Football Prepares for Rice

Sept. 8, 1998

Purdue Boilermakers (0-1) vs. Rice Owls (1-0)

Ross-Ade Stadium (67,332) - West Lafayette, Indiana
September 12, 1998 - 11:10 a.m. EST


RADIO: WAZY (96.5 FM) / Purdue Sports Radio Network -- Joe McConnell (play-by-play), Pete Quinn (color commentary), Tim Newton (pregame/halftime/postgame)

TELEVISION: ESPN - Dave Barnett (play-by-play), Bill Curry (color commentary), Dave Ryan (sideline)

A LOOK AT THE BOILERMAKERS: The Purdue football team, under second-year head coach Joe Tiller, plays its first home game of the 1998 season against Rice in West Lafayette on Saturday, Sept. 12. The Boilermakers rose the curtain on the campaign with a hard-fought 27-17 loss to USC at the ninth-annual Pigskin Classic in Los Angeles on Aug. 30. Last season the Boilermakers enjoyed a storybook campaign by finishing 9-3 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten Conference for a second-place tie (with Ohio State and Penn State). Purdue defeated Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl 33-20 and was ranked No. 15 in the final Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today national polls.

HEAD COACH JOE TILLER: Joe Tiller is in his second season as Purdue's head coach with a 9-4 record (.692 winning percentage) and his eighth season as a collegiate head coach with a 48-34-1 record (.584). He is 22-6 in his last 28 games. Tiller was named the Boilermakers' 33rd head coach Nov. 22, 1996. He was the head coach at Wyoming from 1991-96 and compiled a 39-30-1 record. The Cowboys played in the 1993 Copper Bowl and reached the 1996 Western Athletic Conference championship game.

In 1997 Tiller was named National Coach-of-the-Year by both Football News and Kickoff magazines, the GTE Region 3 Coach-of-the-Year (Big Ten, Mid-American Conference and Conference USA) by the American Football Coaches Association and the Big Ten Dave McClain Coach-of-the-Year. He also was one of six finalists for the Paul "Bear" Bryant National Coach-of-the-Year and a finalist for National Coach-of-the-Year by The Sporting News. Tiller was assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Boilermakers from 1983-86.

HISTORY 101 -- ALL-TIME SERIES RECORD: Purdue and Rice have met twice previously with both teams winning one game. The Owls won 14-0 in West Lafayette on Oct. 6, 1934, while the Boilermakers won 24-0 in Houston on Oct. 4, 1958. The Boilermakers have not previously played a Western Athletic Conference school, but they are 4-1-1 record against schools currently in the WAC (2-0 vs. Texas Christian, 1-0-1 vs. Southern Methodist and 1-1 vs. Rice when all were members of the Southwest Conference). Purdue has a 6-3-1 record against schools from the state of Texas (2-0 vs. TCU, 1-0 vs. Baylor, 1-0 vs. Texas A&M, 1-0-1 vs. SMU, 1-1 vs. Rice and 0-2 vs. Texas).

A STRONG BREES: The temperature was 99 degrees (118 on the field) in Purdue's season opener at USC on Aug. 31, but a strong brees (as in quarterback Drew Brees) was blowing, as well. The sophomore from Austin, Texas, made his first collegiate start and completed 30 of 52 passes for 248 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He was named the Purdue Player-of-the-Game by ABC Sports, the Pigskin Classic Most Valuable Player by NACDA and the Big Ten Offensive Player-of-the-Week. As a freshman in 1997 Brees completed 19 of 43 passes for 232 yards with one interception and no touchdowns. At Westlake High School, Brees led his teams to a 28-0-1 record as a two-year starter.

1998 CAPTAINS: Purdue's captains this season are senior defensive end Rosevelt Colvin (left) and senior wide receiver Isaac Jones. In addition, one additional captain will be selected for each game - USC (John Reeves).

GAME 1 RECAP (USC 27, PURDUE 17): USC scored 20 unanswered points to come from behind and defeat the Boilermakers 27-17 in the ninth-annual Pigskin Classic in front of 56,623 fans and an ABC Sports national television audience at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on a 99-degree (118 on the field) Aug. 30.

