won just two games last season, posting one of the worst records by a Power Five team. Darrell Hazell is squarely on the hot seat entering this season, and the prospects for considerably better results don't look that promising. Purdue does return 16 starters, but the life in the is never easy.
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Previewing Purdue’s Offense for 2016
Overall, the Boilermakers return seven offensive starters from a team that finished ninth in Big Ten scoring (25.1 ppg), 11th in total offense (368.6 ypg), 13th in rushing offense (131.3 ypg) and fifth in passing offense (237.3 ypg).
Sophomore David Blough took over at quarterback in Week 4 of the 2015 season and passed for 1,574 yards in eight starts. But the native of Texas was 1–7 in those starts, and redshirt freshman Elijah Sindelar was pushing him in spring practice.
Purdue’s backfield will feature sophomore Markell Jones, Indiana’s 2014 Mr. Football who rushed 168 times for 875 yards and 10 touchdowns as a freshman. Junior D.J. Knox, who rushed for 409 yards in 2015, went down with a knee injury in the spring and could miss extensive time — if not the entire season. Bruising redshirt freshman Richie Worship, who is 6'1" and weighs 252 pounds, was impressive in spring practice.
The receiving corps will be led by senior DeAngelo Yancey, who had 48 receptions for 700 yards and five touchdowns last season, and seniors Cameron Posey and Domonique Young. The fourth receiver should be either junior Gregory Phillips or fifth-year senior Bilal Marshall. While experienced, the receiving corps isn’t likely to be spectacular and needs Yancey to become a playmaker.
There is experience among the offensive linemen, but only Penn State did a worse job of protecting its quarterback in the Big Ten. Right tackle Cameron Cermin and guards Jordan Roos and Jason King return.
Previewing Purdue’s Defense for 2016
, which includes an in-depth look at all 14 teams, features and predictions for the upcoming season.
Senior tackle Jake Replogle (14 tackles for a loss in 2015) will lead the Boilermakers’ 4-3 defense that ranked near the bottom of the Big Ten in most key categories. Senior Evan Panfil and junior Gelen Robinson return as starting ends but leave a lot to be desired from a pass-rushing standpoint. Sophomore tackle Eddy Wilson was impressive in the spring and is expected to start after Ra’Zahn Howard decided not to return to the team in 2016.
Linebacker is the strength of the defense and may be the program’s most talented overall position group, led by middle linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, who made 49 tackles in the five games before sustaining a season-ending knee injury. Danny Ezechukwu and Jimmy Herman return outside. Andy James Garcia also returns after recording 63 tackles stepping in for Bentley.
The secondary, with the exception of returning strong safety Leroy Clark, could cause sleepless nights for the coaching staff. Starting corners Anthony Brown and Frankie Williams are gone and will likely be replaced by junior Da’Wan Hunte and sophomore Tim Cason. But redshirt freshman Evyn Cooper impressed coach Darrell Hazell and his staff in the spring and will push for one of the corner spots, as could junior Myles Norwood.
Previewing Purdue’s Specialists for 2016
Sophomore punter Joe Schopper was a pleasant surprise, averaging 40.2 yards on 58 punts. Placekicking duties are wide open and could go to incoming freshman J.D. Dellinger. Kick returning is another area of concern now that Williams and Danny Anthrop have exhausted their eligibility. Hazell hopes to find some kick return candidates from among the 23 new recruits.
Unless something surprising happens, Purdue will struggle to win more than four games this season. Purdue is 6–30 overall and 2–22 in the Big Ten under Hazell, and he’s never stuck with a quarterback for even half a season. Purdue just does not have the talent to win on a consistent basis in a loaded Big Ten. It could be a long fall for the Boilermakers, and perhaps Hazell’s last at Purdue.