While in Chicago for the Big Ten's Annual Kickoff Luncheon, HawkeyeNation.com's Jon Miller spoke with Purdue starting quarterback Brandon Kirsch and asked for his thoughts on Purdue's not playing Michigan and Ohio State this year, in addition to his thoughts on Iowa and playing in Kinnick Stadium.
Kirsch was pressed into action during the 2002 season when Kyle Orton was knocked out of the game in Iowa City, and he started for the Boilermakers last year in Kinnick while Orton recovered from multiple injuries.
Q: Do you like not playing Michigan and Ohio State this year, or would you prefer playing them?
BRANDON KIRSCH: It doesn't matter to me. We play the 11 teams that are scheduled for us to play. Would I like to play them? Sure. They are supposedly the best teams in the league and they are the perennial powerhouse teams in the league and when you are a competitive person, you like to be involved in those types of games. Yeah, we would like to play them, but right now we have 11 opponents this year and they are not on the schedule.
Q: Do you feel that you are getting enough respect in the polls this year?
BRANDON KIRSCH: Since I have been here, I have seen the respect grow. There have been times in the past where we have been ranked 49th in the preseason and finish in the top 25. Now we are starting in the Top 15. Over the past few years, we have been put on the map due greatly to coach Tiller, and our respect is growing. I know we are a good team and I guess you could say that Top 15 to start is fair.
Q: Is the media making too big a deal out of Purdue's having lost so many close games in recent years, or is it something the players are talking about, too?
BRANDON KIRSCH: No, the media are not the only people talking about it; it's being talked about in the locker room and from the coaches. To be a good team, you have to win close games and we have not done that, so I guess that is why we are being looked at as a mediocre to above average team because we have not won those close games.
Q: There have been a lot of loose balls not go your way, but a team that has gotten those breaks in recent years has been Iowa. You have played twice against Iowa in Kinnick Stadium and have the Hawks at your place this year. Are you looking forward to catching them at home?
BRANDON KIRSCH: Any time you play over there it is a hostile environment. I remember the first time I played there I was thrown into the fire, but this year I knew that I was going to play there. I am happy to get them at home this year with our welcoming crowd. I know that Coach Tiller said that the home team has won this game so thank god we are playing at home this year.
Q: What have been your impressions of Kinnick Stadium and the Iowa fans? They are certainly proud of the environment there.
BRANDON KIRSCH: I think they should be proud of what they do. They have a growing football tradition, and their fans and their community are very involved in it. Going to play there is fun; it's going to be a fun day. You might not leave happy, but you know it was a good atmosphere to play in and that is what you live for in college football is the atmosphere…it's what makes the game.
Q: I heard a panel of Iowa players this past winter say that Purdue is a team that they have a great deal of respect for. Do you feel that way about the Iowa program?
BRANDON KIRSCH: It's definitely mutual. I think you could put Purdue and Iowa on that same level right now. You have Michigan and Ohio State who are always the perennial powerhouses, so I think you could say that Iowa/Purdue are the up and coming wannabe powerhouses included in that same sentence. The respect is definitely mutual.