Big Ten: Charlton Williams
Here are some quick notes and observations:
- DiNardo raved about the changes head coach Danny Hope has brought to Purdue, particularly from a recruiting standpoint. Although he called the Boilers a "developmental team" through the first half of the year, he's really excited about the future. And the schedule works in Purdue's favor, as the team opens with a big game at Notre Dame before facing several manageable foes. "This schedule is their best friend," DiNardo said.
- It was hard not to come away extremely impressed with quarterback Robert Marve. The Miami transfer has a big-time arm, and he showcased it on several throws. He fired a bullet to Antavian Edison in team drills and also threaded a pass to former quarterback Justin Siller. The BTN crew all talked about his good body language, and it's clear that Marve is having a great time so far at Purdue. "I love the spread offense," said Marve, who has cut his hair since Big Ten media days. "I love throwing the ball 40 times a game."
- Marve ran the offense extremely well during team drills. It was interesting to see Purdue operate exclusively with a silent cadence, but there weren't many penalties. "Danny Hope talks about discipline a lot, and it’s evident that it’s worked," DiNardo said.
- Now-ineligible quarterback Caleb TerBush was still practicing at the time of the BTN's visit, but DiNardo noted that he might not be the team's No. 2 quarterback. "Rob Henry got a lot of reps today," Griffith said. That's a good sign because Henry is now Marve's backup.
- Offensive line, running back and defensive back are Purdue's three main areas of concern, and the line clearly stood out in this practice. Mammoth guard Ken Plue seems to be moving better at a svelte 333 pounds, and DiNardo listed tackle Nick Mondek, a converted defensive lineman, as his under-the-radar player this fall. "They’ve closed the gap more than any other position," DiNardo said. "This is the unit that's furthest along out of the three that needed to be rebuilt."
- The defensive backs had their ups and downs, but the picture is beginning to take shape. Revsine noted that Albert Evans and Logan Link likely will enter the fall as the starting safeties, and freshman cornerback Ricardo Allen has made an immediate impression. Allen defended wideout Gary Bush well in one drill, and drew praise from both Griffith and head coach Danny Hope. Junior college transfer Mike Eargle also should see time at corner, and DiNardo likes Charlton Williams.
- DiNardo was down on the running backs, and for good reason. Ralph Bolden will miss at least part of the season and possibly all of it, and Al-Terek McBurse practiced with his lower left leg wrapped. True freshman Reggie Pegram impressed the BTN crew, aside from a near fumble in team drills, and has taken advantage of increased opportunities. Pegram has nice size at 5-11, 222. "He would be the starter or [the backup] if McBurse was [healthy]," DiNardo said. It's also worth nothing that Purdue will incorporate the fullback more this year in the offense.
- As expected, Keith Smith and the other wide receivers looked good. Smith is a superb route runner, Siller seems to be catching on well and Edison looked very impressive, hauling in a tipped pass during one drill and sitting down nicely in the zone in another. Edison should contribute at slot receiver. "No one's going to be able to double-cover anyone," Smith said.
- DiNardo didn't feel the defensive line or linebackers were overly physical. Star end Ryan Kerrigan beat Mondek on several plays, and freshman tackle Bruce Gaston Jr. made a good impression on the BTN crew. "He’s a big, physical guy," DiNardo said. "He's just once example of how Danny Hope is changing the talent level on defense." Middle linebacker Dwayne Beckford stood out the most among that group.
- Hope talked about the upgrade in team speed, saying that 18 players have 4.5 speed or better, as opposed to only about six when his staff first arrived. He expects to play quite a few freshmen as well as the juco arrivals. "We could have as many as 10 new faces on the field this year," he said.
Head coach Danny Hope has been known to post a different depth chart at the entrance to Purdue's practice field every day of spring ball or preseason camp. Boilermakers players constantly know where they stand with the coaches, and that they can't let up, even for one practice.
Given the ever-changing nature of Purdue's depth chart, the pre-camp version revealed Tuesday (page 16) should be studied accordingly. Still, it provides some clues about what the coaches are thinking entering preseason practice, which kicks off next month.
We already knew that Robert Marve will enter camp as Purdue's No. 1 quarterback, but here are a few more notes:
- Ralph Bolden is still listed at Purdue's starting running back despite undergoing ACL surgery in May. From the moment Bolden went down, Hope has remained very optimistic about the junior's status for the season despite the severity of the injury. Al-Terek McBurse is listed as the backup but likely will start the opener Sept. 4 against Notre Dame. Former wide receiver Keith Carlos is the third-string running back.
- Former quarterback Justin Siller, who rejoined the team this summer after a year-long dismissal from the university, is listed as a starting wide receiver alongside Keith Smith and Cortez Smith.
- The offensive line figures to feature some competition this summer, and here's how the starting five looks entering camp: left tackle Dennis Kelly, left guard Justin Pierce, center Peters Drey, right guard Ken Plue and right tackle Nick Mondek, who switched to offensive from defensive tackle this spring.
- The secondary is another group with some question marks. Charlton Williams and Josh Johnson are listed as the starting cornerbacks, while Albert Evans and Logan Link are tabbed as the starting safeties. Evans looks like the guy at strong safety, but the other three spots are fluid.
- Redshirt freshman Kevin Pamphile is listed as a starting defensive tackle next to Kawann Short. It'll be interesting to see if Pamphile maintains the top spot throughout camp, as there should be some good competition.
