Posted by: Pete Quinn, Partner – Summit Realty Group and Radio Color Analyst for Purdue Football
This will be my 23rd season in the booth as the color analyst for Purdue football radio broadcasts. In my first year, Jim Colletto was the Head Coach and Larry Clisby did play-by-play. In my very first broadcast the Boilermakers opened the season with a 41-14 win over 17th ranked California. I had all of the confidence in the world that Purdue would have a great season and I predicted that the Boilers would go undefeated. The very next week, Purdue lost to Toledo at home 33-29. I then promptly revised my prediction to 11-1. While the Boilers ultimately finished the season with a less than stellar record of 4-7, there were a lot of great memories from that first season in the booth.
I had a chance to watch Jeff Zgonina play every game of his final season. He was one of the most dominant defensive linemen in Big 10 history and he ended up playing 17 seasons in the NFL, unheard of for a defensive lineman. I also had the chance to see the first season of a young fullback named Mike Alstott. Iron Mike is one of my all-time favorite players and never disappointed.
Last season was a tough one for all Boiler fans. When we lost the opener 42-7 at Cincinnati, we knew it was going to be a very long year. Despite that, I have many great memories from last season. I was able to get to know Head Coach Darrell Hazell. I am very proud that we have a man of such high character leading our team and I am a strong believer that character counts. I was impressed that the players and coaches continued trying to turn things around as the losses piled up. While the touchdown loss to Notre Dame and playing Michigan State on the road close gave us some hope, the youth of the team, introducing new systems and the strength of schedule were too tough to overcome.
I am very excited for the game against Western Michigan this Saturday. I am hoping that a lot of Boilers make the decision to show up with their families and friends and give the 2014 Boilers their support. Last year we had over 50,000 fans in the stands in our season opener against Indiana State, this year we have sold under 40,000 tickets as of this morning. It’s probably going to be a hot day and many of us are still reeling from last season. I understand when people want to take a wait and see attitude. But I can absolutely guarantee that the players will appreciate and respond to our support. At the end of the day, if Purdue is 13-0 or 0-12, they are still our team. We aren’t going to quit being Boilermakers when our teams aren’t winning. With apologies to Coach Norman Dale, “my team is on the field”.
There are a lot of reasons to be excited about this team. I am looking forward to seeing Raheem Mostert get a lot of carries, Akeem Hunt in multiple formations, Danny Etling with a year of experience and learning the offense in the off season. I am pumped up about the potential of a revamped offensive line led by the Kugler and King. Receivers Anthrop, Posey, Knauf, Yancey and true freshman Phillips lead a group with speed and size. Will Gabe Holmes stay healthy and reach his potential? Can Sinz take it to the next level? How will Dolapo Macarthy look at tight end?
Defensively, I can’t wait to see Replogle with an additional 30 pounds added to his frame. Can Ryan Russell become the next great Purdue d-end? Is Ra’Zahn Howard as good as everyone thinks he is? Will the addition of freshmen linebacker Ja’Whan Bentley and the growth and maturity of Sean Robinson and Jimmy Herman turn that position into a strength? Can the experience and depth in the defensive backfield make a big move? Will freshman Gelen Robinson be the next G-Rob?
No one can predict what the outcome will be on Saturday, there are too many things that we don’t know about this team yet. But there are two things that I can guarantee. Fans in the stands enhance the game day experience and will be appreciated by the players. I am looking forward to starting my 23rd season in the booth with Tim Newton, Rob Blackman, Kelly Kitchel and Scott Fenstermaker. I will assume victory until proven wrong. Here’s to a great season and Boiler up!