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Evaluating Purdue at the halfway point

Joe Holland, Ryan Kerrigan and Antavian Edison were specific.

Danny Hope, not so much.

With the season at its halfway point, players and coach Hope were asked Tuesday during the weekly news conference to either give an evaluation of the team's performance to this point or talk about how the team can improve in the second half of the season.

Starting weak-side linebacker Holland said he thinks the top priority for the defense is to keep focusing on playing more physical.

Kerrigan, the superstar defensive end, said he'd like to see the defense force more turnovers and get to the quarterback more often with the front four in the second half of the season.

For the offense, receiver Edison said he wants to see the passing game be more productive.

"We're running the ball very good, and Rob Henry is getting comfortable back there and getting confident," Edison said. "We've got a lot of faith in what he can do. Once we get everything rolling on the same page, we'll be all good."

When Hope was asked what his team does well, he said:

"The last two games, we've showed up in all three phases. We've showed up on offense. We've showed up on defense, and we've showed up on special teams. We're getting better. We practice well and we have a great willingness to prepare and a great willingness to comply and a great desire to win. We have really good potential right now as a football team and great potential for the future. We're about 50, 60 percent along to where we could be at some point in time this year to be the team that we could be this year. We're not there yet. I like the potential that we have as a football team for this season. We're going to keep getting better and better, as long as we keep them healthy. We do a lot of things well. We have a lot of redeeming qualities as a football team. No. 1 is we're getting better."

When he was asked what are some areas his team needs to improve upon, he said:

"Each coach has an area at his position earmarked to make some improvement on. For example, our defensive line the last two or three weeks has been to line up and play more physical and try to get more knock-backs, knock the front back more. We've done better at that. We still have a ways to go, but we're doing it some. We're doing it more each week. Eventually, a point in time will come when we do it every play. We also need to knock them back and maintain our gap integrity. ...

"If every position can do something a little bit better this week, we're going to be better this weekend when we play, and we're going to have to be if we want to win."

  • In all games, Purdue ranks in the bottom-half of the Big Ten (for our purposes, counting that as sixth or lower) in 22 of 30 categories in the league statistics. In conference-only games, a much smaller sampler, Purdue is in the bottom-half 15 of 30 times.
  • In conference play, Purdue is last in pass offense and passing efficiency and first in run offense. Northwestern and Minnesota -- the Boilers' two league victories -- rank No. 8 and No. 11 in run defense.