Purdue is young. Very young. They have a coach, Darrell Hazell, in his first year with the program. They’re playing a true freshman quarterback in Danny Etling. On top of which, Etling only took over as a starter October 12, when the Boilermakers faced Nebraska.
They’ve had games where they’ve started 8 underclassmen on offense. Two of their top three rushers, Dalyn Dawkins and B.J. Knauf, are freshman. Their top receiver, at least in terms of yards, is freshman DeAngelo Yancey.
Their leading tackler? He’s a sophomore named Anthony Brown.
Fifty-two players on their 112-man roster are either true freshman (29) or redshirt freshman (23), and they’ve hit the road this season with as many as thirty-four underclassmen on their travel roster.
That being said, it’s sometimes hard to predict what you’ll get from Purdue from week to week. They only lost to Notre Dame 31-24, and in their most recent game, fell at Michigan State 14-0. However, they were also hammered 55-24 by Northern Illinois and 44-7 by Nebraska.
They were making some fairly significant changes to their defensive schemes as recently as that Cornhuskers loss. They’ve been trying to cut back on their offensive playbook because of their youth on that side of the ball.
What we do know for sure is that they are they are hard at work searching for answers.
They are averaging a mere 13.1 points per game, and have been a little more effective passing than running. Coach Hazell says their offensive line is assignment sound, but they have to create bigger running lanes. Akeem Hunt, who is a more than decent contributor on special teams, averages 3.7 yards a carry. He’s still looking for the end zone as a rusher, though.
As mentioned, their biggest receiving threat is Yancey. His 146-yard day against Nebraska was the second-best ever by a Boilermakers frosh. (Taylor Stubblefield had 196 in a game in 2001.) They’ll use Hunt and tight end Justin Sinz in the pass game as well.
Defensively, Purdue gives up an average of 34.4 points every time out. They aren’t getting as much pressure as they’d like, recording just 10 sacks this season. Illinois is the only Big Ten team with fewer. They allow teams to convert on nearly 47 percent of their third downs. They have only forced ten turnovers all year.
The Buckeyes face the Boilermakers this Saturday on 97.1 The Fan.