After finishing winless in the Big Ten last year and with only one overall win, Purdue is projected to finish in the basement yet again. The Boilermakers return 15 starters, but that doesn’t help from last year’s team that was one of the worst on both sides of the ball.
Head coach Darrell Hazell has a few tricks up his sleeve to try and get his first Big Ten win, and the Boilermakers will get their opportunities. Danny Etling is locked in at quarterback after taking over five Games into the 2013 season. His numbers were significantly better than the man he replaced, Rob Henry, but as seen in the 55.8% completion rate, that’s not saying much. Hazell is hoping to spread out the offense and use speedy players to their advantage.
Those players are running backs Akeem Hunt and Raheem Rostert, along with top wide receiver DeAngelo Yancey. As a team, the Boilermakers averaged a miserable 2.5 yards per carry, which will hopefully change if they use more of the field. Unfortunately, their offensive line isn’t expected to get much better despite returning three starters.
With another year under his belt, Etling and Hunt can form a respectable duo, but if the offensive line can’t protect those guys, a Conference win will be hard-pressed.
Purdue has solid playmakers at defensive end with seniors Ryan Russell and Jalani Phillips. If those two can consistently get to the QB, that will pay dividends, especially for the secondary. They return seniors and experience throughout the defense, with linebacker Sean Robinson, cornerback Frankie Williams and safety London Feichter. But again, this unit allowed 38 points per Game last season.
After playing a brutal non-Conference Schedule in 2013, things look better this time around and Purdue could actually start the season with three wins in their first Four Games. They should at least.
If they can ride any kind of confidence out of those wins into the Big Ten campaign, that would help as they have chances to beat Iowa at home and then at Illinois. Not until November will the Boilermakers get another decent chance with Northwestern and Indiana on the Schedule.
Most fans are expecting the worst again from this team, but if Etling can get things going early in the year, don’t be surprised to see the Boilermakers reach Four wins this year with at least one in the Big Ten.
2014 Purdue Football Schedule
Aug. 30 vs. Western Michigan
Sep. 6 vs. Central Michigan
Sep. 13 vs. Notre Dame (in Indianapolis)
Sep. 20 vs. Southern Illinois
Sep. 27 vs. Iowa
Oct. 4 at Illinois
Oct. 11 vs. Michigan State
Oct. 18 at Minnesota
Nov. 1 at Nebraska
Nov. 8 vs. Wisconsin
Nov. 22 vs. Northwestern
Nov. 29 at Indiana