Summer opponent preview: Purdue

Big Red Report's Kyle Phillippi breaks down future Nebraska opponents this fall.

Purdue Boilermakers – October 12th, 2013

2012 Record: 6-7 (3-5 Big Ten)

Best Returning Player – Offense: RB Akeem Hunt

Hunt hasn't been the most productive player in his first two years, serving as a complimentary role player in the backfield. Yet, for a team who will lose their starting quarterback, starting running back and their No. 1 wide receiver, Hunt will be looked upon to carry the load on offense. He has all the making to be a breakout star as a junior despite never having more than seven carries in a game last year.

In 2012, Hunt averaged a whopping eight yards per carry. New head coach Darrell Hazell will give the junior halfback plenty of work throughout each game in what will be a run-first scheme.

Best Returning Player – Defense: CB Ricardo Allen

An All-Big Ten second-team selection by the coaches and a three-year starter, Allen brings leadership and skill to an otherwise lackluster unit that ranked second to last in the conference in total defense. Looking at Allen's stats, there's nothing eye-popping about them. There's a reason for this, though. He's a shutdown corner and, arguably, the best at his position in the conference.

The opposing quarterback will do whatever he can to look the other way because more times than not, Allen is blanketing his man. When the opposition does test him, he has proven to be one of the best at jumping routes. He has three career interceptions returned for a touchdown, which is a University record.

Biggest Loss – QB Robert Marve and DT Kawaan Short

Offensively, there are a handful of players who can be tagged as their biggest loss. Their leading rusher in Akeem Shavers, who tallied 871 yards and six touchdowns, graduated. They'll also loss Antavian Edison's team-high 58 receptions, 652 yards and eight touchdowns. But the biggest absence, from an experience standpoint, will be Marve.

He had a solid senior campaign, tossing 15 touchdowns compared to just five interceptions while completing 66 percent of his passes for a 138.8 rating. Replacing him will be a challenge for the Boilermarks, more so than the likes of Shavers and Edison.

On defense, Purdue will lose their force up front in Short. The first-team All-Conference selection had a career-high 54 tackles to go along with 17 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. His absence on the line will be felt all season, especially since their defensive line wasn't much of a threat last season even with Short.

Last Meeting vs. Nebraska – September 28, 1958

In their only meeting, the Boilermakers trounced the Cornhuskers by a score of 28-0 in front of their home crowd.

This season should be a bit different for Nebraska. At the very least, they should more than likely score their first ever points on Purdue.

How They Matchup With Purdue

2011 Statistics:

Scoring Offense: Purdue (28.7), (Nebraska (34.8)
Scoring Defense: Purdue (31.2), Nebraska (27.6)

Passing Offense: Purdue (238.5), Nebraska (207.4)
Passing Defense: Purdue (233.9), Nebraska (168.1)

Rushing Offense: Purdue (164.2), Nebraska (253.4)
Rushing Defense: Purdue (181.9), Nebraska (192.5)

Total Offense: Purdue (402.7), Nebraska (460.8)
Total Defense: Purdue (415.8), Nebraska (360.6)

Nebraska Player to Watch vs. Purdue – QB Taylor Martinez

While Ricardo Allen will do his best on Kenny Bell out wide, he's just one man. The rest of the Purdue defense is vulnerable and Martinez will be able to pick his spots. With little push up front by the Boilermakers line, Martinez will have plenty of time find the open receiver. Of course, if he has too much time, Purdue will be turning their backs often as they chase down the scrambling Martinez. He should have a big day through the air and an even bigger day with his legs.

Interesting Purdue Fact

While Purdue had success moving the ball on offense, when it came to the redzone, they were second to last in the conference with a 77.6%. They threw two interceptions inside the 20 and had their drive stall on downs a Big Ten-high four times.

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