Late last week, the Big Ten held its media day in Chicago. The two day event features interviews with football coaches and players from around the conference.
Two teams from Indiana are attempting to claw their way out of the basement of the Big Ten. Purdue and Indiana University have struggled recently. IU hasn’t had a winning season since 2007 and Purdue since 2011.
IU finished with a 4-8(2-6) record and Purdue was 6-7(3-5).
Darrell Hazell is taking over for Danny Hope at Purdue. Kevin Wilson is heading into his third season with the Hoosiers.
- No quarterbacks. Coach Wilson showed up without bringing a QB with him. He said that there wasn’t a clear cut leader in a group that includes Tre Roberson, Cam Coffman, and Nate Sudfeld. Roberson’s season was cut short due to a broken leg; Sudfeld and Coffman essentially split time attempting to fill the role. Wilson doesn’t want to anoint one player the starter in an effort to encourage competition.
- Defense. Wilson was not kind to his defense. “Quite honestly, it’s been embarrassing about how we played in our first two years,” Wilson said. “So our effort, toughness, needs to be better.” That’s a bit of an understatement. IU ranked 103rd in the country in total defense. IU gave up 35 points per game last year and 463.5 yards a game. To shore up the D, IU is looking to a freshman class where 15 of the 23 players will play defense.
- Freshmen. Wilson and his staff worked hard to keep the in-state talent at home. A number of freshmen could, and probably will, start this year. The talented 2013 class will also provide a lot of depth for a team that is returning 19 starters on offense and defense.
- Introducing Coach Hazell. Hazell came to Purdue via Kent State, but he was an assistant coach under Jim Tressel at Ohio State. Hazell said his approach was heavily influenced by Tressel, hopefully that doesn’t apply player discipline and reporting/covering up NCAA violations. Hopefully Hazell won’t be as conservative a play caller for the Boilermakers, a flaw that saw Tressel lose a fair share of bowl games.
- Getting out of the middle. Hazell reflected that the perception of Purdue is that it is a middle of the pack Big Ten team, his goal is to change that. Hazell wants to put this team into “national prominence for a long point in time.” He believes that this all starts with a positive self-image and belief that the Boilermakers seem themselves as champions. This is very typical first year coach speak, but he turned around Kent State in just two seasons, taking them from a 5-7 record his first year to 11-3 the next.
- Quarterback Battle. Hazell was non-committal about who would start under center for the Boilermakers. He mentioned that there was a competition between senior Rob Henry and true-freshman Danny Etling. He wouldn’t commit to either player, but mentioned that they would both get an equal opportunity to earn the starting spot.