FanPost

Hoegher's 2013 Previews: PURDUE BOILERMAKERS (for realz)

I'm not sorry at all sorry if I offended any Boilermaker fans with the previous Purdue Fanpost. It was an easy gag and I had to go for it. I'm just happy that it got as many recs as it did :)

With that out of the way, let's talk about the state in which y'all reside: Indiana. Of interest: why is Indiana so gawd-awful? I say this as someone who was born of alcohol and late night bad decisions in Valparaiso, Indiana (by the by, I looked it up, and it's entirely possible that Robbie Hummel and I gave two week old daps to each other). Indiana - Gary in particular - just makes me feel sad whenever I drive through it (most recently on my way to Penn State for a cross country race). The only other state that comes close is Kansas, though I admit that is biased by a Mizzou friend of mine.

THE PAST

NOTE: all historical data is taken from James Howell's excellent resource and/or Sports-Reference (college football edition)

Purdue Overall Ratings

Purdue Adj Off/Def

Purdue Win Pct/Luck

Winning percentage and "Luck" are plotted on a win-pct basis (mind-blowing, I know). Adj Off/Def/Eff/Marg and Resume rankings are plotted on a percentile-ranking basis. Thus, a team rating out in the 99th percentile would be awesome, a team rating out in the 1st percentile would be not-so-awesome.

Let us all take this moment to bow our heads for the misfortune of Jack Mollenkompf. Purdue has had "better" seasons in their history (they went undefeated in (8-0 in 1892* with Knowlton Ames, 8-0 in 1929 with James Phelan, 7-0-1 in 1932 with Noble Kizer, and 9-0 in 1943 with Elmer Burnham), so by that comparison a 9-2 season Rose Bowl winning season in 1966 seems to fall a bit short. Of course, the hidden variable here is that 1966 featured a few other teams that rank among the best in college football history, namely 1966 Notre Dame and 1966 Michigan State (hey, remember that Sparty fans?). Both of those teams were opponents on Purdue's schedule that year, and both of those teams beat the Boilermakers to give them their only losses on the season.

That's unfortunate, because that 1966 Purdue team rates out as the best from West Lafayette (since 1930) by my byzantine metrics (easily beating the 1932 team* that comes in second).

* Purdue's first season of existence, so props for starting out fast.

On that note, Noble Kizer is criminally under-rated and should be mentioned more as one of the great coaches in Big Ten history.

But enough about the distant past, that's reserved for Minnesota fans who would prefer to forget the past half-century of mediocrity. Joe Tiller needs no introduction, and while listing off bowl games is a bit suspect with the Big Ten and their largely monogamous relationship with the Rose Bowl, it worth noting that he owns 10 out of the 17 bowl games that Purdue has attended. Danny Hope was dealt kind of a crap hand (Purdue was 4-8 in Joe Tiller's last year and had clearly fallen back from the OMG DREW BREES wonderfulness), but it's hard to get excited about 7-6 Pizza Bowl seasons when you can see LOLinois go from 2-9 to the Rose Bowl in two years with Ron Zook at the head position. I guess we'll see if Darrell Hazell can do any better (NOTE: I'm not high on Darrell Hazell).

THE FUTURE

CFBStats.com and FBSchedules.com are used for reference here. I highly recommend both sites.

Projected Rating: -0.051 (70th)

Conf Proj Rec Conf Rec Adj Off rk Adj Def rk Adj Eff rk Adj Marg rk
B10 4-8 2-6 0.980 64 1.031 74 0.487 70 -0.051 70

