Robert Marve cut to the chase. There was no reason to ramble about Purdue and its disintegrating football season.
“There are three games left and we have to win out,” the Boilers senior quarterback said. “That's the truth of the matter and everything else is kind of word play.”
Truth is everywhere you look around the Purdue program these days, and most of it is harsh. A promising season has collapsed faster than anyone thought possible. It seems like just a few weeks ago the Boilers were 3-1 and considered Big Ten title game favorites.
Now, with a 3-6 record, 0-5 in the Big Ten, fans can't wait to get rid of coach Danny Hope.
Purdue ends its season with Iowa (4-5), Illinois (2-7) and Indiana (4-5). A sweep isn't mission impossible, until you realize how badly the Boilers have played the last month. They've been outscored 189-86 in Big Ten action. Some of it is due to injuries to key players, some to lack of execution.
Regardless, Hope said, the Boilers can still go to a bowl and still finish with a winning record if they win out.
But none of that happens if they lose at Iowa on Saturday.
“We try not to coddle them,” he said. “We don't need them feeling sorry for themselves. They need to man up and get ready to get it on. Guys have to suck it up and play injured.”
Playing injured is one thing. Playing well despite an injury has been a big problem for Purdue. Still, the potential is there, Hope said.
“We believe in them. We're going to coach them hard and coach them well and get them ready to play the game.
“There's still everything in the world left to play for. There's still a lot of positives around our camp even though it hasn't gone as well as we would have liked. We're going to pull together and get it done.”
That's easy to say, hard to do. What's the key?
“Having some success,” Hope said. “Having some successful plays, successful drives.
“Success will keep us in games, keep our execution. We call it DYJ, doing your job. We've got guys trying like hell, but not getting the job done. Guys are working hard in practice, focusing in practice, studying the plays, then get on the field and do everything right except for a thing or two.”
It's that “thing or two” that has cost Purdue.
“We have to do our job better and have some success,” Hope said. “That would be huge for our team.”
Marve is set to start on Saturday. He was beat up in last Saturday's loss to Penn State, but Hope said he was fine.
“He's a tough guy.”
Iowa has thrived on toughness over the years, although a series of injuries has limited its success this season. That doesn't make Hope feel any easier. Not when the Hawkeyes have two of the Big Ten's top tacklers in linebackers Anthony Hitchens (No. 1 with 106 tackles) and James Morris (No. 5 with 85 tackles).
“They're always tough on defense,” Hope said. “They play very physical. They hang their hat on the lineup and their base fronts and coverages, playing hard and out-executing their opponent.”