September 14, 2007

Matchup preview: Purdue-Central Michigan

Central Michigan coach Butch Jones says Purdue's offense is a "great concern."

It should be considering the Boilermakers have put up 52 points in each of their first two games to rank eighth nationally in scoring offense. In addition, Purdue is averaging 510.5 yards of offense per game (13th nationally), including just under 300 yards passing (tied for 16th) and 211 rushing (29th).

"There is probably one word that describes their offense," said Jones, whose 1-1 Chippewas face 2-0 Purdue Saturday in Ross-Ade Stadium. "Explosive. They do a great schematically of getting the ball in the hands of their playmakers.

"Their quarterback is a great player. He's extremely accurate and can defeat tight coverage.

"They are very, very skilled so obviously they present a lot of problems on defense," Jones added.

Jones, who is in his first year as Central Michigan's head coach, isn't just worried about the Boilermaker offense.

"Obviously Purdue will be a great challenge," Jones said. "They're a solid football team. Not only are they explosive on offense, but they're very talented on defense and very well coached on special teams. They're a great team so it will be another test for our team to go into a very hostile environment. We'll see how they react, especially playing a great Purdue football team."

Purdue has started the season in impressive fashion. Last week the Boilermakers made quick work of visiting Eastern Illinois, trouncing the Panthers 52-6.

Meanwhile Central Michigan, which lost its season opener 52-7 at Kansas, recorded its first win of the season with a 52-31 home win over Toledo.

It should be noted that out of the 50 players that played for Central Michigan against the Rockets, 30 were freshmen or sophomores.

Following GoldandBlack.com looks at the matchups.

CMU RUNNING GAME VS. PU AGAINST THE RUN

For the second time this season, the Boilermakers will face one of the MAC's best running backs in Ontario Sneed.

Sneed, who rushed for a team-high 764 yards, averaging nearly six yards per carry, in '06, did a lot of damage to Toledo a week ago (168 yards rushing with a career-high three touchdowns), but that wasn't the case against Kansas as he was held to 17 yards on seven carries.

Coach Joe Tiller points out that Sneed is a different kind of back than Toledo's Jalan Parmele.

"I thought Parmele was more of a power back," Tiller explained. "Sneed is not quite as strong, but maybe has a little better vision that Parmele.

"It's important that you keep leverage on him (Sneed) all the time where with Parmele you wanted to go attack him. If you're overaggressive with this guy (Sneed), you can get yourself in trouble."

It's worth nothing that sophomore quarterback Dan LeFevour can be dangerous when he tucks it and runs.

Purdue's defensive front will face an o-line that is still trying to gel after losing stud offensive tackle Joe Staley and Drew Mormino, the starting center from a year ago.

The Boilermaker front and linebackers must use the Chippewas' inexperience up front to their advantage and keep Sneeds under wraps.

Key Player To Watch: Anthony Heygood - led the way again for the Boilermakers against Eastern Illinois as he was Purdue's leading tackler for the second straight week. For a couple plays Saturday, isolate on No. 42 and watch how he flies to the ball. Heygood has been pretty impressive to say the least so far.

Advantage: Purdue

CMU PASSING GAME VS. PU AGAINST THE PASS

We said it early in the preseason that LeFevour would be the best quarterback Purdue's defense would face during the nonconference season.

He is very accurate and displays good decision-making abilities as he's yet to throw an interception this season.

Last year as a freshman, LeFevour was named first-team All-MAC after setting single-season school records for passing years (3,031), touchdown passes (26) and total offense (3,552).

Against Toledo, LeFevour (pronounced Le-Fever) threw for 244 yards, completing 22-of-32 passes for two touchdowns as the Chippewas gained 463 yards of total offense.

"He's an excellent player," said Tiller when asked about LeFevour. "I don't recall when a freshman was the Offensive MVP of a conference.

"He's a heck of a talent, who could play for many, many schools around the United States.

