Forgettable first half of first season at Purdue for Darrell Hazell
By Michael Osipoff email@example.com or 713-2485 October 15, 2013 11:08PM
WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - OCTOBER 12: Randy Gregory #44 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers sacks Danny Etling #5 of the Purdue Boilermakers in the end zone for a safety during the game at Ross-Ade Stadium on October 12, 2013 in West Lafayette, Indiana. Nebraska won 44-7. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
The Big Number
Purdue lists 14 freshmen (including six redshirts) on its two-deep on offense and defense for its game against Michigan State. Four (all on offense, with quarterback Danny Etling, wide receivers DeAngelo Yancey and Dan Monteroso, and redshirt right guard Jordan Roos) are listed as starters. Nine true freshmen have played this season.
The Extra Point
Wide receiver Dolapo Macarthy was not in uniform against Nebraska after the Merrillville graduate suffered a hip pointer during Purdue’s bye week. Defensive end Greg Latta aggravated his troublesome hamstring in the first half against the Cornhuskers and did not return, but was expected to play at Michigan State. And safety Landon Feichter returned to practice in individual drills on Tuesday, and should play Nov. 2 against Ohio State after he broke his leg against Indiana State.
“It’s awesome to get him back,” Darrell Hazell said. “We need his leadership. He’s the guy in locker room at halftime that’s speaking up now, he’s the guy that’s jumping on guys and trying to fire them up. We need his leadership desperately right now back in our locker room and back in our secondary.”
Updated: November 17, 2013 10:00AM
As it prepares to play at Michigan State on Saturday, Purdue has reached the midway point of its first season under coach Darrell Hazell.
And at 1-5, with their last three losses coming by an average of 33.0 points, the Boilermakers clearly have strides to make, both in the short-term and longer-term.
“Obviously, we’re not where we want to be,” Hazell said on Tuesday. “We have to get a whole lot better. We have to find guys that are going to really help this program down the stretch. And now that we’ve started to play some of the younger players, those guys have to produce for us.”
Hazell pointed to several areas — basic and fundamental in theory, but not as simple to put into practice — that have especially hindered Purdue.
“The things that matter for us right now that are kind of putting us in a pickle are taking care of the football, getting off the field on third down and converting more third downs,” he said. “We have to punt the ball better, and then we have to find some more plays — we’re not making enough plays on either side of the ball right now. Those are the four things that are really hurting us.
“Our margin of error is not very big, so we have to be able to eliminate those mistakes to give ourselves a chance to be competitive down the stretch.”
The Boilermakers are minus-three in turnover margin, second-to-last in the Big Ten. They’re allowing opponents to convert 47.8 percent of third downs, last in the conference and 114th nationally. And they’re converting 28.9 percent of third downs, second-to-last in the conference and 113th nationally.
Purdue is allowing 37.8 points per game, last in the Big Ten and 114th nationally, but Hazell liked the way that unit — with three down linemen; three linebackers, including a “Jack;” and five defensive backs — played in a 44-7 loss to Nebraska; it just was forced into the position of being on the field for too long against the Cornhuskers.
The offense could help alleviate that stress, with any sort of production. The Boilermakers are last in the conference in scoring (15.3 points per game, 118th nationally), total offense (287.3 yards per game, 119th) and rushing (77.8, 119th). And Hazell again talked about further scaling back the offense, and focusing on effectively and efficiently executing a limited package.
“The playbook was still pretty extensive last week going into last week’s game, but we weren’t doing anything exceptionally well,” he said. “So we have to go and find three or four things that we do very well and hang our hat on it.
“If you’re doing a lot of things and you’re just doing them OK, that doesn’t help you. You have to find three or four things right now, where we are maturity‑wise as a football team, and you have to do them well.”
The second half of Purdue’s schedule might include several “winnable” games. But the Boilermakers don’t figure to be favored in any of them.
“You have to make sure you’re playing better,” Hazell said. “There are so many little things that you have to do, and you can’t do them all at once, but you have to pick and choose the things that you have to get better at. That’s from the head coach on down, and that’s where we have to start.
“You put a lot of work into it and you want better results, so it’s frustrating. But you know where you are as a program. You’re working through those things, and the whole goal of the program is you have to continually try to get better at little things — and there are a lot of things that you have to get better at. That’s part of the growing process, and our staff is working tirelessly to get those things fixed.”