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Take Five with Hammer and Rails

Consider the Boilermakers have been somewhat of a mystery team all season long, we thought we would get the perspective from our good friend BoilerTMill from Hammer & Rails. So without further adieu, here's the not so optimistic view from SBNation's great Purdue site:

B5Q: Are we really looking at a fifth string quarterback starting this weekend? If that is the case, what can we expect from the offense?

H&R: You'll probably at least see option No. 4 in true freshman Sean Robinson. Robert Marve is out for the season. No. 2 man Caleb TerBush, who saw his only career action last year in Madison, is academically ineligible this year. No. 3 man Rob Henry suffered a severe laceration to the index finger of his throwing hand at Ohio State. He played against Illinois, but did not attempt a pass and was used in a rushing role. He'll likely do the same this week as coaches have said he is questionable and they are going to give more No. 1 reps in practice to Robinson. Option No. 5 would be Justin Siller, who started three games at quarterback in 2008, was academically ineligbile last year, and has played receiver this year but has missed four games with a sprained foot. He will get reps at quarterback once he is healthy, but he is also questionable this week. That leaves option No. 6 as walk-on Redshirt freshman Skyler titus, then option No. 7: me.

Last week we didn't have much of a game plan for Robinson, as he and Henry split the snaps. I expect him to have more of a passing plan in place with Henry playing as a running back more. If Siller plays it would be an interesting X-factor. He tore Michigan apart in his first career start, but that was two years ago and it was Michigan's defense. All three (Robinson, Henry, and Siller) are mobile quarterbacks that are very good runners. Robinson and Siller are probably the better passers even without Henry's injury.

B5Q: I've heard a few people say things like "Purdue's injuries have hampered what was supposed to be a great season." How high were expectations in West Lafayette coming to this season?

H&R: Honestly, a lot of us were thinking of an eight or nine win season. They had us winning the four games we have won, plus Toledo, Notre Dame, Illinois (who was supposed to be worse), Michigan, and Indiana. When you look at it strictly from a preseason perspective, that was certainly possible. We played Notre Dame when fully healthy and as bad as they have been, we should have performed better. Toledo was a disaster, while Illinois is a much better team than expected. I am still holding out hope we can somehow beat Michigan and Indiana for a bowl game. That would at least be improvement.

B5Q: Any time there are struggles, the head coach immediately gets blamed. What are Boilermaker fans saying about Danny Hope right now?

H&R: A lot of people are not happy with the way we have rolled over and died the last two weeks. We haven't even been competitive, and if the same happens this week I expect those voices to grow louder. Offensively, we're completely inept at the moment. Yes, we're down to option No. 4at quarterback, No. 3 at running back, and we're going to be missing at least three of our top receivers, but it's almost like we've just mailed it in at times.

I think people are frustrated that there hasn't been more creativity, but injuries to our skill players are severely limiting us at the moment. There is also the matter of that Notre Dame game. We struggled mightily on offense and we had our full contingent of players. That loss seems to look worse every week as teams move the ball at will against them.

B5Q: Ryan Kerrigan is one of the best defensive ends in the country. Is there any way he and the Purdue defense can slow down the Badgers running game Saturday?

H&R: They did a good job against Mikel Leshoure last week, but that only opened plays up for Nathan Scheelhaase. Fortunately, Tolzien isn't as mobile as him. I don't think it will matter much unless the offense can finally produce something. If they can't, all Wisconsin has to do is wear us down. The defense has looked good at times this year, but right now they have to play a completely perfect game and even then it may not be enough.

B5Q: I already know you think Wisconsin will win this weekend, but I'm still curious how bad you think it will be. Do you have a score for us?

H&R: I can see it being as bad as last year. We were completely dominated at the line of scrimmage with a much better team. I don't see Wisconsin as being any worse than they were last year, while we definitely are right now. Honestly, I would be surprised if we kept it within three touchdowns because I don't see us moving the ball at all agaisnt your defense.