I know we're all frustrated and disappointed with how the last few weeks have gone. For me, the Toledo loss is still burning because that should have been win #5 that we need before facing Indiana. That fifth win looks highly unlikely at this point given the schedule ahead, but that is no excuse to totally pack it in this season. Even with the personnel we have left we can still somehow squeeze out one more victory before the Bucket game. All we need is a plan, and a little positive luck that is long overdue.
Now I am not a football coach. I have never even played a down of organized football in my life. The closest I have ever come to contributing on a football field came in high school when I was 5'7" 130 pound athletic trainer that nearly got taken out on a sideline play. That said, some of this stuff is just common sense at this point. It was clear on Saturday that we have no real offensive direction or identity anymore. Major changes are needed even if we go 0-4 the rest of the way just so we have something positive going into next year. I don't even think a coaching shake up (Except for J.B. Gibboney) is necessary.
These are just one man's thoughts, so feel free to add your own in the comments.
1. Commit to one quarterback - Even if Rob Henry was healthy, quarterback platoon never work. Look at 2002, when we struggled because Joe Tiller kept switching between Kyle Orton and Brandon Kirsch. There needs to be one voice under center. If Rob Henry can't throw, then put him at running back. Don't have him taking snaps if he's not even a threat to throw the ball. That's stupid. It's like holding up a sign that says, "WE'RE RUNNING ON THIS PLAY".
As long as Henry can't throw, the quarterback needs to be Sean Robinson or Justin Siller. Robinson is still very raw, but I think he is a better passer than Henry when healthy. If we can gameplan with him and make the passing game even a remote threat it will be a step forward from the Illinois game. With Siller, you have a legitimate threat to beat Michigan. I say this because Michigan fans are terrified of him. Is it really a bad thing if we give him a week of practice as the #1 guy, then start him against the Wolverines? Right now it seems like me, TelePunk5, BoilerChuck, Mrs. T-Mill, Purdue_Pete, Boiler Bandsman and the Boilermaker Heroes could throw up 30 points on the Michigan defense if given a week of practice. Siller only had a week of practice the last time he played them, and won Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week from it.
I have never been an advocate of just mailing in a game, but I don't see us beating Wisconsin short of a case of explosive diarrhea confining the Badgers to the locker room. The most likely game for win #5 is the Michigan game, and we probably need to approach it that way. Preparing the quarterback position for that game is paramount.
2. Play Al-Terek McBurse at running back - This has become a very frustrating point for me. Coach Hope has complained about how injuries have limited us at running back, yet McBurse has played late in the last four games. That tells me he is healthy. He is averaging 9.8 yards per carry and is a big-time recruit. Play him. If we can get a definite backfield of McBurse, Dan Dierking, and Henry we can move Antavian Edison back out to receiver. Keith Carlos and Jared Crank are already back there too, which brings me to my next point.
3. No more moving receivers to the backfield - Since Antavian Edison and Cortez Smith are our only two healthy receivers left they need to stay there. Under this plan, Siller moves to quarterback with Edison and Cortez as the top two receivers. From there, we need to find others that can catch the ball. Gary Bush, Xavier Reese, Tommy Thomas, Gabe Holmes, Kyle Adams, and Jeff Lindsey came to Purdue to do just that. It's time for them to do so.
4. Bench the starting safeties - Since they are nowhere to be found on deep passing plays, it is time throw someone else in. Throw E.J. Johnson's redshirt on the bonfire of redshirts if he can be more effective. He was a ball-hawking safety in high school, so how could he be a worse option than Logan Link whiffing in coverage? I know Albert Evans is hurt, but surely we can try someone else, right? Ishmael Aristide and Chris Quinn are still on the roster, correct? We have absolutely nothing to lose by trying someone else.
5. No more musical punters - The thing that pissed me off the most about Saturday was the way we handed them three points before halftime. We did so by pulling Cody Webster (who had kicked a 45 yard punt into the wind before) and doing the odd rugby-style punt with Carson Wiggs. The result was good field position and an almost sure three points for the Fighting Illini that nearly turned into seven. I don't know who made this choice, but it was dumb.
6. Have two guys key on Denard Robinson on each play - Again, I am pretty much conceding the Wisconsin game. The Michigan game needs to be a win, and we need to have two players follow Robinson on every play. He is their one consistent offensive threat at the moment. Go after him on each and every play whether he actually has the ball or not.
I know this is hardly an ironclad plan, but at least it is a plan. It seems like more than we've had the last two weeks, anyway.