Breaking it down: Purdue looks to take last week's positives into home opener
Who: Indiana State vs. Purdue
When: 12 p.m. ET
Where: Ross Ade Stadium, Purdue
TV: ESPN News
Matchup to watch: Austin Appleby vs. Indiana State linebackers
The Purdue quarterback and Indiana State linebacker Jameer Thurman have something in common. Appleby threw multiple Week 1 interceptions and Thurman caught multiple Week 1 interceptions. Thurman is not the ball-hawking defensive back that Tiquan Lang was, but Appleby can’t afford to telegraph passes like he did against Marshall. FCS Preseason All-American Connor Underwood will try to speed up the Purdue signal-caller and prevent him from going through his progressions. An FCS defense shouldn’t be as challenging as Marshall’s, but Indiana State has playmakers that can disrupt the Purdue offense just as easily.
Thing I’m excited to see: Purdue’s two-headed RB attack
The most encouraging sign from Purdue’s offense in the opener was the promise we saw in the running game. Darrell Hazell has repeatedly stressed how much experience is going to help his veteran offensive line. With the right combination of backs, Purdue was able to take advantage of that last week. D.J. Knox did not shy away from contact, nor did true freshman Markell Jones, who showed off his Big play ability with that 36-yard score. Hazell wants to be able to use a little misdirection to open up the north and south running lanes for these two because both are capable of gashing a defense. Look for the duo to get an even heavier workload against the smaller Sycamores.
Number to remember: 6
Purdue only beat Indiana State by six points two years ago. That was also the Boilers’ ONLY win of Hazell’s inaugural 2013 season. In some ways, this game is going to show the growth in the third year Hazell era. Many were not willing to call last week’s performance growth because Purdue couldn’t close the door. That’s understandable. And many will not take any solace in beating a Missouri Valley Conference team at home. That’s also understandable. But if the Boilers play like they did against Marshall, this one will not be the six-point game we saw two years ago. The Week 1 defensive numbers were misleading considering Appleby threw four interceptions, two of which for touchdowns. Purdue has to take care of the ball better and it needs to do improve on wrapping up ball carriers at the second level. If they do that, this one won’t be a one possession game after the first quarter.
Prediction: Purdue 35, Indiana State 14
Purdue gets something it’s only had once in the Hazell era — a double digit non-conference win. I don’t think Appleby does a complete 180, but I do think the turnovers are cut in half, with or without Danny Anthrop. The running game will do the heavy lifting in this one and give the defense a chance to pin its ears back without short fields all afternoon. It won’t be the stepping stone a win at Marshall could’ve been, but Saturday will give the Boilers a little bit of needed confidence.