Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Midseason review: Purdue
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Record: 2-5 (1-2 Big Ten)
The tone of this review is much different than it would have been a week ago, before Purdue's huge victory against Ohio State. Regardless of how the second half goes, Purdue owns a signature win and its first triumph against a ranked opponent since 2003. The Ohio State game also proved that Purdue is a better team than its record indicates. The Boilers outplayed Oregon in Eugene, had Notre Dame on the ropes and built a 21-3 lead against Northwestern, but they dropped all three games. Purdue has four losses by a combined 18 points and could easily have a winning record. Turnovers are the Boilers' Achilles' heel, as they rank 119th nationally with 23. The giveaways have overshadowed strong offensive performances by quarterback Joey Elliott, wide receiver Keith Smith and others. The defense has made steady progress and received a huge performance from end Ryan Kerrigan against Ohio State. If Purdue can build on the Ohio State win and continue to make strides, it could be a dangerous team down the stretch.
Offensive MVP, QB Joey Elliott: After three seasons as Curtis Painter's backup, Elliott has made the most of his lone season as the starter. He leads the Big Ten in passing (265.1 ypg), total offense (287.7 ypg) and touchdown passes (14). Elliott also has done a great job as a co-captain, keeping team morale high despite so many near misses. Honorable mentions go to wide receivers Keith Smith and Aaron Valentin and running back Ralph Bolden.
Defensive MVP, LB Jason Werner: Werner has finally stayed healthy and showed why he can be one of the league's best linebackers. The senior ranks second in the league and fifth nationally in tackles for loss (14), a total that includes four sacks. Werner leads Purdue with 55 tackles and has an interception and a forced fumble. Honorable mentions go to Kerrigan, cornerback Brandon King and defensive tackle Mike Neal.