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Gettin Familiar with Purdue

I'm afraid that I'm going to get injured just writing about Purdue.

Thus far: Saying Purdue has had an unmemorable season thus far is true, but not particularly descriptive for pointing out just how tortured their year has been thus far. Yes, they're 2-2 with losses to Notre Dame and Toledo. Yes, I consider Notre Dame to be exactly as good at football as Toledo. But let's bring this from the top: you already knew things would be bad when Purdue lost their star quarterback, Joey Elliott, and then found out in the spring that their star running back, Ralph Bolden, would also miss the season after offseason knee surgery. Then, against Western Illinois, Keith Smith, who led the Big Ten in receiving yards and receptions last year, tore his ACL and MCL. Then, against Toldeo, the guy who was replacing Elliott, Robert Marve, tore his ACL. Then, the guy who they swapped in from wide receiver to quarterback to potentially take snaps as a backup to Marve when he got injured, Justin Siller, got injured. I'm not sure what Danny Hope did in a prior lifetime to invoke such horrific injury karma, but I wouldn't be surprised if a swarm of locusts descended on Ryan Field Saturday night, looked around, decided not to screw with any NU fans or players, and just started doing whatever it is swarms of locusts do to Purdue's entire defensive line. Suggested reading for Purdue fans: the book of Job.

Us and them: NU is a somewhat disturbingly bad 27-49-1 against Purdue, but it's been better as of late. NU has won the last two against the Boilermakers, including a book of Job-ian game last year where NU came back from 21-3 to win 27-21 on the strength of five Purdue turnovers. 

When they got the ball: I'll be damned if I can tell you anything about Purdue's offense next week. Remember that first paragraph, where I mentioned their No. 1 quarterback, running back, and wide receiver are all injured, as well as another wide receiver/quarterback? I don't know what Purdue's offense will look like, because not even Purdue knows what Purdue's offense will look like. Their starting quarterback will be Rob Henry, a redshirt freshman who has thrown 41 passes on the season, most of them in a 17-31 performance last week against Toledo. He's also the team's second leading rusher with 167 yards, so, he likes to scramble. True freshman Sean Robinson will likely see some snaps as well, because, hell, they gotta do something. At running back, life without Bolden has been tolerable, though not good, mainly because the Boilers have primarily opted not to run at all with their running backs. No back has gotten more than 14 carries in any one game. The main ball-handler is Dan Dierking, who is actually averaging a very respectable 5.4 yards on the ground, but almost exactly half of his 205 yards on the season came in a 102-yard outing against Western Illinois. (The Leathernecks!)  Wide receiver Antavian Edison gets a lot of carries, but is still listed as a wide receiver despite the fact that he only has three receptions on the year. As for the passing game, it's been missing since Keith Smith got injured: its notable that he has been out for half of their season thus far and still is the team's leader in receptions, and the only reason he isn't the leader in yardage is because Cortez Smith had a 76-yard touchdown against Ball State. Siller was their fourth-leading receiver before he got injured, so, to summarize, thisteam is now using their second-string quarterback option, second-string running back option, and second-, third-, and fifth- wide receiver options. Je. Sus.

When we got the ball: Purdue's defense is actually pretty unscathed, so, they're, like, an actual Big Ten team. The Purdue defense is completely average in every way: they're 60th in the nation in rush defense and 58th in pass defense, 58th in total defense, and a slightly above-average 51st in scoring defense. The obvious star of the defense is defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, who has a Vince Browne-esque 4.5 sacks on the season, and leads the team in tackles by 11, which is kind of impressive four weeks into the season. He has 12 tackles-for-loss, good for best in the Big Ten, four more than Browne's second-place tally of eight. He's also forced three fumbles. It's kinda difficult to describe how much better he is than any other person on their defense. If Kerrigan can't sack you, though, it's kind of bleak. Purdue has only two picks on the year - both against Ball State - and allow opponents to complete 68.6 percent of passes for 9.95 yards a pass. Those are good stats for most QB's, but bad stats for Dan Persa