Purdue Preview

El Paso, Texas is the site of the annual Pac 10 vs. Big 10 Vitalis Sun Bowl football classic. Arizona State looks to muster up a win under sophomore Quarterback Sam Keller after seeing his record setting predecessor, Andrew Walter, go down with an injury in the regular season finale against Arizona. The Big Ten entrant, the Purdue Boilermakers, will be seeking a second Sun Bowl trophy under Head Coach Joe Tiller. This will mark the Boilermakers third trip to El Paso in the last four years.

ASU Head Coach Dirk Koetter recently announced the dismissal of Running Back Hakim Hill from the program. That leaves the ground game to fill-ins Rudy Burgess and Preston Jones. Not exactly great news for the Devils as they prepare to face the Boilermaker defense that ranks 10th nationally against the run.

Linebacker George Hall is the leader of the Purdue defense with 88 tackles on the year. Hall is an active backer that is also adept in dropping back in pass coverage. He is the team leader in interceptions with two. Stanford Keglar joins Hall at the Linebacker spot with 55 tackles, 4 of those being for a loss, and one interception.

Up front for the Boilermaker defense are a pair of Junior Tackles, Brandon Villareal and Brent Grover. Villareal has been a headache in the middle for some of the Big 10 backfields this season. He has recorded 13.5 tackles for loss and is the Defensive Line's leading tackler. Grover has chipped in 41 tackles with 6 of those being behind the line of scrimmage. The two bookends on the Defensive Line feature two talented sophomores, Ray Edwards and Anthony Spencer. The two Defensive Ends have 7 and 7.5 sacks respectively. However, Junior DE Rob Ninkovich is the team sack leader with 8. Ninkovich is a good pass rusher but not as proficient in stopping the run.

Strong Safety Bernard Pollard is the anchor of the secondary. Pollard comes in with 82 tackles, one sack, and one interception. Joining him is Free Safety Kyle Smith, who has 67 tackles. Corners Brian Hickman and Paul Long both have an interception but have yielded some chunks of yardage through the air.

The Purdue offense will provide a huge test for the Sun Devil defense on Friday. Senior signal caller Kyle Orton is among the best Quarterbacks in the country. Orton missed two games earlier due to injury but has still managed to put up unbelievable numbers this season. The senior finished the regular season with a 62.3% completion percentage and threw for 28 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. Orton is averaging 280 yards per game through the air this season. Sophomore Brandon Kirsch is Orton's back-up and comes in with 7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in relief duty this year.

Orton's favorite target is All-American receiver Taylor Stubblefield. His team-leading 82 catches and 15 touchdowns have been a big key to the Purdue offensive juggernaut this season. Kyle Ingraham poses match up problems for opposing defenses with his 6' 9" frame. Ingraham has caught 50 balls this season and has gone to the end zone 7 times. Dorien Bryant has had a promising freshman campaign in 2004 with 34 catches, 3 touchdowns, and a 51-yard per game average.

Joining Orton in the backfield for the Boilermakers are Running Backs Jerod Void and Brandon Jones. The two have a combined 1056 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground. Void averages a little over 55 yards while Jones puts up about 40 yards per game. Purdue likes to throw to these two out of the backfield and Jones has seen pay dirt 3 times out of the 21 balls they have thrown to him.

Purdue has a modest punt return game with Stubblefield seeing most of the action here. Fellow receiver Bryant is also called upon and averages 4.6 yards per return to Stubblefield's 3.1 yard average. Jerome Brooks does most of the kick returning duties and can be dangerous if he finds a couple of holes. He averages 25 yards on each return and has recorded a 100 yard return for a touchdown earlier this year.

Ben Jones handles the kicking duties for the Boilermakers. Jones is 10 of 17 in Field Goal attempts, including a 50 yarder he made this season. 3 of those attempts were blocked. Dave Brytus averages 38.4 yards on punts. His longest of the year was for 63 yards and has downed 11 of his 45 punts inside the 20 yard line.

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