Purdue Boilermakers 2011 Outlook
July 27th, 2011 By DraftNasty Staff Reports
Purdue may not yet be a team capable of contending for a Big Ten crown, but that shouldn't stop fans from getting excited. It's been a three-year drought away from bowl action and this will be an important season. If DT Kawann Short (pictured) can develop into an even more disruptive presence, the Boilermakers' defense may be able to make up for the loss of All-American DE Ryan Kerrigan.
Purdue Boilermakers Team Preview
The Ace of Spades could be the possible return of QB #9 Robert Marve (6’1, 210, SR). Marve was supposed to be last year’s starter but went down to injury (ACL) in the team's fourth game. The passing attack suffered after his accuracy (67.7%) left the lineup. Sophomore QB #15 Rob Henry (6’2, 200) didn’t fall on his face when called on for duty. Aside from tossing eight touchdowns, he led the team in rushing.
The skill positions supporting whomever starts is shaky. RB #23 Ralph Bolden (5’9, 194, SR) has the quickness and change of direction to be a consistent player. If he can recover from his 2010 knee injury, he could return to his ’09 form (947 yds rushing).
At wide receiver, #13 Antavian Edison (5’11, 175, SR) is used in a variety of ways. The team will motion him into the backfield for fake reverses or to get the ball. He has above average COD to avoid and elude in space. To take the next step, Edison has to stop floating away from the ball on contested passes.
It seemed the Boilermakers could never recover from the loss of All-Big Ten wide receiver Keith Smith (91 reception in '09). Without him, they lacked an inside middle of the field receiving threat with size. While that was filled with TE Kyle Adams in spots, he wasn’t truly a vertical threat. If #2 Justin Siller (6’4, 215, SR) can round himself into a legitimate Big Ten-caliber WR, it could open things up for the running game.
The offensive line has five players with tackle size. C #67 Peters Drey (6’6, 300, JR) has decent field speed but suffers from a lack of girth to anchor vs. power. RG #73 Ken Plue (6’7, 358, SR) is no slouch even at nearly 360 pounds. Plue is a phone booth competitor with limited quickness, but he has been asked to complete misdirection space assignments. If junior LG #76 Rick Schmeig (6’3, 315) continues to finish blocks with conviction, he could finally be primed for full-time duty. He didn’t start much a year ago. RT #62 Nick Mondek (6’5, 300, SR) is quick and decisive enough to get to most assignments. Where he has to get better is with his hands. He grabs defenders too much and allows DEs to reach his top shoulder too early in their pass rush moves. He may be the team’s strongest linemen and this season he must put that strength on display.
Their best offensive line prospect is LT #68 Dennis Kelly (6’8, 301, SR). Kelly has been a starter since his true freshman season and he has clearly earned the respect of his teammates. His ease of movement is impressive, but we feel he could become even more effective if he played with more of a sense of urgency.
For a school that always seems to field a good pass rusher (Ray Edwards, Anthony Spencer, Rob Ninkovich), the loss of DE Ryan Kerrigan (1st Rd-Washington) is huge. They do have some players ready for the big stage.
DE #58 Robert Maci (6’4, 241, SR) has been patiently waiting for his full-time opportunity. His ability to play with leverage is a factor when dislodging from OTs when teams run at him (see Illinois ’10). Whether he can be a legitimate edge rusher is still a question mark. Lining up on the other side will be #2 Gerald Gooden (6’3, 235, SR). We’re a little surprised he hasn’t quite developed into more of a factor. The Boilermakers may stand him up more this year because he’s athletic enough to drop into the curl/flat zones. Gooden’s overall stop and start fluidity has to get better.
This is not a question for junior DT #93 Kawann Short (6’3, 305). Short may be the best linemen in the country when it comes to timing his leaps vs. the quick passing game. He often moved to DE in 2010 when Kerrigan would swing inside on some 3rd Downs. He shows a good feel on T/E (tackle-end) stunts. Short, however, often plays too tall. Leverage is not a huge problem but he suffers from an inability to sometimes hold his gap control. He should challenge for All-Big Ten honors again.
Junior MLB #3 Dwayne Beckford (6’1, 228) plays four quarter football and moves well. Although he finished second on the team with 84 tackles (’10), he could improve his numbers with less false steps in his play. Beckford often struggles to key and diagnose, but plays with some recklessness. His teammate, senior WLB #30 Joe Holland (6’1, 225), benefits from above average range. Holland could be more effective if he finds a way to adjust his course while on the move. There are times when he struggles in space.
There is a lot of uncertainty in the secondary. Junior CB #28 Josh Johnson (5’11, 191) has above average size but is not adept with his footwork. Johnson is competitive and could get better with the game experience he received as a sophomore. The safeties have taken two different courses. SS #35 Logan Link (6’1, 204, SR) seems to always show up on tape. You will often see him running by teammates on his way to the ball. The former walk-on is an overachiever whose eyes sometimes get him into trouble down the field. FS #32 Albert Evans (6’0, 206, SR) is the better blitzer of the two and will once again fill multiple roles.
The race for All-Big Ten honors would likely be even more competitive if PK #37 Carson Wiggs (6’0, 206, SR) could get in position for more opportunities. He has leg strength (59 yd FG-career long) and, perhaps more importantly, gets pretty good distance on his kickoff. He tends to get even more distance early in games (can get up to 75 yards-3.85-4.0 hang). The fact that he can also punt makes him an even more versatile performer. Occasionally, he will use a rugby, soccer-style kick to get placement.
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