NCF Nation: Mike Eargle
The Golden Gophers are down 14-0 despite dominating the time of possession battle. Minnesota is struggling to get its run game going, rushing for just 21 yards so far today. After gashing Purdue in last year's victory, the Gophers have to find more production from DeLeon Eskridge and crew.
Purdue's defense really turned things around during the bye week. The Boilers had one great player through the first four games -- end Ryan Kerrigan -- but a shaky unit still trying to find itself. Coordinators Donn Landholm and Gary Emanuel are seeing production from more sources the past two weeks.
The Boilers are keeping everything in front of them, and Adam Weber missed an opportunity to attack downfield moments ago.
The only downside for Purdue are some injuries: safety Albert Evans and cornerback Mike Eargle both left the game.
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
What was that old joke about there being only two seasons at Texas -- football season and spring football season?
Rick Barnes has done a marvelous job during his 11-season tenure with the Longhorns' basketball program, turning it into one of the nation's most consistent powers.
But there's no doubt about which sports is the most popular among Texas fans. If you have any doubt, check out the Austin American-Statesman's weekly chat with columnists Cedric Golden and Kirk Bohls for an answer.
Football questions for the esteemed duo outnumber all of the other sports combined. So it's a must read for any Longhorn football fan looking for a few snippets of newsheading into the start of spring football practice on Friday.
Football support isn't as intense around much of the rest of the conference. But there's still enough news to provide a little lunchtime diversion. Here are some of Wednesday's more notable stories.
- The Sporting News' Matt Hayes and David Curtis break down what quarterback Patrick Witt's departure from Nebraska will mean to the Cornhuskers.
- Nebraska linebackers coach Mike Ekeler does not appear headed to South Florida to become Jim Leavitt's new defensive coordinator. The Champaign (Ill.) News-Gazette's Bob Asmussen reports that Illinois co-defensive coordinator Dan Disch has been offered the job. And Brett McMurphy of the Tampa Tribune reports that former Kansas State offensive coordinator Ron Hudson is among the coaches who have interviewed for the Bulls' vacant offensive coordinator position.
- Mike Eargle, a cornerback from Lackawanna (Pa.) College, will be transferring into the Oklahoma State program, according to the Oklahoman's Scott Wright.
- Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic speculates that Texas' Brian Orakpo could emerge as one of the "hybrid" defenders that are the current rage in the NFL.
- Brock Murphy of Lindysports.com opines on the massive offensive rebuilding job Texas Tech coach Mike Leach is facing this spring.
- Chuck Woodling of the Lawrence Journal-World comments on the first four years of Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins' ambitious five-year development plan for the Jayhawks' athletic program.