2005 Big Ten First Glance: Purdue

GoBlueWolverine.com NFL Analyst Josh Turel takes a spring tour around the Big Ten. This stop brings you his analysis of the <b>Purdue Boilermakers</b>. How will the staff in West Lafeyette replace quarterback Kyle Orton and wide receiver Taylor Stubblefield, among others?<br>

Next stop: Purdue

Team MVP: MLB George Hall
Player who needs to step up: Brandon Kirsch
Breakout player: WR Andre Chattams, LB Cliff Avril
Team Strength: Front seven
Team Weakness: Secondary, Kicker, Offensive Line

Key losses: QB Kyle Orton, WR Taylor Stubblefield, OG Tyler Moore, OT David Owen


The Boilermakers lose Kyle Orton but should pick up nicely with quarterback Brandon Kirsch at the helm. Kirsch has six career starts and saw action in six games last season - completing 58 of 94 (61.7) passes for 711 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. He is also a dual threat because of his athletic ability rushing for 125-yards against Michigan State and 81-yards against Michigan as a true freshman. Kirsch fits the offense very well because he can makes plays with his feet and has a capable arm with pretty good timing and touch on his throws. PrepStar All-American Curtis Painter will work in the backup role; the red shirt freshman is a solid player who's progressed quickly.

The running backs aren't great but they are solid players with versatile skills. Jerod Void and Brandon Jones both return and will once again share the running duties, as they did last year. Neither was great on paper, with Void averaging 3.9 yards-per-carry and Jones with 4.2 yards a touch, but the offensive line was marginal in the run game. Void is best between the tackles where he has good power and he's a capable pass protector as well. Jones is a bit inconsistent but he's a big back who catches the ball pretty well and is improving as a blocker. This group will be solid, but they have potential to be very productive if the offensive line can open up the lanes on a more consistent basis.

The receiving corp loses Taylor Stubblefield but returns Ray Williams, Kyle Ingraham, Dorien Bryant and tight end Charles Davis. Ingraham is a 6-foot-9 giant who is a defensive back's worst nightmare on jump balls, but he can also work the short to medium range passing game pretty well. He's not a burner but he fits the mold of the possession style offense and is pretty nimble for his size. Ray Williams could finally see his year to break out after years of being in the shadows. Williams, who's on the track team at Purdue, has the athletic ability to be special but needs to put it all together to strive as a senior.

Dorien Bryant (Michigan fans: the player who Ernest Shazor posterized in West Lafayette last season), brings game breaking ability to the offense. Bryant chimed in with 584-yards, 15.4 average-per-catch, and three touchdowns as a redshirt freshman and should improve on those numbers this season. Kevin Noel combines good speed with his 6-foot-3 frame; he's been waiting his turn and could make an impact this season. Look for junior Andre Chattams to possibly break out, he's the best athlete of the receivers and can make plays. Incoming freshman Selwyn Lymon will also compete for time with rare athletic ability for his 6-foot-5 build.

Senior Charles Davis proved to be more than just a blocker last season by putting up 416-yards receiving and three touchdowns. Davis is a big tight end at 6-foot-6, 265-pounds, and although he won't make plays downfield, he proved to be a versatile threat last season. Dustin Keller moved from wide receiver to tight end last season and should fill in the backup role at tight end. Keller is a better receiver than blocker and should see increased playing time this year after averaging 20.4 yards a catch off five receptions last season.

The offensive line has it's question marks on the right side with the departure of guard Tyler Moore and tackle David Owen. Sophomore Jordan Grimes and redshirt freshman Sean Sester will fill in at the those positions. Sester (6-foot-8, 285-pounds) is more of a left tackle, so he will need to adjust quickly to right tackle and build his strength. Grimes saw action in ten games last season at guard, even making one start in the Sun Bowl against Arizona State. The experience will help the true sophomore, who will be critical along with Sester to the success of the line. Look for Robbie Powell to push both at their positions, as he can play both positions and has experience.

At center will be senior Matt Turner. Turner's natural role is guard but he is needed most in the middle of the line. Uche Nwaneri returns at left guard; he doesn't have great technique but his starting experience will be vital as very few of the lineman have seen significant action. The only star on the line is left tackle Mike Otto who in my opinion will be an All Big Ten performer this season. The junior combines power as a run blocker and finesse to stick with speedy edge rushers. As a whole this unit lacks experience and power in the run game. They could be something in a few years but there is an urgent need to gel and improve quickly to be successful this year.

