Purdue football preview for 2016, including keys to success for the Boilermakers, best players and season prediction.
What You Need To Know About The Purdue Offense
It’s not just that the Purdue attack failed to do enough, it’s that is wasn’t consistent and – other than the Nebraska game – it was never, ever clutch. New offensive coordinator Terry Malone has to try changing all of that.
With Austin Appleby off trying to win the Florida Gator starting quarterback job, David Blough has to rise up and become a star in his sophomore season. The quarterback play as a whole has to be stronger, and there’s no longer any time for the program to try building up a new option.
With seven of the top eight pass catchers returning, there’s plenty of help for Blough, but don’t expect a dangerous downfield passing game. However, if the offense averaging under ten yards per completion again, there’s a big problem.
The rushing attack didn’t go anywhere, but the Boilermakers have a nice back in Markell Jones to help carry the load and with a slew of young other options to help with the rotation. But they need the offensive line to be far, far better to make everything go. There aren’t enough options to play around with the lineup, but the starting five should be okay as long as there aren’t any major injuries.
Biggest Key To The Purdue Offense
Find one thing that works and stick with it. There were plenty of passing yards, but it was an inefficient attack with too many interceptions and almost nothing happening deep. Jones might be a great back, but the Boilermakers averaged just 131 rushing yards per game. Considering the O only came up with more than 28 points twice in the final ten games of the season, it needs to come up with an identity to make defenses worry. It hasn’t had that in years.
What You Need To Know About The Purdue Defense
New defensive coordinator Ross Els’s first job is to crank up the production in all phases. There wasn’t much happening against the run, and the secondary got lit up way too often. Fortunately, this is the best D line yet in the Darrell Hazell era.
Tackle Jake Replogle leads a veteran group up front with three senior starters along with junior end Gelen Robinson. For the first time in years there’s a real chance to be consistent with difference-makers on the line to take the pressure off of everyone else.
The return of Ja’Whaun Bentley from a knee injury boosts up an already experienced linebacking corps that should be far, far stronger. This group, combined with the front four, gives the Boilermakers a front seven likely to be made up of all upperclassmen.
If all goes according to plan, it’ll be a veteran secondary, too, but it’s missing two massive parts having to replace both starting corners. There will be a regular rotation at all spots to try creating better matchups, but overall there have to be far, far more stops.
Biggest Key To The Purdue Defense
Finally, the run defense has to get nasty. There was a two game stretch when the Boilermakers stopped a punchless Wisconsin ground game and stuffed Nebraska, but just when it seemed the defense turned the corner with the win over the Huskers, Illinois ripped off 382 yards on the ground in a blowout. Purdue allowed 238 rushing yards or more six times in the last ten games, and the results were disastrous. The program is 0-for-its-last-11 when allowing 200 yards or more.
Purdue Will Be Far Better If …
There’s a running game. On the plus side, Purdue almost doubled its rushing production from Hazell’s first season. Unfortunately, it still only came up with 1,576 yards and 22 scores and averaged under four yards per carry. The Boilermakers managed to come up with wins in their two best rushing performances of the season – going for 251 yards against Indiana State and 183 against Nebraska – and those were just two of the three times all year when the ground game averaged more than 4.5 yards per pop.
Best Purdue Offensive Player
RB Markell Jones, Soph. – He’s not going to be alone in the backfield with plenty of other quick options ready to take their turns, but he’s going to have to be the main man time and again to help steady the inconsistent attack. He was the reason the Boilermakers ran well against Michigan State – coming up with 157 yards – and he has the ability to be a 100-yard threat if the line gives him room. That’s a big if, though.
Best Purdue Defensive Player
DT Jake Replogle, Sr. – Purdue has good veteran defenders for the first time in a long time, but it’s Replogle who should be the leader of the experienced pack. Always working and always hustling, he’s always going full-bore with the ability to get behind the line and blow things up. He won’t have to do it by himself with a solid line that’ll produce, too.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB David Blough, Soph. – It might be just this simple. If Blough isn’t great, there might be a new coaching staff going into next season. He can do a little bit of everything with enough mobility to be a threat in the open field, and he can move the ball around a bit if the receiving corps does its job. He might not be a special baller, but he’ll need to be the star of the offense to come close to a winning season.
The Purdue Season Will Be A Success If …
It’s a five-win campaign. Purdue might have hit a wall a few years ago, but it went 6-7 in 2012 and got to a bowl game. Since Hazell arrived, he’s won just six games in three seasons and he’s had more than enough time to get his guys in place. The Boilermakers were 0-3 in games decided by seven points or fewer, and now they have to win those tight battles and can’t blow the winnable dates against teams like Maryland, Illinois and Indiana. Win two of those three, and a five-win season is possible.
Oct. 1 at Maryland – It’s the Big Ten opener for the Boilermakers and a real, honest shot to pull off a win to set a new tone. It starts a run of three road games in four weeks, but that shouldn’t be a problem for the veteran team. Win this, and there’s reason to get fired up for the date at Illinois the following week.
2015 Purdue Fun Stats
– Second Half Scoring: Opponents 234 – Purdue 153
– Field Goals: Opponents 14-of-22 – Purdue 5-of-11
– Time of Possession: Opponents 32:08 – Purdue 27:52