It is finally about time. We are 13 days away from officially kicking off the 2016 campaign. A campaign that has a lot riding for our head coach, with a new Athletic Director in place, it is win now mode for the football team, or we could see a new face leading the Boilers in 2017.
The jersey scrimmage, honestly didn’t offer a lot. I did not get to see the #1 defense against the #1 offense. It was generally 2’s against 1’s or 3’s against 3’s or freshmen against freshmen.
That is fine, but I will hit on a few points here that will hopefully lift your spirits and mentally prepare you for the upcoming season. If you disagree that is fine, but hear me out. This team has the potential to win 4-7 games, if we play it right. Anything less than 4 and Hazell should be gone and rightfully so.
Quarterbacks - Personally, Blough seems like the obvious starter, some experience and some swagger as well. I figured with hiring an NFL guy we would see more pro style type offense, yesterday I saw a typical college offense, spread it out, sometimes we saw a couple tight ends in there, but generally it was 3 wide receivers, a tight end or H-Back and a running back. Blough will fit in this system, as he has some legs on him and a laser quick release. I am not sold we won’t see Sindelar this year though. Not a big time runner, a more pro style type QB, but a big time arm. If we start losing early he will be inserted in no time (see the past 3 years).
Running Back - We know Markell Jones is our number one guy. But who after that? My personal favorite is Tario Fuller. He has a nice game to him, quick and can catch. There is a battle between he and Richie Worship (opposite style of back). Really, I think it comes down to who can pass block better. We have to protect the QB, Markell can do it, but can the other backs? We will find out early on in the season. For us to win games, Jones will need 20-25 touches a game, and if we aren’t giving him that then we are in trouble.
Wide Receivers - Certainly a bright spot yesterday. We had contributors all over the field. Early on Yancey made a great catch down the sidelines with a pass from Blough. Don’t sleep on Domo Young though, he was flying around and burning our young corners, he ended up with 2 touchdowns. The tall freshman Terrance Landers Jr., also had a couple of scores yesterday. He looked solid. Overall, this might be our deepest group since Hazell has been here, with a spread offense we will need that.
Tight Ends - Under utilized still. But, they are young guys. I won’t be surprised if we don’t get much production from the position again, they will be used more as a 6th lineman. They are all big, right around 6’4” 250 pounds. They will continue to develop, but do not expect much this season.
Offensive Line - I am a little bit worried about the offensive line. Kirk Barron will be the center, Jason King and Jordan Roos will shore up the guards spots. But do we have the athletes at tackle to block the elite pass rush from the B1G. I’m not sold. Patterson will be our left tackle, but at 6’3” he will be the shortest LT in the B1G, he is more of run blocker, which is fine with Jones. But behind him to fill the right tackle spot is Matt McCann, Jalen Neal and Cameron Cermin. Cermin has the most experience, but McCann is prototype size, at 6’6” and he is a young guy. Between those 3 we will have to figure out the right tackle spot. There were 11 sacks yesterday. Not good.
Defensive Line - Replogle will get drafted this season. Will Gelen Robinson show up? Where will the pass rush come from? I am not sure, I did say we got 11 sacks, but what is that worth against a spotty offensive line. Replogle will be our best guy in the trenches, but he needs help. Maybe it will be Eddy Wilson or Keiwan Jones. Only time will tell. Austin Larkin or Antoine Miles could help on the edge this year.
Linebackers - We are deeeeeeep here. Bentley and Ezechukwu will be great. Will Jimmy Herman stay healthy? He got dinged up yesterday, we are more of a 4-2-5 defense now and that is fine. With the two studs starting, then throw in Herman, Markus Bailey, Andy James Garcia, and Garrett Hudson, we have plenty coming back. This might be the most consistent group of LB’s that Purdue has had in over a decade.
Defensive Backs - Young, unheralded but athletic. Kamal Hardy and Hunte should be our starting corners. But who at safety? It will probably start with Robert Gregory and Austin Logan. But once teams figure out that they are run stoppers and not coverage guys we could be in trouble against an early team like Cincinnati, who wings the ball over the place in the air. It will be a constant problem this year, we just need young guys to come in and contribute when called upon.
Special Teams - J.D. Dellinger will be our kicker. We have one finally, yay! He is a freshman so don’t get too upset when he misses kicks, because he will. We bring back Joe Schopper to punt, who had a solid first year. He will only get better. But who will return kicks? Jack Wegher could, Brian Lankford-Johnson, but more than likely our main guy will be the late signee, Malik Kimbrough. It will be interesting to see how Special Teams will go, per usual.
Well, there you have it. It could be a decent season or another one to turn our backs on. But regardless, let us belittle Hazell & Co., not the athletes. I really believe this season we could win 4-7 games, anything less and I will be disappointed. But it is 13 days away, let us starting prepping for tailgate now! Boiler Up!