WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A lot of people are talking about Purdue’s offense.
It’s not very flattering. The conversation usually goes along the lines of, “Hey, did you know the Boilermakers haven’t taken a snap inside an opponent’s 20-yard line since September?”
They might also mention Purdue is averaging just 11.5 points per game (third lowest among 123 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams); has converted just 28 percent of its third-down opportunities; and was outscored 114-7 by its last three Big Ten rivals.
What remains unspoken is Iowa’s defensive predicament.
If the Hawkeyes get burned Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium, the season could go up in flames.
If Purdue continues to smolder … yawn.
Statistically speaking, it’s a no-win situation.
“It doesn’t matter if we’re playing the Kansas City Chiefs or if we’re playing the proverbial worst team in the country,” linebacker James Morris said. “We’re just trying to play our best football.”
Scan the Boilermakers’ offensive roster, and the first thing you notice is freshmen.
Five first-year players are listed as starters, including quarterback Danny Etling, who is completing 46.9 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and five interceptions.
The 6-foot-2, 218-pound Etling has been sacked 16 times since becoming a starter three games ago.
“We were very interested in him during the recruiting process,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said of Etling. “He’s a quality person, a really good player.”
Two more rookies are playing the guard positions for Purdue.
“They’ve had some injuries and some illnesses up front, moving some guys around,” Ferentz said.
There’s two things that make you a little uneasy about the Hawkeyes. They have bad habit of letting quarterbacks get comfortable — remember Michigan State’s Connor Cook? — and letting receivers get open deep.
Iowa can’t let either of those things happen against Purdue.
Etling’s lone touchdown pass against a Big Ten rival was a 55-yard toss to DeAngelo Yancey, against Nebraska.
“I feel like any team is capable of hitting the home run,” defensive tackle Carl Davis said. “To me, (Purdue) has a good team.
“They just don’t have the record to show it.”
It’s up to the Hawkeye defense to keep it that way.
<b>Follow Andrew Logue (@AndrewMLogue) on Twitter during today’s game at Purdue, and join him at 9 a.m. Monday for a Hawkeye football chat at HawkCentral.com.</b>
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football