Schedule SOS rk Conf SOS rk n-con SOS rk
Rating/Rk 0.202 16 0.278 35 0.050 13

Week 1 (V) Week 2 (H) Week 3 (H) Week 4 (V) Week 5 (H) Week 6 Week 7 (H) Week 8 (V)
29 - Cincy 19% 124 - FCS 99% 11 - IRISH 7% 22 - Wiscy 13% 44 - NorIll 27% 0 - BYE 0% 18 - CORN 11% 30 - Sparty 21%
Week 9 Week 10 (H) Week 11 (H) Week 12 (V) Week 13 (H) Week 14 (V) Week 15 Week 16
0 - BYE 0% 14 - OhioSt 8% 51 - Iowegia 31% 19 - PennSt 11% 84 - LOLinois 59% 90 - Indy 64% 0 - BYE 0% 0 - BYE 0%

The number next to each opponent represents the projected ranking for that team. The percentages represent projected likelihood of winning a particular game, helpfully color-coded for your benefit (no regard for home/away, though that status is noted). The team names have been adjusted to better fit your screen, I hope they are obvious enough. You are free to ignore everything and tell me why I'm wrong, you're probably right.

Purdue 2013 Profile

This is an attempt to quickly illustrate a team's outlook for the coming season. These aren't unique (my personal experience was a Pokemon Yellow Guide from my youth): maxing out the pentagon is better. Winning percentage should be obvious, but other than that: the numbers here represent percentile rankings. 99th percentile is good, 1st percentile is less so.

So I've said that I'm not high on Darrell Hazell. I suppose I should defend my position there a bit. Obviously, Hazell brought Kent State to unreasonable heights and their 2012 season was the best for Kent State since at least the 1970's. The issue I have with the hire is that Hazell was only head coach of Kent State for two years (2011, 2012). The improvement from 5-7 to 10-3 in that time is remarkable, but how much of that is feasting on the dregs of the MAC (despite the proclamations of pundits last season, the MAC wasn't really that great, there just weren't a lot of upsets between the top teir and bottom teir of the MAC)? How much of that was the good fortune of having a player like Dri Archer on the field (he averaged 9.0 yds/car last year)?

10-3 looks pretty in the history books, but it's hard for me to ignore a 33 pts ass-kicking by the powerhouse that is the Kentucky Wildcats (NOTE: not a powerhouse). I think it's pretty clear that Darrell Hazell has some talent on coaching offense (his numerous WR/RB/TE stops along his coaching career support this), but I would've liked to see more of a trend than two short years to evaluate his coaching acumen.

But that's just my ill-informed perspective, and new coaches are pretty much impossible* to evaluate before the fact anyway. I'm probably just playing Devil's Advocate because I think the optimism is bubbling a bit too much for a guy who's resume is largely a blank slate, and Purdue isn't exactly a plug-and-play destination along the likes of Ohio State.

* except Gary Andersen, of course. WOO GO BUCKY.

OFFENSE: Well, as of the time of this writing, SB Nation is acting up again. Thus, the information and insider perspective I usually try to get from the team blogs is going to be lacking (so pretty much like the Indiana write-up then, BOOM). IRREGARDLESS: we press forward with trepidation.

Gone is Danny Hope, and also (hopefully) gone is the three-headed monster mildly-threatening house-cat that was the Purdue quarterbacking situation. Rob Henry (SR) returns as the best (read: only) quarterback for Purdue, though his 2012 stats (5.7 yds/att, 3-1 TD-INT) aren't exactly lighting the world on fire (okay, they're bad). The optimistic view would be that Henry got limited reps last year (only 38 att in 2012) and with a more prominent role in the offense, he'd come closer to the player expected to take the lead going into 2011 (well, prior to Perry rearing his head). The more realistic view would be that if Henry couldn't beat out Caleb TerBush (6.1 yds/att, 12-8 TD-INT) and a patched-together-with-Scotch tape Robert Marve (6.9 yds/att, 15-5 TD-INT, 0 working knees), it's a bit of a folly to expect more from him in his senior year.

