Purdue Offensive PersonnelThe Boilermakers have made their wares on the ground early, rumbling for 258 yards per game, though their trio of collective opponents: Middle Tennessee State, Rice (a loss), and Southeast Missouri likely played a role in that gaudy number.
Purdue's offense has had two weeks to prepare for the Irish, last playing vs. FCS-school Southeast Missouri on September 17.
QB: Caleb Terbush and Robert Marve – Irish head coach Brian Kelly offered that the 6'5" 225-pound TerBush offered more of a dual-threat than does the twice injured Marve, who suffered his most recent ACL surgery last October. Marve looked good vs. inferior competition two weeks ago, finishing 7 for 8 passing with a touchdown vs. Southeast Missouri. Marve was picked off twice last year in a 23-12 loss to the Irish, Kelly's first game.
TerBush has hit three touchdown tosses and rushed for another through his first three outings but has also been sacked on eight occasions. The junior took over for starter Rob Henry, injured in August.
RB: Ralph Bolden – The redshirt-junior sat out last season with a knee injury suffered in spring 2010. He previously led the Boilers in rushing as a first-year competitor in 2009, totaling 935 yards and nine touchdowns. He was held in check by the Irish in Week Four West Lafayette defeat, managing just 67 yards on 17 carries after previously compiling 421 yards in three games.
The 5'9" 190-pound Bolden has 223 yards and three scores despite a heavy rotation in the Boilers backfield.
RB: Akeem Shavers – The 5'11" 203-pound Junior College transfer offers a change-of-pace to Bolden, averaging 6.4 yards per carry with three scores. Shavers has yet to tote the rock more than 11 times in a contest. Like Bolden, Shavers has a burst after the second level.
WR: Justin Siller – At 6'4" 215 pounds, Siller will test the Irish perimeter tacklers through a series of quick throws and bubble screens (not unlike South Florida did in the opener). The 5th-year senior leads Purdue with 14 receptions, though averages just under 10 yards per catch and has yet to prove he can stress a defense beyond the second level. He was dismissed from the team in 2009 but reinstated last season, catching four balls for 34 yards in last year's matchup with the Irish.
WR: Antavian Edison – The team's quickest wideout has just six receptions but averages 22.8 yards per catch with a touchdown on the season. The 5'11 175-pounder offers offensive coordinator Gary Nord another backfield option, carrying the ball eight times with a touchdown over the season's opening trio of contests. He carried four times for 17 yards vs. the Irish in last year's opening contest.
TE: Crosby Wright – First-year starter has six receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown over the first three games of his career. At 6'3" 248 pounds, Wright represents the best matchup for the Boilers limited passing attack vs. the Irish, whose linebackers have intermittently struggled vs. tight ends in coverage over the first month.
WR: O.J. Ross – 5'11" 192-pound target is second on the squad with 11 receptions for 111 yards, matching his season total for catches as a true freshman last season.
LT: Dennis Kelly – 6'8" 306-pound senior has started the last 24 games and was named the team's Most Valuable Player in 2010. A co-captain for 2011, the Chicago-product gave up a sack to Irish defensive end Ethan Johnson in last year's matchup.
LG: Peters Drey – Started at center vs. the Irish last season after serving as a reserve right tackle in 2009. At 6'6" 310, Drey's key tasks will be slowing the backfield penetration of LDE Kapron Lewis-Moore, who's damaged the Boilers in consecutive meetings dating back to his fourth career start in 2009.
C: Rick Schmeig – At 6'3" 320 pounds, the first-year starter has the frame to hold up vs. Notre Dame's trio of nose guards, but could struggle with the quickness of co-starters Louis Nix and Sean Cwynar. Schmeig appeared as a reserve vs. the Irish in last year's tussle.
RG: Nick Mondek – Former defensive tackle started 12 games at offensive tackle last fall, playing nearly every snap over the course of the season. Like Kelly, was beaten by Johnson for a sack (at right tackle) in the season opener last September.
RT: Justin Kitchens – The team's smallest offensive lineman, Kitchens served as a reserve defensive lineman last season, appearing in eight contests.