Preview: Purdue

After a sub-par defensive performance in front of a national audience against Ohio State, the Penn State Nittany Lions will look to regroup as it hosts Purdue for Senior Day 2007. As the 13th edition of PSU vs. Purdue gets ready to roll, Lion fans might be asking themselves a few questions on the heels of the disappointing outcome versus tOSU last Saturday. The one that pops into everyone’s head … if PSU can’t stop Indiana’s and Ohio State’s passing games, how on earth will we shut down Purdue?  Will PSU be able to continue its success against Purdue? Will Morelli be able to move the offense down the field against Brock Spack’s defense? Will the embattled QB make it through the game without throwing a temper tantrum? Will the “living legend” play it conservatively against Tiller? Will the PSU defense show some glimmer of what it was against Iowa and Wisconsin instead of what it looked like versus Indiana and Ohio State? Will the PSU offensive line, which was very successful opening holes for Rodney Kinlaw and Evan Royster versus OSU, duplicate the feat this week? Will PSU’s passing offense go vertical? All good questions … The following is a break down of our visitors from West Lafayette, who enter the game sporting a 7-2 mark.

Purdue Offense

QB: Every school has that one player that seems to have been around for a decade. If there is such a player on the Purdue roster, it has to be Curtis Painter (6-4, 223). This will be the senior’s third crack at the Lions after taking over the starting controls from embattled Brandon Kirsch in the 2005 season. Painter, who averages 268.9 yards per game via the air, is efficient to no end seeing he has completed almost 63 percent of his passes. He brings a four to one touchdown to interception rate (24 TD to 6 int.) to the table. Joey Elliott (6-2, 211) is a serviceable backup that has seen little time.

RB: The Boilermakers have the 72nd ranked rushing offense in the land (146.0 ypg) and this attack is paced by the duo of Kory Sheets (6-0, 206) and Jaycen Taylor (5-10, 180). Both are averaging over five yards per carry in 2007. Sheets, a senior, has posted 663 rushing yards to date, or 73.7 yards per game (5.1 ypc), while Taylor has amassed 421 yards, or 84.2 yards per game (6.3 ypc).

WR: Ever since Joe Tiller arrived at Purdue from one of the best places in the land to get a cheap drink, the rolling hills of Laramie, Wyo., the Boilermakers have never been short of having quality receivers. This year is no exception. Purdue is led by Biletnikoff semifinalist and former PSU recruit Dorien Bryant (5-10, 175). The senior has a team best 64 catches for 735 yards and 8 touchdowns. Painter also has Greg Orton (6-3, 199) at his disposal. The junior is second on the team with 44 catches for 432 yards. Another former PSU recruit, Selwyn Lymon (6-4, 215) is beginning to make more of an impact on the roster with 29 catches for 267 yards. Junior Jake Standeford (6-2, 195), who has posted 19 catches, could also see action.

TE: It seems as though the Big 10 is loaded with solid tight ends and the Lions will be facing another in senior Dustin Keller (6-4, 240). Painter has called his number frequently this season to the tune of 43 receptions for 554 yards. Keller, who is second to Bryant in touchdown receptions with six, leads the squad in yards per catch average (12.9). He is a John Mackey Award candidate for the top tight end in the country.

OL: A team that ranks 31st in total offense must have some semblance of an offensive line, one good enough to put up 431.2 yards per game. The Purdue OL boasts two juniors and three seniors. We talked about how big the Wisconsin OL was a few weeks ago, well … the Boilermakers’ line isn’t that much smaller, averaging 310.4 pounds per player. Seniors Jordan Grimes (6-3, 325), Robbie Powell (6-5, 307), and Sean Sester (6-7, 325) all started for Purdue last season. Lindy’s as well as other publications deemed Grimes a pre-season first team all-Big 10 honoree, while Powell is a Rimington candidate for best center in collegiate football. The newcomers to the starting unit are Zack Jones (6-5, 300) and the baby of the group, Zach Reckman (6-6, 295). This unit has only allowed 1.33 sacks per outing, which ranks 19th in the country.


DL: The Purdue front four consists of two seniors and two juniors. Cliff Averill (6-3, 251) is living up to his pre-season press clippings. The senior, who has posted 25 tackles, leads the unit with 5 sacks and 8 tackles for loss. Alex Magee (6-4, 295) is right behind Averill as far as stops on the year with 23, while Ryan Baker (6-5, 288) and Keyon Brown (6-3, 241) have 15 and 12 tackles respectively.

LB: Purdue’s starting linebackers bring a wealth of experience to say the least. Anthony Heygood (6-2, 230) is third on the team with 48 tackles, but makes a living behind the line of scrimmage. The senior has tallied one sack, but 11 tackles for loss on the year. Stanford Keglar (6-2,2 47) is second on the team with 51 tackles, including four behind the line of scrimmage, while Josh Ferguson (6-3, 242) had three tackles for loss and 46 stops on the year. An interesting note, senior Dan Bick (6-1,225) is listed as a back-up at middle linebacker for Purdue. In 2006, he started every game for the Boilermakers and posted a team-high 95 tackles. He is fourth on the team in tackles this year with 46 despite being relegated to second team.

Secondary: When talking about the defensive backfield of the Boilermakers, the discussion starts with Terrell Vinson (5-9, 180). The senior corner leads the team in tackles (53), interceptions (5), and pass break-ups (9). On his opposite side is sophomore David Pender (6-1, 180), who has 27 stops thus far. The safeties are Justin Scott (6-0, 209) and Brandon King (5-11, 192), who have 41 and 30 tackles respectively.

Special Teams

P: Senior Jared Armstrong is displaying a strong leg for the Boilermakers, averaging 40.1 yards per punt. The Ray Guy Award candidate has registered seven punts of 50 or more yards and had pinned the opposition inside its own 20 11 times this season.

