Big Ten: Jeff Panfil

Purdue spring wrap

May, 6, 2009
5/06/09
9:05
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Purdue Boilermakers
2008 overall record: 4-8

2008 conference record:2-6

Returning starters

Offense: 4; Defense: 7; Special teams: 2

Top returners

WR Keith Smith, TE Kyle Adams, LT Zach Reckman, RB Jaycen Taylor, DE Ryan Kerrigan, DT Mike Neal, S Torri Williams, CB Brandon King, LB Joe Holland

Key losses

QB Curtis Painter, QB Justin Siller, RB Kory Sheets, WR Greg Orton, WR Desmond Tardy, DT Alex Magee, LB Anthony Heygood, S Frank Duong

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Kory Sheets (1,185 yds)
Passing
: Curtis Painter (2,400 yds)
Receiving: Desmond Tardy (876 yds)
Tackles
: Anthony Heygood (114)
Sacks
: Ryan Kerrigan* (7)
Interceptions
: Torri Williams and Dwight Mclean (2)

2009 Schedule
Sept. 5 Toledo
Sept. 12 at Oregon
Sept. 19 Northern Illinois
Sept. 26 Notre Dame
Oct. 3 Northwestern
Oct. 10 at Minnesota
Oct. 17 Ohio State
Oct. 24 Illinois
Oct. 31 at Wisconsin
Nov. 7 at Michigan
Nov. 14 Michigan State
Nov. 21 at Indiana
Spring answers

1. Backs stacked -- Running back was a major question entering the spring, especially with Jaycen Taylor still rehabbing from a torn ACL. But sophomore Ralph Bolden came out of nowhere to spark the Boilers' rushing attack. Bolden capped an excellent spring with 153 rush yards and two touchdowns in the spring game. He finished with 420 rush yards in four spring scrimmages. Dan Dierking also performed well, and the running back spot should be deep once Taylor gets healthy and heralded freshman Al-Terek McBurse enters the mix. 

2. Tight ends surge -- First-year head coach Danny Hope raved about his tight ends this spring, and the group will be featured more in the offense after a one-year hiatus. Projected starter Kyle Adams showed what he can do when healthy this spring, making 10 receptions in the spring scrimmages. He'll be pushed by both Jeff Lindsay and Jeff Panfil.

3. Defensive line solid -- Line play could be a strength on both sides of the ball, and the defensive front looked promising this spring. Defensive end Ryan Kerrigan appears ready to take another step after recording a team-high seven sacks last fall. He should get help from talented young players like Kawann Short and Gerald Gooden. Defensive tackle Mike Neal is very underrated inside and should have a big year.

Fall questions

1. Joey's time -- Senior quarterback Joey Elliott has waited his turn to start at quarterback, and barring a dramatic shift, he'll get it this fall. Still, Purdue would feel much more comfortable if Justin Siller was pushing Elliott for the top job. Siller might have been the team's No. 1 quarterback before his dismissal from school for violating academic policy. Elliott needs to elevate his game after three years as a backup, and Purdue must further develop backup Caleb TerBush.

2. Linebacker play -- There were some encouraging signs this spring, especially the re-emergence of oft-injured senior Jason Werner. But the rushing totals allowed in the spring scrimmages are troubling, and Purdue needs to identify three or four reliable linebackers after losing mainstay Anthony Heygood. The line and the secondary look solid, but linebacker is a bit iffy.

3. Wide receiver -- Purdue loses a ton of production at wide receiver, and Hope is still working to find capable targets for Elliott this fall. Keith Smith had a very solid spring and Aaron Valentin should take on a greater role this fall, but the Boilers need more bodies at receiver. They're hoping for more development this summer from converted cornerback Royce Adams.

Recapping Purdue's spring game

April, 20, 2009
4/20/09
11:15
AM ET

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.

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