B1G 2014 // Purdue Cocktail Party Preview

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It's time for B1G 2014! It's time for Purdue week!

Since this is the first Cocktail Party Preview of 2014, I'm going to explain it. Basically, the Cocktail Party Previews are designed to give you an overview of a team so you could have something to talk about at a cocktail party with someone who is a fan of that team.

Who still goes to cocktail parties, you ask? Rich people. Since you are not rich, just imagine that your car broke down far from home, where there are a lot of fans of a particular team. You could use knowledge gleaned from these previews to smalltalk the mechanic into not ripping you off. It probably won't work, but it's worth a shot.

About Last Season

The good news...

The earth did not crash into the sun.

The bad news...

The 2013 Purdue football season was one of the worst seasons in recent Big Ten history. You have to go all the way back to 2011 Indiana to find another team that went 1-11, with that one win coming against an FCS opponent. Don't despair Indiana football fans, 2013 Purdue was much worse than 2011 Indiana.

The Boilermakers had a historically awful season. Only two of Purdue's eleven losses were close games. You can argue semantics about what makes a blowout, but I would argue that seven of Purdue's losses were blowouts. It is accurate to say that the Boilers had a tough non-con schedule (Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Northern Illinois) and didn't get to play a bottom-of-the-barrel MAC team, but I think Purdue would have lost that hypothetical matchup anyway.

I don't want to go into too great of detail here. It is all really depressing and I've spent the past few months trying to forget it even happened.

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Etling at the Spring Game.

On the Offensive Side of the Ball

The good news...

Since the team was so awful last year, a lot of underclassmen got a chance to play. Starting with the sixth game of last season, Freshman Danny Etling took control of the offense. He comes into his sophomore season as the presumed favorite to start. He didn't look impressive last season, but getting thrown to the wolves last season may have helped his development. Junior Austin Appleby and Freshman David Blaugh (3*) will challenge Etling for playing time.

Senior Akeem Hunt is the leading returning RB. Hunt is a speedster who didn't break many long ones last season. He also had the second most receiving yards, which was due to shovel passes and the millions of times that the QBs checked down and threw to him as a last resort. Senior Brandon Cottom is a Mike Alstott-type power back that could get more carries. Raheem Mostert won both the 60m and 200m races at the Big Ten Championships in April. He may see some more time at RB this season instead of just as a blazing fast kick returner.

Wide receiver-wise, Sophomore DeAngelo Yancey has the best chance to make some noise. Danny Antrhop, B.J. Knauf and Cameron Posey will also see a lot of balls thrown their way. TE Justin Sinz led the team in touchdowns last season.

I really don't know much about the offensive line, except that they were terrible last season. The coaching staff picked up a couple of JUCO guys (David Hedelin and Corey Clements) in hopes of a quick fix for 2014. Hopefully the line will be better; it doesn't matter who plays QB if he doesn't have time to do anything but run from big dudes in opposing jerseys.

The bad news...

While the Boilers didn't lose many offensive contributors from last season, the returning players didn't put many points on the board or move the ball effectively last season. Purdue will still be young next season and the offense will have had to improve dramatically to even get close to competence. I'm not overly optimistic that they will be that much better.

On the Defensive Side of the Ball

The good news...

The 2013 defense was bad, but I don't think they were as bad as the offense. It's hard to say how bad they would have been if the offense could have stayed on the field for longer than a minute or two at a time.

The DL should be the best part of the defense this season. DT Ryan Watson and DE Ryan Russell are pretty solid players who will be suiting up (barring injury) in the fall. Joining them is Glenn Robinson's son (not that one). Hopefully Gelen Robinson, a four-star DE who won two state wrestling titles, can make an immediate impact.

The rest of the defense is more of a question mark. DB Frankie Williams and S Landon Feichter have played well at times in the past. Linebacker play wasn't good last year; hopefully someone can step up this year. I don't know who it would be.

The bad news...

Second-team All-B1G DB Ricardo Allen will need replacing this year. Allen was inconsistent and had trouble with bigger receivers, but he was still a pretty good player. He started for four years and intercepted 13 passes. Another hole to fill will be DT Bruce Gaston, who is best remembered by me as the guy who blocked an Ohio State extra point that effectively sent the game into overtime (where the Boilers won).

As I said in the offense section, the defense will need to drastically improve from last season's performance in order to get Purdue out of the cellar this season. We'll have to wait and see if that happens.

On the Special Teams

The good news...

Purdue has two returning kickers, Paul Griggs and Thomas Meadows. Griggs handled most of the kicking last year and was so-so.

Raheem Mostert, Akeem Hunt and Danny Anthrop were okay at returning kickoffs last season (they had a lot of practice). It may be up to this squad to produce some points to keep games close this season. Mostert had a 100-yd return for a TD at Penn State last year.

The bad news...

Punter Cody Webster is gone. Webster was a solid punter who got his chance to shine last season due to the terrible offense. Freshman Austin McGehee has some big shoes to fill.

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Glory days, they'll pass you by.

On the Schedule

The good news...

It's not as bad as last season. Northern Illinois and Cincinnati are replaced by Western and Central Michigan. The Boilers still get to play Indiana as one of their cross-division games.

The bad news...

Purdue will be worse than almost (if not) all of the teams that they have to play. Michigan State is the other cross-division game, so that will be fun.

If you're talking to a Purdue fan, don't mention:

The 2013 Purdue football season, ACLs (it hasn't been so bad recently, but let's not talk about it), new Purdue Pete, that weird chrome thing that they put in the engineering fountain for safety reasons, basketball transfers.

Do mention:

Drew Brees, Cowboy Kyle Orton, Mike Alstott, "You can write them on your thumbnail or sweep them clear across this bright autumn sky", Travis Dorsch.

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PURDUE WEEK

MONDAY | Cocktail Party Preview

TUESDAY | Smartest Guys in the Room

WEDNESDAY | Purdue Potluck

THURSDAY | Wildcard

FRIDAY | Keeping the Enemy Close

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