Coach: Joe Tiller
39-22-0, 5 years
2001 Record: 6-6
at Cincinnati WON 19-14
at Minnesota WON 35-28 (OT)
IOWA WON 23-14
at Michigan LOST 10-24
at Ohio State LOST 9-35
at Indiana LOST 7-13
Washington State LOST 27-33

2001 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

Montrell Lowe has been starting in the Joe Tiller one back scheme for three straight seasons. - (Frank Oliver/Journal and Courier)
2002 Outlook

Coaches are optimistic considering that Purdue returns 16 starters from last season's 6-6 squad. A few early preseason polls may show the Boilermakers floating in the bottom end of the Top 25, which isn't exactly too far fetched. The one eye soar that plagued the troops last fall was a group that finished ranked 105th in the nation in total offense. Coach Tiller's unique one-back game plan is going to be under the microscope. But with inexperience and youth at the helm calling the signals at quarterback, coaches may want to consider an alternative. Rumors out of spring camp claimed that Tiller had the blueprints laid out for an experiment of a two back set, but due to injuries the plan was put on hold. The number of quality targets scampering around in the opponents defensive backfield has to make life a little easier on the passing attack. Most folks would not normally have defense come to mind when asked about Purdue football. But last season, they were Top 4 statistically in almost all Big Ten defensive categories. When you combine in the fact that 7 out of 8 top tacklers from 2001 return, one has to at least acknowledge that on paper, these group of kids are sitting pretty. There is plenty of room for struttin'. The linebacker and defensive backs are the strength of this Purdue team. Most viewers should be able to see that these units are the backbone of 2002 before the first half of the season is complete. Other than an early date in South Bend, much like last season, the first five games are going to determine a lot of answers to a lot of questions. All of them are winnable. The end of the season will be a typical Big Ten grindstone, so heading into league play with a dismal record could be devastating. Expect this team to be competitive. The defense alone should keep the Boilermakers in many of the tussles.

Projected 2002 record: 8-5

QB - 2.5 DL - 3
RB - 3.5 LB - 4.5
WR - 4 DB - 4.5
OL - 4 ..

Passing: Kyle Orton, 107-216-7, 1105 Yards, 4 TD's

Rushing: Montrell Lowe, 183 att., 640 yds., 4 TD's

Receiving: Taylor Stubblefield, 73 rec., 910 yds., 2 TD's

Scoring: 3 players with 24 points each: Standeford, Lowe, Morales

Punting: none

Kicking: none

Tackles: Stuart Schweigert, 98 tot., 65 solo

Sacks: Shaun Phillips, 6 sacks

Interceptions: Stuart Schweigert, 6 for 110 yards

Kickoff returns: Joey Harris, 20 ret., 18.9 avg.

Punt returns: Seth Morales, 39 ret., 8.5 avg.


OFFENSE: Tim Stratton-TE, Chris Randolph-TE, Sean Rufolo-OG, Travis Dorsch-K/P, Brandon Hance-QB (transferred)
DEFENSE: Matt Mitrione-DT, Akin Ayodele-DE, Ashante Woodyard-CB, Scott Kurz-K/P

The receivers in West Lafayette certainly can be called battle tested. Their experience is worthy of union card status. Three returning starters, many of who caught passes for Mr. Drew Brees, are on board. They include Seth Morales, who has started the last 24 games straight; John Standeford, who has 13 starts to his credit; and Taylor Stubblefield, who led the receivers in all categories this spring. Also keep an eye on junior college transfer Anthony Chambers as he came right in and issued challenges to the three veteran starters. The unit in the trenches is a steady group, and expectations have started to grow for 2002. Much like the receivers, the offensive line returns a nucleus of experienced players. Senior center Gene Mruczkowski has started the last 36 games and was awarded the most tenacious title during spring drills. Senior tackle Pete Longheed started all 12 games last fall. Kelly Butler is at the other tackle spot after being named to the Sporting News All-Freshman team in 2001. Senior Rob Turner returns at guard after starting the first eight games of last season before suffering a broken leg. Behind that wall of veterans is a running back by the name of Montrell Lowe, who has been starting in the Joe Tiller one back scheme for three straight seasons. He is being pushed by some nice competition.

