July 25, 2012

Opponent Preview: The Purdue Boilermakers

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With the Urban Meyer Era fewer than 50 days aways from kicking off in Columbus, we at Buckeye Grove- along with some help from our friends in the Rivals.com network- have decided to take an in-depth look at each of Ohio State's opponents for the 2012 season. Today, we'll be examining the Buckeyes' eighth opponent of the season: the Purdue Boilermakers. You can see yesterday's preview of the Indiana Hoosiers by clicking here.

Of the current Big Ten coaches, only three having winning records against Ohio State. Michigan's Brady Hoke and Nebraska's Bo Pelini each hold 1-0 marks against the Buckeyes, with each of their wins coming during OSU's 6-7 season in 2011.

The other coach to hold a winning record against the Buckeyes? That would be Purdue's Danny Hope, who has beat Ohio State in 2009 and 2011 after taking over the Boilermaker's program just three years ago.

The Buckeyes will get their chance for revenge against the team that has upset them in two of the last three seasons on Oct. 20, when Purdue travels to Columbus for a Big Ten Leaders division showdown.

Just who will be taking snaps for the Boilermakers on that day still remains to be seen, but Hope's staff certainly isn't lacking options. The No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart heading into fall camp will be Caleb TerBush, who threw for 1,905 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2011.

"TerBush is going to start camp as the No. 1, by virtue of the fact that he started every game last year and really didn't do anything to lose the job. He was good enough to win seven games for them," Brian Neubert of Gold & Black Illustrated said. "He's not the most exciting guy out there, but he doesn't make a lot of mistakes, he got better as the season went on, and he's just a guy I think they can count on."

Backing up TerBush is a player who Ohio State fans are familiar with in Robert Marve. Although injured for much of his career at Purdue, the Miami (Fl.) transfer still managed to lead the Boilermakers to their 26-23 overtime win over the Buckeyes last season.

"Marve is probably more talented. He hasn't been healthy ever in his career. He's had a couple knee injuries and what not. Last year, he certainly had moments. He kind of won the Ohio State game for them," Neubert said. "He led that late drive that sent the game to overtime, but at the same time, they had the chance to win the game in regulation and he threw a bad interception. That was kind of a microcosm of him. He can make the brilliant play, but he can also force things that shouldn't be forced."

Throwing a wrench into Purdue's quarterbacking plans is the return of Rob Henry, who started for the Boilermakers in 2010. Neubert said that Henry will find his way onto the field in 2012, but at which position remains to be seen.

"It stands for reason that it could be the case they will bring him in as their wildcat guy," Neubert said. "He's also athletic and fast enough where he could play receiver, he could play running back, so they might play him X number of snaps per game, sometimes at quarterback, but other times he could lineup all over the place."

Regardless of which quarterback is taking snaps for the Boilermakers, he'll be surrounded by a plethora of playmakers, including the MVP of last year's Little Caesars Bowl in running back Akeem Shavers. Joining Shavers on offense are receivers Antavian Edison and Raheem Mostert, and tight end Gabe Holmes.

"At receiver, their main guy is probably Antavian Edison, he's their slot guy, but he plays a lot on the outside too. He's small, but he's quick and fast. He's probably their most reliable guy and the most likely to make a big play," Neubert said. "They're going to utilize their tight ends. They're very high on Gabe Holmes, who's a junior...They seem to think he can be one of the better tight ends in the Big Ten."

The Purdue defense could look different than it has in past years with the addition of new defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar.

"Schematically, I think they're going to do some different things," Neubert said. "They're going to incorporate some 3-4 stuff, where historically they've been a 4-3 team. Under this new coordinator, I think they're going to try different front lines and different alignments. So we'll see how that works out."

One thing that the Boilermakers are sure of is the production that they'll get from defensive tackle Kawann Short. A potential future first round NFL draft pick, Short accounted for 6.5 sacks in 2011, and will be crucial to anything that Purdue does on the defensive side of the ball. What the Boilermakers can rely on outside of the 6-foot-3, 310-pound Short, remains to be seen.

"With Kawann Short being their best defensive player, he's a defensive tackle. He's going to draw double and triple teams, so I don't know if you could really rely on him to get after the quarterback," Neubert said. "Somebody's going to have to take advantage of all the attention that Kawann Short's getting."

Yet despite their returning talent and recent success against the Buckeyes, the Boilermakers will likely be underdogs when the enter Ohio Stadium this fall, and Neubert doesn't think it should be any other way.

"I don't know what they'd say in front of their locker room, but just the general expectation around Purdue, I'd have to say is any time you beat Ohio State, it's an upset," Neubert said. "It's like found money. It's just something that's great for the program, but I don't know if it really says anything about Ohio State that they've lost two games in three years to Purdue. You have to give Purdue credit for getting it done, but I don't think it's any sort of barometer to where the two programs are in relation to one another."

A kickoff time for the Oct. 20 battle between the Buckeyes and Boilermakers is yet to have been announced.

You can follow Gold & Black Illustrated on Twitter @goldandblackcom.


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