General Thoughts about Spring BallThe biggest thing Purdue fans took away from Spring is how different the new coaching staff is. Practices were open to the public, which hasn't happened at Purdue in about 10 years.
I got to attend a few of them and noticed how fast-paced and focused they were. They always had music playing loudly during the practices to keep things loose and get them used to signal calling and huddles with noise distraction. A few ex-players I talked to said the speed is increased when compared to the old practices and they're more intense...plus, they played live scrimmages, even on the QBs which Purdue hasn't done in years.
One of the questions heading into Spring was who would emerge at QB; Rob Henry seems to be the guy at this point...but true Freshman Danny Etling quickly rose to 2nd string; which surprised many.
Players that are poised to emergeThe guy everyone should be watching next season is WR Dolapo Macarthy. He played well at times last season, but his combo of size, hands and solid route running make him a tough match up for smaller corners. RB Akeem Hunt's explosiveness will also make him tough to ignore, we think...as he's finally the guy after waiting his turn for a few seasons.
Defensively, if Purdue's going to have any success, Sean Robinson will have to have a good season; so I'm looking for him to do big things in just his second season as a LB after being moved from QB...and on the end, Ryan Russell is poised to become Purdue's next member of the Den of Defensive Ends...if he can be an every-down guy.
QB- B (a good battle for the starting position might have already been decided)
RB- B- (depth is an issue at this point; new system will use "Z" back regularly)
WR- B+ (bigger, more-physical receivers will be leaned on)
TE- B (Will be much more important to Purdue's offense than the last decade)
OL- C (Lots of talented youth in the two-deeps; but too many RS Freshman need to play now)
DL- A (lots of experience inside and outside)
LB- C (The starters should be solid; depth is a big question)
DB- B- (Again, lots of question marks on the depth chart)
ST- C (One of the nation's best punters and solid return men keep this grade from being a D)
Things that might surprise non-Purdue fansWe really like this new coaching staff- it's a good mix of young, passionate positional coaches and grizzled coordinators...but the Darrell Hazell is gives us the reason to be the most excited. He's been brilliant with the fans and media since his hiring and helped a historically-awful program in Kent State reach 11 victories last season. I'm not sure this season will be much different than last, from a record standpoint...but Purdue has one of the most-difficult schedules in the nation; six opponents had double-digit wins in '12 and three of them were in BCS bowls. One surprise should be the style of play; Purdue had gotten so sloppy and penalty-prone in the previous seasons, fans might be surprised at the attention to detail by the new staff.