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In non-conference play, Purdue was among the Big Ten leaders in offense with averages of 42.5 points, 262 yards passing, 201.5 yards rushing and 463.5 total yards.
In two Big Ten games, the Boilermakers rank 10th in scoring (13.5 ppg), 11th in passing offense (140.5) and last in total offense (232.5) and rushing offense (92) in league-only games.
Coach Danny Hope and starting quarterback Caleb TerBush know things need to change for Purdue (3-3) to have a chance to string together some victories.
And the offense especially needs to start producing this week too keep pace with an explosive Ohio State offense. In its three Big Ten games, the Buckeyes (7-0) averaged 44 points.
"We have to be more than a one-dimensional offense, and I believe we can manufacture a good passing game," Hope said Tuesday during his weekly press conference. "We went downfield more in the game this past weekend. … When you go against a big, strong defensive front, you're going to have to throw the ball some. We need to score points. Ohio State scores a lot of points, so the deep ball will have to be part of the plan."
But taking shots downfield means the offensive line needs to give quarterbacks time as the routes to develop.
Hope said Purdue may need to help the line get that protection, whether by a scheme or using extra blockers.
But Hope said he's happy with the way the line has played in Big Ten play.
"As I look at the film, they're cleaner in their pass sets, they have their hips down lower, they're a little stronger taking on the pass rushers now than maybe they were about four weeks ago, so I think we've made some progress from the offensive line from a pass protection standpoint, and that's huge for us," Hope said.
TerBush said he'd like to see the offense sustain some drives.
In the last two weeks, Purdue has had nine three-and-outs.
"It's execution," TerBush said. "Little things here and there, little missed assignments here or a bad ball, could be a catch, those are throwing you off queue. … We haven't executed like we should and we can. Staying focused is a huge thing. If you're trying to execute, you have to know what you're doing. Get in your playbooks, study some more film, know what looks to see and know what you're doing out there on the field and that should cancel out the execution problem."
TerBush No. 1TerBush will start against Ohio State on Saturday.
That's not a surprise; but it might be one that Hope sounds as though he might stick with the fifth-year senior a bit longer.
"Obviously, we're going to start Caleb TerBush and let him play," Hope said. "We want him to take control of the offense and we'll leave him in for a sustained amount of time. Then, we'll make a decision about alternating quarterbacks as the game goes on."
TerBush finished 7-of-16 passing for 80 yards vs. Wisconsin, with his first completion covering 53 yards. He also had an interception.
"I had some poor throws that I take full responsibility for," said TerBush, who is the only quarterback allowed to speak with the media because he's a captain. "But I know that this week is going to be a better week."
After Purdue's loss to Wisconsin Saturday, Hope said he wished, in hindsight, that he would have left TerBush in the game longer. Instead, he had taken TerBush out in favor of Robert Marve at the end of the second quarter. TerBush then started the second half but was ineffective and eventually gave way to No. 3 Rob Henry.
Hope says he thought Henry played the best he has all season and anticipates him playing against the Buckeyes.
"Thought that was the best he has looked since he sustained his knee injury a year ago," he said. "He has played in the games a little bit but seemed more confident and more sure. He has been running faster in practice and more confident than two or three weeks ago."
Where Marve fits into the plan is a question. Saturday, the sixth-year senior played at the end of the first half but was inefficient, completing less than 50 percent of his passes - he dealt with drops, too - and taking two sacks.
Marve also has the knee injury to deal with; his left knee was injured in Week 2 vs. Notre Dame.
"He's fine, health-wise," Hope said. "He came out of the game in good shape. Again, though, when you're dealing with an ACL you don't know what to expect."
Who's up on KOR?
With Raheem Mostert out at least two weeks, Purdue will have to find a replacement for its kickoff return team.
Freshman Danny Anthrop filled in the latter half on Saturday but did not have a return attempt. Instead, Akeem Hunt took all the opportunities.
But Anthrop's not Purdue's only option. Receivers O.J. Ross and Antavian Edison are possibilities, too, as is rookie defensive back Anthony Brown.
"We have good specialists and guys who were good at that in high school," Hope said.
Purdue has a number of injury issues:
• After not practicing Sunday, Ross is questionable for Saturday's game due to a turf toe-like injury.
"I thought that he went out there and tried and did well even after his injury," Hope said. "He went as long as he could.
"We'll wait and see what happens the next couple days."
• Cornerback Ricardo Allen is less than 100-percent. The junior had an ankle injury that's grown into multiple lower-leg issues.
"Ricardo has been struggling and we hope to get him healed up and freshened up for the big game this weekend," Hope said.
The injury first started with an ankle sprain vs. Notre Dame in Week 2, but now it's compounding. Both ankles and shins are hurting, and he could be developing a stress fracture in one of his shins.
"Sometimes when you get one wheel that's lost a little air, the other tire can go out too," Hope said.
"He's further along now than he was at this time last week. We'll manage him through the course of the week, so I'm very optimistic that he'll be able to play on Saturday."
• Purdue has some good news in that Normondo Harris is expected to be available this weekend.
The junior cornerback had missed the last two games with a knee injury.
• Others are nicked up as well, with Hope having previously mentioned defensive linemen Bruce Gaston, Brandon Taylor and Jalani Phillips.
"I think we'll be in better shape this week than we were last week," Hope said. "We were on Sunday and we will be (Monday). It depends on how it goes in practice, if you can keep them healthy and at the same time manage their reps and get them ready for the ball game."
• Left tackle Justin Kitchens missed the Wisconsin game, but is thought to be improving this week.
"We'll have to see how Justin is doing," Hope said.
In Kitchens' place, Kevin Pamphile started; he might keep his starting job this week.
Hope mentioned the possibility of keeping Pamphile at left tackle and letting Kitchens back up at both that side and for Trevor Foy on the right.
Tackling a priority
Purdue's not tackled much during practice the last couple weeks, Hope said.
It may have contributed to the poor showing by Purdue's defense against the Badgers, in which the Boilermakers missed 27 tackles. Hope says they will do some things differently this week, but don't want to overcorrect either.
"You have to be careful," he said. "You can be disappointed in the tackling and go out there and tackle a whole lot and next thing you know you've got what you had left injured even more.
"We have to be smart about it, even though we are very disappointed in our tackling."
Purdue likely won't hold a full-contact scrimmage during practices, but will instead go "thud-tempo," as Hope calls it, allowing defenders to wrap up ball-carriers, but not bring them down.
"We haven't really came downhill and thudded it up, wrapped them up and fit up as often in practice as we normally do," he said. "And I think that has set us back some from a tackling standpoint.
"We won't tackle a whole lot more this week from a live standpoint than what we normally do, but we're certainly going to emphasize coming downhill and thudding them up, wrapping them up and getting into a more ideal tackling position."