Purdue built a 17-7 lead on the strength of two touchdown passes from Drew Brees, three yards to Gabe Cox and nine yards to Cliff Jackson, and a 37-yard field goal by Travis Dorsch. But the Trojans, under first-year head coach Paul Hackett, trimmed the deficit to 17-10 at halftime and outscored the Boilermakers 17-0 in the second half. Brees, making his first collegiate start, completed 30 of 52 passes for 248 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Isaac Jones equalled his career high of 10 receptions for a career-best 119 yards. J. Crabtree led the rushing attack with 12 carries for 49 yards. Willie Fells topped the team with 13 tackles, while Michael Hawthorne picked off his third career interception and broke up two passes. Danny Rogers punted five times for a 44.2-yard average, including a career-long 63-yarder. It marked the earliest season opener for Purdue in school history (previously Aug. 31 twice) and the first time the Boilermakers played on Sunday.

NEW FACES: Against USC, the Boilermakers had 10 players make their first collegiate start (seven on offense and three on defense), plus freshman kicker Travis Dorsch. In addition, defensive end Chike Okeafor made his first start since the 1996 season (he did not play in 1997).

MANY HANDS MAKE LIGHT WORK: A whopping 10 different players caught passes from quarterback Drew Brees against USC (Isaac Jones 10, Vinny Sutherland 4, Gabe Cox 3, Chris Daniels 3, A.T. Simpson 3, Chris Clopton 2, J. Crabtree 2, Cliff Jackson 1, Randall Lane 1 and Tim Stratton 1). Brees hooked up with seven different receivers in the first quarter alone. Last season the greatest number of different players to catch passes in a single game was eight on four occasions (vs. Wisconsin, vs. Penn State, at Indiana and vs. Oklahoma State).

THE OFFENSE LIKES IKE: Senior wide receiver Isaac Jones equalled his career high of 10 receptions for a career-best 119 yards at USC. He also caught 10 passes for 106 yards against vs. Penn State on Nov. 15, 1997. Jones has 81 career receptions and needs 29 to move into 10th place on Purdue's career list (Steve Bryant, 1980-81, 110).

THE BALL STOPS HERE: Junior linebacker Willie Fells was the Boilermakers' leading tackler last season with 131 stops (third in the Big Ten) en route to being named honorable mention all-conference. He picked up right where he left off this year at USC, pacing Purdue with 13 tackles, including 11 solos, for the eighth double-figure effort of his career (fifth in his last six games, dating to 1997). His career high is 20 tackles (15 solos) at Iowa on Nov. 1, 1997.

FROM "POOCH" TO "POP": In 1997 Danny Rogers was Purdue's "pooch punter" who specialized in directional punting deep inside opponents' territory (six of his 23 punts were downed inside the 20-yard line). This season Rogers is handling all the punting chores, and he had five boots for a 44.2-yard average, including a career-long 63-yarder, at USC. Rogers ranks fifth on Purdue's career punting average list at 38.5 (84 punts for 3,233 yards). Of his 84 career punts, 23 have come to rest inside the 20-yard line (27 percent).

DUH-DUH-DUH ... DUH-DUH-DUH (an attempt at the ESPN theme music): From 1985-96 the Boilermakers posted a 1-12 record in games televised by ESPN, with the only win a 27-10 verdict over Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 9, 1989. Last season Purdue was 2-1 on ESPN, defeating Northwestern 21-9 on Sept. 27 and Oklahoma State 33-20 in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30, while losing to Penn State 42-17 on Nov. 15.

A LOOK BACK AT A GREAT SEASON: In 1997 Purdue posted its first on-the-field winning season since the 1984 Boilermakers finished with a 7-5 record. (The 1994 team was awarded a forfeit victory over Michigan State to improve its record to 5-4-2.) Also last season the Boilermakers earned their first bowl berth since 1984 (Peach Bowl, 27-24 loss to Virginia) and were nationally ranked for the first time since 1984. Purdue's final ranking of No. 15 was its highest since 1979 (10th).

UPSIDE DOWN, TURNAROUND: The Boilermakers' 9-3 record a year ago (after going 3-8 in 1996) marked the second-best turnaround in the nation behind only Western Michigan (2-9 to 8-3) and coach Gary Darnell. Additionally, it was the second-greatest turnaround in school history behind the 1943 team that went 9-0 under coach Elmer Burnham (right) one year after the 1942 squad finished 1-8 under Burnham.

TROPHY TRIUMVIRATE: In 1997 the Boilermakers claimed victories in all of their traveling trophy games for the first time since the 1985 season. They defeated Notre Dame 28-17 for the Shillelagh, Illinois 48-3 for the Cannon and Indiana 56-7 for the Old Oaken Bucket. Purdue outscored its three rivals by a combined score of 132-27.