- Carson Wiggs could once again be a busy man this fall. He's listed as Purdue's starting kicker and a co-starter at punter with freshman Cody Webster. Wiggs or freshman Jonathan Linkenheimer will handle kickoffs.
After winning four of its final six games, Purdue has high hopes for 2010. The Boilermakers return a lot of skill players on offense, and Miami transfer Robert Marve looks like the front-runner to take over at quarterback. The defense needs to fill all four starting spots in the secondary, but end Ryan Kerrigan and linebacker Jason Werner lead the front seven.
Strongest position: Wide receiver/tight end
- Key returnees: Keith Smith (91 receptions, 1,100 receiving yards, 6 TDs); Kyle Adams (29 receptions, 249 receiving yards); Keith Carlos (21 receptions, 242 receiving yards, 1 TD); running back Ralph Bolden (20 receptions, 261 receiving yards, 2 TDs); Cortez Smith (17 receptions, 177 receiving yards, 2 TDs); Jeff Lindsay (16 receptions 162 receiving yards).
- Key losses: Aaron Valentin (54 receptions, 621 receiving yards, 7 TDs).
- The skinny: A year ago, the Boilers had huge questions here as Smith was the lone returnee with any significant experience. Purdue now boasts one of the Big Ten's deepest group of pass-catchers, led by Smith, who topped the league in receiving yards last fall and earned first-team all-conference honors from the media. Purdue needs a new No. 2 wideout, but hopes are high for Cortez Smith and Carlos. The coaches are also high on young wideouts Antavian Edison and Gary Bush. The tight end position should be very solid with both Adams and Lindsay in the fold.
- Key returnees: Albert Evans (30 tackles, 2 pass breakups)
- Key losses: Torri Williams (84 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, 8 passes defended); Dwight Mclean (62 tackles, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble, 4 passes defended); David Pender (40 tackles, 1 INT, 14 passes defended, 1 blocked kick, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery); Brandon King (30 tackles, 3 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 5 passes defended).
- The skinny: Purdue loses all four starters in the secondary, including tackles leader Williams and second-team All-Big Ten selections in Pender and King. Evans is the lone returnee with significant experience, and he'll miss spring practice with an injury. Players like junior college transfer Mike Eargle, Charlton Williams, Gavin Roberts and Chris Quinn need to step up this spring. "We have a lot of depth issues in the secondary," head coach Danny Hope said.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Purdue's first set of spring practices under head coach Danny Hope is in the books, as the Boilermakers finished up Saturday with the Black & Gold game at Ross-Ade Stadium. The offense prevailed 36-29 in a game that featured a modified scoring system.
The spread offense is still very much alive in West Lafayette, but Purdue might not be as much of a pass-oriented team as it was under Joe Tiller. The ground game came along very nicely this spring, and an unlikely sophomore has put himself right in the mix for the starting running back position.
Sophomore Ralph Bolden capped a very impressive spring with 153 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries in the spring game. With Jaycen Taylor still rehabbing from a torn ACL and heralded freshman Al-Terek McBurse awaiting the go-ahead from the NCAA Clearinghouse, Bolden showed impressive skills and durability throughout the spring. He gained 406 rush yards in Purdue's three spring scrimmages.
Though his smallish frame (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) might raise red flags, Bolden should be a big part of Purdue's offensive plan this fall.
"He's probably the fastest kid on our offense," offensive coordinator Gary Nord told The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier. "He was clocked at 10.5 in the 100 meters in high school. We have to find ways to get him the ball."
Dan Dierking added 95 rush yards on 19 attempts as the offense racked up 299 yards on the ground. The passing game didn't exactly struggle, either, putting up 421 yards. Projected starter Joey Elliott had a nice day, completing 20 of 33 passes for 193 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Other notable items from Purdue's spring game:
- Don't expect the second coming of Dustin Keller this fall, but the tight end position will play a much bigger role at Purdue than it did in 2008. Even without projected starter Kyle Adams, who sustained a minor knee injury, three tight ends (Jeff Lindsay, Jeff Panfil and Crosby Wright) combined to catch 12 passes for 134 yards in the spring game.
- Keith Smith has established himself as Purdue's No. 1 wide receiver and registered game highs in both receptions (8) and receiving yards (99) in the spring game. Smith, who caught a touchdown pass from Elliott, enters the fall as a starter along with Aaron Valentin. Purdue needs another wideout to emerge this summer.
- Oft-injured linebacker Jason Werner recorded an interception in the spring game, a good sign for a Purdue defense that looks a bit thin at linebacker. The Boilers' defense recorded five takeaways in the game, including an interception by safety Logan Link and a fumble recovery by defensive tackle Kawann Short, who also had two pass breakups and a tackle for loss. End Gerald Gooden also stood out with a sack and a fumble recovery.
- Purdue's resurgent run game this spring can be attributed to an improved offensive line, which returns four starters and avoided the injuries that crippled it a year ago.
- Short and backup quarterback Caleb TerBush received Purdue's Newcomer Award for making the most progress in their first round of spring practices. Offensive guard Rick Schmeig and cornerback Charlton Williams received the Most Improved Award.
- Purdue also announced its captains for the 2009 season: Elliott, defensive tackle Mike Neal, Werner, safety Torri Williams and center Jared Zwilling.