Blue Ribbon College Football Forecast--Purdue
The following is an EXCLUSIVE excerpt from Brassey's Inc.'s "Blue Ribbon College Football Forecast" profile for Purdue. We've included an excerpt of our position analyses, as well as of our "Blue Ribbon Analysis" for the upcoming season. For much more detail on your team and the 116 other Division I-A teams, purchase the "Forecast" today--see below for ordering information!
Hance, a red-shirt freshman last year, started the season in fine fashion, scoring on a 1-yard run to end the first drive of his collegiate career in Purdue's season-opening 19-14 win at Cincinnati. He followed that with a 21-for-37 outing with 252 yards and two touchdown passes against Akron, and then engineered the shocking comeback at Minnesota, a game in which he also threw for 306 yards and three touchdowns.
However, his completion percentage started to tumble and the interceptions started to pile up, and in the passing-oriented Tiller offense, that's not going to get it done for long. In Week 8 he was yanked during a three-interception afternoon at Ohio State, and the next week he was pulled for good midway through a victory over Michigan State.
Tiller decided it was time to sink or swim with sophomore Kyle Orton (6-4, 209) who started the final three games of his freshman year and seemingly fit right in with the frenzied offensive attack. Even though the Boilermakers lost all three games, Orton piled up 178 attempts over that stretch, including a wild Sun Bowl in which he finished 38-for-74 (the most passes in NCAA bowl history) for 419 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.
Hance, who threw for 1,529 yards on 52.7 percent passing with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions as a freshman, announced before the Sun Bowl that he would transfer from Purdue, and has landed at Southern Cal. Meanwhile, Orton now wears the mantle of leadership that is expected of quarterbacks at Purdue.
"I'm not going to try to overdo the leadership role," Orton said before spring practice.
"I'm just going to try to do what I need to do to get better, and hopefully my teammates will follow that lead. If they see me as a leader, that's great, because the quarterback has to be a leader on the team.
"But I don't think I can go in and force myself to be a leader. I think my teammates have to accept me as a leader, and hopefully I can do what I need to do to show them that I can lead the team."
Orton finished the year with 1,105 yards passing, four touchdowns, seven interceptions, and a .495 completion percentage-and that 0-3 record as a starter. But one factor in those numbers could have been a second-degree sprain of the shoulder he suffered against Notre Dame. He rehabbed over the winter, however, and didn't need surgery, and followed that with a strong showing in spring practice.
"This spring I think I improved drastically as a quarterback," Orton told the Lafayette Journal and Courier. "The reads I'm making, and my ability to put us in the right protections and the right running plays, are night and day compared to last season. And I think my accuracy has improved drastically this spring. That was a main point we wanted to emphasize."
Orton showed off that improved accuracy in the annual Black and Gold game when he finished 18-for-24 for 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Blue Ribbon Analysis
For the second straight season, a new quarterback will have to get used to Tiller's fast-paced attack, but at least this year Orton has some experience behind him, plus a veteran line and a talented corps of receivers.
On defense, there's much to be desired up front, but the back seven will rank with the best in the Big Ten.
There's bound to be some drop off in the kicking game, as Dorsch was among the most feared weapons in the conference. But Tiller hasn't had a bummer of a season yet at Purdue, and there's nothing here to suggest that his bowl streak will be snapped at five years.
To see moreincluding a detailed position-by-position analysis of every single teampick up the "Blue Ribbon College Football Forecast." For more information or to order click on the link to the left. Use our 800-number (1-800-775-2518) and mention Code BRFW to get a 20 percent discount!