Spring Practice Primer: Purdue Boilermakers
Purdue is coming off two straight bowl appearances, but Darrell Hazell has bigger goals than that.
College football never ends, and during the next few weeks teams will be getting ready for the 2013 season in their spring practice sessions. Here's a look at the Purdue Boilermakers and what they'll be working on this spring.
Spring practice begins: March 18
Spring game: April 12
2012 record: 6-7
Returning starters: 13 (five offense, eight defense)
The Least You Should Know About Purdue This Spring
-- There's a whole new coaching staff. Although Purdue won its final three games of the regular season to become bowl eligible, it wasn't enough to save Danny Hope's job. This is Darrell Hazell's job now, and this is the former Kent State coach's -- and Ohio State assistant -- first chance to see the team that he has inherited. Not only is Hazell bringing an entire new coaching staff but a new system as well, so these practices will be incredibly important to both coaches and players.
-- Nobody knows who Purdue's quarterback is going to be. So, in a way, it's just like the 2012 regular season. What we do know is that Purdue only plans to play one quarterback this season, and it will be a battle among Rob Henry, Bilal Marshall, Austin Appleby and possibly incoming freshman Danny Etling. The only thing certain about this competition is that the new starter isn't going to be decided by the end of practice, though somebody could take a lead.
-- Akeem Hunt can expect his workload to increase. Not only does Hunt become the top back in Purdue's backfield with the departures of Akeem Shavers and Ralph Bolden, but he is now in an offense that runs more often than Purdue has in the recent past. Hunt only had 42 carries last season. But at 5-foot-9 and 184 pounds, you have to wonder how many carries he can get. Of course, the good news for Hunt is that Dri Archer is only 5-foot-8 and 164 pounds, but that didn't stop him from totalling 1,990 offensive yards and 20 touchdowns for Hazell last season.
-- Kawann Short leaves a large hole. Short was the anchor of the Purdue defense the last few seasons. But he's gone, and it's unclear how Purdue plans to replace him. The good news is that the Boilermakers return their other three defensive line starters in Bruce Gaston, Ryan Russell and Ryan Isaac. Of course, the problem is that this unit didn't have a great season in 2012 even with Short, and now it has to improve without him.
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