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November 3, 2012

Hope: 'Not concerned' about job

Following Saturday's game, which marked Purdue's fifth-straight defeat, Coach Danny Hope was asked whether he was concerned the slide would result in him being fired.

"No, I'm not concerned about that one bit, to be quite honest with you," Hope responded after Purdue's 34-9 loss to Penn State.

It's clear, however, that heat is on Hope, whose team dropped to 3-6 on the season and is on the brink of elimination from postseason play. Purdue would need to win its last three consecutive games to become bowl eligible, a streak that seems almost unfathomable considering the Boilers' inconsistency.

Purdue's season started with great expectations, particularly after the Boilermakers won three of their four in nonconference, and lost the other by only three points at still undefeated Notre Dame. It led to Hope, and other national pundits, declaring Purdue a contender for the Leaders Division title, with a chance to play for the conference championship in Indianapolis.

But the Boilermakers have lost every Big Ten game this season, and all but one - the overtime loss at Ohio State - by at least 16 points. Still, Hope is maintaining a positive outlook.

"If we win out and go to postseason play, that's a successful season," said Hope, whose team was 6-6 in the regular-season a year ago, before a Little Caesars Pizza Bowl win. "It may not be any more successful than last season, but it is still a successful season. We're not comparing this season to last season to base our level of success or not. Based on what we have in place right now and I think if we win our next three ball games and go into postseason play, it would be a good sign for our football team and our football program.

"Obviously we're disappointed with where we're at and we haven't come through in the clutch games, the big games, and that's why we're at where we're at. But we can still win and end the season with some momentum and on a positive note."

Hope has the support of his players. After the loss, cornerback Ricardo Allen was asked whether it was hard to see criticism of his head coach.

"I love Coach Hope," the junior said. "He's one of my favorite coaches. I think he's a great coach. It's sad he's getting this reputation, because Coach Hope is not a losing coach; he's a winning coach."

Running back Akeem Shavers says the Boilermakers are rallying around their coach.

"But at the same time, we still have to play football," Shavers said. "They can't get rid of him right now. We're definitely going to do our best to keep him here. By doing (what we can control), we just have to focus on one game at a time."

Marve hangs in
In his first conference start since being a redshirt freshman at Miami in 2008, Robert Marve took a pounding against Penn State Saturday.

The quarterback was knocked down at least a dozen times - and possibly more - before coming out of the game with the Boilermakers down 34-3 in the second half.

"We had dialogue with him," Hope said, "and he was not comfortable at the time. He had had enough hits."

Marve was 22-of-39 for 138 yards before leaving on Purdue's final drive before the fourth quarter, when Caleb TerBush entered the game. Marve, who is playing with an left-knee ACL injury, was sacked only once, but hit multiple other times. On one of the last, he appeared to suffer some soreness in the knee.

"It was all right," he said of his knee. "It got a little sore at the end. It's the first time it's really gone through it. It's a little sore right now, but it's nothing I haven't felt before."

In Purdue's final three drives, TerBush was 10-of-20 for 155 yards with a touchdown, scored just before the end of the game. But after the loss, it seemed there was little doubt Marve would be the starter at Iowa next weekend.

Hope said after the game that Purdue's plan was to sub in Rob Henry occasionally at QB, in an effort to keep Marve as fresh as possible. But it didn't go well. Henry was only 1-of-2 passing for negative-five yards - he did have five receptions for 54 - and when he took consecutive snaps under center at the start of the second quarter, Purdue went backward.

Marve certainly thought the offense could have performed better.

"There were a lot of plays out there I felt we could have had," he said. "I'd have to watch the film. I don't know how many drops there were or bad ball placements. It just sucks to lose and to have this feeling."

Third down woes
In Purdue's three home Big Ten games, its struggled mightily to convert third downs.

The Boilermakers are only 11-of-48 - 22.9 percent - in conversions in conference play in Ross-Ade Stadium, losing to Michigan, Wisconsin and Penn State.

Purdue was 7-of-21 vs. the Nittany Lions, but was just 1-of-11 in the first half, which ended with the Boilers down 20-3.

"At one point in time we were one of the nation's leaders in third-down conversions," Hope said, referring to Purdue's non-conference games. "A lot of it had to do with not being in third-and-long, or third-and-medium or longer. And right now, we're not having enough success - and I'll look at the stats, I could be wrong - but I wonder how many times it's been third-and-five or more. And when it becomes third-and-five or more, then you're odds of converting reduce dramatically.

"It's probably a result of both, of not getting it done on third down, protection-wise and catching the football and then not being in third-and-short enough."

Case of the drops
Purdue's receivers had far too many drops, perhaps closing in on double-digits.

They often killed what little momentum the Boilermakers' offense could muster. The usually sure-handed Antavian Edison had a few.

"It's a lack of focus," he said. "I had a couple drops myself and I'm very disappointed in myself. I just have to work harder and be more dependable for my teammates.

"As for the rest of the receivers, we've just got to go back and do more (drills on the) Jugs (machine). I'll get those guys and we'll rally together."

Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2012. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing or using editorial or graphical content, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited. E-mail GoldandBlack.com/Boilers, Inc.

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