July 11, 2012
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -
On Sept. 29, Marshall and Purdue will meet in football for the first time as the Thundering Herd plays its final of four non-conference games in West Lafayette, Ind.
Purdue ended the 2011 season by winning the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl over Western Michigan, 37-32, for a first bowl victory since 2009. The Boilermakers' momentum should carry over into 2012, thanks to a schedule that sees five of their first six games played at Ross-Ade Stadium.
Along with the home field advantage, Purdue welcomes back a wealth of talent. According to Phil Steele, the Boilermakers are tied for third in the Big Ten Conference in returning starters, with 16. Their 7-6 record was the first winning mark for the program since 2007, the season prior to Coach Danny Hope's debut.
Last season's bowl win might have not been the biggest win of 2011, as Purdue recorded signature victories over previously undefeated Illinois, perennial power Ohio State and in-state rival Indiana to finish third in the Leaders Division in the Big Ten.
Purdue's scoring threat starts from the opening kickoff, when sophomore Raheem Mostert waits for a chance to have an impact on the game. As a true freshman last season, Mostert averaged an FBS-best 33.5 yards per return. His efforts helped the kickoff return unit average a school-record 28.7 yards per return to lead the nation. He may be used as a slot receiver this fall in order to utilize his playmaking ability.
Caleb TerBush returns for his senior season at quarterback, but so does Robert Marve, which leave Hope with a decision on who will be the starter in 2012. Marve has been more out of the starting lineup than in after transferring from Miami (Fla.) after his freshman season, but has tremendous potential. TerBush completed 61.7 percent of his passes and threw for 1,905 yards and 13 touchdowns while leading Purdue to a bowl win. Whoever earns the start will look to improve an offense that ranked 83rd in the nation in passing yards.
Offensive Player to Watch
Running back Akeem Shavers shared time at the position with Ralph Bolden last season, but took over full-time dutyafter Bolden suffered a torn ACL. In the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl, Shavers carried the ball 22 times for a career-high 149 yards and was named MVP. After two seasons at Tyler Junior College, Shavers rushed for just 534 yards last season. With Bolden still rehabbing, Shavers should start the season as the starting running back and was named one of three offensive captains for the upcoming season.
Defensive Player to Watch
Defensive tackle Kawann Short returns after being named to the All-Big Ten first team last season. The senior finished 2011 with career highs in tackles (53), tackles for loss (17) and sacks (6.5). Short finished the regular season ranked tied for 13th nationally and tied for third in the Big Ten in tackles for loss and tied for sixth in the conference in sacks. In May, he was one of 42 players named to the watch list for the 2012 Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy.
Can new defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar lift the Boiler defense from mid-level? Tibesar spent the past three seasons in the Canadian Football League, as defensive coordinator for the Montreal Alouettes.
How long will it take the offensive line to adapt to new starters at left tackle and right guard?
After a front-loaded home schedule, how will Purdue handle playing four of its final six games on the road?
Quote to Note
"He's a guy that hasn't had many reps throughout the course of his career. He hasn't the greatest span of luck."
- Danny Hope, head coach on quarterback Robert Marve
Sept. 1 vs. Eastern Kentucky
Sept. 8 at Notre Dame
Sept. 15 vs. Eastern Michigan
Sept. 29 vs. Marshall
Oct. 6 vs. Michigan*
Oct. 13 vs. Wisconsin*
Oct. 20 at Ohio State*
Oct. 27 at Minnesota*
Nov. 3 vs. Penn State*
Nov. 10 at Iowa*
Nov. 17 at Illinois*
Nov. 24 vs. Indiana*
* Big 10 Conference