Coach Darrell Hazell’s debut was a disaster as Purdue was dominated by Cincinnati 42-7.
Nothing went right for the Boilermakers (0-1) last Saturday, but the good news is that they welcome FCS opponent Indiana State (0-1) to West Lafayette this Saturday. ISU is coming off a beating of its own after losing to IU, 73-35.
The Boilermaker faithful has to be thinking that anything the Hoosiers can do, we can do better. Its early in the season, but Purdue desperately needs a win in its season opener.
Here’s what we’ll be watching for:
- Bounceback. This is the opponent that Purdue should have played in week one, but ISU was too busy getting man handled by IU. Purdue has never lost to an FCS opponent and this will be an easy win. If the unthinkable happens and Purdue does fall to ISU, then the Boilermakers might be looking at a winless season.
- Rob Henry. Is he really a starting caliber quarterback? Can he rebound from that atrocious game against Cincinnati? Purdue doesn’t really have much of a choice, he needs to be THE guy going forward. If the Boilermakers are going to have any success this season, Henry has to start performing well. Henry was simply missing targets last week, but this week he’ll have receivers that are WIDE open and no QB should miss them. If he lays another egg on the field, it might be time to give up. This is the easiest game on Purdue’s schedule.
- No Shakir Bell. Bell is an outstanding running back from Indianapolis who has a habit of punishing teams from his home state that didn’t offer him a scholarship. In just a game and a half against IU, Bell racked up 305 yards rushing and he is by. Granted its IU, but that is still impressive. Bell, by and far ISU’s best player, suffered a separated shoulder against the Hoosiers last week and won’t play. Without Bell, ISU is going to struggle to run the ball, especially against a defensive line that is better than IU’s. That’s good news for a Purdue team that simply needs to pound a team into the dirt.
- Sacks. Last week, IU sacked ISU’s Mike Perish four times, hit a few more times, and hurried him even more. Purdue has a much better defensive line than the Hoosiers and should at least double IU’s production in this department. The Boilermakers have a distinct size advantage in the trenches and spent much of last week’s game against Cincinnati in the backfield (but not getting to the QB).
- Ricardo Allen. Allen suffered a high ankle sprain against Cincinnati. He might play against ISU, but does it really matter? Purdue doesn’t need him on the field this week and its more important that he gets healthy in time for Notre Dame next week. Hazell should let him heal and let a backup get reps with the starters.
- Run the Ball. We’ve talked a lot about how Hazell is an expert at crafting a rushing attack. This is a perfect chance for Purdue to cram the ball down an opponent’s throat. The Boilermakers are bigger and faster the ISU, which gave up 313 yards rushing to IU. There is no reason Purdue shouldn’t have 200+ yards on the ground. If (when) they establish the run game, it will allow Henry to build his confidence with shorter, lower pressure passes. Purdue is going to have to run to win this, and probably most games in 2013.
Purdue has to dominate this game from the opening snap. There is no excuse for a Big Ten team to struggle against an FCS opponent. This is perfect timing for the Boilermakers to make adjustments from last week and really get after an opponent. The schedule is going to get much harder in a week when Notre Dame comes to West Lafayette.
Purdue wins 45-10.
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