Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Virginia Tech/Purdue preview: Hazell must step up on the big stage

                                                    Photo Credit: Damon Warren

5-21, 5-21, 5-21.

Why am I starting out my preview with this record? Well, very simple— this represents third-year Purdue coach Darrell Hazell's mark and Saturday's game against Virginia Tech is a perfect opportunity to quiet all of the critics and hearken memories back to the days of Drew Brees and Joe Tiller making an improbable run to the Rose Bowl in 2000.

Purdue's season has been topsy-turvy to say the least with a season-opening loss at Marshall and responding with a 38-14 victory Indiana State at home on Sept. 12.

The Boilermakers' defense could have a field day if they can rattle Hokies starting quarterback Brenden Motley, who is making his first career road start. 

Immediate pressure and containing Virginia Tech's run game will be key to Purdue hanging in the game.

Players To Watch Out For- Quarterback Austin Appleby:

After becoming the full-time starter midway through last season, quarterback Austin Appleby's interception (11) to touchdown (10) ratio has been shaky and the first two games of 2015 have proven thus far to be the same story.

Appleby has already accounted for four interceptions and can not afford another multi-interception performance or else Purdue's offense will be grasping for straws all-game long.

Linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley:

The heart and soul of the Boilermakers defense will need to be a dominating force in the box on Saturday.

In two games this season, Bentley leads the team in tackles (15), with 2.5 of it for a loss.

Running Back Markell Jones:

Rated by as the No. 56 running back in the country last season, Markell Jones has lived up to the billing as a true freshman.

Jones has rushed for 139 yards on 26 carries, to go along with three touchdowns (two rushing and one receiving) on the young season.

All-Time Series:

Believe it or not, this is the first ever meeting between the Hokies and Boilermakers, with a return trip to set in Blacksburg, VA on Sept. 9, 2023.

Purdue All-Time Against ACC Opponents:

Counting the current teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Boilermakers are 14-13-2 all-time. 

One thing Purdue has going is winning its last two games against ACC opponents: (Sept. 13, 2003 at No. 20 Wake Forest, 16-10 and Sept. 5, 2004 vs. Syracuse, 51-0).

Game Planner:

Virginia Tech Hokies (1-1) at Purdue Boilermakers (1-1)

Location: Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN

Time: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET

TV/Online: ESPNU/WatchESPN

Line: Virginia Tech (-5.5)

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.