Football Game Notes - at Cincinnati

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM First year head coach Darrell Hazell has his Boilermakers ready to take on Cincinnati on Saturday at noon ET.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
First year head coach Darrell Hazell has his Boilermakers ready to take on Cincinnati on Saturday at noon ET.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

Aug 26, 2013

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The Game: The Boilermakers kick off the Darrell Hazell era with an Aug. 31 trip to Nippert Stadium to take on the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Bearcats will also break in a new coach as Tommy Tuberville takes the reigns. The meeting is the second between the two schools, with Purdue winning the first matchup 19-14 on Sept. 2, 2001, in the first advance sell-out in Nippert Stadium history. The noon game will be televised on ESPNU with Eamon McAnaney calling the play-by-play and Anthony Becht serving as analyst. Tim Newton will handle the play-by-play on the Purdue Sports Properties radio broadcast with Pete Quinn at his side. Kelly Kitchell will join the crew from the sideline.

HEAD COACH Darrell Hazell: Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell (Muskingum, 1986) is in his first year as the head coach of the Boilermakers after being named the school's 35th head coach on Dec. 5, 2012. Hazell spent the previous two seasons as the head coach at Kent State where he led the Golden Flashes to a 16-10 overall record. The 2012 MAC Coach of the Year led the team to a school-record 11 wins and its first bowl appearance in 40 years. Prior to Kent State, Hazell spent seven years on staff at Ohio State and has also been an assistant coach at Rutgers, West Virginia, U.S. Military Academy, Western Michigan, Pennsylvania, Oberlin College and Eastern Illinois.

CINCINNATI: Tommy Tuberville begins his 18th season as a head coach and his first at the University of Cincinnati. The Bearcats are coming of a 10-3 season that was capped by a 48-34 win over Duke in the Belk Bowl. Two quarterbacks return that started last season with Munchie Legaux (120-230-9) and Brendon Kay (87-138-2). Legaux is also the team's second-leading returning rusher from the 2012 squad and ran for 335 yards and four scores. The team placed four players on watch lists with Tony Miliano on the Lou Groza (top kicker), Greg Blair on the Bronko Nagurski (top defensive player) and Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year), and Austen Bujnoch and Eric Lefeld on the Outland Trophy list (top interior offensive lineman).

THIS DATE IN BOILERMAKER HISTORY: Purdue is 1-2 all-time on Aug. 31. In 1985, the Boilermakers, coached by Leon Burtnett, lost at Pittsburgh, 31-30. Jim Colletto's Boilermakers lost in the 1996 season-opener at Michigan State, 52-14. Joe Tiller coached the program to a 51-10 win in 2002 over Illinois State. Kyle Orton threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns while Joey Harris rushed for 144 yards and two scores in the win.

Season openers: Purdue is 74-45-6 (.616) all-time in season openers. The team has won two-straight and eight of the last nine, including last year's 48-6 victory over Eastern Kentucky. The Boilermakers are 11-25-3 in season-openers on the road. The last time they opened on the road was Sept. 4, 2010, at Notre Dame and the Irish won 23-12. First-time head coaches are 18-16 in their openers for Purdue, including a 2-9 record when the first game is on the road.

AGAINST THE AAC: The American Athletic Conference is in its first year since changing from the Big East. The Boilermakers have never lost to a team that is currently in the AAC and is 4-0-2 all-time. Purdue is 2-0 against UCF, 1-0 vs. Cincinnati, 0-0-1 vs. Louisville and 1-0-1 against SMU. Future Big Ten member Rutgers is in the AAC this season, though the Boilermakers have never faced the Scarlet Knights.

CAPTAINS' CORNER: The team and coaching staff voted for captains on Thursday, Aug. 22 and named Ricardo Allen, Bruce Gaston and Rob Henry the leaders of the 2013 squad. Head coach Darrell Hazell specified that three players would be nominated and that they all must be seniors with one from offense and defense and the next highest vote-getter.

TOUGH SCHEDULE: Darrell Hazell's tenure as Purdue's head coach starts off with arguably one of the toughest schedules in not only the Big Ten, but also the country. The Boilermakers face four teams that are ranked in the preseason AP poll and four more that are receiving votes. Four of the five road games in the 2013 season are against ranked or teams receiving votes. Purdue opponents combined for a 96-56 record in 2012 and made it to three BCS bowls including the National Championship. The 96 wins by opponents are tied for the third most of any team's opponents and the three BCS bowls is tied for the most in the nation. Purdue plays these three BCS bowl teams in consecutive weeks - Notre Dame (9/14), at Wisconsin (9/21) and Northern Illinois (9/28).

