Big Ten

2010 NCAA Football Preview: Purdue Boilermakers

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Between now and the September 2nd season kick-off, Danny Hobrock will be previewing all the major college football teams with new teams being released daily.

2009 Season Breakdown

2009 final record (overall, conference): 5-7, 4-4
Bowl Game: None
Final Ranking (AP, Coaches'): NR, NR
Conference finish: 7th Big Ten Conference
Offensive rank: 53
Defensive rank: 69

2009 Individual Statistical Leaders

Rushing: Ralph Bolden, 935 yards, 9 TD
Passing: Joey Elliot, 3,026 yards, 22 TD, 13 INT
Receiving: Keith Smith, 1,100 yards, 6 TD; Aaron Valentin, 621 yards, 7 TD
Tackles: Torri Williams, 84 total tackles; Joe Holland, 81 total tackles
Sacks: Ryan Kerrigan, 13 sacks (12 solo, 2 assisted)
Interceptions: Brandon King, 3 interceptions

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2010 Season Outlook

Schedule
(* denotes conference game)

Key Matchups

September 4 @ Notre Dame: Win this one and the Boilermakers are all but guaranteed a 4-0 start heading into two very winnable games against Northwestern and Minnesota. Wouldn't it be nice to start 6-0 before…

October 23 @ Ohio State: They beat the Buckeyes last season, but victories against Ohio State have not come easy. Before 2009, Purdue had not beaten Ohio State since 2004, and that was also at home. If they can do it again, that would be tremendous. Just don't bet the farm.

November 20 @ Michigan State: With the Old Oaken Bucket on the line the next week in what is currently expected to be a win for the Boilermakers, taking this one against the Spartans would give Purdue a nice boost before their annual rivalry game.

November 27 vs. Indiana: Purdue should win this one, but stranger things have happened in rivalry games and the Hoosiers aren't terrible. Closing strong could even be the difference between a bowl game and an early winter holiday.

AP: N/A

Coaches': Not Ranked

Key Losses

Joey Elliot, QB; Aaron Valentin, WR; Jared Zwilling, C; Mike Neal, DT; Brandon King, CB; David Pender, CB; Torri Williams, S

Key Returning Players

Ralph Bolden, RB; Keith Smith, WR; Kyle Adams, TE; Ryan Kerrigan, DE; Kawann Short, DE; Jason Werner, LB; Joe Holland, LB

Offensive Overview

A former Miami Hurricane who started most of the 2008 season, quarterback Robert Marve left Miami when it became apparent that the 'Canes were going with Jacory Harris as their quarterback of the future. In mid-July, Marve was named the Boilermakers' starting quarterback, once again putting him behind the wheel of an FBS offense. Marve struggled with interceptions as a starter at the U, tossing 13 picks to 9 touchdowns, but head coach Danny Hope seems happy with the junior running his offense. "We like everything about Robert -- his ability to throw the football, run with the football and lead our team from the quarterback position -- and we want him to begin practice with the mindset that he is the guy," Hope said according to ESPN's Big Ten Blog. He was even given the Newcomer of the Year Award for offense in the spring. Caleb TerBush hasn't disappointed, however, and will be a solid number two should Marve get hurt or struggle.

Ralph Bolden is listed as one of the key returning players above, but his torn ACL could keep him out for a significant portion of the season, or for its entirety. Al-Terek McBurse will take over the rushing duties as the featured back and needs to put in a good year if the Boilermakers hope to balance their offense. He's a talented back who was highly regarded out of high school and many expect him to flourish as Bolden recovers.

Keith Smith is perhaps the key to this offense's success. Sure, quarterback play needs to be consistent from either Marve or TerBrush, but Smith gives whoever ends up tossing the ball a reliable target who racked up 1,100 yards and six touchdowns a year ago. Cortez Smith will also see time, as well as Justin Siller, who could also see time at running back and as a dual threat quarterback. A slew of young receivers in Gary Bush, Xavier Reese, Antavian Edison and Eric Williams who could also become significant parts of the rotation.

