- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
HEADING INTO 2010, PURDUE HAD TO REPLACE 21 LETTERMEN, plus a slew of projected starters who had been sidelined by injury. By comparison the six starters lost this off-season should seem like no big deal.
Except, of course, that one of those departed Boilermakers is All-America defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and No. 16 pick in the NFL draft who in 2010 had 12½ sacks, five forced fumbles and a nation-best 26 tackles for loss.
Coach Danny Hope acknowledges that replacing the player nicknamed Superman by teammates is among the team's biggest challenges. But Hope has, well, hope. "We're not as good at defensive end because we don't have a Ryan Kerrigan, but no one else has a Ryan Kerrigan either," he says.
At least Purdue brings back more starters on defense than any of the Big Ten teams it will face this season. Hope is particularly excited about his secondary (which exceeded expectations last year thanks largely to some eye-catching play by freshman cornerback Ricardo Allen) and about the defensive tackle position, where rising star Kawann Short anchors a still developing line.
Maturity won't be a concern for an O-line with four returning starters nor for a special teams unit led by big-footed kicker Carson Wiggs and All--Big Ten honorable mention punter Cody Webster. And while the Boilermakers received a blow when the NCAA denied receiver Keith Smith a sixth year of eligibility, Antavian Edison emerged this spring as a potential game-breaking wideout. Edison and Justin Siller should form an effective one-two receiving punch and take pressure off running back Ralph Bolden, who's back after shredding his knee in the spring of 2010.
Which brings us to Purdue's non-Superman-related challenge: staying healthy. The Boilermakers hired 49ers assistant Duane Carlisle in February to overhaul strength and conditioning across the athletic department, and he wasted little time working with the snakebit football team, focusing on developing movement and agility. "[Carlisle helped] us a lot with our off-season training," says Rob Henry, one of four QBs who started last season at the injury-ravaged position. "If we can stay healthy, we're going to shock a lot of people and make some noise."
COACH Danny Hope (3rd year) 9--15 (6--10 in Big Ten)
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR Gary Nord