With 6 days left in the Countdown, we now stand less than one week from the start of the 2012 Purdue football season. As that day draws so tantalizingly close, it is important to talk about what great things our football team has the potential to accomplish this fall--another bowl bid, the Big Ten Championship Game, etc. These are things that can possibly be attained by this Boilermaker team. Some goals are certainly going to be more attainable than others, but anything is possible. And just as Coach Hope said to me at the Big Ten Media Days last month, I think we have fielded one of the best squads West Lafayette has seen in the last few years. Starting next weekend, its true greatness will be put to the test.
Similarly, today's featured player in the Kickoff Countdown has heightened expectations this year. Assuming a new role that fits his skill set, #6 Gary Bush is slated to excel for the Boilermakers in 2012 and contribute to what should hopefully be great amounts of success.
Gary Bush - Jr. (RS)
Hometown: Miami, FL (Christopher Columbus HS)
6'0", 185 pounds
2012 Projection: Starter at Wide Receiver
Gary Bush is definitely a guy to keep an eye on season. Now in his junior year, he looks to greatly expand his role and production on offense by making more starts and receiving more playing time. As evidence, Bush is set to be the third receiver, aka the slot receiver, for the Boilers this fall. And because we run a Spread offense with three starting wideouts in our base, that means he should start in every game this fall.
It also means he will likely see a large increase in playing time, which should cause a huge improvement in production from his sophomore season in 2011. In that campaign, he posted respectable numbers as the #4 receiver behind Justin Siller, Antavian Edison and O.J. Ross. His season totals included 29 catches, 310 receiving yards and 3 receiving touchdowns, appearances in all 13 games and two starts. If Bush can maintain his new starting role and stay healthy all season long, however, expect these numbers to increase in his 2012 campaign.
Another reason Bush's production should improve this season is because his new starting role should showcase his abilities in the best ways possible. Bush has decent size and hands to play his position, but his real knack is his speed. He is lightning fast on the football field, so he is the perfect candidate to consistently play the slot position-where quickness is key and running deep routes to help stretch out the offense is the primary responsibility. Gary definitely has these gifts and I have no doubt that he can excel in his new role.
Bush can certainly use his legs to go long on many of the passing plays our O will run this season. Frankly, I am less concerned about that and more concerned about whether or not our Quarterbacks can get the ball over the top of defenders and down the field to him. Nevertheless, expect some big (possibly game-changing or season-changing) plays from the guy wearing #6 this fall.