Purdue Week: Q & A with Pete DiPrimio, Part 1

Badger Nation discussed Purdue's upcoming season with Pete DiPrimio, who has served as the college football beat writer for the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel for the past three years, covering Purdue and Indiana football.

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Purdue had the top ranked offense and defense in the Big Ten last season, yet they finished 7-6, in the middle of the pack. What kept them from having more success last season?


"Turnovers and mistakes. They had three or four interception returns four touchdowns (against them). They gave up punt returns for touchdowns. They missed a field goal against Wake Forest. Of their six losses, the worst was by seven points. They could have easily been 10-3. They just self destructed in a variety of unique ways. They missed a lot of short field goals that could have won games for them. They lost to Ohio State—gave up a touchdown in the last 30 seconds of the game. They lost once in overtime, once by four points, twice by three points, once by two points. Of the six close games, you probably aren't going to win all six, but you should win half, and that would have made them 10-3. They were a much better team then their record indicated. They were number one in the Big Ten in total defense and total offense. They had a thousand-yard rusher and receiver."


You touched on the field goal kicking woes, and how that may have cost Purdue some ballgames. Will the special teams be improved this year?


"First off, the guy last year, Berin Lacevic, he missed a ton of field goals early in the year, but he made 7 of his last 8, so he will be better. But he was beaten out by Ben Jones, a transfer from Butler.


Their punter, Brent Slaton, is back. So their special teams will be better. So the special teams should be very much improved."


What led to the coverage units' woes?


"I don't know think that it was personnel, they just didn't make plays. They had breakdowns in a variety of areas, so I don't think you can point the finger in any one direction.


"For instance, Iowa scored on a blocked field goal and a blocked punt return for touchdown. Illinois scored on a 90-yard kickoff return for touchdown.


"Notre Dame returned two fumbles for a touchdown and an interception for a touchdown and they won 24-17."


They turned the ball over quite a bit too—


"—Not only were they turning the ball over, but teams were scoring off of them, which is unique. The fact that opponents were scoring off of them made it even worse. They had 15 interceptions and 19 fumbles that they lost."


Moving in a more positive direction, now. Purdue had a couple of quarterbacks play well last season. Is there any chance that Purdue will use a two quarterback system, or does Orton have the job nailed down?


"Kyle Orton will be the starter, unless something happens. Brandon Kirsch will be the sub, he will probably play a little, but it will be Orton. Orton has responded. He was injured last year and then Kirsch played well and stayed in there for a few games. Orton had a good game against Washington in the Bowl game. He also had a good spring.


"Orton played the last part of his freshman year and played pretty well. It looked like he would be the starter for the next three years. His performance in the Bowl game was not a surprise."


In front of Orton there are going to be three new starters. How does the offensive line look?


"That is a real key. They have some talent there. The coaches believe they have more athleticism there, but they are lacking experience. It is a matter of how they develop. If they develop, Purdue is going to be hard to stop. Purdue has the ability to throw and run. They have all of their skill position players returning. If that offensive line does its job, Purdue will have one of best offenses in the Big Ten."


Purdue had a pair of receivers put up huge numbers last year. Aside from John Standeford and Taylor Stubblefield, are there other receivers to watch for?


"Anthony Chattams is pretty good. They have about eight or nine wide receivers that can play. They are going to be really strong at wide receiver. A lot of the time they will use a lot of five-wide receiver sets. They are in good shape. The only thing they have lacked is a real deep threat, a guy who can blow by people."


Plus they had the balance last season with a solid running game.


"They are going to be able to run and pass the ball. Joey Harris rushed for over a thousand yards. He is strong and they have four quality running backs. I don't want to say they don't have any worries, but they should be very good."


Purdue finished top in the league last year, how do you think the offense will rank this year?


"They will be right there. I don't know that they will lead the Big Ten, but there is no reason why they shouldn't be right up there."

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