ENTER DANNY ETLING (QB, 4-star) an early enrollee who offers Henry his only realistic competition for the starting job. Henry and Etling performed roughly similar in the spring game, so it's hard to pick a front-runner right now. In that case, let me point you: PLAY ETLING. This is more of a personal philosophy, but I'm a believer that (especially for quarterback) players get better with experience. So unless you've got a star senior passer, I'd always go with the underclassman who has more time to develop and give you a solid outlook in the next few years. Michigan and Ohio State have shown that new coaches don't necessarily mean big growing pains, but let's be honest: Purdue is not Michigan or Ohio State. Darrell Hazell has a free year to take his lumps, and I think he should use it to give Etling starting time over giving Rob Henry one last hurrah to be a mediocre passer. Just my two cents.

NOTE: Of course, I'm also the guy that wanted Curt Phillips to start as a freshman in 2009, and Wisconsin instead gave three different seniors the starting nod over the next 4 years and won three consecutive Big Ten titles. So... yeah.

The running back position is in a much happier place for Purdue. According to CFB Stats, Akeem Hunt (JR, 8.0 yds/car in 2012), Brandom Cottom (JR, 9.1 yds/car), and Danny Anthrop (SO, 8.3 yds/car) all return, and obviously it's pretty nice that all those guys averaged over 8 yds/car (Anthrop on minor carries, to be fair). Actually, I was confused why Purdue didn't rate out better in rushing if all those guys were in the backfield. My best guess? Quarterback play/rushing ability and the fact that rushing success was much lower against good defenses (and Marshall). Given Darrell Hazell's past success with Dri Archer, hopefully he'll be able to take full advantage of the talent in the Boilermaker backfield. Results from the spring game are pointing in the right direction, at the least.

I suppose I should mention that one of the three 4-star players recruited for 2013 is running back Keyante Green. Purdue partisans, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that Green would be likely to red-shirt 2013 given the depth of players ahead of him in Hunt, Cottom, and Anthrop. 2014 should be an interesting year, since all those players should return (unless Hunt goes crazy this year or something).

I'll cut Purdue some slack on their receivers, as I think they ran more of a spread-to-run system the past few years under Danny Hope, which necessarily limits the potential of receivers on the field a bit. IRREGARDLESS: it's a bit of a downer that the top two returning targets - OJ Ross (SR) and Gary Bush (SR) each had less than 9 yds/rec and 500 total yards in 2012 (8.1 yds/rec and 8.8 yds/rec, respectively). The running backs were (by far) the most explosive receiving targets on the team, which again: product of the system. Aside from all that, they have to replace Antavian Edison (WR) and Crosby Wright (TE, awesome name) from graduation. Deangelo Yancy (WR, 3-star) and Dan Montesaro (WR, 3-star) come in to offer their services best they can.

EDIT: SB Nation is back on now! Hammer and Rails likes Shane McKesky (SO), which, okay. I'll take their word on that one.

With regards to the tight ends, I'm actually interested to see who steps up. From what I've read, Purdue's going to more of a pro-style system, and if they play Etling at quarterback (DO IT DO IT DO IT), I'd assume they'd want a tight end target out there to offer a safety net. Gabe Holmes (SR, 6.3 yds/rec) is the "top" returner, but that's hardly confidence building (though he apparently had a solid spring game). Justin Sinz (JR, 12.0 yds/rec on 4 rec) and recruit Garrett Hudson (TE, 3-star) would be in the mix as well, but I'm guessing Holmes ends up starting.

Don't ask me to talk about the offensive line, but I was perplexed as to the lack of OL recruits in the latest class, as I thought Purdue lost a bunch of offensive starters. It appears those fears may not be entirely mis-placed, as the O-line had a rough go of it in the spring. I'm guessing that Ross-Ade win streak against Ohio State may be coming to an end this year, at the hands of Noel Spence.

DEFENSE: As I've said before, my knowledge with defensive prowess is limited, and CFB Stats provides less of a help than it does acquainting myself with offensive personnel. Apparently, the defense looked pretty solid during the spring game (and since the teams were chosen playground-style, that should be all due to feasting on the back-ups). Whether that was because of the talent on defense or the relative struggles of the offensive line and quarterbacks remains to be seen. Darrell Hazell's forte is on the offense (his Kent State team actually regressed slightly on defense even as Dri Archer the offense exploded. So I have my doubts that his presence suddenly rejuvenated a medicore outfit that lost its best player.

