Darrell Hazell sees ‘fixable things’ after rout in Purdue debut
by michael osipoff 713-2485 or firstname.lastname@example.org September 3, 2013 9:18PM
Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell talks in a huddle in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Cincinnati, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, in Cincinnati. Hazell was coaching his first game for Purdue. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
The Big Number
Purdue’s 35-point margin of defeat at Cincinnati is its worst loss in a season opener since 52-14 at Michigan State in 1996, and its worst in a regular-season non-conference game since 35-0 at Notre Dame the next week in ’96.
Updated: October 5, 2013 6:37AM
On the surface, Purdue’s 42-7 loss at Cincinnati in its first game under Darrell Hazell was ugly. Well, OK, at any depth.
But upon further review, perhaps it wasn’t quite that bad, according to the coach.
“Obviously, it wasn’t the way we anticipated starting, but after watching the game film, there was a lot of encouraging things we saw as a staff, fixable things,” Hazell said on Tuesday. “I’m very encouraged about our football team, and the guys in our locker room.”
The Boilermakers’ morale remained high, and they were eager to get back to work as they prepare for FCS opponent Indiana State on Saturday in Hazell’s first game at Ross-Ade Stadium.
“I would say (to fans) to evaluate us as we go through this process, and see what happens, and have a little bit of patience,” Hazell said. “But great things are going to happen for this program. Tell them that we have a great football team in our locker room, and they are going to show it. I really believe that — if I didn’t believe it, I wouldn’t say it.”
Though the Boilermakers were generally in good spirits the day after the game against the Bearcats, there was reason for concern about their demeanor during it, as the game steamrolled away from them.
“The biggest thing right now is for us to play with a tremendous amount of confidence, no matter what the situation is,” Hazell said. “One of the messages to the team on Sunday is that it doesn’t matter what the scoreboard says or the clock says; you just have to play, and everything else will take care of itself. But sometimes — and I’ve seen this before — you get paralyzed by the scoreboard, and it doesn’t allow you to unlock your potential. So we’re going to make sure that our guys are focused on the game, not the scoreboard.”
Purdue had tied the score at 7-7 late in the first half, thanks mainly to the combination of Cody Webster’s monstrous punt and long snapper Jesse Schmitt’s recovery of the Cincinnati fumble. But the Bearcats marched down the field to grab a 14-7 lead going into halftime.
“It’s still a football game, and that’s when you can’t stare at the scoreboard,” said Hazell, whose team proceeded to surrender four more touchdowns in the second half, similar to some of the avalanches last season’s team suffered.
“You have to point it out to them, and they all understood once I explained it to them. On the sideline, there was this blank stare at times when we were down, and you can’t worry about those things. … You just have to keep fighting, and do your assignment for those particular plays that are coming up. That’s the only thing that you can control at that point in time. We’ll get it fixed. I’m very confident.”
Senior defensive end Greg Latta admitted the Boilermakers have to escape that here-we-go-again sense.
“We just have to be mentally tough, and we can’t let things be the same if we want them to change,” he said.
“We just have to come together more as a team. We have to pick each other up.”
Said senior left tackle Kevin Pamphile: “It starts with the seniors, guys like me who’ve been there. We’ve experienced those losses and we’re tired of it — we’re just tired of that feeling.”
It’s all part of the attempt to change the culture of the program. And such a transformation, Hazell said, has to come from everyone — him, the rest of the coaching staff, the captains and all of the players.
“You have to be able to respond when those situations happen, and respond in a positive way, and encourage each other,” he said. “… Encourage each other, when one unit might be struggling. At some point in time, the offense is going to struggle and the defense has to pick them up; at some point in time, the defense is going to struggle and the offense has to pick them up. That’s all part of the game. We talked about making sure that we support each other in those situations; that’s how you move through those tough situations throughout the course of the game, because it’s going to happen.”