2013 Pre-Season Preview: Purdue Boilermakers

2012 Record: 6-7 (3-5 in B1G)

Head Coach: Darrell Hazell (1st year at Purdue, 16-10 at Kent State)

Last Bowl Game: 2012 Heart of Dallas Bowl: lost to Oklahoma St 58-14

Stadium: Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, IN (capacity = 62,500)

Home Field Advantage: ranked 50th out of 69 BCS teams 

Schedule Glimpse:

2013 Schedule Link

Out of Conference: 8/31 at Cincinnati, 9/7 vs Indiana State, 9/14 vs Notre Dame, 9/28 vs NIU

Toughest Conference Home Games: 10/12 vs Nebraska, 11/2 vs Ohio St

Toughest Conference Road Games: 9/21 at Wisconsin, 10/19 at Mich St, 11/16 at Penn St


Statistical Snapshot:

2012 Statistics Link

Stats to Fear: converted on just 77.55% of trips to red zone (9th in B1G), gave up 71 plays of 20 or more yards (last in B1G), allowed opponents to score on 88.46% on third downs (11th in B1G)

Stat to Cheer: had 118 pass plays of 10 yards or more (3rd in B1G)

Advanced Stats (Football Outsiders 2012 FEI Ranking): 89th out of 124 teams



Phil Steele's Returning Starters: Offense: 5, Defense: 8, Special Teams: 2

Key Defensive Returnees: S Landon Feichter (80 tackles, 4 INT), CB Ricardo Allen (45 tackles), LB Will Lucas (66 tackles), DT Bruce Gaston (28 tackles, 2 forced fumbles)

Key Offensive Returnees: QB Rob Henry, RB Akeem Hunt (335 yds rush, 7.9 ypc), WR OJ Ross (56 rec), WR Gary Bush (41 rec)

Inside Scoop with Boiled Sports:
CFBZ: Darrell Hazell takes over as head coach this season. What are you initial impressions of him?
Boiled Sports: We love the guy and couldn’t be happier with the hire, honestly. Purdue went from respected as a program that could be dangerous under Joe Tiller to kind of a joke under Danny Hope. The things we didn’t like about Hope – such as his lack of preparedness, lack of holding players accountable and poor grasp of in-game fundamentals – do not appear to be issues under Darrell Hazell. Coach Haze has an energy around the program already and has people believing pretty quickly, when you consider what a debacle the Hope Era was.

Hazell had open practices in the spring – and will continue to in the summer and fall – and has been meeting with fans afterwards whenever possible. The openness, professionalism and clear leadership abilities come through immediately.

CFBZ: Purdue was a senior laden team at the offensive skill positions last year. Who will be the leaders of this offense?
Boiled Sports: If Rob Henry wins the QB job, he’s the clear and easy answer. This is a guy who was voted a team captain as a sophomore before hurting his knee, so you know he’s immensely respected and probably will be whether he’s starting or not. Another offensive guy who big things are expected from is Akeem Hunt. Hunt was the second option to Akeem Shavers last season, but still ran up 335 yards and 2 TDs on an 8.0 YPC average. Sure, that’s a small sample size, but it’s growing, since his freshman year he rushed 33 times for 287, or an 8.7 average. Hunt also caught two TDs last year and had over 200 yards receiving on 13 catches.
CFBZ: What are the biggest strengths of this Boilermakers team?

Boiled Sports:  We think coaching (for a change) is perhaps their biggest strength this year. This team has some experience as well on the defensive side of the ball, with eight starters returning. Purdue is flush with talented prospects at QB, as well, and perennial all-conference threat Ricardo Allen at CB. Point is, Purdue has enough talent to win games – that’s not been an issue, even under Danny Hope, who tended to recruit fairly well. The issue has been pulling it all together on game day – and for complete games. This team is strong enough to win those games and surprise people if they make use of their talents and strengths.

CFBZ: What will make the 2013 season a success in your eyes?
Boiled Sports: The schedule is challenging in Coach Hazell’s first year at the helm. Still, Purdue fans are ready for improvement. We think that if Purdue goes to a bowl game, that’s a nice start and always a basic goal. However, larger than that, we want to see Purdue football be prepared every week. No complete dud performances where a lousy team like Minnesota blows their doors off. No collapses in the fourth quarter of a potential signature win. If this team comes to play every week and works hard and doesn’t lose their focus, we think Purdue fans will be happy and will love this team. And if those things happen, the wins will come.
Purdue is full of question-marks heading into the season. Can they find a consistent option at QB? Can Akeem Hunt step up and assume the #1 RB position? Can an inexperienced OL come together? Can the defense (which returns eight players) come together and play better as a unit this season?
As Boiled Sports mentioned in the Q&A, the schedule is an absolute killer to open the season. Three of the four out of conference games are at Cincinnati, vs Notre Dame and vs NIU. The Cincinnati game to open the year could be the difference between going bowling and staying home at the end of the year.  The first conference game is at Wisconsin and then they have Nebraska, at Michigan State and Ohio State. To start conference play they are arguably playing their toughest four conference games right off the bat. The schedule closes with Iowa, Penn State, Illinois and Indiana so they have a chance to make up some ground at the end of the year. Purdue played Notre Dame and Ohio State close last year so it's not fair to totally write them off in the games against top tier opponents but the Boilermakers have a tall task head of them this season. 
Prediction: 5-7


Kevin Causey

About Kevin Causey

dry humorist, beer snob, occasionally unbiased SEC fan, UGA alumni, writer for Crystal Ball Run and founder of College Football Zealots