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OldGoldFreePress COLUMNISTS | BACK TO TexasBoiler'S COLUMNS

PURDUE SPORTS:
OGFP Update For 8-6-2004


30 Days to Home/Season Opener vs. Syracuse


Date: 8/09/2004
Author: TexasBoiler
Old Gold Free Press Columnists

    Hello again, everybody! The Old Gold Free Press Update is officially back after a 7 month hiatus. I'll have plenty of Purdue sports news and commentary for you in just a minute, but first...

    Please support today's sponsors:

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    KNUCKLEHEAD CHARITIES
    http://www.knuckleheadcharities.org

    Through the generous donations of Knuckleheads (if you did not know, "Knuckleheads" are Purdue fans, who according to Coach Tiller, spend too much time discussing Purdue sports on The Internet) over 100 underprivileged children from the Greater Lafayette area and other areas attended Purdue sports events last year. This year, with the tremendous contributions of corporate partners such as Cargill, 25 SEASON TICKETS will be purchased for the football season and plans are in the works to purchase season tickets for men's and women's basketball games also.

    Knucklehead Charities has been officially recognized by the IRS as an official tax exempt organization under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donors may deduct contributions to KHC as provided in section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code.

    If you or your company would like to be more involved, please contact one of the board members at the following link:

    http://www.knuckleheadcharities.org/Contact.htm

    ___________________________________

    Old Gold Free Press Update for 8-6-2004 -- 30 Days to Home/Season Opener vs. Syracuse

    To answer a question that some of you may have had about the status of this email newsletter report, the fact of the matter is that I've been heads down with work related stuff since the beginning of January. My hope is that I can continue to provide a weekly of the OGFP Update throughout the football and basketball seasons. The goal has always been to provide you with an excellent email source of Purdue sports news (mainly Purdue football and men's hoops) that helps you stay abreast of the latest developments, and as a result you may find yourself a bit more inspired to show up and make a difference at the games.

    In the interest of doing things more efficiently, I'm going to experiment with some new formats. So here is a first attempt, starting with a precise index of web links where you can find the most recent stories. I may still provide some quotes from articles at the FREE sites, but primarily I'm going to write my own summaries of the latest news and then give you my takes on what the news means from the standpoint of this diehard Purdue fan.

    Index of Links
    Lafayette Journal and Courier - http://www.boilerstation.com/index.shtml
    Purdue Athletic Department Site - http://purduesports.collegesports.com/
    Purdue Exponent - http://www.purdueexponent.org/interface/bebop/showstory.php?date=2004/08/02§ion=sports
    Indy Star - http://www.indystar.com/sports/boilers/
    Fort Wayne News Sentinel and Journal Gazette - http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/fortwayne/sports/
    Old Gold Free Press (MrGridiron and MrHoops message boards) - http://www.oldgoldfreepress.com/
    Gold and Black Illustrated (most articles require paid subscription) - http://www.purdue.rivals.com/
    Big 10 News at The Final Score - http://www.thefinalscore.net
    College Football News - http://www.collegefootballnews.com/big_ten/Big%20Ten.htm

    Since the last official Update on 12-30-2004, much has happened with the football program. After an amazing late comeback from a substantial early deficit in The Capital One Bowl, The Boilers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the final moments. One could blame the slow start on a number of things, but the bottom line is that no one not quit when we could have laid down against a team full of top 10 talent like Georgia. While the loss was certainly gut wrenching and shows that our program is not quite at that elite level of beating the top programs at neutral or away game sites CONSISTENTLY, I still get chills remembering the fight to the finish spirit of our coaches, players, and OUR FANS. It does not get much better than moments like this...the game is all but over as Georgia simply needs to run down the clock and get off a punt that should make it nearly impossible for the Boilers to get in field goal range to tie the game up in the final seconds. Inexplicably, rather than taking the conservative knee, Georgia's running back tried to waste some extra time and found himself rudely ransacked by Shaun Phillips. Not only did Phillips strip the ball but he also made the recovery. Absolute Boiler bedlam ensued in the stands. I don't think I've ever heard 20,000 plus Boiler fans (very few had left) rock a stadium like that in unison with a near perfect chant of "Let's Go Boilers".

