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November 4, 2012

Still searching; Sunday notes





Listen: Coach Danny Hope before practice

Danny Hope has no special speeches to deliver for this kind of situation.

His Purdue team understands the circumstances: It must win its final three games to become bowl eligible.

So there were no intense team meetings before practice on Sunday, and Hope didn't try a rousing speech to rally the squad.

Hope said he thought the meetings last week - before the 34-9 loss to Penn State Saturday - served their purpose and he thought his team had regrouped and came out ready to play and believed it could win.

But it didn't.

So now the Boilermakers are staring at a challenge, winning at Iowa this week, then winning at Illinois the next week and then winning against Indiana in the season finale.

"You can't allow lack of success to take your spirit away. You can't allow a lack of support to take your spirit away. That's where we're at as a football team right now," Hope said Sunday. "We have to gain our strength from one another and get ready to play hard and win. Even though we won't have the type of season that we had anticipated or one we had worked hard for or dreamed about, we can still have a winning season and a successful season and a season with postseason play. There's still a lot to play for. I don't believe anyone has given up yet."

The Boilermakers lost their fifth consecutive game on Saturday and again were plagued by mistakes on defense that produced big plays on touchdown drives and by missed blocks and dropped passes on offense.

Hope is perplexed at why his team can practice well and seem prepared but not execute when it matters.

"We have a lot of guys who are giving great effort, but they're not getting the job done while they're giving the great effort," he said. "They're working really hard and playing hard but making mistakes. Sometimes they're missed assignments. Sometimes they're technical errors. But most of the time, it's things they should be able to do and things they've done before. The lack of execution, there's really no excuse for it. It's a quandary in some ways why we don't execute as well as we can in some of the little things that they've practiced at and worked at throughout the course of the season.

"Maybe we're stressing or pressing. Maybe the lofty expectations and lack of success, maybe all of that together collectively is a lot for anybody, and right now, it's a lot for our football team."

Marve still the man
Robert Marve got his first start against a Big Ten opponent last week, and Hope said, as of Sunday, Marve would get No. 2 this weekend against the Hawkeyes.

Marve was sore on Sunday, and it wasn't just because his injured left knee was put through the paces on Saturday.

Hope said Marve got probably 10 "big hits," including the sack. When Marve was able to get the ball out, there also was an issue of dropped passes. In the game, Hope said Purdue had 10 drops.

"Sometimes when the quarterback is under pressure, the ball doesn't come out of his hand quite the same. When he's throwing the ball at the same time he's running for his life, the accuracy and the catchable balls aren't quite the same. It's a tough assignment," Hope said.

Marve completed 22-of-39 passes for 138 yards. He guided Purdue on a scoring drive on the team's first of the game, a field goal, but didn't score again.

"I thought did pretty good for the most part," Hope said. "From a decision-making standpoint, I'd still like to have a few of those back. But I thought he showed courage and threw the ball and played hard and he's a guy that can put us in position to win right now."

Need to hold up
Marve - or whoever is Purdue's quarterback - will need help from the fellas up front to have more success.

Purdue allowed only one sack against Penn State, but Marve was consistently pounded or forced out of the pocket.

Hope was asked to assess the offensive line's play.

"I don't know what their actual grades are, but a lot of guys did some things the best they've ever done. But Penn State has good players, too, and we would have four guys doing a good job and one guy not getting it done and it'd result in a sack or pressure for the quarterback or maybe negate a run," Hope said. "I don't think we played near as well as we need to in order to catch up when we're behind, from a throwing standpoint, we have to protect our quarterback a lot better. There's some guys who did some good things on Saturday, but the end result not good enough to protect our quarterback well enough for us to win the game."

Sluggish stars
Ricardo Allen and Josh Johnson were considered among the league's best cornerbacks, but after a hot start to the season, the pair has slowed.

They've been hampered some by injuries - Allen's had issues with an ankle and a shin and Johnson's thumbs - but they also seem to be making mistakes that have led to some big plays.

"Not as well as we'd have liked them to, not as well as they can," Hope said when asked how the pair is playing. "I thought they both started the season off playing very well. There were some games early in the season where Josh was at the point of attack an inordinate amount of times and had success an inordinate amount of times, as many times as anybody that I'd been around for being at the point of attack. So they both started the season playing very, very well. Right now, we're not as healthy up front so that negates some of the rush and that can allow your secondary to be exploited some."




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