PK: Chris Summers handles the kickoff and place kicking chores. The sophomore is 9 of 12 in field goal attempts, but is 1-3 from outside the 40 yard line.

Returns: Purdue’s kick-off return is strong. Bryant is the main figure in kick-off returns. The senior is averaging 29 yards per return and has raced one the distance for a score this year. Desmond Tardy (6-1, 199) is more than likely the other return man for the Boilermakers. The senior has also returned a kick-off for a score this year. Tardy is averaging 46.3 yards per return in three attempts.

FYI Notes: PSU leads the series 8-2-1 overall, including a 12-0 victory over Purdue in Ross-Ade Stadium last year. The Nittany Lions haven’t lost a Senior Day game since a 31-27 loss to Michigan back in 1999.


Offensively, look for the PSU coaching staff to do the same thing against Purdue as it did against Ohio State – use the short passing game to the sidelines to get Morelli in the flow of the game and get some confidence. Look for the ever improving PSU offensive line to open up some huge holes for Kinlaw and Royster to bust some big gainers. In other words, expect the status quo. Look for the coaching staff to preach ball control in hopes to keep the Purdue offense off the field. Is that the right way to go? Ohio State came out throwing vertically in West Lafayette and it caught the Purdue defense off-guard enough to set them on their heels early. Doing the unexpected wouldn’t be such a bad idea if its there.

Defensively, this is all about the Purdue OL and its ability to protect Painter versus the PSU defense and bringing pressure. The Boilermaker OL has only allowed 1.33 sacks per game this year, which ranks 19th nationally, while the PSU defense is second in the country in sacks per game (4.0) and fourth in tackles for loss (8.89 tflpg). Considering Purdue doesn’t have a strong semblance of a running game, look for the Lions to bring SERIOUS pressure on Painter. With the injuries to the PSU defensive line, don’t be shocked to see Lee and Connor bringing the heat as well. There is somewhat of a misconception to some people who think Painter is fleet of foot. He really isn’t considering he is in the negatives this season for net rushing yards. If Painter doesn’t feel the heat, then he has the ability to pick apart what could be classified as a suspect PSU secondary. Purdue’s passing offense doesn’t really go vertical that much and it is more based on eight to 10-yard outs and screen passes. However, if the tackling isn’t there, those eight-yarders become 22 and 33 yard plays. Look for them to continue the plan of throwing those short passes in hopes of breaking a few, which could open up some room for Sheets and Taylor. Although ranked 72nd in the nation in rushing offense, Purdue’s running game isn’t exactly non existent, but its good enough to cause trouble when it gets going. Look for Purdue to get its tight end involved early. After all, Keller is the only regular receiver that has an average of over 12 yards per catch. PSU must not give Painter time to throw given the fact he seems to not be making the mistakes this year that he did in previous years.

BROTHER TO BROTHER: The last embattled QB to start a Senior Day game for PSU, Zach Mills, went out in style with a 37-13 victory over Sparty back in 2004. Will maybe the most embattled QB during the Paterno era in Tony Morelli post a similar fate? Yes, however, the spotlight won’t be shined on him nearly as much. I look for Kinlaw and Royster to rush for over 150 yards and the defense led by All-American Dan Connor comes out like a hungry pack of wolves with something to prove. We have seen this movie before. PSU usually does very well against the high flying Purdue offense. The defense will give up some yards, but won’t entirely break. Look for Painter to be knocked to the ground a few times more than he has been this year. PSU 31, PURDUE 17

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  • 11/2/2007 4:26 PM joepadon wrote:
    "Offensively, look for the PSU coaching staff to do the same thing against Purdue as it did against Ohio State – use the short passing game to the sidelines to get Morelli in the flow of the game and get some confidence."

    How sad is it that we have to give AM, a 2nd year starting Senior, short, easy passes to build his confidence?
    Good Riddance
    Reply to this
    1. 11/2/2007 5:48 PM anonymous wrote:
      Amen!!! Good bye and good riddance. Now onto Jay, Dick, and Joe!!!
      Reply to this
  • 11/2/2007 8:18 PM Chinn SooVinyl wrote:
    Goodbye Antnee...the worse 2 years of quarterbackin seen since ....well, er well a long time, er, maybe since Senneca.
    Loved those screen passes. Argg
    Reply to this
    1. 11/3/2007 10:39 AM Galenbacker wrote:
      I think the word you were looking for is "worst."

      And "Argg"? Are you a pirate?
      Reply to this
  • 11/3/2007 8:45 AM Shey wrote:
    You guys are nuts. 2 worst years a qb has ever played in penn state history?? no no, my friends, that distinction belongs to mills, 03-04. Now, the worst 2 years IN BIG GAMES in the history of penn state, that is a good question. If you guys couldn't tell the difference in velocity and accuracy which AMMO throws the ball compared to daryl clark, then you don't realize the problems that await our team next year.

    The only way next year is even as good as this year is if clark steps up to be an mrob type player. For those of you that want devlin, unfortunately it just won't happen. If it didn't happen in 04 w/ mrob riding the pine, don't expect it to happen in 08 w/ devlin riding the pine.
    Reply to this
  • 11/3/2007 10:45 AM LoveYaLions wrote:
    Pretty telling sign right here regarding people's interest in this team. 5 or 6 posts. I am willing to bet that had Penn State been undefeated or at least won last week there would be 30-40 posts for this entry.

    Unfortunately, most people don't care anymore. I am pretty close to that mindset right now. It sucks because Penn State football is the only sports team I root for, so when they suck...well it is pretty hard on me. Oh well, fortunately there is always next year!
    Reply to this
  • 11/3/2007 11:16 AM joepadon wrote:
    Good call on the early short passes Undercover Brother
    Reply to this

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