Even though the calculators ran out of battery juice last season trying to keep up with the Purdue aerial assault, the consistency at quarterback took a huge slide from the previous seasons with Drew Brees. The same Tiller system wasn't an exact model of efficiency. How far off was it? Let's just say Purdue finished dead last in almost every major offensive conference statistic, including the rushing category. When you look at the numbers from last December's Sun Bowl and see Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton set Sun Bowl individual records for pass attempts (74) and completions (38), you have to wonder how successful that type of approach can be in Big Ten play with young guns tossing the rock. Half of the combination at signal caller, Brandon Hance, has now transferred, leaving the job to the sophomore Orton. He is the only quarterback with any game experience on the roster after starting three contests last season. One of three incumbents will have the dubious task of filling in for departed monster Tim Stratton at tight end, creating fewer prime time targets on the field.


Returning Starters in Bold
QB Kyle Orton-So Kyle Smith-Fr
RB Montrell Lowe-Sr Joey Harris-Jr
WR Seth Morales-Sr Kevin Noel-So
WR John Standeford-Jr Chris James-Sr
WR Taylor Stubblefield-So Anthony Chambers-jr
TE Mike Rhinehart-So Charles Davis-Fr
OT Pete Lougheed-Sr David Owen-So
OG Kelly Kitchel-Sr Josh Tomsheck-Fr
C Gene Mruczkowski-Sr Matt Turner-Fr
OG Rob Turner-Sr Jason Eisele-So
OT Kelly Butler-So Brian Wang-Fr
K Andy Nelson-So Berin Lacevic-Jr



The notion that Purdue would be paced by sturdy defensive play was quite an oxymoron from past seasons. But that is exactly what happened. The Boilermaker defense stepped up to the challenge and played some good sound football. Each unit seemed to function in unison, with positive grades in pass defense, rushing defense, total defense, turnovers, and penalties. Much of the back half of the entire defense returns beginning with four sturdy linebackers that combined for 68 starts. Joe Odom and Landon Johnson were two of the teams top tacklers last fall. Plenty of depth and experience awaits the coaches come the start of August. Which leads us into your top tackler and All-American safety Stuart Schweigert who is just reaping in post-season awards. He is already named on the watch list of candidates for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded to the nation's outstanding defensive player. His surrounding cast is like grilling on a windy day, smoking. The collection of Schweigert, Turner, and Rogers should have fans smiling and opponents weeping.

Major departures that jump right out at you are the losses of Matt Mitrione and Akin Ayodele on the front line. That is some heavy lumber removed from the Boilermaker freight car. The unit will attempt to be anchored at one end by Shaun Phillips, who has 24 straight starts and was Honorable Mention All-Big Ten in 2001. On a special teams note, both a new punter and kicker must be found. The services of Travis Dorsch will surely be missed after he really finished up his kicking years at Purdue in strong fashion. One of the cornerback slots is wide open with a battle that was spear headed by junior Jacques Reeves, who had been contemplating quitting football in order to focus his time on track. He did practice in the spring while attempting to compensate for the loss of Ashante Woodyard.


Returning Starters in Bold
DE Shaun Phillips-Jr Vedran Dzolovic-Jr
DT Craig Terrill-Jr Nick Hardwick-Jr
DT Brandon Johnson-Sr Brandon Villarreal-Fr
DE Kevin Nesfield-Jr Doug Swann-So
SLB Gilbert Gardner-Jr Niko Koutouvides-Jr
MLB Joe Odom-Sr Jon Goldsberry-So
WLB Landon Johnson-Jr Brent Hawkins-Fr
CB Jacques Reeves-Jr Brian Hickman-Fr
CB Antwaun Rogers-So Jared Curtis-Jr
SS Ralph Turner-Sr Deaunte Ferrell-Jr
FS Stuart Schweigert-Jr Charles Edwards-Jr
P Aaron Levin-So ..
Top tackler and All-American safety Stuart Schweigert is just reaping in post-season awards. - (Michael Heinz/