FORT WAYNE – Purdue’s defense, particularly its line, is considered one of the strengths of the team.
But the last two weeks, the Boilermakers haven’t been able to stop the run.
Purdue gave up 304 rushing yards against Michigan and then 467 against Wisconsin. It doesn’t get any easier this Saturday when the Boilermakers travel to Ohio State. The Buckeyes are second in the Big Ten in rushing offense, averaging 263.6 yards per game.
Whether it’s (Michigan quarterback Denard) Robinson or (Wisconsin running back Montee) Ball – and we have (Ohio State quarterback) Braxton Miller up soon – we have to learn to stop the run, Purdue defensive end Ryan Russell said after Saturday’s 38-14 loss to the Badgers. That’s the No. 1 thing with any defense: you have to stop the run.
Robinson rushed for 235 yards against the Boilermakers. Ball had 247 rushing yards. Miller is third in the conference in rushing, averaging 130.3 yards per game.
Purdue is 11th in the Big Ten in rush defense, giving up 198.7 yards per game.
The last two weeks, we have not played very well defensively, and the numbers speak for themselves, Purdue coach Danny Hope said during his weekly teleconference Tuesday. But I felt like the two games were different in some ways.
Hope said the Boilermakers were close to making plays against the Wolverines.
We were in the right spots from alignment, assignment standpoint, and I thought we were consistent with our keys and our reads. We probably didn’t trigger and come downhill into our run fits quick enough against Michigan, Hope said.
Wisconsin featured alignment and assignment errors.
We were misaligned and misassigned some, and we tackled very poorly, Hope said. It was the worst we’ve tackled around here in a long time, and certainly the worst we’ve tackled at any point in time this season.
Hope said some Boilermakers were also nicked up heading into the game.
(Defensive tackle) Bruce Gaston didn’t practice a whole lot, but I thought he played hard, but not as well as he can play from a technical standpoint, Hope said. But I thought he gave a good effort and showed a lot of courage. (Tackle) Brandon Taylor didn’t practice at all last week. He went into the game and played some and did some good things, but wasn’t quite as physical as he’s been in the past.
I think this past weekend we were a little thin personnel-wise, and that’s not a good thing when you’re going against a great big offensive line like Wisconsin has, and a big, strong running back and the great players that they have. Then it was a result of some missed alignments, a few more missed assignments than what’s acceptable, and very, very poor tackling.
Note: Wide receiver O.J. Ross is questionable for Saturday because of an injury that is comparable to turf toe, Hope said.