HIGH-OCTANE OFFENSE: Scribes and broadcasters were sent scrambling to their dictionaries and thesauruses to come up with words to describe the Purdue offense last season. When all the numbers were finally calculated the Boilermakers set school records with 396 points (33.0 per game) and 5,510 total yards (459.2 per game). The previous standards were 354 points in 10 games in 1969 (35.4 per game) and 5,269 total yards in 12 games in 1980 (439.1 per game). Purdue paced the Big Ten in passing yards (285.2 per game) and total offense and ranked seventh in the nation in total offense, 13th in passing and 22nd in scoring.

DRIVING MISS DAISY MR. TILLER: With apologies to Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy, the Boilermakers had six scoring drives of 90-plus yards and 14 scoring drives of 80-plus yards last season.

GETTING OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT: Purdue outscored its opponents by a 107-48 margin during the first quarter a year ago. The Boilermakers' most-productive quarter was the second (112).

DON'T FORGET THE DEFENSE: With all the hype about the Boilermakers' offense last season, it was easy to overlook a rather stingy defense. Purdue surrendered just 22.3 points per game to rank 46th in the nation. The last time the Boilermakers allowed fewer than 22 points was during the 1981 season (21.9).

PURDUE TAKETH AWAY: The Boilermakers led the Big Ten and ranked ninth nationally with a school-record +14 turnover margin last season. The previous standard was +11 in 1959. The Boilermakers finished with 12 fumble recoveries and 23 interceptions (second-highest total in school history behind the 27 in 1969). Purdue lost the turnover battle in only two games (2-1 at Toledo and 3-1 vs. Penn State).

TAKE HOME A SACK: The 1997 Boilermakers amassed 35 quarterback sacks (for -223 yards). The school record is 38 sacks by the 1989 squad. Junior right end Rosevelt Colvin led the way with 12.5 sacks (for -77 yards) to rank fourth in the Big Ten.

"QB" SCHOOL: Purdue has the reputation as one of the nation's premier quarterback schools. Previous signal-callers include Len Dawson (1954-56), Bob Griese (1964-66 - pictured at left), Mike Phipps (1967-69), Gary Danielson (1970-72), Mark Herrmann (1977-80), Scott Campbell (1980-83) and Jim Everett (1982-85). Dawson led the Kansas City Chiefs to a victory in Super Bowl IV and Griese won two Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins (VII and VIII).

According to research by Sports Illustrated, Purdue ranks fifth all-time among schools whose QB alums have thrown more than 10,000 passes in the NFL. The list includes Brigham Young (81.6 rating), Miami (77.3), Washington (76.9), Oregon (75.1) and Purdue (74.5). In addition, Purdue quarterbacks have thrown more NFL touchdown passes than QB's from any other school.

This Date In Purdue Football History (September 12)

Sept. 12, 1981 - Junior tailback Jimmy Smith stole the show as the Boilermakers, under fifth-year head coach Jim Young, opened the season with a 27-19 win over Stanford in front of 69,958 fans and an ABC national television audience at Ross-Ade Stadium. Smith returned a first-quarter kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown (tying a school record) and also rushed for two scores. He carried the ball 27 times for 91 yards. Stanford quarterback John Elway completed 33 of 44 passes for 418 yards.

Sept. 12, 1992 - Second-year head coach Jim Colletto and the Boilermakers rolled to a 41-14 victory over 17th-ranked California before a crowd of 44,838 at Ross-Ade Stadium. Purdue scored on all six of its first-half possessions en route to a 38-3 halftime advantage. Junior tailback Jeff Hill rushed 21 times for 106 yards and a touchdown and also caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Matt Pike. Hill was named the Big Ten Offensive Player-of-the-Week. Senior linebacker Eric Beatty was named the Big Ten and Sports Illustrated Defensive Player-of-the-Week after recording 20 tackles, including 16 solos, and recovering a fumble. It marked Purdue's first win over a Pac-10 team since the Sept. 12, 1981, verdict over Stanford.

Purdue Football Tentative Depth Chart For Rice


WR: 6 Isaac Jones, Sr., 6-0, 192, Wallingford, Pa. 14 Vinny Sutherland, So., 5-10, 188, West Palm Beach, Fla.

WR: 8 Gabe Cox, Sr., 5-10, 190, Tucson, Ariz. 20 Chris Daniels, Jr., 6-3, 202, Clearwater, Fla.