Key losses: CB Antwaun Rogers, LB Jon Goldsberry


This unit impressed many people last year after losing practically the whole starting roster. The young guns came through and return all but two starters this season in Antwaun Rogers and Jon Goldsberry. Two players who really came on were defensive ends Ray Edwards and Anthony Spencer. Defensive coordinator Brock Spack has a history of sending his ends to the NFL, and these two juniors are on the path to continue that trend. Neither is particularly strong against the run, but both can provide a consistent pass rush. Edwards' first step is one of the best in the country and Spencer has been one of the most improved players on the team. Edwards collected eight sacks along with 11 tackles-for-loss; while Spencer had seven and half sacks and 10 tackles-for-loss. Senior Rob Ninkovich, who collected eight sacks as a junior, will be the top backup at end. Also look for incoming five-star prospect J.B. Paxson to compete for playing time.

Seniors Brandon Villarreal and Brent Glover return in the middle at defensive tackle. Neither has great bulk, but both have nice quickness and athletic ability for big men, and will create problems in the gaps and also provide a pass rush. Villarreal was very good pass rusher last season registering five and a half sacks. Sophomore Ryan Baker (6-foot-6, 265-pounds) and junior Dan McGowen (6-foot-0, 275-pounds) will be the top reserves inside. Although both are very undersized, they fit the quickness mold Brock Spack requires - speed over size.

The linebackers return a very strong unit, including one of the conference's best linebackers in George Hall. Hall is a two-time winner of the Hammer Award, given to the team's top hitter, and he earns it by supporting against the inside run very well. Last year Hall recorded 92 tackles, six tackles for loss and two interceptions. At weakside linebacker will be rangy Stanford Keglar, who hits very hard as well. Keglar recorded 61 tackles and four tackles-for-loss last season. At strong side linebacker will be sophomore Cliff Avril. Avril had 36 tackles including three for a loss as a freshman, and played an excellent game against Arizona State. Bobby Iwuchuku, after recording 40 tackles in 2004, will move to a reserve role this year but provides a solid option should one of the starters go down. Also look former Iowa signee and current freshman Kyle Williams to see time at linebacker as he enrolled after the fall semester.

The secondary, which ranked 89th nationally and gave up 240-yards a game, will need to improve after losing top cornerback Antwaun Rogers. Taking Rogers' old spot will be sophomore Paul Long, who will move from safety to cornerback. Long has great size for the spot and his potential is very good, but he must adjust to the job quickly. Brian Hickman returns at the other cornerback position. He's a speedy player, but lacks great instincts in coverage, and will need to step up as the teams No. 1 cornerback. Sophomores Fabian Martin and Zach Logan will provide depth. Strong safety Bernard Pollard has reached All-Big Ten status and is one of the best defensive backs in the conference. Pollard is a true presence as a 8th man in the box, leading the team in tackles with 96. At free-safety will be sophomore Torri Williams. Williams saw action last season and although he lacks a great feel for the position, his athletic ability is very good. Backing up the safeties will be senior Kyle Smith who is a solid reserve with experience.

Special Teams:

After a stellar freshman year, kicker Ben Jones tanked his sophomore season - going one for three inside the 30 and just three for seven outside the 40. Jones went 10-for-18 on the season (55%) but missed field goals in key moments of games. He will need to improve his game drastically this year. Dave Brytus showed why he was one of the top punters coming out of high school, averaging 40 yards-per-punt, with 15 kicks inside the 20-yard-line. Look for him to contend for All-Big Ten honors this season. Former kick return man Jerome Brooks transferred after having a great season on special teams. The slack must be picked up by Dorien Bryant and Jerod Void. The coaching staff is hoping Dorien Bryant can spark the punt return unit which ranked near the bottom of the NCAA averaging just 5.2 yards-per-return.

Overall: With Brandon Kirsch at quarterback the offense should maintain it's explosiveness. Jerod Void and Brandon Jones could have productive seasons if the offensive line gels and opens up more lanes than they did last season. The receivers lose Taylor Stubblefield, one of the NCAA's most productive offensive players, but return some nice talent with Ingraham, Williams and Bryant. The defense returns most of it's starters from last season and is a very athletic group. The linebackers have the potential to be special with George Hall, Keglar and quickly improving Cliff Avril. The front line provides an excellent pass rush with Ray Edwards, Anthony Spencer and Brandon Villarreal which will be crucial to help mask a weak secondary. Cornerbacks Brian Hickman and Paul Long will have to step up the most on defense. Overall there's no reason to think this group won't be contending for a Big Ten title this season: although they are not as talented as years before, they do not have to play Michigan or Ohio State and get Iowa at home. Their toughest road game will be Minnesota early in the year.

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