Previewing The Enemy: Penn State vs. Purdue
By: David Abruzzese and Ethan Kasales
Let’s take a closer look at Penn State’s matchup with Purdue (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten) this Saturday at noon on ABC in Ross-Ade Stadium. James Franklin and the Nittany Lions (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) are coming off a program-defining win over then-No. 2 Ohio State, while the Boilermakers are on an interim head coach in Gerad Parker following Darrell Hazell’s dismissal.
The Boilermakers’ record might not reflect it, but this team has some talent. The most potent passing offense in the Big Ten is led by gunslinging sophomore David Blough, who’s accounted for 2,065 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions and a 120.3 quarterback rating. He’s the focal point of Purdue’s offense and should be the primary focus for Penn State.
Where the Boilermakers succeed through the air, they complement with a deep array of running backs capable of going the distance.Markell Jones, Brian Lankford-Johnson, Richie Worship, and even Blough have made a significant impact in the running game this season with Jones leading the group. He’s totaled 408 yards on a team high 92 carries resulting in two scores. Lankford-Johnson has two as well, as does Worship. Blough, the team’s passing leader, has three on 41 carries. He’s a goal line threat and poses significant danger inside the 20.
Purdue’s line needs work, and the Lions should expose the Boilermakers up front, but the real threat comes from the team’s receiving corps. That unit is led by DeAngelo Yancey, who averages 17.5 per catch. He’s got 491 yards and a team high five touchdowns, and will be thrown to early and often today. Behind him is Domonique young, who’s team-high 29 catches has gone for 338 yards and a score. The big-bodied senior is a red zone threat, and should emerge as a thorn in Penn State’s side today.
Outside linebacker Markus Bailey has exploded for the Boilermakers as a redshirt freshman. The Columbus, Ohio, native leads the defense with 49 total tackles in passes defended with three, while adding an interception and two breakups. Defensive coordinator and safeties coach Ross Els has molded a pair of excellent defensive backs in Leroy Clark and Navon Mosley, who currently check in with 44 and 40 tackles, respectively, through seven games.
Despite the firing of fourth-year head coach Darrell Hazell two weeks ago in favor of interim solution Gerad Parker, Purdue still gave Nebraska a run for its money early in last Saturday’s 27-14 loss before the wheels fell off down the stretch. Defensive end Evan Panfil is enjoying a breakout season for the black and “old gold” with 9.5 tackles for loss (four sacks) on 20 tackles. True freshman Lorenzo Neal, an imposing presence at 6-foot-2, 345-pounds, backs up both defensive-tackle spots and has 11 tackles (three for loss, one sack). Buck ‘backer Danny Ezechukwu provides some veteran leadership for the Boilermaker defense. The redshirt junior is fourth on the team with 37 tackles (one for loss) and will play a big part in trying to stop Saquon Barkley on the edge.