We, as Purdue fans, need a pep talk this morning.
There has been finger-pointing, hand-wringing, and even name-calling after yesterday's loss to Toledo. Yes, it shouldn't have happened, but many are using it as cause to completely give up on the season.
The last time I checked, however, there was no rule that said we have to lose these next eight games. Yes, we're now facing the extreme difficulty of going into the Big Ten season without our best quarterback, wide receiver, and running back, but we have two choices. We can continue to piss and moan about it, giving up hope and laying down to the point we suffer the indignity of Indiana winning the Bucket in Ross-Ade Stadium, or we can sack up and deal with it.
Toledo happened, let's move on. I recognize that a season ending in a bowl game is unlikely at this point with games against four ranked teams remaining, but we have a week off now to figure some things out, get healthy, and establish some kind of fire necessary to overcome everything. Many of the players on this roster were there for both 2008 and 2009. In 2008 we rolled over and died over the course of a five game losing streak. In 2009 we responded with one of the most surprising upsets in Big Ten history and fought to the bitter end. It is time for new leaders to emerge.
To Rob Henry - You are now The Man under center. You are wearing the jersey of one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of college football. Every time we see you out there in #15, we think back to when we saw the last quarterback that wore #15. He became one of the greatest members of The Cradle. Yes you're young and inexperienced, but it up to you to learn and lead this team. Take control.
To Robert Marve - You've been through so much that this is such an unfortunate circumstance. In the opener you had no time to throw all day, then you played the next three games while hurt. I don't envy you because you're going to be coming back next year with an incumbent starter to beat out, but keep fighting. This is not your fault, and it never has been.
To Justin Siller - This is why you came back. We may need you to return at quarterback, so get healthy and do what you need to do to get back under center. If he can get two weeks of practice under center I might be tempted to start Siller over Henry at Northwestern based on experience alone.
To Al-Terek McBurse - It's time to live up to your potential. You're a game-changer and by the Northwestern game you will have had three weeks to rest. We need you to break out, young man.
To the Offensive coaching staff - We're running the ball at around 200 yards per game, which is amazing at Purdue. If it works, use it until it doesn't work anymore. Yesterday we had the run game working for large stretches. Let's expand on it, especially with a young, running quarterback. It wears down opponents, makes it easier for the line to block, and it keeps our defense off the field.
To Ryan Kerrigan - Continue being a beast. You're a leader on the field, we need you to be a vocal leader off it now.
To the Defense - Two things here: 1. Cover the middle of the field on passes. I know this is a simple concept, but we haven't grasped it in five years. 2. When a team lines up in the wildcat, they are not passing our handing the ball off. They are basically screaming that the guy taking the snap is running. Tackle him. It's not hard.
To Ricardo Allen - You have the makings of being a shutdown corner. No one has your coverage skills. Continue to improve and become a leader of the secondary.
To the team in general - You guys lack an edge right now. I can't place it, but something is preventing the overall talent from meshing it. You have two weeks to find it out and get some fire before Northwestern. No one is going to give you a shot there, so surprise them.
To the fans - This is our team. We're as frustrated as they are right now, but we must continue to support them. Yes, we're mad at the coaches for some questionable calls. We're mad at the fates for all the injuries. We're even mad at some of the players for some of the plays. Still, we support this team because of the common bond we have as Boilermakers.
I would much rather be a Boilermaker than the fan of some larger program, i.e. Notre Dame, Alabama, USC, etc., because of the bond we have as fans. We're fans because we are born into it via family. Most of us attended the school itself and know the traditions by heart. I know that's me. I was born into a Purdue family and have walked the campus since the time I could walk. Being a Purdue fan is either in your blood or it isn't There is no middle ground there. It is why I write this blog and why all of you come here. Let's get behind this team and give them all we have because we're hurt, but damnit, we're not dead yet!
Remember back to last year: Boilermakers never quit. We didn't give up in the face of Robbie's injury, we're not going to give up now.