2008 Boiled Sports Season Preview (About Time)

Well, here we are, probably the last site to roll out our season preview for 2008. But hey, we haven’t missed anything yet since Purdue is finally just now getting around to playing a game. If you can count our opener against Northern Colorado as a “game.” (Sweet hey-soos, I hope we don’t lose.)

We’re not a site that overanalyzes things (yes, I’m sure you’ve noticed). If you want an overly-detailed breakdown of the Purdue season, go ahead and take a look at the detailed work over at OffTheTracks. Or read the mediocre-fest take from Varsity Blue.

From us you’re going to continue to get what you come here for and that’s our rambling, stream-of-consciousness thoughts on the team, life, boobies, and all sorts of things in between.
Here are the categories for the BS Season Preview:

Thoughts on Offense
Thoughts on Defense
Thoughts on Special Teams
Impact Players – Heralded Department
Impact Players – Unheralded Department
X-factors
Miscellaneous Thoughts
Predicted Record (including our own versus the readers)

So here we go.


Thoughts on Offense

Painter will likely have plenty of time to pass this season, and this o-line will – get this – actually create holes for the running game. However, this receiving group will struggle to hang on to all of the balls thrown their way, especially in the first half of the season. Look for Keith Smith to have serious impact very quickly...kind of a hybrid of Keller and Bryant last season. All of the receivers are big and strong this year...and unlike Bryant and Lymon, they all seem very willing to block and play hard every play. This should translate into a solid running game. With Jaycen Taylor out with a blown out knee Korey Sheets gets to show if he deserves the full load of a #1 back. He’ll get help from Frank Halliburton and maybe even former QB Justin Siller, but it’s essentially Sheets’ job to lose and we think he’ll thrive in the role.

Will Painter win the Heisman or even be in the discussion? Doubtful, but he should put up some more impressive numbers this season. The real question, as mentioned, is whether he can do it against the big boys in his final rodeo.

As an aside, I love the prevailing wisdom that’s currently out there about Curtis Painter. That being that he simply can’t win big games and simply never does. Well, nobody wins big games until they do. Remember how three years ago, Peyton Manning was considered a playoff choker who couldn’t win big games? That was the case… until it wasn’t. It was also the case with Eli Manning… until it wasn’t. And with Vince Young… until it wasn’t. And Drew frickin’ Brees…until it wasn’t. And on and on. So let’s see how young Curtis handles his senior season.

Thoughts on Defense

The defensive backfield should be unusually sound, especially for a Tiller team...same with the front four...and the LBs, who are typically strong for Tiller, will struggle due to a lack of depth. Look for Werner to play similarly to Laurinaitis @ aOSU – very high energy and with reckless abandon. Brock Spack could screw up anything, though, so you never know. But this defense looks fairly stout. However, we’ve been fooled before. When you’re known as an offensive team and your offense has trouble outscoring MAC teams, well, somethin’ ain’t right. (I’ll also never get the image of Indiana State putting up five TDs on us a few years back – sure, we scored 60 but it was a harbinger of things to come…Brock.)

Thoughts on Special Teams

Not much reason to worry about the kickoff return game because both Tardy and Sheets have returned kicks and done it quite well. What is worrisome, though, is the void Jaycen Taylor leaves on special teams coverage...that might be a concern. Summers will punt and kick well and we’re not worried about the kicking portion of special teams.

Impact Players – Heralded Department

Painter, Orton on offense, and Heygood & Magee on defense all have a chance to collect accolades at the end of the season... Magee will be the most noteworthy, nationally, at the end of the season. Again, Purdue seems to have a pipe dream of promoting Painter as a Heisman candidate. We don’t see it having any legs unless he just catches fire out of the gate and the Boilers start 5-0 or something. Not unpossible, but definitely unlikely.

Impact Players – Unheralded Department

Offensively, we like Smith and Adams quite a bit. Both will run safer routes than Orton, Curry or Whitest. We hope to see Smith and Tardy on the field together quite a bit. Defensively, Werner and Brown remind some of Koutivides and Ayodele, respectively. That wouldn’t be a bad surprise to have them live up to those impressions.

X-Factors

When people talk about x-factors, it always seems kind of silly. Because if you know what the “x factor” is, then it’s not an x-factor anymore, right? The very definition of an x-factor is something we haven’t factored in, right? Hello, is this thing on? *tap tap*

Anyway, to us, the biggest X factors on both defense and offense is how well the less-experienced players come along. Players like Tardy, Smith, Curry, Dierking and Halliburton will all play very important roles and haven't seen significant PT prior to '08.

On defense, similarly, Werner, Brown and McClean need to play like seasoned vets right away...and the backups may be even more important as we could see a significant drop-off in quality of play in the twos and threes...That translates to a worn-down team in the fourth quarter.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

We like kolaches. And ice cream. And pizza.

