBs.
Newcomer Will Lucas leads a LB unit that lost 2 starters from a year ago including Dwayne Beckford who was kicked of the team in the off season. Lucas leads the team in tackles and has been a terror so far this season.
Purdue is breaking in two new starting safeties after losing both from last year to graduation. Sophomores Landon Feichter and Taylor Richards are both rangy players who while lacking in size, bring a lot of speed and athleticism to the position. The two young safeties are flanked by two experienced CBs including Junior Ricardo Allen who recorded a pick 6 last week against Marshall.
Best Defensive Player
Kawann Short – Short is a former basketball star who chose Purdue with the expectation of becoming a 2 sport star. Short quickly dropped the idea and has blossomed into one of the best interior linemen in the country. Short is 2nd in the Big 10 in sacks with 4 on the season and will likely be selected in the first or 2nd round of the upcoming NFL draft.
Michigan Rush Def vs. Purdue Rush Off
Michigan’s rush defense took a major step forward last week against the Irish and a repeat performance is very possible against Purdue.
Purdue ranks 4th in the Big 10 in rush offense but gained 392 of their 806 rushing yards against Eastern Michigan. Against the lone top 25 defense they played, Purdue racked up just 90yds rushing.
Michigan Pass Def vs. Purdue Pass Off
While they no long live and die with the pass, Purdue still depends on the passing game as the most important part of their offense. The Boilermakers have a deep crop of WRs and they find ways to get their playmakers in space against man to man and take advantage of holes when teams play zone.
Michigan record its first two interceptions of the season 2 week ago against the Irish and sophomore Raymon Taylor is beginning to come into his own as a capable replacement for Blake Countess. The secondary will have their hands full with Purdue this week however.
Michigan Rush Off vs. Purdue Rush Def
Purdue has produced quite the stingy rush defense this season, holding teams to an average of 105yds rushing. Lead by the super talented DT Kawann Short, the Boilermakers held Notre Dame to just 52 yds on the ground.
Michigan’s offensive line really came into their own in the 2nd half two weeks ago and produced a lot of running room for the backs. If Michigan commits to running the ball the opportunity exists for good day on the ground.
Michigan Pass Off vs. Purdue Pass Def
Thanks to youth at the safety position and a lack of talent Purdue’s secondary is a mess. The Boilermakers yielded a whopping 439 yds to Marshall last week and allowed 324yds against Notre Dame. The secondary is the major weakness of Purdue’s team.
Unfortunately for Wolverine fans, the Michigan passing game has been the weakness for the Wolverines. There will be plenty of opportunities to take advantage of Purdue in the passing game just like there were 2 weeks ago against the Irish. The Michigan passing game has been plagued with inconsistency issues and downright bad QB play.