2010 CFBZ Prediction: 8th Place in Big Ten
2010 Actual Finish: Tied for 9th Place in the Big Ten (4-8, 2-6)
For the last 3 years Purdue has posted records of either 4-8 or 5-7. Right now Purdue seems to be a team that is cementing their spot in the bottom third of the Big Ten. In 2009 Purdue started off 1-5 before rebounding to go 4-2 in their final six. In 2010 they took the opposite approach and won 4 of their first 6 before dropping their final 6 games. We reached out to the Purdue-centric blog Boiled Sports to find out their thoughts of the 2010/2011 season and get a quick peak into 2011/2012.
In our Pre-Season Preview you said that winning 7 games would make this a successful season for Purdue. Unfortunately Purdue fell short with only 4 wins. What went wrong?
The team was most definitely decimated by injuries. They had, essentially, one healthy running back (Dan Dierking) and then wide receivers getting carries at RB. Starting QB Robert Marve tore his ACL (again) early in the season, as did WR Keith Smith who was expected to be among the best -- or THE best -- WRs in the Big Ten. This kind of stuff is difficult to recover from when you're Purdue and aren't full of blue chips like other teams in the conference. So first stringer at QB Marve went down, then second-string QB Caleb TerBush had already been declared ineligible because of academics...so we saw third string QB, redshirt freshman Rob Henry for a while. And then Ohio State tore his fingernail off his index finger on his throwing hand. So we saw a lot of fourth-string QB, freshman Sean Robinson. And Sean wasn't that effective, so against Michigan on November 13, Purdue started fifth string QB (and a guy who began the season as a wideout and last played QB two years ago) Justin Siller. Who promptly got injured on the first play from scrimmage.
You get the picture.
This is not to say this was the only reason Purdue had a lousy season. Coaching was suspect and preparedness was laughable at times, as was a complete and utter inability to finish.
Which player(s) was the biggest surprise of the season and on the flipside who was the biggest disappointment?
Dan Dierking was one of the biggest bright spots, let's say that. He's a senior RB who had been buried on the depth chart for most of his Purdue career and then this year got the chance to be the feature back, mainly because of injuries. Dan is a tough kid and he carried the load and was one of the few guys we all trusted with the ball. He wasn't the most explosive back, but he had good hands and made us proud. He's the kind of kid who is a real Boilermaker.
As for disappointments, it's hard to pin it on a player, so we'll say the coaching staff in general. Too many head-scratcher decisions on the field too many times. Inconsistent decisions (Are you a gambler or a conservative coach? You can't be both!) and inconsistent effort from the team is something that falls on the coaches.
Danny Hope is 9-15 after two seasons in West Lafayette. What are the general thoughts on him around campus. Is he on the hot seat or on the verge of being there in this "win now" era of college football?
It's becoming clear that there are really two camps on this guy. In one, you've got those who are ready to see him gone, no bones about it. He has worn thin on these people and we can't say much to defend him. He seems to be too emotional to be a head coach. He can get the guys fired up but his teams are also prone to huge letdowns or perhaps looking ahead to bigger games. Thus, losses in each of his seasons to MAC teams -- at home. He also seems very confused in pressure situations and will make rash decisions that seem completely illogical at random times. No predictability.
The other camp is those who, while not happy with the team's performance, are continuing to blame things on the injuries and inexperience. The "give the guy a fair chance" camp feels that without the extenuating circumstances, this team would be winning 7-9 games a year. These people are, to put it mildly, delusional.
However, Purdue alums and fans have often accepted mediocrity and once you expect or accept mediocrity, you're going to get that -- or worse. The Purdue football program is in danger of sliding into complete irrelevance, the likes of which they haven't seen since the Akers and Coletto days -- or worse. We get told we're being overly dramatic when we say this, but we've seen it before and we know there are some bad things happening right now. Losing to IU, for example, this season was brutal. Absolutely brutal.
Who are some of the guys that need to step up next year to become major players for the Boilermakers?
Keith Smith is expected to be granted a 5th year by the NCAA and his leadership and sheer talent will be a huge help. Robert Marve intends to rehab his second blown ACL in the last two years and come back to lead the team at QB, so he'll be critical as well. Purdue needs a downfield threat in order to survive in the Big Ten and they did not have it this year. Hopefully, that will return.
What area(s) does your team need to improve on the most this off-season?
Playing football. (Is that too broad?)