To find the key to a successful 2009 football season for the Toledo Rockets you do not have to look…
Game One Preview: Purdue
It's now 2009 and this time Purdue is hosting Toledo in a game of two new head coaches. Taking over at Purdue for Tiller is Danny Hope. Taking over at Toledo is Tim Beckman.
Hope is hoping to fair better than Tiller did in his first game, which happened to be against Toledo. Meanwhile, Beckman is hoping to see similar results to what his predecessor achieved in his first game at Toledo. Back in 2001 Tom Amstutz took over as head coach at Toledo in grand fashion with a 38-7 victory over Minnesota.
Toledo is 2-2 all-time against the Boilermakers, going 1-1 at Purdue and 1-1 at home. The last game played in the series was a 52-24 victory for Purdue at the Glass Bowl in the season opener in 2007.
This game could be much different though. Purdue is not expected to be very good this year, and there is a renewed enthusiasm around the Rocket program with first year head coach Tim Beckman.
This year's game will be played at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, IN. Purdue is entering their 86th season of playing home games at Ross-Ade Stadium. The stadium seats 62,500 and has a field turf that consists of (PAT) Prescription Athletic Turf. PAT is a surface that was actually developed in the 70's by Purdue staff members. Purdue is 256-150-13 all-time at Ross-Ade Stadium.
The big question mark for Purdue is at quarterback. The top returning QB is Joey Elliott. He played very sparingly in his career at Purdue, going 8 of 15 for 81 yards with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions last season before suffering a season ending injury. Elliott is a 5th year senior this year and a co-captain, but does not have a lot of experience. He has thrown just two touchdowns in his career so far. Backing up Elliott is redshirt freshman Caleb TerBush.
Another key spot for Purdue is running back. The loss of Kory Sheets to graduation has the running back position a bit inexperienced. Sophomore Ralph Bolden and senior Jaycen Taylor are battling for the #1 spot and both are likely to see playing time against the Rockets.
All three starters at wide receiver from last season are gone for Purdue. Key players at receiver to watch for in this game will be seniors Royce Adams and Aaron Valentin, and junior Keith Smith. Adams is likely to return punts for Purdue as well. He played cornerback earlier in his career at Purdue, but switched to wide receiver this past spring, due to depth issues at the position.
In all, Purdue has just four returning starters on offense and they are all on the offensive line. Defensively the Boilermakers return seven starters, but lose two of their starting defensive lineman. This could bode well for the Rocket running game.
The strength of the Purdue defense is in the secondary. Senior Dwight Mclean is expected to start at strong safety, while senior Torri Williams is expected to start at free safety. Seniors Brandon King and David Pender are expected to get the start at the cornerback positions for Purdue.
This game will be a good first test for the Rocket defense. Purdue has some weapons on offense and an experienced offensive line, but the rest of the offense is very inexperienced. The Rocket defense needs to have a good performance to keep the Rockets in the game, and to gain confidence with games against Colorado and Ohio State on the horizon.
Offensively, the Rockets have a lot of experience and talent. The question will be whether or not they have learned the new offense well enough to be successful against a pretty decent defense that has a lot of experience. It will be a tough test for the Rocket offense, but with so many seniors Toledo should be able to move the ball and score some points.
Special teams will play a huge role in the outcome of this game. Toledo has struggled with kick and punt coverage in the last few seasons, and head coach Tim Beckman has personally taken over coaching special teams in an attempt to improve them. A huge improvement is needed though. However, if Toledo can hold their own in special teams, they can definitely win this game.
The game is scheduled for a Noon start and will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
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