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November 11, 2012

Simplified approach helps; Sunday notes





Coach Danny Hope before practice

After Purdue snapped a six-game road losing streak to Iowa with a victory in Kinnick Stadium Saturday for the first time since 1992, Coach Danny Hope said in his post-game radio interview that he knew his team was going to win.

Asked Sunday if he had the same feeling heading into this weekend's game at Illinois - another "must win" for the Boilermakers' postseason hopes - Hope said, "We certainly believe we will."

Purdue was able to snap its five-game losing skid in the Big Ten this season by executing better and getting better protection for its quarterback, Hope said.

The Boilermakers had only two dropped passes, Hope said, after having 10 in a loss to Penn State the previous week. Robert Marve also wasn't hit nearly as much, helped by Purdue opting to keep two tight ends on the line more often to either stay in and block or chip defensive ends and taking advantage of an Iowa team that didn't do much up front.

It all led to Purdue producing more yards in a single game (490) than it had in any other game in league play.

"We had some simple blocking schemes that we reduced our run package a little bit," Hope said. "They didn't offer a variety of looks, so if you cut back a little bit and they're a little bit simpler, it really minimizes things significantly. I think that had a lot to do with us being able to execute a little bit better. We didn't make as many mistakes from a blocking standpoint or a route-running standpoint. Overall, we played well.

"I thought our backs ran really hard. They ran physical. Our offensive line played physical, and we were able to protect the quarterback. And any time you can give Robert Marve time, there's a good chance something good might happen."

Nord still out
It's likely receivers coach Patrick Higgins will be responsible for calling the plays on offense against this week with coordinator Gary Nord sidelined with a serious back injury.

Hope said Nord is "doing better."

Hope said Nord watched the game on TV from his hospital room on Saturday and met with him once the team got back into town that night.

"It was a tough thing for him emotionally," Hope said of Nord having to watch. "But obviously he was excited about the game and the win."

It's possible Higgins will have more of a hand in the actual game plan this week if Nord is unable to return.

Though Hope said the Boilermakers didn't use many different formations against Iowa - certainly none that weren't already in the playbook - they did appear to show some looks for the first time.

Purdue had yet to use Akeem Shavers and Ralph Bolden in the backfield together, Shavers said, and that happened at least twice.

Rob Henry lined up as a third running back offset to the left in an I formation on Purdue's first touchdown, getting the handoff and using an option pitch to Shavers for the score.

The Boilermakers have used double tight end sets before, but it seemed to showcase more plays with both tight ends lining up alongside the tackles. (Unofficial count was 19 times.) And, perhaps for the first time this season, Purdue used that two-tight end set on the line with an empty backfield and three receivers.

The Boilermakers also showed formations of three receivers with I formation, another seemingly new lineup.

Also, the rotation seemed to tighten up. Akeem Hunt and Brandon Cottom didn't play much in the second half especially.

'Red Cross crew'
Brandon Taylor, who has an ankle sprain, is "doubtful" to play this week, and Raheem Mostert (knee) is "questionable," Hope said.

Gabe Holmes (ribs) and Robert Maci (undisclosed) - they both missed either all or most of the second half - could be limited in practice this week.

"Robert is about where he was at this time last week," Hope said. "So hopefully we can keep him safe throughout the course of the week and get him ready to play. The other guys who have been banged up, I think they're further ahead of where they have been on Sunday compared to the last two or three Sundays.

"The problem you get into is they don't get near as many reps going full speed or three-quarter speed in practice, and that makes a difference in their performance on Saturday."

Another look
Early in the second quarter against the Hawkeyes, Marve stepped up in the pocket on a third-and-seven and swung the pass to Bolden on the left side.

Bolden dropped the ball, and the side judge appeared to run onto the field, blowing his whistle and signaling no catch.

But then an Iowa player came in and picked up the football.

After a review, the play was deemed a lateral - it clearly was on replay - and then a fumble awarded to the Hawkeyes.

Hope was asked about the play on Sunday.

"The official blew it dead and waved it dead, so we all assumed it was dead," he said. "If there's a delayed recovery of the ball, then it's supposed to be dead. In their minds, it was not a delayed recovery. In their minds, it was an instant recovery. You can see it on film, make your own decision. That's the way the rules are but it seems to me - and I didn't make these particular rules up, they were already in place - when you blow it dead and wave it dead there shouldn't be an addendum after that part of the play. Dead is dead, but that's not how it's translated in the rule book. Again, that's the officials, their judgment whether or not it was a delayed recovery or an instant recovery."

Downward turn
Purdue was exactly what Hope had been harping about all season in the first half against Iowa: Disciplined, at least when it came to penalties.

But after going without one in the first half, Purdue was whistled for 10 for 100 yards in the second. Several were costly, including two on the defense (facemask, pass interference) on a drive that Iowa scored its second touchdown.

"We had some tough calls and some of that certainly could have impacted the ball game, but I thought our team did a great job of hanging in there and not let tough calls weather their performance," he said. ".I thought we did a great job of swinging away."




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