With all the buzz around basketball at the moment we can't forget that something very important starts today: Spring football! In a way, this is the first day of year two under Danny Hope. Since most of his initial recruiting class ended up redshirting this will be their first chance to come out and make a statement in front of everyone. It also means that we have some depth at key positions for the first time in a few years. Last year at this time there were major questions about who was going to catch the ball. Now we have a huge amount of receivers. The same has been true for years at linebacker, only now we have five solid linebackers that saw playing time last year.
So what are the main questions going into spring? Here they are, with my simple answers.
Question 1: Who will be the starting quarterback
Answer: Robert Marve - I have broken down the quarterback situation several times in the past. Caleb TerBush has the most on field experience in a Purdue uniform unless Justin Siller comes back. We also have Rob Henry and Najee Tyler. It won't matter though. I would be absolutely shocked if anyone other than Marve started the opener at Notre Dame (barring injury). Marve didn't do much last spring because he was still deciding to transfer, so this is our first chance to truly see him in a Purdue uniform. If he has matured as much in the past year as we have been told, we're going to be better than fine.
Question 2: Who is starting in the secondary?
Answer: Albert Evans, Michael Eargle, Charlton Williams, Josh Johnson - Really, this is pretty much a guess beyond Evans. Williams has some experience, therefore an edge. Eargle is a JuCo guy brought in with the intent to play immediately. Outside of that, your guess is as good as mine. You might also see Chris Quinn here, who at least saw the field a little bit on special teams. In an interesting move, would anyone really be shocked to see Joe Holland move back to safety? Holland was originally a safety, but moved to linebacker out of necessity. With Dwayne Beckford, Antwon Higgs, Jason Werner, and Chris Carlino playing well at linebacker I don't think it is out of the question.
Question 3: Who will be the top receivers?
Answer: Obviously, Keith Smith will be there even though he is hurt and won't be playing this spring. Cortez Smith finished the year very strongly last year and could emerge as a solid replacement for Aaron Valentin. You have all those freshmen that redshirted last year battling for time too. Keith Carlos will be in line to be the third guy, as will Antavian Edison who had a touchdown on his only catch last season. We also have freshman O.J. Ross as a possibility, but he won't be here this spring. I could see him lining up in the slot with the Smiths lining up on the edge.
Question 4: Who replaces Mike Neal?
Answer: Kevin Pamphile - I am going to go out on a limb here with Pamphile. Everything that I read last season was that he was growing by leaps and bounds. With Gooden, Short, and Kerrigan anchored at the other three line spots Pamphile has an excellent chance to step in at #4. Eric McDaniel has a good shot to move into a starting role here too.
Question 5: Is there enough improve to take Purdue to a bowl this year?
Answer: A resounding yes! I expect at minimum to be 5-1 going to Ohio State. There is something seriously wrong with us if we can't beat Toledo, Ball State, and Western Illinois. If we're going to move up in the conference we have to pass Minnesota and Northwestern, so I think this year that we do it. That leaves only Notre Dame as a toss-up in my book. There is nothing I would like to do more than piss on the Brian Kelly parade on day one. I think it happens too. We'll have an experienced team and quarterback playing a team in its first game under a new coach and system.If you can't make a bowl after a 5-1 start with Indiana still to play then you need to be kicked out of the Big Ten.
Any other questions? Ask in the comments!