    Before diving into a preview of this season's offense , I'd like to put a quick plug in to those who are still on the fence to buy season tickets, mini-season tickets (pick ANY 3 games but Ohio St. now), and perhaps single game tickets for the Syracuse opener and/or the Ball State game the following week. There are nice savings incentives to go with season or mini-season ticket plans, so check them out at:

    http://purduesports.collegesports.com/tickets/pur-tickets.html or call 1-800-49-SPORT

    http://purduesports.collegesports.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/073004aaa.html

    "Season tickets for the Boilermakers' six home games (Syracuse, Ball State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State and Indiana) are priced at $198 for the general public, $158 for Purdue faculty/staff and $78 for students. Family FanZone seats in the south end zone are priced at $90. Mini three-game packages are $105.
    Individual game tickets are $37 for Syracuse, Ball State and Wisconsin; $42 for Michigan, Ohio State and Indiana."

    The Syracuse game in particular is crucial as we only have approx 45,000 sold for that game right now (17.5k short of sellout), which includes about 37k season ticket holders. We are expecting about another 6.5k in season ticket sales with the students coming back soon but that still leaves us 11k short, which will not look good on ABC National TV (we are the only football game on TV that day) and could hurt us with a record number of recruiting prospects coming in town.

    Looking ahead to this season (practice starts on Monday!), everyone is talking about the return of a wide open, aerial circus orchestrated by Senior QB, Kyle Orton. Orton showed a toughness at The Outback Bowl that impressed nearly everyone who watched. After dislocating his thumb in the first half, #18 was back after a few series and almost led the team to an improbable come from behind victory a la Drew Brees. Not only is Orton a Heisman hopeful, but many NFL scouts have him projected as one of, if not the top QB prospect in next year's draft. Tiller has gone on record as saying that Orton will have every opportunity this year to overtake Brees's single season passing records. R-Soph Brandon Kirsch remains a stellar backup and will see time in mop up duty or if Orton gets hurt. It's possible that Chaney may use him from time to time as a WR or triple threat QB in short yardage situations. Orton's top target will be Taylor Stubblefield, who is only 30 catches away from shattering John Standeford's all time Big 10 receptions record. Stubby could easily catch 100 balls this year. In addition to Taylor (yes it's not "Tyler", Boob Davie!), look for 6-9 sophomore Kyle Ingraham to haul in over 60 balls this year as Orton's 2nd go to guy. Chaney has mentioned that Ingraham should have had more balls thrown his way last year as he's nearly an impossible matchup when the ball is placed correctly from Orton.

    Based on what we saw at The Spring Game, Ingraham is on the verge of an epic season. In one particular play, after a brilliant bubble screen pump fake from Orton, Ingraham caught a ball in stride and then proceeded to stiff arm then drag a DB about 10 yards into the end zone. Also in the mix at WR, will be a hopefully healthy burner named Ray Williams, who showed glimpses of his big play ability last season. He could be the HR guy, or we might see some of those duties shared by one or more of the following: R-FR Jake Cunningham (4.3 Vinny like speed), FR Dorien Bryant (huge recruiting get, 4.3 speed), and JUCO Brian Hare (6-3 with good hops and 4.4 speed). Hare has been said to be a sponge since the spring, putting major miles on his vehicle to get on campus and study the offense with Orton personally. JUCO WR Bruce Gordon was on hand this spring but injured both hammies and Tiller said this week that he still has not recovered. Look for guys like JR Kevin Noel, R-FR Byron Williams, and Soph Andre Chattams to provide quality depth in the rotation as well.

