2012 Program Preview - Purdue

Caleb TerBush is the most Purdue name ever. Congrats. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Joe Tiller era seems so far away.

He brought his spread offense with him to the derision of the Big Ten, taking Purdue in and out of and back in the top 25 throughout his 12-year run as the head coach of the Boilermakers. Now going into the fourth year of Danny Hope's tenure at the top of the program, things are looking better than horrible. I guess that's something worth rooting for.

Purdue's coming off of a Little Caesars Bowl win over Western Michigan, boosting early returns on the recruiting trails. But unless Purdue can put out another winning season, it's going to be tough for them to remain on track to get back near the upper echelon of the Big Ten.

After the jump, the prospects worth noting as well as some games and matchups to pencil into your calendar.

References

Hammer and Rails (SB Nation Purdue community), Off Tackle Empire (SB Nation conference community), SB Nation Indiana, SB Nation team page, official team site, Bill Connelly's preview for SBN

Notable offensive prospects

Name POS Yr. Early projected Rd (notes)
Caleb TerBush QB RS Sr. UD


Notable defensive prospects

Name POS Yr. Early projected Rd (notes)
Kawann Short DT RS Sr. 1
Dwayne Beckford ILB RS Sr. 5
Ricardo Allen CB Jr. 5
Bruce Gaston DT Jr. 6
Will Lucas OLB Jr. UD


Summary

The real question for Purdue is what the hell they do at QB, with Caleb Terbush, the fleet footed Rob Henry and holy crap he's still playing college football Robert Marve.

Key games

Notre Dame (away) - Week 2 (Sat., Sep. 8 - 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

A week after Notre Dame opens their season against Navy.............in Ireland............in a rematch of the 1996 Emerald Isle Classic 16 years ago..........sorry, it's just so weird. Anyway, the Irish return to the States on the 8th with a Purdue game ahead of a crucial away match against Michigan State a week later. With Notre Dame's recruiting scaring the bejesus out of Rick Reilly, Purdue won't likely sneak away with their first Shillelagh Trophy since 2007 if they don't get it here.

Penn State (home) - Week 10 (Sat., Nov. 3 - TBD)

With a pair of away games before this game and a second after, this stretch is crucial for Purdue. The lone home game from Oct. 14 to Nov. 23, Purdue won't beat their .500 record against Big Ten competition from 2011 if they don't get the win against Penn St.

Key matchups

DT Kawann Short v. Wisconsin C Travis Frederick, Week 7 - Sat., Oct. 13

Even if Purdue slides Short over against to avoid Frederick, he'll impress if he can produce against one of the better O-lines in the country.

DE Ryan Russell v. Ohio St. OT Reid Fragel, Week 8 - Sat., Oct. 20

Russell had an impressive freshman season for the Boilermakers. Expectations should be raised though this year given his production in 2011 and his size (6'5", 275 lbs.). Fragel's a quality RT who should challenge Russell throughout the game.

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