(Editor’s note: With the season fast approaching, we want to take some time to familiarize ourselves with each of Indiana’s opponents this fall. This week, that’s exactly what we’ll do. Contributors from every SB Nation Big Ten team site have offered overviews of their respective programs, and we’ll run through each school in the order in which they appear on IU’s schedule.)
Up last: Purdue
Purdue - Hammer and Rails (Travis Miller)
List your team’s key departures (name, position, role)
- Brycen Hopkins - TE drafted by the Rams
- Markus Bailey - LB, Drafted by the Bengals
List your team’s key returnees (name, position, role)
- Rondale Moore - Receiver/returner/All-American badass
- Lorenzo Neal - DT, missed all of last season due to torn ACL
- David Bell - WR, Freshman All-American
- Grant Hermanns - LT, 5th year senior and four year starter.
List a few true freshmen or transfers that will make an instant impact (name, position, role)
- Tyler Coyle (UConn transfer safety)
- Greg Long (OL transfer from UTEP)
- Gus Hartwig, 4 star offensive lineman from Zionsville
- DaMarcus Mitchell (LB) and Geovante Howard (CB), JuCo transfers
Brief overview of 2020 team (a couple paragraphs about expectations, how you think they’ll perform):
Purdue was an extremely young team last year and had to play a lot of freshmen because of injuries. I believe at one point freshmen scored something like 17 straight touchdowns. We were also starting freshmen at QB, RB, WR, S, CB, and more. I feel this is a year of maturation. Our 2019 and 2020 recruiting classes were the best they have been in years and they will form a base for what I think is a real breakthrough in 2021.
What’s your team’s biggest strength?
Wide receiver. We have an embarrassment of riches there. Rondale Moore and David Bell are just the beginning. Purdue can legitimately go 7-8 deep in terms of either experience (fifth year seniors Jared Sparks and Jackson Anthrop) or highly rated talent (freshmen Maliq Carr and Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen).
What’s your team’s biggest weakness?
Offensive line has been an issue the entire Brohm era. They need to be shored up and protect whoever wins the QB derby. Also, doe someone separate themselves from Jack Plummer, Aidan O’Connell, and Austin Burton at QB? If one of those guys does and the line holds up, Purdue can fling the ball all over the field. At that point Rondale would just make the offense absolutely lethal.
How does your fanbase feel about your coach and his staff?
Pretty good so far. Brohm has been up and down. He has some great highs like beating the brakes off of Ohio State. He also has had some really curious losses to Rutgers, Eastern Michigan, and Nevada. Five times in the last two years Purdue has lost on the very last snap of the game. That’s a lot of narrow losses where it has just missed an even better record.
Who is your team’s MVP this season and why?
David Bell. He is a stud and if Rondale does come back that dup will absolutely torment Big Ten secondaries.
Predict your team’s record, its best win, and a potential surprise loss
I am think 5-3 with a season opening upset of Iowa. Brohm has done very well against the Hawkeyes and Ferentz’s conservative nature does not do well against him. As for curious loss, I will pick Illinois. We played an awful game against them last year and I feel like we should beat them, but are they really getting better under Lovie?
What else should we know about your team this year?
I forgot to mention George Karlaftis, another freshman All-American and general terror at defensive end. If anything, I think he will be better in year two as the game slows down for him.