BACK-TO-BACK BOWLS: With last season's berth in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, the Boilermakers made it to the post-season in consecutive years for the first time since 2006-07. The quest for the trifecta begins at Cincinnati and would be the first time Purdue has made a bowl in three-straight seasons since the 2002-04 seasons. The Boilermakers went to eight-straight bowls from 1997-2004 which is a program record.

"211 SESSION": The football team has created a new tradition beginning this season. The session is a major pep-rally hosted inside Mackey Arena for all home games. The 211 session will begin two hours and 11 minutes prior to kickoff and features the "All-American" Marching Band, head coach Darrell Hazell, the team, the cheerleaders and Purdue Pete. The event is designed for fans to have a personal connection with the team and create tremendous excitement heading into the game. The session is named such because at 211° water is hot, but at 212° water boils and produces steam which can power an engine. The excitement from the event will help the atmosphere `rise one degree' and make Ross-Ade Stadium, now nicknamed "The Furnace," a very difficult place for opponents to play.

WATCH LISTED: Four Boilermakers have been named to preseason watch lists for the 2013 season. Senior corner back Ricardo Allen is on the Jim Thorpe Award (best all-around athlete) and Bronko Nagurski Award (top defensive player) watch lists. Senior tight end Gabe Holmes was named to the John Mackey Award (top tight end) watch list while junior running back Akeem Hunt is on the Paul Hornung Award (most versatile player) list. Senior punter Cody Webster was named to the Ray Guy Award (top punter) watch list.

TALE OF TURNOVERS: Turnovers proved to be a strong outcome indicator during the 2012 season. Purdue was 2-6 when it did not have more takeaways than its opponent, including a 2-5 record when the Boilermakers turned the ball over more than their opponent. When Purdue had more takeaways, the Old Gold and Black were 4-1 with the lone loss coming in overtime. When the Boilermakers did not come up with a takeaway, they were 1-3.

HENRY'S HERE, AGAIN: Fifth-year senior Rob Henry was named the team's starting quarterback after fall camp. Henry was tabbed the team's signal caller in 2011 before a knee injury one week before the opener forced him to miss the entire season.  The two-time team captain also was forced into action as a redshirt freshman in 2010, after a slew of injuries at the position, and appeared in 11 games including seven starts. That season, Henry became the first player in Purdue history to lead the team is passing (996 yds) and rushing (547 yds). He appeared in 11 games last season and threw for 216 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 74 yards and a score. Henry has 107 career completions which is just 71 shy of top-20 in Purdue history.

READING BETWEEN THE LINES: The Boilermakers return 39 starts on the offensive line and 34 on the defensive line from last season. The offensive line helped Purdue rush for 2,165 yards in 2012 while the defensive line starters from last year return 18.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. Sophomore center Robert Kugler looks to lead the offensive line which returns five players with starting experience from a year ago. Senior defensive tackle Bruce Gaston and junior defensive end Ryan Russell return with 14 tackles for loss and four sacks combined from last year to lead the defense while Ryan Isaac and Jalani Phillips also have starting experience.

DANGEROUS DUO: Akeem Hunt and Raheem Mostert are one of the most dangerous kick return duos in the country. Mostert was the NCAA FBS return leader as a freshman in 2011 with a 33.5 yards per return average (25-837). He had four returns of 71 yards or more, including a 99-yard touchdown against Western Michigan in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Hunt had 867 return yards last season, including a 100-yard return touchdown at Ohio State.

END ZONE ALLEN: Ricardo Allen has a knack for finding the end zone. The senior corner back has four interceptions returned for touchdowns which is a school record and currently leads all active players. He is just one pick-six away from tying the NCAA record of five which is held by Darrent Williams who played at Oklahoma State from 2001-04.

AIR DEFENSE: The Boilermakers picked off 14 passes last year including three returned for touchdowns which is a program record. Returning players had 10 of those interceptions led by Landon Feichter's four, which tied for the Big Ten's best.

YARDS PER CARRY: The 2012 Purdue Boilermakers averaged 4.6 yards per carry which is the sixth-best average in program history. Akeem Hunt was a large part of that success as he had 42 carries for 335 yards, an average of 8.0 yards per carry. Hunt will have a chance to build on that number as he is this season's starting running back after the graduation of Akeem Shavers and Ralph Bolden.

BABY BOILERS: There are 52 freshmen, 29 true and 23 redshirt, on the Purdue roster for the 2013 season. In comparison, there are 17 sophomores, 21 juniors and 22 seniors. Student-athletes with freshman eligibility make up 46.4% of the 112-player roster.

