Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Midseason review: Purdue
By ESPN.com staff
Record: 3-2 (1-0 Big Ten)
No team in America has been hit with more adversity from an injury standpoint than Purdue. And arguably no team in America delivered a more resilient performance than the Boilers did on Saturday night. Purdue faced Northwestern without the services of its top two quarterbacks (Robert Marve and Caleb TerBush), its top running back (Ralph Bolden) and its top two receivers (Keith Smith and Justin Siller). The Boilers turned over their offense to a redshirt freshman quarterback (Rob Henry) making his first career start after nearly being moved to safety in spring practice. They altered their offense to fit Henry's skills. And they won, beating a previously unbeaten Wildcats team. Talk about a momentum swing, as things really looked bleak after a Week 4 loss to Toledo. Purdue still has a long road ahead, but Danny Hope's squad has to feel rejuvenated. The season-ending knee injury to Marve really stings, and Purdue will need Henry to evolve as a passer. The biggest key going forward is the defense, which made strides against Northwestern. Defensive end Ryan Kerrigan has been nothing short of sensational, anchoring the Big Ten's best pass rush. The Boilers still must polish up their run defense and protect a new-look secondary.
Offensive MVP, RB Dan Dierking: Overlooked for most of his career, Dierking has played a vital role for a Purdue offense trying to reinvent itself on the fly. The senior hasn't been immune from the injury bug, but he's been effective in games. Dierking averages 5 yards a carry and has racked up 277 rush yards, 11 receptions and a team-high four touchdowns, including the game-winner Saturday night at Northwestern.
Defensive MVP, DE Ryan Kerrigan: An extremely easy choice here. Kerrigan has been a beast through the first half, leading the Big Ten in tackles for loss (13.5), sacks (5) and forced fumbles (3). He also leads Big Ten defensive linemen and ranks 11th among all defenders in tackles per game (7.6). Kerrigan's presence is helping those around him, and Purdue leads the Big Ten and ties for fourth nationally in sacks (3.4 spg).