Number Nine Reason to Watch Purdue Football in 2011

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Sorry for the delay on this post, but the NBA Draft plus my move to four other blogs under the Rant Sports network have had me distracted for a couple of days.  To recap the premise, each week I will count down a reason that you, the casual fan, should watch Purdue football in 2011.

#10:  Quarterback Roulette

Above is a link to the previous reason, and now it is time for reason number nine.

#9:  Return of Ralph Bolden

Ah, Ralph Bolden.  Coming off of a strong 2009, Bolden looked to continue his push as a top end running back in the Big 10.  However, his season ended before it began as he suffered a torn ACL in spring ball.  Without its top running back, the Purdue running game sputtered as Dan Dierking and the enigmatic Al-Terek McBurse could not fill the void.  With Dierking graduating and McBurse transferring, Purdue needs a healthy Bolden to get back to his 2009 form.

In 2009, Bolden actually led the nation in rushing after the first two games as he racked up 357 yards on 50 attempts.  That was the high point of the season for Bolden as he failed to break 100 yards in any remaining game as opposing defenses took notice to his ability.  Bolden still finished the year with a respectable 935 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 4.7 yards per carry.  To be honest, I had never heard of Bolden before the 2009 season and I assumed that Jaycen Taylor and McBurse would be the horses in the backfield.  However, Taylor could never stay healthy and McBurse proved he wasn’t ready (he still isn’t ready), which led to Bolden stealing the starting job and never looking back.

ACL injuries have been common at Purdue over the last two years and Danny Hope’s staff has been very cautious with Bolden.  He sat out spring ball this year again, with hopes that he would be at full health for the start of practice.  Recent reports from GoldandBlack.com have the junior running back saying “he’s better than ever”, and the hopes of a bowl berth for Purdue ride on Bolden’s running ability.

With Bolden in the backfield, the option read opens up much more for Rob Henry, the presumed starting QB.  Although Dierking performed admirably last year, he just did not possess the athletic ability to make the option successful.  With Bolden in the backfield, it opens up more angles for Henry to exploit.  A Henry-Bolden backfield is extremely explosive in the running game, and it should take pressure off of Henry’s development as a passer this season.  I expect Bolden to return to his 2009 form, and top 1000 yards rushing this year as he leads Purdue back to a bowl game for the first time in 4 years.

That concludes reason number nine.  Check back this weekend for reason number eight.