REBUILDING THE STABLE: The Boilermakers need to replace running backs Ralph Bolden and Akeem Shavers who both graduated last season. The duo rushed 235 times for 1,226 yards (5.2 avg) and six touchdowns in 2012. While Akeem Hunt looks to get the majority of the reps, junior Brandon Cottom had 23 carries last year for 209 yards (9.1 avg) and two touchdowns, including an 87-yard score against Eastern Michigan and will help carry the load. A handful of other players may also be called upon including freshmen Robert Gregory (RS) and Dalyn Dawkins.

BOILERMAKER DEPOT: For all information regarding the activities on campus during game week, fans have a one-stop spot for it all. The "Boilermaker Depot" lists all the happenings on and around campus for the excitement leading up to each big game. It can be accessed by going to BoilermakerDepot.com.

IRON MEN: Junior defensive end Ryan Russell has 24 career starts including 16 straight. Senior defensive tackle Bruce Gaston also started all 13 games last year and has 32 total for his career, the second most on the team. Junior safety Landon Feichter has 14 starts including 13 consecutive. Junior safety Taylor Richards has 13 career starts and they were all last season. Junior linebacker Joe Gilliam is the only other returning Purdue defender to start all 13 games last year and he has 14 total for his career. Senior corner back Ricardo Allen started 11 games last season and as 36 total for his career to lead the team. Senior wide receiver Gary Bush is the only returning player on offense who started all 13 games last year. He has 14 straight starts and 16 total.

TAILGATE ON THE CIRCLE: Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis will be painted Old Gold and Black on Friday, Aug. 30, for the Boilermaker Tailgate on the Circle. The event is a pep rally for thousands of Purdue fans from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and will serve as a send-off for the team on its way to Cincinnati. The entire team will stop by on its way through the city and be greeted by fans, cheerleaders, Purdue Pete, a pep band, the World's Largest Drum and the Boilermaker Special. Numerous Purdue icons are scheduled to be in attendance including Athletics Director Morgan Burke, University President Mitch Daniels, former basketball star Robbie Hummel and former Purdue Golden Girl and Miss Indiana, MerrieBeth Cox, among several others. Any and all Purdue fans are encouraged to attend.

BOILERS HEADED WEST: Following the 2013-14 academic year, the Big Ten Conference welcomes the University of Maryland and Rutgers University to join the league. The addition of the two schools will give the Big Ten 14 teams and will mark the end of the `Legends' and `Leaders' divisions in football. The conference redivided its teams into new `East' and `West' divisions and the Boilermakers will be joined by Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin in the West. In the East division are Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers. Purdue's Old Oaken Bucket Rivalry with Indiana is the only protected crossover game and will continue to take place at the end of each season.

DEN OF DEFENSIVE ENDS: Purdue has a longstanding history of producing elite defensive ends. Among the greats are Rosevelt Colvin and Chike Okeafor from the late 1990s, Akin Ayodele, Shaun Phillips, Ray Edwards and Rob Ninkovich from the early 2000s, and Anthony Spencer, Cliff Avril and most recently Ryan Kerrigan, all since 2006. Leo Sugar, Keena Turner and Lamar Lundy are also in the club. Junior Ryan Russell wants to continue making his case for a spot among the elite this season. Through their first two seasons, Russell and Kerrigan's numbers are very similar.

Player

Tackles

TFL

Sacks

FF

FR

Kerrigan

74

12.5

8

2

0

Russell

70

13

5

3

3


FROM MAC TO B1G:
Five of the 12 head coaches in the Big Ten Conference have been a head coach in the Mid-American Conference at some point in their careers. Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell is the latest to join the club as he came to the Boilermakers from Kent State (2011-12). Ohio State's Urban Meyer coached at Bowling Green (2001-02), Illinois' Tim Beckman came from the University of Toledo (2009-11), Minnesota's Jerry Kill made the switch from Northern Illinois (2008-10) and Michigan's Brady Hoke began his head coaching career at Ball State (2003-08). Some of the Big Ten and country's most successful coaches began in the MAC including Alabama's Nick Saban (Toledo, 1990), former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes (Miami, 1949-50) and former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler (Miami, 1963-68) among many others.

BOILERS IN BLACK: When Purdue takes the field against Cincinnati on Saturday, the Boilermakers will be wearing their home black jerseys. The Bearcats requested to wear all white for the game and Purdue agreed.

SELLOUT: The University of Cincinnati has reported that Saturday's game is sold out. The ticket office sold all of its 35,000 seats in advance of the game. The first time the Boilermakers played at Nippert Stadium, in 2001, was the first advance sellout in the stadium's history.