2007 Record: 8-5, 3-5 Big Ten Head Coach: Joe Tiller
Purdue Players Drafted:
Dustin Keller - TE - Round 1 - NY Jets
Cliff Avril - DE - Round 3 - Detroit
Stanford Keglar - OLB - Round 4 - Tennessee
Top Recruits for the Boilermakers:
Ken Plue - OT - 6’8” - 340 - New Berlin, NY
Aaron Valentin - WR - 6’2” - 205 - Orchard Park, NY
Raph Bolden -RB - 5’10” - 185 - Folkston, GA
Jordan Brewer - TE - 6’6” - 220 - Carmel, IN
Carson Wiggs - K - 6’0” - 190 - Grand Prairie, TX
Kawann Short - DT - 6’5” - East Chicago, IL
Andrew Brewer - OL - 6’4” - 250 - Ona, WV
Tommie Thomas - 6’2” - 175 - Oak Lawn, IL
Key Players Returning for Purdue:
Curtis Painter - QB - Sr.
Kory Sheets - RB - Sr.
Jaycen Taylor - RB - Sr.
Sean Sester - OT - Sr.
Ryan Baker - DT - Sr.
Greg Orton - WR - Sr.
Anthony Heygood - LB - Sr.
Brandon King - FS - Jr.
David Pender - CB - Jr.
2008 Purdue Offensive Outlook
Senior QB Curtis Painter has seen his stock rise in the past two years becoming one of the top passers in the country. Coach Tiller has given him plenty of opportunities to air it out including 569 pass attempts last season. Painter made the most of those opportunities connecting on 62.6% of his passes for 3,846 and 29 touchdowns. Painter also improved his decision making by throwing just 11 interceptions last year after being picked-off 19 times in 2006. The Boilermakers will count on Painter again this year to lead them to another Bowl game.
For the second straight season, the running back situation will be a two-headed monster of Jaycen Taylor and Kory Sheets. Sheets has good speed and was given the majority of the carries overall last season averaging 5.1 yards per carry with 11 touchdowns.
Taylor is the type of back that provides consistency. Taylor average 5.2 yards per carry last year, and the offense will benefit from having fresh legs to carry the ball.
With Painter set to unleash the ball, the receivers will be busy. Painter’s top two targets from last year are gone (WR Dorian Bryant and TE Dustin Keller), but he likes to get as many receivers involved as possible. Senior WR Greg Orton caught 67 passes for 752 yards in 2007 and will most likely be the top target this year. Two new sets of hands are on board with the Boilermakers this year via the junior college route. Junior Aaron Valentin pulled in 10 TD passes last season at Erie Community College (NY), and Arsenio Curry brings nice size at 6’5” 210 pounds with soft hands. Senior Desmond Tardy has potential to be a starter and caught ten passes in 2007.
The offensive line is battling injury issues and is the one concern on the offensive side of the ball. Painter is not a mobile quarterback and needs the line to pass protect. Three starters return to the line, but those three have had recent surgeries. Senior LT Sean Sester who had back surgery is the veteran of the line and has started 38 games for the Boilermakers. Senior RT Zach Jones and junior LG Zach Reckman each had shoulder surgery in the spring. Senior Cory Benton has earned the chance to start at center this year, and junior Justin Pierce takes over the RG spot.
The line is the most experienced unit on the defensive side of the ball. Three starters return up front including two seniors. Alex Magee and Ryan Baker, the seniors, are a nice tandem at defensive tackle. Junior DE Kenyon Brown had 3.5 sacks in 2007. The other DE position can be filled by sophomore Ryan Kerrigan, or redshirt freshmen Gerald Gooden and Nickcaro Golding. All three are expected to see time.
Senior Anthony Heygood has developed into a good linebacker, but the rest of the group is quite inexperienced when it comes to the level of Big Ten play. Heygood made 81 tackles in 2007 with one sack. Senior Jason Werner made 28 tackles last season in limited playing time and provides good speed on the outside. Junior Kevin Green is projected to start at MLB, and sophomore Tyler Haston could see plenty of action. Overall, this unit needs to come together in order to give the Boilermakers a chance to slow down the opposition.
The secondary has decent depth and features two returning starters from 2007. Junior David Pender has good size, broke up six passes last season, and will have to cover the Big Ten’s best receivers. Junior Brandon King started last year at FS and recorded 44 tackles and one interception. Junior Royce Adams will have another chance this season to hold down a spot at CB after losing his starting role to Pender last year. Senior FS Torri Williams has great athletic ability but has been hampered by injuries. Junior Brandon Erwin is coming off an ACL and could step in to help the defensive backfield.
Junior kicker Chris Summers improved in his second year with the Boilermakers by connecting on 18 of 22 field goals. Summers made just eight of 20 field goal attempts as a freshman.
Punter Jared Armstrong had graduated which leaves the position wide open. Summers is capable of punting, but incoming freshman Carson Wiggs and sophomore Brody McKnight will have the opportunity to win the job.
Dorian Bryant was the return specialist last year for both kickoffs and punts. With his departure, Desmond Tardy will assume the role. Tardy returned one kickoff for a TD in eight attempts last season.
2008 Purdue Football Prediction
The Boilermakers have too many questions going into the season to really pinpoint where they will finish in the conference. Coach Tiller has already decided that this will be his last season, and offensive line coach Danny Hope is waiting in the wings as his successor. Tiller has high hopes for 2008, but it will be difficult for the Boilermakers to contend for the Big Ten Championship. The first half of the schedule is brutal featuring Oregon, Penn State, and Ohio State. Central Michigan is a strong team in the MAC, and
Boilermakers have to travel to South Bend to play Notre Dame. Fortunately, Purdue will not see Wisconsin and Illinois this season. If the Boilermakers sure up their weaknesses early in the year, they could make a nice run to finish out the season with some wins.