B1G 2012 // Purdue Cocktail Party Preview

FIFTH IN A SERIES: PURDUE COCKTAIL PARTY PREVIEW

On last season

The good news is...

Purdue finished with a winning record and their first bowl appearance (and win) since 2007. Home wins over a down Ohio State team and Illinois, who had just started their free-fall, were nice to have. After playing poorly in their four non-con games, Purdue bounced back with a 4-4 mark in Big Ten play. Winning the Bucket back from a hapless IU team, and beating Western Michigan in the Pizza Bowl helped turn a very inconsistent season into a decent one.

The bad news is...

Purdue looked pretty terrible for large chunks of the season. It took a late fourth quarter TD drive to beat Middle Tennessee at home, and the last-second field goal attempt at Rice was blocked, giving Danny Hope a bad non-con loss in each of his three seasons. Home attendance was bad all year, except for the Notre Dame game, where the Boilermaker faithful were treated to an abomination. Despite having kicked off, it only took Notre Dame 3 plays and 24 seconds to get a 7-0 lead. It is the worst Purdue game I have seen in person. The Boilers were also embarrassed at Wisconsin 62-17.

On the offensive side of the ball

The good news is...

There should be enough healthy QBs this year (knock on wood). In the two-QB system that Purdue had last year Caleb TerBush got most of the snaps, and Robert Marve saw a fair amount of action after missing most of 2010 with an ACL tear. Rob Henry, who started most of the 2010 season is back after he suffered an ACL tear last August.

The RB position should also be pretty decent in 2012. Akeem Shavers is back after his Pizza Bowl MVP performance, as well as Akeem Hunt and Raheem Mostert, who showed some potential last season. At WR, there isn't a lot of good news, but hopefully OJ Ross and Antavian Edison will be in uniform when the games start.

The bad news is...

There should be enough healthy QBs, but there is no clear-cut #1. TerBush played a game-manager type role, generally taking care of the ball, but not making many big plays. Marve played well in the OSU win (especially in OT), but he had a tendency to throw bad INTs. Henry was more of a zone-read running QB, so who knows where he'll fit in this season. The two-QB system of last season didn't work very well, but I don't see the coaches going away from it in 2012 (unless it is to go to a three-QB system).

Ralph Bolden, who had a great 2009 season, sat out 2010 with an ACL tear, tore his ACL against IU last season. Then he got arrested in April at a bar, so I doubt he'll be in the mix this season. Not to be outdone, Edison, 2011's leading WR, was arrested with a gun in his car in Florida a couple of weeks ago. WR Ross had some education related issues that caused him to miss the Pizza Bowl. He apparently didn't care of it to Danny Hope's satisfaction, as he lost his scholarship in the Spring. Ross is still on the team at this point (I think), but it doesn't sound too good at this point.

On the defensive side of the ball

The good news is...

There are a lot of talented lineman and DBs returning. DT Kawann Short is a projected first rounder in the 2013 NFL Draft. Bruce Gaston and Ryan Russell also return to what should be a formidable line. Ricardo Allen is dynamic CB and Josh Johnson can build off of his Bucket-clinching interception in Bloomington. Dwayne Beckford is the best returning linebacker, but he may not return due to his December arrest.

The bad news is...

All signs are pointing to Purdue using a least a part-time 3-4 next season due to new DC Tim Tibesaur, but there aren't a lot of good LBs ready to take one of those four spots. Team leader Joe Holland graduated and he leaves a big void in the middle of the defense.

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Carson Wiggs is going to be hard to replace

On special teams

The good news is...

Raheem Mostert averaged over 33 yards per kickoff return, which was tops in all of the FBS in 2011. Danny Hope isn't afraid to try surprise onside kicks; Purdue converted two of them in the Pizza Bowl.

The bad news is...

The kickoff rule changes will at least somewhat neutralize Mostert and the kickoff return game. Carson Wiggs, one of the best kickers in Purdue history (he certainly had the strongest leg), exhausted his eligibility last season.

On the schedule

The good news is...

Purdue doesn't have to play a MAC or Conference USA team on the road this year. The Boilers get some of the better teams (Wisc, Mich, PSU) at home.

The bad news is...

Most of the games that I would put in the toss-up category (Minn, Iowa, Illinois) are on the road. Also, the Notre Dame game is in South Bend (which is in Northern Indiana, which doesn't make much sense).

If you're talking to an Purdue fan

Don't mention...

ACL injuries.

Also: the annual bad non-con loss, the recent struggles against Notre Dame, the two QB system, the new logo, the poor attendance, the offensive playcalling and the recent arrests (old arrests can be discussed).

Do mention...

The bowl game, the .500 conference record, trophy wins against Illinois and Indiana, a two-game home winning streak against the hated Buckeyes, the respectable recruiting class, Indiana's terrible 2011 season and the 2012 Big Ten Baseball Champions.

Also feel free to discuss the fact that a Boilermaker is a cocktail, and you are at a cocktail party. That might get a laugh or two, depending on the crowd.

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This week...

MONDAY | Cocktail Party Preview

TUESDAY | The Smartest Guys in The Room

WEDNESDAY | Boilermaker Potluck

THURSDAY | Wildcard

FRIDAY | Keeping the Enemy Close

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