Ryan Kerrigan needs to be Purdue’s rock on Defense

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When Purdue plays their opener at Notre Dame Saturday, they’ll do so with a ton of questions about their running game, offensive line, and secondary. The Boilers are no doubt confident in their passing game. This is Purdue, the school that gave us “basketball on grass” after all. But the strength of the team is probably the defensive line, led by senior defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, who enters his final season as fifth on the school’s all time list in sacks.

By Paul M. Banks

“We got three starters coming back, and we’re excited about what we can do up front this year,” Kerrigan said at Big Ten Media Day.

The team co-captain has been named to the Lombardi Award (outstanding lineman), Lott Trophy (Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year) and Bronko Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player) watch lists, as well as preseason second team All-American by Sporting News.

I asked Kerrigan what it was specifically about the 4-3 scheme that played to his strengths.

“I’m a hand in the ground guy, so I feel like that’s what suits me best, I’m not as comfortable from the stand-up linebacker position. We do that a little bit, so I’m not totally against it, but I’m just a little more comfortable with my hand in the ground do I can fire off the ball better,” Kerrigan answered.

He’ll get a ton of chances to rush the passer Saturday as the Irish run a pass-first offense.

“They’re a quick tempo offense. They run the hurry-up, they get to the line quick and like to get off a lot of plays in the game. That really stands out to me because that’s something you have to really prep for

But of course the topic of the day, for today at least in the conference is Big Ten realignment. At Media Day, Kerrigan was asked how he would do it if he were in charge, and opted for East-West geographical division.

Written by Paul M. Banks, president and CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest-focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and @bigtenguru

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