    The TE situation looks like this...JR Charles Davis had an excellent spring game catching balls from Kirsch, but there are still concerns about the consistency of his hands. The big news is that R-FR Dustin Keller is up to approx 240 lbs and has been impressive at times as he's transitioned to the TE position. The coaches love his attitude and athleticism, it's just a matter to getting him up to speed on the blocking schemes and routes at the position. Sophomore Garrett Bushong will be back also, but there is some speculation that he might redshirt. Another wildcard is incoming stud TE Ryan Baker, who chose Purdue over ND well past the signing day deadline. The euphoria that occured when the Indianapolis Chatard HS senior FINALLY said yes to Purdue, after originally committing to ND in January was one of the better message board days in Purdue Knucklehead history. Tiller said recently that Baker will get a serious look at TE on Monday before considering him for DE and/or a redshirt year.

    As much as Tiller says we're going to air it out this fall, it will be interesting how that affects a strong stable of RB's led by the now 215lb Jerod Void, who also has 4.4 speed. Not only should Void be stronger at breaking arm tackles but it has been reported that his field vision and cutting ability is improving as well. As if Void brings some new power for foes to deal with, there is also his backup battering ram in 225lb Brandon Jones. Jones is said to be healthier this summer than he has been in quite some time and we've seen some great things out of him a couple years ago as a receiver out of the backfield also. The scary part is that Jerome Brooks continues to impress with his shiftiness and we've got a nice trio of incoming freshman backs (Anthony Heygood, Chris Haslon, and Kory Sheets) one of which may be hard to keep off the field (Kory Sheets) according to Tiller. Heygood appears to be a taller version of Brandon Jones, while Sheets may be a more instinctive, faster version of Void.

    Rounding out this offensive preview is a look at the potential weakness of the group, and that is the offensive line. You don't lose an NFL starting center (that's right, word from Joe Tiller is that ChargerReport is saying that Hardwick has a great chance to start with Brees!) and backfill that very easily. R-FR Robbie Powell has had a chance to claim the position but there are some concerns that could lead to someone like former TE Jeff Bennett taking the spot or maybe Sr. Guard Matt Turner. Ideally, Matt Turner anchors a guard spot with Jr. Tyler Moore manning the other guard position. Behind them could be Sr. Danny May, Soph Uche Nwaneri, and incoming frosh power lifting stud, Jordan Grimes. One OT spot is well solidified with aspiring All American candidate, Mike Otto. Sr. David Owen appears to be a favorite for the other OT spot with guys like JR Brian Wang, R-FR Robbie Powell and possibly incoming frosh, Sean Sester or Zach Smith, getting some looks next week.

    Next week, I'll take a look at the defense and the special teams. Before I transition over to men's basketball, just wanted to provide a quick synopsis of football recruiting from the class that signed this past spring and for this next class that is developing over the summer. Overall, we are kicking arse in our home state where the talent has been outstanding over the last couple years. Guys like Mr. Football Desmond Tardy highlighted last year's class, despite a late charge from mighty Michigan. Tardy will convert to WR and likely redshirt, but man can this kid make people miss en route to 6 pts. QB Curtis Painter is said to have a rocket launcher for an arm and nice 4.6 speed to boot. LB Jimmy Ladd may compete for an OLB spot this year. Throw in the aforementioned Baker and Grimes, and DB Christian Graham and I think we had 6 of the top 10 players in the home state choose Purdue (though it appears that Christian Graham may not qualify academically this year, we shall see). And now with this year's class we've already got verbals from 5 of the top 10 kids in the state in QB Joey Elliot, RB Dray Mason, DE Michael Neal, LB Jason Werner, and DE/DT Jared Zwilling and we are in play with top WR Selmon Lywon, DE/DT JB Paxson among others. Going back to last year's class though, consider this, we got stud Punter/Placekicker Dave Brytus over Michigan, and the we got stud JUCO DE Jeremy Coley over a furious late charge from Nebraska, Baker chose us over ND, Tardy chose us over Michigan, Sheets chose us over a furious charge from Iowa, and the list goes on. Others to keep an eye on our LB's Cliff Avril, Luis Vasquez, and Dan Bick, as well as Texan QB/ATH David Ramirez, 4.3 speed DB/WR Fabian Martin, DB Torri Williams, WR Brandon Whittington, outsanding CB Zach Logan, and frankly the whole class (database is free with profiles at the Purdue Rivals site). Last year's class should be our best ever as this was under first year recruiting coordinator, Bob Debesse. We closed like champs on nearly every guy we fought for and the class was ranked #20 overall by Rivals.com. An excellent job by the staff indeed!