As for miscellaneous thoughts about the Purdue football team, we'd love to see Tiller get Jack's all-time wins record vs. Oregon...that could be a big momentum-builder for this team.The period of September 27 to October 11 can make a difference between a Jan. 1 bowl and another unimportant late December contest.

The schedule is designed perfectly for a run at a major bowl and a bunch of surprises for the national media and Purdue fans alike. Tiller compares this team to '97, and that is valid. No one saw that team coming, and no one has expectations for this group either. Just like in '97 there are a ton of players who are unknown that might turn out to be difference-makers.To us, an 8-win season is a successful final season for Tiller, 6 or 7 wins will remind Boiler faithful why we're all looking forward to Hope's era. That said, there are so many question marks for '09 (quarterback, depth, system) that we Purdue fans might want to savor this season because a bowl next year might be a long shot.

Predicted Record

The exercise in futility that so many people try to do each year. Of course, in college it’s usually a little easier than in, say, the NFL. But predicting Purdue is one of those painful experiences. It’s not difficult, and therein lies the sadness. You look at the schedule and you see some sure wins, some likely wins and some truly “winnable” close matchups. And yet, as a longtime Purdue fan, and as guys who have watched the entire Tiller Era with close, watchful eyes, we all know what a leap it is from “winnable” to actually winning. And even when we’ve seen them pull together a season where they win those tight games against quality opponents (see 2000 and Brees, Drew), they find a way to turn around and kick us in the nuts with a letdown loss to a subpar MSU team or something. It never seems to fail.

So what do we think? Well, here’s the thought process…

Best Case Scenario: 10-2

Don’t laugh. This would mean wins over Northern Colorado, ND, CMU, NW, Minny, MSU, Iowa and IU. All of those are games the Boilers should – wait, let me put more emphasis on that word – “should” win. Will they win them all? Of course not. But it’s not, like, ridiculous to think they should if they play to their potential. So that’s eight wins. Then you need two wins against: Oregon (at home), OSU (on the road), Michigan (at home) and PSU (at home). Could we see them beating, say, Oregon and Michigan? Or Michigan and PSU? Sure, we could. The only game I think we’ll all “put in Sharpie” as a loss is the contest in Columbus. This team hasn’t ever shown the mettle to win a game like that. So doesn’t that make “best case” 11-1, you say? No, we answer, because there’s zero chance the Boilers will win all those other games. Best case scenario includes a loss at OSU and a hiccup elsewhere along the way.

Worst Case Scenario: 6-6

Conversely, as bad as things can get for some teams, they can’t get worse than .500 for the Boilers. Sure, a lot of those teams have the potential to beat the Boilermakers, but we don’t think they will. This team has every reason to be focused – Tiller’s swan song, Painter’s senior season, a favorable schedule with most big games at home. Let’s hope Tiller has enough left in the tank to motivate this group for twelve games. But if he can’t, we see losses likely to: Oregon, Notre Dame, Penn State, OSU, Michigan and Iowa. ND and Iowa because they’re on the road and the Boilers don’t often fare well in either locale. The others because, well, if recent seasons are any indication, Purdue doesn’t beat anyone they’re not supposed to beat. And the stars say we’re not “supposed” to beat powers like PSU, Michigan, OSU and ranked Pac Ten teams.

Boiled Sports Official Prediction: 7-5

And so here we are, with our official prediction. And we’ll go with 7-5. And not because we think this team won’t do better – I think we all feel they can and should have 8-9 wins this year. There’s really no excuse not to beat PSU and Michigan at home this season. But we’ve just seen it all before and become believers again each September, only to see them perform at the same middling level they have for so long. Do we think Painter could bust out and be a wonderful surprise? Yes, we think it’s possible and not in one of those 2% possible ways.
Tim thinks 6-6 is likely, boilerdowd came in around 7-5 and I feel 8-4 is likely. So we’re taking the average. And we think it’ll be a fitting end for Tiller; ending his career in San Antonio at the Alamo Bowl.

Oh, and more importantly, the BS reader voting is in. And you all collectively think the Boilers are going 8-4 with the losses coming to Oregon, OSU, Michigan and MSU. We had hoped the homerism of a Purdue-themed site would bring about a predicted record of 12-0 so we could mock you, but thankfully you guys proved to be humble, reasonably-intelligent humanoids and not, you know, Sparty MSU readers. (Oh, snap!)

Some interesting stats to note in the voting…

Closest margin was the Oregon game, where Oregon was tapped as the winner by our readers with just a slim 51% margin.

The game the readers are most confident in? A victory over IU, with 94% of the vote.

Curiously, everyone seems sure we’ll crush Iowa on the road – to the tune of 89% confidence. Which is odd, especially considering only 66% think Purdue’s going to win tomorrow versus D-2 Northern Colorado.

Anyhow, the season is now upon us and it’s no longer necessary to kill time until football season with mindless antics like de-pantsing Terry Hutchens or interviewing other bloggers. The games are here and we’re off to the races.

Thanks for continuing to read and share your opinions. We love it and we’ll do our best to keep the content coming.
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