A few weeks ago, before the Ohio State game, I posited a question. Was there a Big Ten win left on the Illinois schedule? After breaking down the final four games I came to the conclusion that our best chance at a victory would be at home against Purdue. A few weeks later the Illini still sit winless, but Purdue finally got on the board.
So what can we learn about the the team we're fighting against to claim the famed Purdue Cannon? Did you even know there was a rivalry trophy for this game? No? Well find out more about Purdue football, damn it.
1. Every season under Danny Hope had seen improvement, with last season culminating with the bowl win. Before this season Hope said he had his most talented team, and well, we know how that's worked out. What went wrong in 2012?
I think one of the biggest things was offensive playcalling and poor play by the lines. Purdue nearly beat Notre Dame and Ohio State because the defensive line had a field day, but in the other four losses they were pretty bad. Also, the fans have been up in arms about Gary Nord, our offensive coordinator, for a lack of creativity or even anything going down field. He missed this last game with a back injury and suddenly we racked up nearly 500 yards of offense.
Also, the quarterback situation was a mess as we all expected. Robert Marve looked great early, but Hope insisted on playing TerBush. Marve provided a second quarter spark against Notre Dame, then TerBush played the 3rd quarter and did nothing. Then Marve got hurt. Once he came back TerBush was still the starter even when Marve outperformed him until two weeks ago. Now Marve is the guy and things are going better.
2. Do you think there's any chance Hope can save his job if Purdue wins out against Illinois and Indiana to get back to a bowl game?
I think that is the only chance and even then it is a small one. He would have to announce that Gary Nord is not returning at all and Purdue would have to win its bowl game. Even then, I think he is gone after the Indiana game. It's not so much that we lost five games to start the conference season, but that we looked completely and totally unprepared in four of them. When you get blown out at home in three games that everyone sees you as at least being competitive that is 100% on the coaches.
3. If Hope can't save his job and does end up getting fired, who would be the first coach you called?
My top choices are Dave Doeren at Northern Illinois or Sonny Dykes at Louisiana Tech. They have some excellent quarterback play this season and I would love to have their offenses. I even wrote about them here.
4. Why aren't more people aware of how awesome Kawann Short is? I think I've seen him get blocked on maybe three plays this season.
I think part of it was how bad the defensive line was in other games and part of it comes from Purdue's lack of success. If Purdue was leading the Division right now I think you'd see a lot more about him. What a lot of people don't know is that he was a high school basketball teammate of E`Twuan Moore and won a state championship in Indiana with him during Moore's senior season. He's 6'4" 300+ and can dunk a basketball with both hands. I asked him once if he wanted to play basketball at Purdue just to set picks and be a general enforcer and he said he would if Hope would let him. He wasn't just a role player on that team with Moore. He had a double-double (20 points, 10 rebounds) in the championship game against Eric Gordon. So that state title game had two NBA players and a future NFL player.
5. Never mention the name Eric Gordon around here again. But speaking of basketball, what are your expectations for Purdue basketball this season?
Honestly, I am hoping for 20 wins, an NCAA bid, and that we keep our streak of 14 straight first round wins alive. The Bucknell loss is far from a bad one as they returned all five starters from a 25 win team and are expected to win the Patriot League. The only difference now is that if they win their other two big non-conference games at Penn State and Missouri they will be in the discussion for an at large bid. They're a damn good team.
Our youth will be a major issue. With only one senior that has a ton of experience and five freshmen playing big minutes it's going to be a patience-building year. We already love Ronnie Johnson, however.
Also, from me to you, please beat Indiana. Their fans are insufferable over here.
Indiana fans being insufferable? I refuse to believe it.