Midweek TSX Files: Purdue closer to success?

Although last Saturday's final margin was lopsided -- a 34-13 loss to Wisconsin -- Purdue only trailed 20-13 early in the fourth quarter.

INSIDE SLANT

Although Saturday's final margin was lopsided -- a 34-13 loss to Wisconsin -- Purdue only trailed 20-13 early in the fourth quarter.

Four turnovers, including three interceptions from quarterback Sean Robinson, led to Wisconsin scoring 24 points.

But the Boilermakers started fast, jumping to leads of 7-0 and 10-6. They attempted an onside kick, forced an early turnover and controlled the clock to put a scare into the Badgers.

"We had a great week of practice," linebacker Joe Holland said Sunday. "There was a little more sense of urgency this week. We knew this was a big game and we had a capable opponent coming into our house.

"We wanted to make a statement as a defense that we're getting better and we can play physical against a team like Wisconsin."

The defense did play well enough to win, but encountered tough field position because of the turnovers. The Badgers' five offensive scoring drives totaled 140 yards on 20 plays.

"We did see a lot of good things," Holland said. "A lot of guys were playing very inspired football and playing very hard and playing physical. That's something we can build on for next week. We saw that we did things well, but it's the little mistakes that we made that opened up gaps for them to score."

Offensively, Robinson's first career start will be remembered for the interceptions but the freshman demonstrated signs of progress from the previous week at Illinois.

Coach Danny Hope said the quarterback situation will proceed similar to last week. The big question is whether receiver Justin Siller is healthy enough to run after battling a foot sprain since the start of Big Ten play.

Rob Henry, who started against Northwestern, Minnesota, Ohio State and Illinois, doesn't appear to factor into the discussions. Henry is battling a right index finger injury he suffered against Ohio State.

"We're going to start off assuming Sean is the guy we're going to get ready until we can see Justin run some," Hope said. "We've warmed him up throwing the ball, but he wasn't able to run on Saturday. Rob is a ways away."

The Boilermakers need protection in case Robinson is injured. Hope said the No. 2 quarterback against the Badgers was walk-on Skyler Titus.

"He was way down on the depth chart when this whole thing started," Hope said of Titus. "That's why we're hoping to get some good news this week on some of the other guys at that position."

Siller last played quarterback in 2008, but the biggest question is the health of his foot. He suffered the injury against Toledo on Sept. 25.

"I would like to see him get some reps and have a chance to get him ready to help us at quarterback," Hope said. "We're nowhere close to being able to make that type of assessment."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Purdue's defense did play well enough to win, but encountered tough field position because of the turnovers. The Badgers' five offensive scoring drives totaled 140 yards on 20 plays.

"We did see a lot of good things," linebacker Joe Holland said. "A lot of guys were playing very inspired football and playing very hard and playing physical. That's something we can build on for next week. We saw that we did things well, but it's the little mistakes that we made that opened up gaps for them to score."

--Offensively, Robinson's first career start will be remembered for the interceptions but the freshman demonstrated signs of progress from the previous week at Illinois.

Coach Danny Hope said the quarterback situation will proceed similar to last week. The big question is whether receiver Justin Siller is healthy enough to run after battling a foot sprain since the start of Big Ten season.

Rob Henry, who started against Northwestern, Minnesota, Ohio State and Illinois, doesn't appear to factor into the discussions moving forward. Henry is battling a right index finger injury he suffered against Ohio State.

Siller last played quarterback in 2008, but the biggest question is the health of his foot. He suffered the injury against Toledo on Sept. 25.

SERIES HISTORY: Michigan leads Purdue 41-14 (last meeting, 2009, 38-36 Purdue).

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: After back-to-back weeks of 118 and 205 total yards, Purdue had 303 total yards against Wisconsin. Those numbers should improve against a woeful Michigan defense, which ranks last in the Big Ten in several categories. But with the inexperience on offense, can the Boilermakers take advantage and move the ball?

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Boilermakers will be tested by Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who has nearly 3,200 total yards through nine games. Purdue played better last week, but faces a much different offense. Keeping Robinson contain is the No. 1 priority.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Michigan at Purdue, Nov. 13 -- The Wolverines became bowl eligible with last week's 67-65 triple overtime shootout over Illinois. Meanwhile, the Boilermakers needs two more wins to reach the postseason for the first time since 2007.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Stopping Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is Purdue's No. 1 key, but that's easier said than done. His favorite target -- receiver Roy Roundtree -- set a school record with 246 receiving yards last week. Purdue's offense will have opportunities to move the ball, but will the inexperience prevent any big plays?

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

QB Sean Robinson -- Robinson is expected to make his second start. He showed improvement last week, but needs to take another step forward against Michigan.

LB Dwayne Beckford -- He's collected double digit tackles in four of the last six games and will play a big role in stopping the Wolverines' rushing attack.

WR Antavian Edison -- Following his career-high six catches against Wisconsin, the sophomore will need another big game to keep the offense moving.

ROSTER REPORT:

--WR Keith Smith (knee) is out for the season.

--QB Robert Marve (knee) is out for the season.

--WR O.J. Ross (shoulder) could return for the final two games.

--DT Kevin Pamphile (ankle) is likely out for the season.

--WR Justin Siller (foot) hasn't played since Sept. 25 against Toledo.


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