November 8, 2012
Behind Enemy Lines
Heading to the start of Big Ten play, a few college football experts thought that Purdue was a darkhorse to win the Big Ten title. After five straight losses, the Boilermakers are struggling as they finish up the 2012 season. We go Behind Enemy Lines with GoldandBlack.com Brian Neubert to get the scoop on the Boilermakers.
1. Lot of rumors and rumblings regarding the future of Purdue Head Coach Danny Hope. What's his future at Purdue and if he is let go, where do you think the Boilers look as far as a head coach?
NEUBERT: Yeah, he's in trouble. Last year, Purdue went to a bowl game and came into this season needing for that to just be a step toward something more than just going 6-6 and beating a MAC team in a bowl game. Purdue touted itself as having more starters returning than anyone in the Big Ten and was tabbed by many, maybe prematurely, as a contender in a Leaders Division that's short on them.
Since a 3-1 start, Purdue's not even been competitive in the Big Ten, except for a near-win at Ohio State that in the grand of scheme of thing now just serves as a reminder of the maddening inconsistency that's plagued this program. Purdue still has a chance to win out, but it's hard to even acknowledge that possibility when a team is 0-5. Even if it does win out and end up with seven wins, it's not enough.
2. The quarterback position seems to be shifting each game? Who starters, who plays the most snaps, and who's the best option for the Boliermakers?
NEUBERT: Robert Marve is the starter again and he'll presumably play as much as his knee allows him. He's playing on an injured ACL. In my opinion, he's the best option for Purdue, because he's better suited to sling it around and make plays when there are no plays there to be made, because of his arm strength, elusiveness and savvy. But he'll make mistakes, and he's playing on one leg, so you have to take the good with the bad.
That said, Aaron Rodgers could be playing quarterback for this team right now and he'd struggle with the way Purdue's struggled in protection and dropped passes lately.
3. What went wrong this season for Purdue? Heading into the Big Ten season, they were being talked about as a darkhorse title contender and the season seems to be sliding like it is at Iowa.
NEUBERT: What happened to cause what's happened, I don't know, but Purdue has not gotten the quarterback play it hoped for coming into the season; its offensive line has struggled against Big Ten teams; and lately its receivers have been dropping too many passes.
On defense, it's struggled at the line of scrimmage in Big Ten play. The defensive line is supposed to be the strength of the defense, but since the start of September, it's been anything but. That's putting an undue toll on untested linebackers and undersized defensive backs. When Purdue has really struggled on D, it's tackling has been poor.
4. Offensively who are some of the key contributors to watch on Saturday beyond the quarterbacks?
NEUBERT: Purdue's got some speed at the skill positions, a guy like running back Akeem Hunt, who's sort of utility player who's made a lot of big plays this season with his speed.
Antavian Edison's a pretty good receiver who's had a nice year despite the passing game's struggles to get much going vertically.
But the most interesting player on the offense is Marve, because he can make a play - whether it be for his team or the other - on every single play. When he's getting hit 10 times in a game and his receivers are dropping passes, though, it's a bit of a challenge.
5. Coming into the season it looked like Purdue had some potential on defense, led by guys like Kawann Short and Bruce Gaston. What's went wrong on the defensive side of the football this year and who are the key players to watch?
NEUBERT: Yeah, Purdue does have talent up front. It might not be living up to its full potential right now, but Kawann Short is still a potential first-round pick. The Boilermakers need more from him, though. And Gaston and end Ryan Russell are both solid players also.
In the secondary, Purdue's cornerbacks haven't had great seasons, relative to expectation, but I'd imagine a lot of other teams would kill to have them. Ricardo Allen is an All-Big Ten-type guy who has been playing hurt for the past month-plus. And Josh Johnson has had his ups and downs, but he's still a player, if you ask me.
Those guys could really use some help in the form of a pass rush. Purdue has three sacks in five Big Ten games."
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