The offensive line returns just two starters with three relatively inexperienced linemen coming in to fill starting roles. Making matters worse is that depth along the line leaves a lot to be desired. Dennis Kelly returns at left tackle and right guard Ken Plue will again anchor the inside of the line, but after that there is limited experience. Guard Justin Pierce has seen starting action in eight games, but only saw the field in two games in 2009 in a backup role. Peters Drey is expected to get the nod at center with Nick Mondek expected to start at right tackle. Ryan Prater, Rick Schmeig and Trevor Foy should also see time.

Defensive Overview

With several returning starters in the front seven, things should be looking up for the defense. The only problem? All four starters in the secondary need to be replaced. The new starters will be inexperienced, making the offense's ability to score points that much more important. Logan Link and Albert Evans will take over at safety and Charlton Williams and Josh Johnson expected to be the starters at cornerback. The two cornerbacks combined for seven tackles last season and Link has not seen game action. Evans recorded 30 tackles last season after seeing action in all 12 games.

The leader of the defense will be end Ryan Kerrigan. He recorded 13 sacks last season and will again be the team's top pass rusher. Gerald Gooden and Robert Maci will compliment Kerrigan's pass rushing ability as they take advantage of the attention given to him on the opposite side. On the inside, with Mike Neal the only starter on the front seven gone, Kawann Short will be the leader of the interior. He's a 6'4, 310 pound tackle that put up 48 tackles as a freshman. Neal's replacement is expected to be Kevin Pamphile with Brandon Taylor also expected to see the field. The one area this unit needs improvement is in run defense, where the Boilermakers ranked last in the conference and 94th in the nation.

Dwayne Beckford was the defense's Most Improved Player this spring and will take over the middle linebacker spot where he is expected to become a major part of this linebackers corps in the present and into the future. Jason Werner was third on the team in tackles with 77 and will man the strongside in 2010. On the weakside will be Joe Holland, last year's second leading tackler with 81. Chris Carlino was the starter in the middle last season and will again be a major part of the rotation. The starters could be the rock of this defense and the depth behind them should be solid.

Special Teams Overview

At first glance, Carson Wiggs' 67% field goal percentage isn't all that impressive, but six of his seven misses were beyond 40 yards and one was a 60 yard attempt. More consistency from deep would be nice, but he's shown that he can hit the long ones, connecting on 59 and 55 yarders. Wiggs will also handle punting duties this season. Antavian Edison will handle punt return duties and should also get a look at kick returner.

Head Coach: Danny Hope

While a bowl game would have been nice, things went pretty well in Danny Hope's first season as head coach at Purdue. Five wins isn't all that bad considering the Boilermakers were within one score of tying or winning in five of their seven losses, including each of their first four losses. From 1997 to 2001, Hope served as offensive lines coach at Purdue before returning in 2008 as an assistant head coach and Joe Tiller's eventual successor at the helm. The highlight of his first season as head coach came when the Boilermakers snapped their five-game losing streak by downing #7 Ohio State. His first full season of recruiting as the official head coach yielded him and his staff the 54th ranked recruiting class, according to Rivals.com.

Top 2011 Draft Prospects

Keith Smith, WR; Ryan Kerrigan, DE

Season Prediction

8th Big Ten Conference

There are ten games this season in which Purdue will be either favored or will have a very good shot at winning. They miss Iowa and Penn State, with only the matchups against Wisconsin and Ohio State considered far shots. Nonetheless, the Big Ten is a pretty tight conference in the middle with Michigan State, Michigan, Northwestern and Purdue likely occupying the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth spots in the conference. How they finish is up for debate.

If Robert Marve or Caleb TerBrush turns out to be a consistent threat under center, this offense is in for a good season. They'll have the weapons around them to make plays, especially if Al-Terek McBurse can step up as a featured back, giving this offense the ability to put up some points. They may need to if the inexperienced secondary does not gel quickly. Combine questions in the defensive backfield with a suspect run defense, although that will hopefully see improvement, and what should be a good defense with an experienced front seven becomes more of an issue than many realize. - Danny Hobrock

Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.

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