The Unrepentant Individual

...just hanging around until Dec 21, 2012


September 1, 2007


Purdue @ Toledo Preview

Well, I’m still planning to do a Big Ten preview, but considering how Wyatt has affected my “plans”, we’ll see how well that works out. Either way, he’s sleeping and there’s still 4 1/2 hours to kickoff, so let’s break down Purdue @ Toledo.

First, one has to give Toledo their respect. They’re 38-4 at home since 1999, and have a history of knocking off Big Ten teams opening their season in the Glass Bowl (3 in the last decade, including Purdue in 1997). They had a rough season last year, but they’ve got a strong defense, an excellent running back, and the attitude of a players in the MAC, that they should be playing in the Big Ten.

That’s coupled with a Purdue team that’s coming off a tough (but winning) year, with a porous defense and an inconsistent offense. Against a tough team in a road opener, this game smells of a trap.

Breakdown:

Purdue Offense vs. Toledo Defense:

As mentioned, Toledo’s got a pretty stout defense for a MAC team. Purdue, though, returns an offense that finished in the top ten in yardage last year, and looks to be even stronger this year. Senior receiver Dorien Bryant used to be the only game-breaker Purdue had, but now with Dustin Keller at tight end, and bookend 6′4″ 200+ lb burners Greg Orton and Selwyn Lymon on the outside, Purdue can stretch the field against anyone. Last year, there were consistency issues regarding receivers running incorrect routes, but another year of experience should halt that, and Curtis Painter has another year of work with these guys, so the only thing that can stop Purdue’s passing game is Purdue. On the ground, Purdue has two very capable backs in Kory Sheets and Jaycen Taylor, and 2nd year OC Bill Legg is implementing something Purdue hasn’t seen in many years: a fullback. I was a big fan of the spread option, but it really hasn’t panned out. The addition of a true power running game may bring the Boilers the ground threat and unpredictability of offense that they’ve been lacking.

All that said, Purdue definitely has the edge here. They have more talent and more experience all over their offense, and should be able to control the game. Purdue can only be beaten by their own mistakes.

Purdue Defense vs. Toledo Offense:

The Purdue defense is widely considered weak, if you pay attention to the pundits. I don’t agree, but we’ll get to that in a later post. The real question is whether Toledo has the horsepower to exploit them. Toledo is starting an untested QB against a veteran Purdue secondary, so I doubt they’ll be putting up a lot of yards in the air. Trying to force a ball into coverage is a mistake with cornerbacks like Terrell Vinson, who has an excellent nose for the football and will be quick to get a pick. Where Toledo may have an edge is in the running game. Purdue last year fielded a few defensive tackles who were simply not physically ready for the game. The word is that they’ve bulked up and gotten there physically, but it’s impossible to know. With the loss of 1st-round pick Anthony Spencer at defensive end, the line may suffer. The linebackers are another question mark, due mostly to the fact that nobody knows whether they’ll be any good as a unit. There’s talent there, but both 1st and 2nd string MLB’s have had injury issues, and the only proven player is Stanford Keglar (who is a strong run-stopper, but not great in pass coverage). Toledo will need to establish a ground game against the Boilers, and their starting RB is capable enough to do it.

Defensively, if Purdue can handle Toledo on the ground, this will be ugly for the Rockets. The secondary should be able to contain them in the air, so if the defensive tackles can stuff the middle, and the linebackers plug the holes, Toledo will be in trouble. To do that, Purdue’s tackles and linebackers needs to be mean, nasty, and swarm the ballcarrier. Again, the word from practice is that these guys are playing with an enormous chip on their shoulder after the last two years, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Special Teams:

When it comes to kickoff coverage, Purdue is solid. The same goes for punt coverage. Purdue’s returners (Bryant for kickoffs and punts, and Sheets for kickoffs) have the ability to break a long return at any time. However, Toledo also look solid on their coverage teams. I’ll give Purdue a slight edge there.

Where Purdue has an enormous question mark is their field goal kicker. Chris Summers, as a freshman last year, went 8 for 20, and that’s simply unacceptable. Purdue was forced into going for it on 4th and long in opponents’ territory, because we couldn’t trust the kicker to make anything. Summers was always great in practice and choked in games, so I’m not believing anything I’ve heard about his abilities in practice over the off-season. Toledo, to my knowledge, has no FG woes, so I’ve got to give Toledo a big edge in that department.

Prediction:

Purdue 31, Toledo 13

I think Purdue’s offense SHOULD put up more than 40 points, but I really think they might get off to a slow start, and have at least one drive end in no points due to a missed FG. But I’m going to go out on a limb and believe the press clippings about Purdue’s defense. I expect to see them come out with an attitude. I expect to see swarms of Boilers making tackles, and a blitzing-attacking style of defense that we’ve lacked the last two years (as our LB’s had to play pass coverage to make up for injuries to the DB’s).

I’m guessing Purdue will lead 10-3 at the half, with 1 missed field goal and a defense that bottles up Toledo. In the second half, Purdue scores a few offensive TD’s, and the defense contributes either it’s own score, or gets a big turnover in good field position to give the offense an easy score. As the game progresses, Toledo puts up a fight, but can’t hang with the Boilers for 60 minutes.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 10:56 am || Permalink || Comments Off || Trackback URL || Categories: College Football, Predictions, Purdue, Sports

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