Illinois Football vs Purdue – Pregame grades for Boilermakers defense

Purdue Boilermakers safety Cam Allen (10) runs drills during spring football practice, Thursday, March 23, 2023, at Mollenkopf Athletic Center in West Lafayette, Ind.Pufbpractice50
Purdue Boilermakers safety Cam Allen (10) runs drills during spring football practice, Thursday, March 23, 2023, at Mollenkopf Athletic Center in West Lafayette, Ind.Pufbpractice50 /

The Illinois football offense started to find a groove in the final three quarters of the game against Florida Atlantic.

This will hopefully spill over into the game on Saturday. The Illini need to keep that spark alive, as the Purdue Boilermakers look to send us packing with a loss.

Purdue’s defense has struggled immensely this season. Can Illinois put up a big statement number and show the rest of the Big Ten we are here to stay?

Here is what the Illinois football team will face, as these are the pregame grades of the Purdue defense

  • Defensive Line – Overall D-

The Purdue defensive line has been pretty underwhelming when it comes to the run stop and pass rush in 2023.

Purdue is giving up 148.3 yards per game on the ground, which ranks No. 80 in the nation. They are also are middle of the road when it comes to sacking the quarterback, averaging 2.8 sacks per game, which ranks No. 41 in the country.

The Boilermakers tend to go with a 3-4 defense, with starters Malik Langham, Cole Brevard, and Isaiah Nichols leading the way. All three of these defensive linemen are struggling this season.

Nichols has a Pro Football Focus grade of 63.9, which is No. 453 in the country. Langham isn’t too far behind at No. 566 in the nation. To top it off, Brevard is literally one of the worst defensive linemen in the country. There are only 26 other interior defensive linemen in the country with a lower rating than Brevard’s 51.4.

  • Linebacker – Overall D+

One would think the Purdue linebackers might see an improvement since the defensive line has been struggling this season. That isn’t the case, though.

Nic Scourton has been a bright spot for the Boilermakers, as he is fourth on the team in tackles and has two sacks on the season. He is also the only Purdue linebacker who ranks inside the top 420 in college football.

Purdue can send linebackers off the edge and get to the quarterback. With Illinois’ weak offensive line, especially the right side, this could be the Boilermakers’ hope to disrupt what we have going on.

Kydran Jenkins is another Purdue linebacker to keep in mind. While he only ranks No. 429 in the country, he does have three sacks on the season and is third on the team with 22 tackles.

I am not too worried about the Purdue middle linebackers, though. They both seem to be struggling, and Illinois doesn’t focus too much of the passing game over the middle. Although, this might be a great chance for the Illini running backs to find space in the middle of that Purdue defense.

  • Defensive Back – C-

There are definitely some weak spots in the Purdue secondary. I believe, if given time, Illinois quarterback Luke Altmyer could have his best game as a member of the Orange and Blue.

Purdue is giving up 255.8 yards per game through the air, which ranks No. 87 in the country. This below-average pass defense is probably due to some defensive backs struggling.

Cornerbacks Cam Allen and Markevious Brown both rank sub-550 in the nation. Allen is going to be covering Illinois wide receiver Isaiah Williams for much of the game. This is going to be a fun matchup to watch and one of the toughest tests Allen will have to face this season.

The Boilermakers do have a couple of lockdown defenders too. Safety Dillon Thieneman ranks No. 60 among all safeties, and Marquis Wilson is No. 86 among all cornerbacks. Thieneman currently leads the Purdue defense in tackles and interceptions. He will be tasked with making sure Altmyer doesn’t beat the Boilermakers over the top.

Next. Pregame grades for the Purdue offense. dark