TE: 81 Chris Randolph, R-Fr., 6-5, 252, Memphis, Tenn. 89 Tim Stratton, R-Fr., 6-4, 234, Oak Brook, Ill.

LT: 78 Matt Light, So., 6-4, 283, Greenville, Ohio 55 Ian Allen, So., 6-4, 279, Fairburn, Ga.

LG: 73 David Cohen, Jr., 6-4, 299, Ballwin, Mo. 75 Aaron Starnes, Jr., 6-3, 289, Shawnee, Kan.

C: 63 Jim Niedrach, Jr., 6-3, 282, LaGrange, Ga. 72 Josh Kirkpatrick, R-Fr., 6-1, 268, Veedersburg, Ind.

RG: 56 Chukky Okobi, So., 6-2, 313, Hamden, Conn. 65 Pete VanderWeele, Sr., 6-5, 304, Fort Wayne, Ind.

RT: 77 Brandon Gorin, So., 6-6, 285, Muncie, Ind. 68 Kelly Kitchel, Fr., 6-6, 280, Walton, Ind.

WR: 84 Randall Lane, Jr., 6-1, 205, Chicago, Ill. 25 Cliff Jackson, Jr., 5-10, 178, Chico, Calif.

QB: 15 Drew Brees, So., 6-1, 212, Austin, Texas 10 David Edgerton, So., 6-2, 213, Liberty, Mo.

RB: 34 J. Crabtree, Jr., 5-9, 201, Wichita, Kan. 24 Dondre Johnson, R-Fr., 6-0, 213, Kokomo, Ind. 2 Chris Clopton, So., 5-7, 159, Lynwood, Ill. 16 Eric Haddad, Sr., 6-1, 235, Westlake, Ohio


LE: 54 Chike Okeafor, Sr., 6-5, 248, West Lafayette, Ind. 87 Rocco Foggio, So., 6-4, 276, Farmington, Mich.

LT: 42 Brent Botts, So., 6-3, 264, Cincinnati, Ohio 98 Matt Mitrione, R-Fr., 6-3, 286, Springfield, Ill.

RT: 82 David Nugent, Jr., 6-5, 291, Collierville, Tenn. 90 Derrick Williams, Jr., 6-4, 297, Houston, Texas

RE: 59 Rosevelt Colvin, Sr., 6-3, 248, Indianapolis, Ind. 58 Warren Moore, So., 6-2, 263, Memphis, Tenn. WLB: 35 Lee Johnson, Sr., 6-0, 230, Palatka, Fla. 23 Willie Burroughs, Sr., 5-11, 225, Punta Gorda, Fla.

MLB: 40 Willie Fells, Jr., 6-1, 225, Palatka, Fla. 88 Jason Loerzel, R-Fr., 6-3, 212, Park Ridge, Ill.

SLB: 4 Mike Rose, Jr., 6-1, 238, Dayton, Ohio 3 John Reeves, Sr., 6-4, 227, Bradenton, Fla.

LCB: 11 Michael Hawthorne, Jr., 6-3, 195, Sarasota, Fla. 27 Henry Bell, Sr., 5-11, 180, Los Angeles, Calif.

FS: 5 Billy Gustin, Sr., 6-2, 196, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 22 Lamar Conard, Jr., 5-10, 200, Elkhart, Ind.

SS: 7 Adrian Beasley, Jr., 6-0, 194, Atlanta, Ga. 37 Todd Stelma, Sr., 5-11, 192, Goshen, Ind.

RCB: 33 Da'Shann Austin, Jr., 5-10, 179, Liberty, Mo. 22 Lamar Conard, Jr., 5-10, 200, Elkhart, Ind.


Punter: 26 Danny Rogers, Jr., 5-10, 205, Sanibel, Fla. 2 Scott Kurz, R-Fr., 6-1, 187, Bloomington, Ill.

Field Goal, 30 Travis Dorsch, Fr., 6-6, 192, Bozeman, Mont. PAT Kicks: 2 Scott Kurz, R-Fr., 6-1, 187, Bloomington, Ill.

Long Snapper: 60 Andy Standifer, So., 6-1, 207, North Judson, Ind.

Holder: 26 Danny Rogers, Jr., 5-10, 205, Sanibel, Fla.

Punt Returns: 33 Da'Shann Austin, Jr., 5-10, 179, Liberty, Mo.

Kickoff Returns: 2 Chris Clopton, So., 5-7, 159, Lynwood, Ill. 84 Randall Lane, Jr., 6-1, 205, Chicago, Ill.




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