#86 Purdue Football 2015 Preview

Purdue Boilermakers

Overall Rank: #86
#14 Big Ten

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Year three is when programs expect to take a big leap. After two seasons for Coach Darrell Hazell where he went 4-20 at Purdue, a leap may not include a lot of wins. But it should include a team that is more competitive in the Big Ten week in and week out. The Boilermakers finally picked up their first Big Ten win in the Coach Hazell era at Illinois last October. They also played well at Minnesota in a 39-38 loss, but they lost every other conference game by at least two touchdowns.

2014 Record: 3-9, 1-7
2014 Bowl: None
Coach: Darrell Hazell (4-20 at Purdue, 20-30 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: John Shoop
Defensive Coordinator: Greg Hudson

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Keyante Green, RB, 199 yards
Passing: Austin Appleby, QB, 1,449 yards
Receiving: Danny Anthrop, WR, 616 yards
Tackles: Ja’Whaun Bentley, LB, 76
Sacks: Ryan Watson, DT, 4.0
Interceptions: Frankie Williams, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: QB Danny Etling, C Robert Kugler, K Paul Griggs, LB Jimmy Herman, CB Anthony Brown, DT Jake Replogle

Key Losses: RB Akeem Hunt, RB Raheem Mostert, TE Gabe Holmes, S Landon Feicher

With seven starters returning, the strength of this team could be on defense in 2015. It starts on the line where tackles Jake Replogle and Ryan Watson are a solid duo to build around. Replogle tallied 10.5 tackles-for-loss and 3.0 sacks as a sophomore, while Watson led the team with 4.0 sacks. Ja’Whaun Bentley is just a sophomore, yet he totaled 76 tackles as a freshman and is certainly ready to take a step up in production. The same is true for fellow sophomore linebacker Danny Ezechukwu. Jimmy Herman, a 6-4 junior, will man the middle of the linebacker corps where his experience will hopefully turn into leadership. The secondary has a potential star in senior Frankie Williams. He picked off three passes last season, but containing the passing game has been an issue for Purdue and Williams will need some help around him.

The Purdue offense has potential thanks to a relatively experienced offensive line, but it remains to be seen if the skill players are capable of seriously competing in the Big Ten on a consistent basis. When Purdue did have a good offensive showing, it was mostly due to running backs Akeem Hunt and Raheem Mostert. Those two are now gone, leaving sophomore Keyante Green, who rushed for 199 yards on 27 carries in 2014, as the most experienced back. Sophomore D.J. Knox and freshman Markell Jones will also be in the mix at running back. Austin Appleby and Danny Etling will once again battle for the starting quarterback spot. Appleby saw a little more action last season, throwing for 1,449 yards and ten touchdowns compared to Etling’s 800 yards and six touchdowns. Either way, neither quarterback is going to be much of a threat to get the ball downfield. Danny Anthrop is a nice option to make big plays though. He caught 38 passes for 616 yards and four touchdowns. No other returning player caught more than 20 passes in 2014 so the Boilermakers do need to find some more options in the passing game.

The Bottom Line:
There are six winnable games on the schedule and Purdue can certainly aim high and hope all goes well enough to reach a bowl game. Non-conference games include a trip to Marshall and home games against Indiana State, Bowling Green and Virginia Tech. Purdue better win three of those contests. The other perceived winnable games are in November, at home to Illinois and Indiana and on the road in Evanston. A home contest against Minnesota, who Purdue took down to the wire on the road last season, on October 10th could be seen as winnable too. But more important than winning all of those games, since that won’t happen, is to stay competitive against teams the Boilermakers should be able to be competitive with. That, and four or five wins, will be enough to keep Coach Hazell around for one more year.

Projected Bowl: None

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 157.2 (71st in nation, 10th in conference)
Passing Offense: 187.4 (101, 10)
Total Offense: 244.6 (108, 11)
Scoring Offense: 23.8 (95, 11)
Rushing Defense: 192.1 (91, 11)
Pass Defense: 223.9 (55, 10)
Total Defense: 416.0 (80, 10)
Scoring Defense: 31.7 (97, 12)
Turnover Margin: -0.42 (100, 11)
Sacks: 1.67 (93, 13)
Sacks Allowed: 2.00 (56, 8)


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