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New coach, new QB, new tunnel to debut at Purdue game at Ross-Ade

(Provided Photo/Purdue Athletics)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WISH) – The Purdue University football team begins its 2023 regular season on Saturday against Fresno State.

West Lafayette has a lot of excitement

Last season, the Boilermakers found success and advanced to the Big Ten Football Championship Game, where they fell Dec. 3 to No. 2 Michigan at Lucas Oil Stadium.

This year, the Boilers are hoping to get back to Indianapolis and the Big Ten Football Championship Game, but they’ll have to do so with a new quarterback and a new head coach.

Ryan Walters enters his first season as Purdue’s head coach while quarterback Hudson Card, a transfer from the University of Texas, is preparing for his first season at Purdue.

“I’m just excited to get the guys ready to go play,” Walters said. “And really just be a part of their journey this season and help them achieve all their goals and things that they’re trying to get accomplished in their careers while they’re at Purdue.”

Both of those guys are looking forward to the opener. Fans likely are excited as well as they can finally see the “new-look” Boilermakers.

Fans in attendance this weekend will also see a “new-look” Ross-Ade Stadium. The stadium went through multiple renovations heading into this season. One of those renovations is the creation of the Tiller Tunnel. The team will run through tunnel, in the northeast corner of the stadium, and onto the field approximately four minutes before kickoff. 

“I’m sure it will be a surreal experience,” Walters said. 

A rendering of the Tiller Tunnel. (Courtesy Purdue Athletics)

The Tiller Tunnel is named in honor of former Purdue head coach Joe Tiller. Tiller was head coach of Purdue for 12 seasons and is the program’s all-time winningest head coach with 87 victories. He died in 2017. 

“Coach Tiller was an important person in my life and to so many other guys who played for him,” former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees said in a news release. “He did so much more than teach us how to win. He taught us life lessons and how to be great leaders and men.”

Brees, who played under Tiller, played a big role in helping get the Tiller Tunnel project going. 

Earlier this year, Brees, along with his wife Brittany, committed to “matching dollars to thank and recognize those who support future enhancements to Ross-Ade Stadium by contributing to the Tiller Tunnel naming initiative on Purdue Day of Giving.”

This Saturday, the players and the fans will get to experience the new tradition of the team running out of the Tiller Tunnel on game days. 

“It’s going to be exciting,” said Purdue defensive back Sanoussi Kane. “Once it’s done and fully complete and we’re able to run out of it that first game versus Fresno State, it’s going to be a great feeling.”

Kickoff against Fresno State is set for noon.