Don't Count Purdue Out

Oct. 4, 2005

Head Coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday at his weekly press conference to pay no attention to Purdue’s two-game losing streak or its defense which ranks ninth in the Big Ten before his Hawkeyes travel to Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday.

“They have our respect I can tell you that,” Ferentz said. “They’re a very talented football team, a very veteran football team. We haven’t had great success against Purdue, so they’ve got our full attention.”

Coming into the season, Purdue was tapped to be one of the strongest contenders for the Big Ten Conference title. And the now unranked Boilermakers made it as high as 11th in The Associated Press rankings before taking a 42-35 overtime loss at Minnesota on Sept. 24 and a 49-28 loss at home against No. 13 Notre Dame last Saturday.

The Irish held as much as a 28-0 lead and recorded the most yards (621) against a Purdue team in Coach Joe Tiller’s tenure. The Boilermakers (2-2, 0-1) did, however, make a game of it in the second half with two touchdown receptions by Dorien Bryant and two rushing scores by Kory Sheets.

“It looked like two different football teams,” said Ferentz, who watched the game following his own 35-7 shellacking of Illinois. “Notre Dame is a very hot football team, a very veteran team, and they’re well-coached and playing extremely well. They did a very nice job executing, and for whatever reason – you can read the accounts out of the Purdue camp – (Purdue) just looked out of sync offensively.

“They certainly looked very sharp in that second half.”

Purdue had more than 60 snaps in the second half alone but couldn’t wear down the Notre Dame defense. The number of snaps was “unbelievable” to Ferentz.

“Notre Dame had an excellent game plan and more importantly they executed it extremely well,” Ferentz said. “They had a good plan. That’s your job going in, but it helps if you’ve got the right people involved and they certainly did – the right decision-makers and the right playmakers.”

The job of crafting a similarly winning game plan for the Hawks to use against the Boilermakers now falls on Ferentz and his staff.

“It’s our job every week,” he said. “We try to give our guys a good plan every week, but what you have to remember is what’s our personnel and football team. You have to do what you can do, and what your players can do.”

One option could be an increased passing attack. Purdue’s pass defense ranks last in the Big Ten through all games. Quarterbacks have completed about 63 percent of their passes against the Boilermakers for about 346 yards a game and 12 total passing touchdowns.

If that’s what the Hawkeyes (3-2, 1-1) are planning, though, quarterback Drew Tate certainly wasn’t letting anything slip.

“It could be,” he said. “I’ll find out today exactly what we’re probably going to do and that’s pretty much it.”

Tate also said Purdue is probably gunning to break its losing skid as well as its on-again-off-again relationship with the Hawkeyes. The two teams have split the series the last four years, and Iowa won a 23-21 decision inside Kinnick Stadium last year.

“They’ve had this game circled on their calendars since last year, there’s no doubt about it,” Tate said. “They’re coming off two losses, and they’re pretty hungry to get a win.”

Having faced the Illini last week could also boost the Hawkeyes chances, according to Ferentz.

“Purdue’s a tough preparation, and last week we had a tough one,” the coach said. “They’re not the same, but there are some similarities – the no-huddle facet, the spread formations. We’re going to see that again. The option threat, we’re going to see that. So they’re not identical, but at least there are some parallels there.”

Linebacker Chad Greenway said seeing Tim Brasic’s option attack was good preparation for Purdue’s Brandon Kirsch, who’s the team’s third-leading rusher with 128 yards on the year with a 5.1 yard-per-rush average.

“They’ve had this game circled on their calendars since last year, there’s no doubt about it. They’re coming off two losses, and they’re pretty hungry to get a win.”
Quarterback Drew Tate on Purdue

“I know we haven’t seen a lot of option in the three years I’ve played,” he said. “It’s nice to see some option. It was nice to get a glimpse.”

Illinois’ no-huddle offense is also similar to Purdue’s.

“It’ll be a night game which will be nicer because it’ll be a little cooler,” Greenway said. “The thing you have to remember is that when you go no-huddle it’s hurting them too because they’re getting tired the same way we are. It comes down to conditioning, who’s in better shape, and who can bring it in the fourth quarter.”

We’ll find out at 3:30 CDT Saturday.

NOTES: Coach Ferentz selected Abdul Hodge, Jovon Johnson, Ed Hinkel and Zach Gabelmann to captain Iowa this week. Gabelmann was selected for his special teams’ abilities and it will be his first trip to midfield … Injury-wise, the Hawkeyes seem to be in great shape, according to Ferentz. Marcus Paschal will return at strong safety and linebacker Chris Brevi is working back into practices. Alex Willcox is in question with shoulder difficulties according to the coach.

Barry Pump,