Purdue (1-5, 0-2) has regressed since their last solid outing against Notre Dame over a month ago. The offense has been a dumpster fire and the defense is falling apart at an alarming rate.
Coach Darrell Hazell has resorted to removing red shirts from freshmen and changing the defense at a schematic level. The switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 set was a dramatic move, and one that didn’t produce the desired results. Getting more playmakers on the field is a solid idea, but most of them are freshmen and unprepared to face Big Ten opponents. There is a very real possibility that the offense will consist of mostly freshmen starters in the coming weeks.
Hazell is blowing up this team at a fundamental level, and even that isn’t working. His team is already beaten, entering every game like they have a double digit deficit.
Nebraska hammered away at the Purdue defense with a steady run game. Purdue was effective against the pass, forcing three interceptions, but so bad against the run that Nebraska didn’t even need the passing attack. In fact, when the Huskers did pass, it slowed down the offense and stalled drives.
Where did Nebraska struggle on the field? Certainly not in the red zone, where they were 5-for-5 on scoring attempts (all touchdowns). Purdue hasn’t been great in that area of the field, but many defenses attempt to stiffen when pressed against the wall. Defensive play calling is much easier in this area since the opposing offenses don’t have much room to work with. Purdue simply wilts when the pressure is on.
Danny Etling is definitely the quarterback for the future, but his first start was a disaster. Its not surprising either, given how poorly the rest of the Purdue offense has played this season. Hazell hasn’t been able to turn around the run game and the Boilers don’t have a viable threat at receiver.
Etling didn’t really stand a chance on Saturday, not with the way the offensive line was playing. The freshman was sacked five times, for a loss of 50 yards. That pretty much negated the 57 yards rushing that Akeem Hunt had on 10 carries.
The silver lining, if there is one, is that freshman (yes, another first year player) DeAngelo Yancey has emerged as a threat at receiver. Over the past two games, Yancey has 12 receptions for 263 yards and a touchdown. He now leads the team in receiving yards, ahead up running back Hunt. Yancey has only had extensive action in two games. He had two receptions for 32 yards before the last two outings. That is how bad the receiver situation in West Lafayette is right now.
Hazell isn’t even fielding a competitive team on the field. Purdue has suffered three blowout losses in a row, and a total of four this season. Out of six games. Notre Dame beat them by a touchdown, but it could have been by a lot more and Indiana State was a sustained drive away from a one point victory. Danny Hope had a similar first season, but his team kept games interesting.
Notice the empty seats in the above picture. Ross Ade Stadium is going to turn into a ghost town before too long. Purdue fans are loyal, but if the team can’t even muster up a solid effort, the students will find something better to do.
Looking at Purdue’s schedule, its hard to see another possible win for the Boilermakers. Up next is Michigan State, featuring the best defense in the conference (and possibly nation). Think the offense will have a good day? Yeah, me neither.
The best shots Purdue is going to have at another win will be against Iowa and Illinois, and even those wins are long shots. What about IU you say? Do you honestly believe that the defense can stop the Hoosier offense that put up 28 points against MSU’s vaunted defense.
Hazell is staring at a 1-11 season right now, and everything he’s done to try and force a win hasn’t worked. Its a rebuilding year, but it looks like its going to take much longer.
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