"He's one of those guys that when you play him, you don't want him to have his best day because if he has his best day they're going to put an awful lot of points on the board," Tiller added.

Purdue will focus on LeFevour's top two receivers - Antonio Brown and Bryan Anderson.

The 6-foot-5 Anderson's best game came against Kentucky last season when he caught eight passes for 137 yards and a score.

Brown was sensational against Toledo, catching nine passes for 105 yards and a score. He finished with 198 all-purpose yards.

LeFevour won't just look for Anderson and Brown. He likes to get Sneed involved in the passing game, too. Last season Sneed had 52 receptions for 415 yards and 11 TDs.

Look for Purdue to try and throw LeFevour off of his came by pressuring him in a variety of ways.

Key Player To Watch: Cliff Avril - was challenged this week by Tiller, who said the senior defensive end was not playing anywhere close to the same kind of level that Purdue's great players at his position did. Perhaps that will light a fire under Avril.

Advantage: Purdue

PU RUNNING GAME VS. CMU AGAINST THE RUN

Do you think Kory Sheets and Jaycen Taylor can hardly wait to play this one?

They should be chomping at the bit considering Kansas had two backs eclipse the 100-yard mark (on 31 carries combined) against Central Michigan.

In case you're wondering, the last time two Purdue backs topped the century mark in the same game was Nov. 23, 2002, when Joey Harris and Brandon Jones accomplished the feat, with 102 and 131, respectively.

Central Michigan's main man on defense is senior linebacker Red Keith, who entered this season leading all returning players in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) with 326 career tackles. Keith, however, is playing with a broken hand, which should open things up even more for Purdue's running game.

Key Players To Watch: The offensive line - needs to do a better job of opening holes. It struggled inside the 5 against EIU and Purdue eventually had to throw the ball on fourth down to get it in the end zone and the Boilermakers' longest run to date is just 31 yards.

Advantage: Purdue

PU PASSING GAME VS. CMU AGAINST THE PASS

Get ready for another huge day from quarterback Curtis Painter.

Central Michigan allowed Toledo quarterback Aaron Opelt to throw for a career-high 334 yards, completing 25-of-41 passes, for two touchdowns.

Sheets and Taylor should have big days and so, too, should the Boilermaker receivers.

Get this, Toledo receiver Stephen Williams caught six passes for 157 yards and one touchdown against CMU.

Key Player To Watch: Greg Orton - has caught nine passes this season, two of which have been highlight reel material TD grabs. Orton is really giving his quarterback a luxury knowing he can throw the jump ball in the end zone and No. 21 is going to come down with it.

Advantage: Purdue

SPECIAL TEAMS

SPECIAL TEAMS
CMU exited spring drills concerned with its coverage teams after allowing 18 yards per kickoff return and 6.5 yards per punt return a year ago. The Chippewas have already allowed one punt return for a score this season.

Watch for a few big returns from Dorien Bryant in the return game.

Punter Jared Armstong has been off his game so far this season and that's being kind.

Chris Summers, on the other hand, has hit two field goals in a row. Can he keep it going?

CMU has only attempted one field goal this season and Andrew Aguila hit it (a 35-yarder).

Chippewa punter Tony Mikulec is averaging 40.7 yards per boot.

Purdue gets the nod here due to Central Michigan's porous coverage teams.

Key Player To Watch: Bryant - is emerging as the complete duel threat player that the coaches and fans hoped he would be. Bryant ranks 15th nationally in all-purpose yardage, averaging 187 yards per game. He is No. 1 in kickoff returns, averaging 63.67 yards.

Advantage: Purdue

GUT FEELING

CMU is all offense and little defense.

The Chippewas gave up 482 yards to a Toledo offense, which against Purdue looked anemic.

CMU's defense didn't show any improvements from a year ago in their opener at Kansas and as a result they were pounded by 45 points.

As long as the Boilermakers take care of the ball, they'll win in convincing fashion.


Advantage: Purdue





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