Welcome to The Ciskie Blog's 2008 College Football Preview. As usual, you can expect a rundown of every Division I-A (or "Football Bowl Subdivision", if you prefer) conference, as well as a brief look at the independents. Some of the information used to compile these previews came from various football preview publications that I took the time to review this summer. I give a full endorsement to Phil Steele's College Football Preview (the national edition, as well as his various regional magazines). I also have looked at Sporting News, Athlon Sports, and Blue Ribbon (via ESPN Insider). Information was also gathered from local newspapers and school websites. Please use the comments section or e-mail for feedback, questions, and any corrections you feel need to be noted.
Last year: 8-5 overall, 3-5 Big Ten (T-7th)
Postseason: Beat Central Michigan, 51-48, in Motor City Bowl
In good shape
Defensive front. I like what Purdue brings to the table in the front seven. Yes, they lost their sack leaders from a team that generated practically nothing for pass rush all season. However, junior end Keyon Brown played well in the bowl game, tackles Ryan Baker and Alex Magee hold up well, and senior LB Anthony Heygood is set for a breakout season. The Boilermakers should be inspired to play well this year, knowing it's the last for head coach Joe Tiller. The 12th year boss is stepping aside after this season, and former Eastern Kentucky coach Danny Hope has already been tabbed as his successor. Hope will coach an offensive line that should also be very good this year, as both starting tackles return. Senior LT Sean Sester is a solid candidate for All-Big Ten honors when the season ends.
Passing game. Yes, Curtis Painter is a solid quarterback. He's improved his accuracy, cut down on his interceptions, and did throw for nearly 3,900 yards last year. However, there are issues. Painter is still inconsistent with his accuracy. He's the exact opposite of mobile. Oh, and there's the fact that four of his top five receivers from last year are gone. Dorien Bryant and Dustin Keller were the big targets, as they take 155 catches and 15 touchdowns with them. Will Painter revert back to his mistake-prone mode without familiar targets to throw to? Can Purdue establish a solid balance to their offense, or will he have to do it all himself?
Tiller's won 83 games at Purdue, and while he won't stick around long enough to hit 100, he could conceivably hit 90 this year if things go well. Painter needs to continue to improve, new receivers have to fill some huge holes on the perimeter of this offense, and Kory Sheets has to combine with Jaycen Taylor to be a threat on the ground more often. If these things happen, Purdue will easily hit last year's average of 34 points per game, and it will be up to a defense missing five key players from last year to build on that. Worth noting is that Purdue scored just short of 19 points per game in their five losses, two touchdowns below the season average. It's a small sample, but it shows that Painter will probably continue to struggle against good defenses.
Because of that, Purdue's defense has to step up. They have tools like Heygood and Magee, but there is still work to be done in the secondary. As good as Purdue has been over the years in the spread offense, they really have a hard time defending it (see: "Lefevour, Dan"). Purdue will probably be in line for a fringe bowl once again, but they could rise up the standings if everything comes together for them.