How Does Purdue’s Personnel Stack Up Against ND?
Notre Dame plays its first home football game this Saturday against Purdue. Let’s take an in-depth look at the Boilermakers.
Purdue’s quarterback situation is still slightly unsettled. Senior Robert Marve performed extremely well last week against Eastern Kentucky, a game he started due to the suspension of senior Caleb TerBush. Despite Marve’s great game against the FCS foe, TerBush will still get the start at Notre Dame. He is a better runner than Marve, but both are primarily passers that will see playing time this Saturday. Junior Rob Henry may see action as well as the third string quarterback, as the Boilermakers seem complacent with a QB-by-committee approach.
To compliment TerBush’s running ability and Marve’s big play potential in the pass game, Purdue boasts a nice stable of running backs. Senior Ralph Bolden is still rehabbing a torn ACL from the 2011 regular season finale. In his absence, senior Akeem Shavers and sophomore Akeem Hunt will split carries. After week one, it appears Shavers should see the bulk of the work after his strong performance (6.7 yards per carry). Hunt should not be overlooked though, as he is a shifty back that could provide an interesting change of pace.
Wide receiver depth is a concern for Purdue, but there is no question as to who the primary targets will be. Relying heavily on upperclassmen, the key receivers will be senior Antavian Edison, junior O.J. Ross, junior Gary Bush, and junior tight end Gabe Holmes. All four of them not only have great chemistry with TerBush, but they all performed well with Marve last week. This offense’s ability to divvy up the targets evenly is a nice advantage.
Purdue boasts your typical solid Big Ten defense, led by a defensive line with experience and some star power. Senior defensive tackle Kawann Short is an NFL-level prospect scouts really like, as his size (6-foot-3, 315 lbs) and ability to penetrate allow him to frustrate any offensive line. Joining Short on the line are junior Bruce Gaston at tackle, junior Ryan Isaac at end, and sophomore Ryan Russell on the other end. Russell has a lot of potential, as he impressed in Big Ten play as a true freshman, and is now looking to be a consistent playmaker as a sophomore.
The Boilermakers have good size at linebacker as well. Seniors Antwon Higgs and Robert Maci will line up on the outside and measure 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-4, respectively. The man in the middle is junior Will Lucas, who is a bit undersized but is capable of racking up a bunch of tackles and getting involved in every play. The linebackers are the question mark of this defense, although that is primarily a testament to the strength of Purdue’s defensive line and secondary. Purdue will need this group to step up against Notre Dame’s potent rushing attack.
Junior Ricardo Allen and senior Josh Johnson are two terrific corners that are capable of dominating this group of Notre Dame receivers that are not used to being regular contributors. Their ability to perform well in coverage will allow Purdue’s inexperienced sophomore safeties (Landon Feichter and Taylor Richards) to be less relied upon in the pass game and more cautious towards the run game.