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Dispatches From Blogfrica: Hammer & Rails Talks Iowa-Purdue Football

Purdue! Our most hate-- meh. Whatever.


What is Dispatches from Blogfrica? Pretty simple: I ask questions of an opposing team's blogger; he answers. A truly revolutionary idea, no? This week: BoilerTMill, from SBN's superb Purdue blog, Hammer & Rails.

1) Football season! Man, it sure is awesome. Yep, no complaints about either of our teams, I'm guessing. Does that sound about right?

None at all! It is not like I am pointing out the few flaws that Danny Hope has or suggesting who should replace him if Morgan Burke doesn’t bring him back for some reason! We’re totally happy being 3-5 and getting drilled in four of our five Big Ten games. After all, our most talented team just doesn’t have the same talent as everyone else.

2) But, seriously, holy god, football sucks this year for both our teams. At least you aren't bound to your coach with a pair of $20 million shackles, so there's reason to realistically hope for a fresh start. Do you think that fresh start happens this off-season? Is Danny Hope truly a dead man coaching or is there a chance he could be back next year? To that end, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana isn't the most daunting schedule ever, so y'all could finish 6-6 this year -- would that save Hope's job? The fact that Hope called out some fans as "losers" seems like a pretty bad sign.

I don’t think 6-6 is enough. We were 6-6 last season with a guaranteed better record in the conference (4-4 vs. 3-5 at best this season). We also beat two bowl teams (Illinois and Ohio State) while getting to 6-6 this year would have our best win be over Marshall or an FCS possible playoff team in Eastern Kentucky.

I am hoping that the message is getting through to Morgan Burke because the fans are not showing up in droves. Attendance is at pre-Tiller lows as we haven’t had anything close to a sellout since last year’s Notre Dame game. The fans are furious not just because of the losses, but because Purdue got blown out and looked completely unprepared in every Big Ten game except Ohio State.

Most of the blame is on offensive coordinator Gary Nord, who had had a terrible game plan and overly simplistic playcalling all season. Combine that with the bizarre decision to rotate three quarterbacks and not even attempt a running game with decent running backs has fans really pissed off.

3) Speaking of Indiana... on a scale of 1-10, how bad would you feel if Purdue lost to them in football this year? Would it be just another bad break in a season that's been a full-on shitburger or would you be extra-bummed about losing the Old Oaken Bucket to those dudes this year? (Also also: how crazy would it make you if freaking Indiana got into the Big Ten Championship Game this year?)

It would be a full-on shitburger. I recently found out I am going to be a father in April. (Ed. Note: Congrats!) Of course my child will be born into a world where Notre Dame is the defending National champion in football when I hate them with a passion. Also, Indiana is going to win the basketball national title under the same premise. Indiana beating us, while somehow making the Big Ten championship game, might just make me walk away and lose my sanity.

Purdue football has never been a consistently great team. We’ve had our moments, but historically we’re middle of the pack at best. We’ve prided ourselves on at least being better than Indiana. Losing to them, especially at home, has been pretty much unacceptable and only happened once since Tiller came to town. If it happens this year Hope will have done it twice in a row.

4) Help us out, please. Basketball has been a source of pain and sadness for us for a long time and we're just now starting to get accustomed to having an exciting, fun basketball team that's worth anticipating. We usually tried to ignore basketball altogether until after football season was totally done and there was nothing else to watch or do. But now football sucks and basketball is exciting and, man, it's all so confusing and I don't know what to do. You're a Purdue fan -- you're used to dealing with a football team that's effectively dead and buried by Halloween and a basketball team that's exciting and full of potential and wins and cool stuff like that. Can you give us any tips on how to handle this transition?

Enjoy it, man. If you can beat Indiana a few times along the way to help your own profile it would be greatly appreciated. I’ve always been more of a basketball fan, but when football is struggling it can be so much sweeter to reset everything with basketball season. We have five exciting new freshmen to watch and if we can survive this year without Indiana winning the title we can finally start getting back at our main rivals.

5) Purdue's riding a five-game losing streak, so... um... what's gone wrong? Would it be easier to just ask if anything's gone right? Is there any particular reason to think that things are going to break right for you guys this week? Are you particularly good at anything on offense or defense this season?

In the losses to Notre Dame and Ohio State Purdue was close because of dominant defensive line play. Kawann Short, Bruce Gaston, and Ryan Russell played extremely well in those games and coaching decision cost us a stunning road win each time. At Notre Dame Hope decided to bench Marve, who was hot, for TerBush, who came in and did nothing as we fell behind by 10. At Ohio State we went missionary position instead of trying to gain one first down that would have sealed the game.

Purdue needs its defensive line to play like it did in those two games, because in the other losses it has virtually disappeared and not gotten any pressure whatsoever on the quarterback. I also think we need to commit to the running game more. Our last two games have featured a big run on the first series by Akeem Shavers, then we proceeded to barely run at all even when the game has still been close.

Unfortunately, Gary Nord will continue to call screen pass after screen pass, he’ll run straight into the line, and he’ll refuse to through downfield. He’ll have a gimpy quarterback roll out behind terrible blocking and the offense will stall.

6) Angry Purdue Quarterback Hating God seems to have been relatively quiet this season -- has he just gotten bored with messing with you guys? Or is He just content to sit back and let Danny Hope roast himself?

I think he is acting through Hope because Marve, TerBush, and Henry have played musical quarterbacks the entire season. We have had exactly one game where one quarterback took every snap and that was TerBush vs. Ohio State. In some games Henry has come in as a wildcat QB and recently he’s been playing receiver and running back, but for the most part it has been rotation sometimes for the sake of rotation. This year the shackles on each QB has been that god’s vengeance.

7) OK, prediction time -- who ya got?

Unless Gary Nord’s playcalling is suddenly different I fully expect Iowa to win by about 30.

Thanks for being a good sport, Travis. Be sure to check out Travis and the rest of his train-loving amigos at Hammer & Rails. You can also follow him on Twitter at @HammerAndRails. The Iowa-Purdue game is in Iowa City, IA on Saturday, November 10 at 11am CT, with television coverage from BTN.