John M. over at Crimson Quarry and I have had our differences over the past few months, but this week we settled up tot talk about the Old Oaken Bucket. Saturday's game in West Lafayette will mark the 88th time a link will be added tot he chain, with Purdue holding a 57-37-3 edge in P's over I's. Here is what John had to say about this game, with my answers to his questions over at the Crimson Quarry.
T-Mill: Kevin Wilson has had a very impressive year offensively, but what is being done to bring the defense along?
John: Well, IU added seven juco defensive players in the last recruiting class, and my eyes tell me that the defense is a bit better, but after the last two weeks IU's total defense number is within five yards per game of where it was last year. I don't think Wilson is neglecting the defense, but IU's ability to stop the run, in particular, has been a big problem. I suspect that if it doesn't turn around next year that we will see some staff changes on that side of the ball. I suppose it's possible this year, but I haven't heard anything to that effect.
John: I really don't think so. While he played only against Indiana State and UMass, Roberson looked much more polished as a passer in 2012 than he did in 2011, and the running dimension he adds is something that neither Sudfeld nor Coffman brings. Having three quarterbacks who are good enough to play and to win will be a nice luxury (especially since running QBs get dinged up pretty often), and it speaks well of IU's staff that they recruited and developed these guys, but I will be surprised if Roberson isn't the starter.
T-Mill: If Indiana even gets a modicum of defensive improvements next season do you see them as a dark horse in the Division?
John: I don't know that I see IU as a dark horse in the division. Ohio State should be very good again, and I assume Wisconsin will be as well. Still, IU has eight home games next year and has taken some steps this year, so I'll be very disappointed if they aren't bowl-eligible by this time next year.
T-Mill: Finally, Purdue and Indiana have had a dramatic reversal of fortune in the last two years From Purdue being up in both sports to Indiana passing them. Indiana has more promise in football and it is certainly ahead in basketball. How big do you think the gap is now?
John: More than anything, it shows just how quickly these things can change. A year ago, IU still hadn't won what was then perceived as a modest road win over NC State, let alone the Kentucky game, and the football team was on its way to a winless Big Ten season. In football, I don't even know that it's fair to say that IU is ahead. Purdue has a better record and has the Bucket, at least until Saturday. Assuming there is a coaching change at Purdue, I'm hopeful that IU will be able to take advantage of being a couple of years ahead of Purdue in the rebuilding process. I like Kevin Wilson and his coaching staff, and recruiting seems to be going improbably well, but until the current coaches win the Bucket or finish with a better record than Purdue I'm not convinced we have moved ahead. In basketball, there seems to be a bigger gap for this season, and IU's recruiting seems to be pointing in the direction of IU becoming a perennial contender in the Big Ten. Still, Painter is an excellent coach and I expect Purdue to be a tough game for IU this year and beyond. I think the most important thing for Purdue is to begin stacking good recruiting classes next to each other. As long as that happens I think Purdue will be back near the top of the conference as soon as next season.