Big Ten: Antoine Miles

Purdue spring wrap

April, 28, 2014
Apr 28
5:30
AM ET
The spring workouts are in the books and the long offseason has arrived. But before diving into summer and the painful wait for football to return, we’re taking a look back at the developments from March and April, sneaking a peek at what to expect in the fall for Purdue.

Three things we learned in the spring
  • The quarterback competition continues: Danny Etling, who started eight games as a true freshman last season, apparently enters the summer months with a slight edge over fellow sophomore Austin Appleby. Neither took command of the position in the spring, leaving the door open for early enrollee true freshman David Blough.
  • Ryan Russell is ready for a big senior season: Much has been expected from the 6-foot-5, 275-pound defensive end since he arrived in West Lafayette out of Carrollton, Texas, in 2010. He’s started all but two games over the past three seasons but has yet to play at an elite level. This may be the year after his strong spring.
  • The Boilermakers should run the ball better: That’s not saying much after Purdue ranked as arguably the worst team in the nation last season on the ground, averaging 67.1 yards per game (better than only Washington State) and 2.5 yards per attempt (better than only Florida International). Running backs Raheem Mostert and Akeem Hunt performed well in the spring.
Three questions for the fall
  • Can Purdue muster some offensive firepower?: No one expects Darrell Hazell’s group to line up and hammer Big Ten foes. Purdue must spread the field and rely on the big-play potential of Mostert, the Big Ten's 60- and 200-meter dash champion, and receiver Danny Anthrop. Perhaps tight end Dolapo Macarthy, named the most improved offensive player of the spring, can help here.
  • How can this team improve defensively?: As poorly as the offense performed last season, the defense wasn’t much better, allowing 38 points and nearly 460 yards per game. Russell offers a start. Fellow end Antoine Miles and tackle Michael Rouse III played well in the spring game, and the secondary shows promise behind cornerback Frankie Williams and big-hitting safety Robert Gregory.
  • Who has the highest ceiling at QB?: There’s an argument to make that it’s the 6-foot-1 Blough, who came to Purdue from the same Texas high school as Russell. Of course, he is the most inexperienced. Etling (2012) and Appleby (2011), like Blough last summer, showed well at the Elite 11 finals, so all three come from a strong pedigree. After throwing for 1,690 yards last fall, Etling will be tough to overcome.
One way too early prediction

Purdue will win a Big Ten game next fall. Yes, that’s bold. In all seriousness, the schedule was brutal last season as Purdue faced six straight foes that won nine or more games, then got Iowa and Penn State as a reprieve. Still, the Boilers were not competitive after a seven-point loss to Notre Dame on Sept. 14. Next year will be different. Remember, Purdue won its final three games in the Big Ten in 2012 before last season. A return to better days are near.

Spring game recap: Purdue

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14
1:00
PM ET
No team in the Big Ten wants the 2014 season to arrive faster than Purdue, which wrapped up spring practice Saturday with the Black & Gold spring game at Ross-Ade Stadium. The Gold team scored a late touchdown to record a 12-7 win against the Black squad before an announced crowd of 7,125.

For more coverage, read here and here and here.

[+] EnlargeRyan Russell
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesDefensive end Ryan Russell shined in Purdue's spring game.
Star of the game: Defensive end Ryan Russell. Purdue has waited years for Russell to take the next step, and it could finally happen in his last season. He came on strong late in the spring and recorded a game-high 11 tackles, as well as 3.5 sacks (some against non-live quarterbacks) and a forced fumble. "He's going with such a higher motor than I've ever seen him go with," quarterback Danny Etling said Saturday. "He's tough to go against. I feel sorry for the other quarterbacks who have to go against him."

How it went down: Both defenses controlled play for most of the game, generating two interceptions, two forced fumbles and 10 tackles for loss, seven by the Black squad. Although Purdue's offense looked better at times this spring, there are some unanswered questions entering the summer, namely quarterback.

Etling completed 10 of 17 passes for 96 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions and faced a lot of pressure from Black team defensive linemen. He led the game-winning touchdown drive and appeared to emerge from the spring with a slight edge against Austin Appleby, who struggled, completing seven passes for 21 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns. Stretching the field proved to be very difficult for both Etling and Abbleby, although freshman David Blough made some plays, including a 41-yard scoring pass to Danny Anthrop.

To be fair, neither Etling nor Appleby played with a full complement of receivers or top linemen.

"The package was very limited with what they called," coach Darrell Hazell said. "I'm sure there was more on the call sheet."

Purdue needs improvement from the quarterbacks this summer, but it can feel better about the potential at running back. Raheem Mostert had an excellent spring and finished with a decent day (44 rush yards on 10 carries). Akeem Hunt ended the spring on a good note with 54 rush yards and 73 receiving yards. Mostert and Hunt form a nice 1-2 punch, and both are threats on returns as well.

The Gold team repeatedly forced three-and-outs and received nice lifts from tackle Michael Rouse III (two tackles for loss, forced fumble), end Antoine Miles and cornerback Anthony Brown. Miles and Brown both had interceptions.

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