It's Monday...and the last few weeks, it's been hard to find things to talk about following being crushed, so I'm going to look ahead a bit.
Our Boilers could get another win (or even two if the stars align) this season...but it seems the best money would have Purdue ending the season with 4 or 5 wins. Blame it on injuries, the schedule or whatever you'd like. But the state of the program is what it is.
For two straight seasons, we as Purdue fans been reduced to saying things like, "they're young" or "injuries are killing them". These are both truths, but they don't change the fact that these statements are typically those of fans who follow "rebuilding programs" or simply programs that aren't winning.
BUT, before the deluge of injuries this season, Purdue lost to UND and Toledo. Both of these are looking worse and worse as time passes. And, the difference in Hope's staff and the Purdue program taking any steps really forward really lie in those to defeats, it seems. But the past is the past and that can't be changed.
Now looking ahead...
Offensively, the situation is dicey.
In the Spring, Bolden, Marve, K. Smith (if he decides/is able to return) and possibly Ross & Pamphile will probably still be unavailable due to injuries. Add in the normal 2 or 3 players out due to surgery and what are you left with?
Well, Dierking, C. Smith, Carlos, Kerrigan, Werner, Prater, Pierce, Adams and Lindsay will all be gone due to graduation.
So, you'll have Henry v. TerBush (or Robinson) at QB...that position seems OK- at least one should be able to hit receivers in stride for drills.
At WR, there's a ton of speed, but really no one who has shown they can catch the ball consistently outside of Edison and Siller. So, it's Siller, Edison, Bush, Gravesande, Reese, Tommie Thomas and Torwodzu...like I said, talent/speed is fine here...but there are still a ton of questions in the receiving corps that need to be answered.
At tight end, Gabe Holmes is the only guy in the stable that's seen significan't playing time. Sinz and Flood should both be contributors in '11.
Then, at RB Hope will have, ATM (who hasn't played at a consistent high level) and Pegram (who has barely played at all) available. After that, a bunch of fullbacks- Freytag, Crank and Jackson...and we all know how often the FB is used in this offense.
The OL actually should be fine...lots of different guys have seen PT that will be available in the spring. But next season, for the first time in a long time, we might see an OL that averages under 300 pounds...I think you have to go back 15 years to find the last time that's happened. Reference Michigan to see if that's a good thing in the Big Ten.
Much like last spring, the offense will not be able to field two solid units due to attrition for a number of reasons...and who is to say whether or not Marve and Bolden will EVER be able to play at a high level again? As you all know, I like both of these guys and hate seeing it- hope they can both get degrees at the very least. But what we're left with is a team that needs time and needs reps as it is a program that has to develop players over seasons/off-seasons...and this coming spring looks like it might be of little value from a developmental standpoint...much like last spring.
Defensively, the personnel looks much better, surprisingly.
Purdue will have Maci at one DE...he's gonna be solid at the very least- kind of like Kevin Nesfield a few years ago. But, he doesn't seem to be cut from the same cloth as the great DEs of the past 15 years. Opposite him, Gooden will be a Senior...but his play seems to be declining with time. Can you remember a DE in recent memory who has had more opportunity and less-production? It doesn't seem to matter that he's flanked by a guy that's perpetually double-teamed and two DTs that are very good...he has yet to show significant improvement. After those two, I don't see a guy at DE that I'm really excited to see on the field...hopefully someone develops and I'm wrong. I think Mebane might still develop, but he still is built like an LB (and a lean one at that)...Hopefully Higgs is moved in the off-season to add depth to the group. Honestly, I don't know what the other options are.
At tackle, Purdue seems kinda rich, especially in comparison to other positions. Short and Gaston are guys that most teams would want on their roster- great size, great footwork, good motors. Isaac, Kitchens, Taylor & McDaniel bolster the position...DT should be solid.
At LB, there's some talent, speed and size. Carlino and Holland finish what seems to be, their 15th years on campus working hard but missing a ton of tackles in the process. I don't have any problem with these two, because their attitude and work ethic seem to be a real positive...plus, there's depth at the position. Beckford, Greaves, Lucas and Gilliam should all be in the mix in '11.
The DBs should be a solid unit- Allen, Johnson and Williams are are starters at CB. Eargle and Charlot, with everyone healthy, are solid off the bench. Evans, when healthy is a very hard-hitter who is solid in coverage. After these guys, Aristide might still pan out (but I have a feeling he might not finish at Purdue)...Harris and E.J. Johnson should both contribute significantly next season.
The kickers & punters should all be fine...but I'm still not pleased with what I see from the Special teams units as a whole. Poor spacing, poor and nonchalant handling of the ball and bad tackling are recurring problems that won't go anywhere if changes aren't made on Special teams.
Many correctly call a Purdue a developmental program- one that develops marginally-rated players out of high school into good football players by the time they leave campus. I'd agree that with the way recruiting tends to go for our Boilers, that this assessment is correct. That said, we saw last Spring come and go with little development, and few steps taken forward, due to Purdue not having enough hands on deck to scrimmage effectively or even do some drills the right way. This off-season, especially on the offensive side of the ball, things look similar.
Granted guys like Edgerton, Bergler, Noel, Durrett and more-recently, Barbarette and TerBush have helped the entire team develop by being Spring football studs...but a season of dashed potential and uncertainty looks like it's going to be followed up by an off-season of healing and more question marks at multiple positions.
Lots can change in the coming months...I understand that. In the meantime, hopefully we'll have something to talk about next Monday other than another loss in which the game is never in doubt, but I wouldn't bet on it.