On that: obviously, Purdue's 2013 defense is dealing with the loss of Kawann Short, the easy leader in TFL's and sacks for last years defense. Aside from that large loss, though Purdue seems in decent shape along the line. Robert Maci is also gone from the TFL leaders for 2012 but there is apparently some depth built up with Ryan Russell (JR), Bruce Gaston (SR), and Brandon Taylor (SR), among others (shameless knowledge grab from Hammer and Rails there). New recruits include Antoine Miles (DE, 3-star), Ra'Zahn Howard (DT, 3-star), and Jake Replogle (DE, 3-star). Hammer and Rails seems to think only Howard might avoid a red-shirt, which I could see given the loss of Kawann Short.

The secondary loses generic-name-haver Josh Johnson to graduation, but a potential NCAA-record breaker (and 2nd team All Big Ten in 2012) returns in Ricardo Allen. There is also a ton of depth behind him with Landon Feichter (JR), Taylor Richards (JR), and Antoine Lewis (JR). Given that the pass defense last year was far ahead of the run defense (you could also remember Montee Ball adding to his highlight reels for this point) this is a good thing. It also means that new recruits are unlikely to see the field, possibly TyVel Jemison (S, 2-star) according to Hammer and Rails. Landau Lang (transer from Indiana) also impressed in the spring game. Take that for what you will.

Finally, the linebackers. I did not realize this, but apparently the play of the Big Ten's signature position has been a sore spot for a while. So it's your guess whether it's a good or bad thing that Purdue doesn't lose that much, returning 3 of the top 4 linebackers (by 2012 tackles) in Will Lucas (SR), Sean Robinson (JR), and Joe Gilliam (JR). Will Lucas (to me, at least, so grains of salt) seems like he should offer a goood option as he was second on the team in tackles last year. Hammer and Rails thinks that the recruited linebackers (Dezmon Polk-Campbell (3-star), Danny Ezechukwu (3-star)) are probably going to red-shirt due to size limitations. As a Badger fan, my hope is that thir linebackers continue their matador routine against running backs clad in red (uh... the part before the bull gets killed, that is).

HOEGHER'S BIASED PREDICTION

5-7 4-8. Well, y'all ain't beating Notre Dame, at home or not. I'm dis-inclined to give you the advantage against Cincinnati on the road, but they have a new coach and a mediocre returning QB, so between that game and Northern Illinois, let's say you steal one. That's a 2-2 non-conf record, which is eminently reasonable for the slate Purdue has set up.

Within the conference, I think Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Penn State are losses out of the gate. All are on the road, Michigan State can't possibly be worse at passing than they were in 2012, and Penn State's QB and scholarships situation is mitigated by Purdue's own breaking-in-the-new coach phase. I refuse to give Illinois any credit until proven otherwise, so we'll give that a win. The remaining games (Nebraska, Ohio State, Iowa, Indiana) aren't exactly the most friendly, but 2-2 (either with chalk, or some combination of upset and choke) seems fair. That's 5-7, which is honestly too nice. Adjustments neede here.

Therefore, chalk Indiana up to a loss. They're improving and it's on the road. 4-8. Better.

QUICK REFERENCE:

Adj Off - analogous to scoring offense, adjusted for opponent strength.

Adj Def - analogous to scoring defense, adjusted for opponent strength.

Adj Eff - analogous to scoring ratio, adjusted for opponent strength.

Adj Marg - analogous to scoring margin, adjusted for opponent strength.

Luck - difference between actual winning percentage and expected winning percentage.

Resume - analogous to win/loss record, adjusted for opponent strength.

For for information see here: HOEGHER'S PRIMER.

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