    So let's move on to men's basketball where last season ended with a thud after Chris Booker became ineligible, Kenny Lowe fought injuries once again, and the rest of the guys could not pick up the slack. Net, net we missed the NCAA tourney and lost in the first round to Notre Shame. Not to long after that chaos erupted in West Lafayette as Boiler fans discovered that Coach Keady would not be offered and extension on his contract past next season. Questions such as would Keady decide to leave for San Francisco University immediately, and if he did, who would replace him made for serious fodder around Boiler Nation. After a month or so, we got our answer as a succession plan was put in place with Coach Keady finishing out this last year as Head Coach with former player and Southern Illinois Head Coach, Matt Painter, coming on board as Associate Head Coach for this season. After this season, Coach Painter will become the new Head Coach of our men's hoops program. You can bet that those not too familiar with Coach Painter's recent sucess as a a coach and those who wanted to see a bigger name coach from another program take over the reigns were disappointed to say the least. This Knucklehead, on the other hand, fully endorses and embraces the decision that was made by our Athletic Dept. It seems like there is a good sized group who sees it somewhat similar to me or is willing to give this transition period a couple of years before calling it a terrible move at this juncture.

    What I like about the succession plan is that Coach Keady deservedly gets one final swan song year to leave the program better off than last year's disaster and who knows, the kids may be so motivated, that they actually win a Big 10 title or make a strong showing in the NCAA tourney. In addition, Coach will get all the accolades and appreciation from every Big 10 arena along the road and while he won't admit it probably, he will enjoy "the love" as Melvin Buckley would call it. Speaking of Buckley, he decided that Coach Martin was not showing him "the love" enough with the minutes, so he decided to transfer to South Florida or something like that. It is my sincere hope that we Boiler Diehards step it up in the tickets sales dept during Coach's last season. We may not have the most experienced or most talented team in the conference, but I expect us to restore the tradition of having the most consistently LOUD home court advantage in the league (as fans show up to pay tribute and give something back to Coach Keady).

    Another aspect of the succession plan that I like is that I see Matt Painter as a budding Tom Izzo. Some will call that comparison a major stretch, and yes at this point in time, it certainly is. However, Painter brings a youthful voracity to the recruiting trails and EVERYONE I've communicated with has nothing but high praise for Painter's genuine persistence and salesmanship. Couple that with an excellent x's and o's understanding of the game and what appears to be an ability to get the most out of today's younger players and that's why I draw the comparison. Together this summer, Painter and Asst Coach Cuonzo Martin have been virtually omnipresent at the summer league games of our top recruits. Though we lost out on top in state talent like center Luke Zeller (to ND) and point guard Dominic James (to Marquette), we have landed two very nice recruits already in point guard Korey Spates (runner up Mr. Bball in Ohio as a Jr. last year) who had offers from Cincinnati and Xavier and shooting guard Marcus Green who had offers from Marquette and Dayton. Spates is considered a top 50 overall player, and top 10 point guard by Bob Gibbons at HoopMasters. Green is said to be still developing but very athletic. Obviously, with 2 more spots to fill, one would hope that a 6-10 or taller center is high on the priority list. Painter appears to be keeping some things under wraps though, as hardly anyone knew about Spates when the decision came across the wire.

    Coach Painter has brought in one of his SIU assistants (Paul Lusk) to help with the transistion and Coach Lusk appears to be a strong recruiter as well. While I'm sad to see that Coach Tracy Webster became the odd coach out (he's now at Illinois), I can understand that Painter wanted to bring in someone he has had a strong working relationship with over the last couple of years. Also, in the transition, Todd Foster has been assigned to 1 year role as Director of Basketball Operations (a position most programs have that Purdue is experimenting with).

    That's about it for today, folks. Catch ya next week.

    -Barclay










As news organizations move their stories to an archive, some of the links listed above may become inactive

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