I was a Freshman at Purdue in 1993...I can remember how angry I felt when I saw that Sports Illustrated picked my Boilers to be one of, if not the very worst team in D-IA that pre-season. They struggled on the road versus a barely-OK NC State team to start that season...then came to Ross-Ade for the home opener and beat a bad MAC team in uninspiring fashion...and from that point the season went downhill.
SI was right. Purdue was awful...and if I had any doubts that year, as the season went on I would be reminded again and again and again that the offense had no explosiveness. A couple good running backs, one of those a future hall-of-famer, couldn't help that offense find an identity. Lousy QB play plagued them, and the offensive line struggled mightily to protect either QB that played (Pike or Trefzger) and their 7th-toughest schedule in the nation didn't do them any favors.
I've done it, the media's done- compared this year's Purdue team to Tiller's first Purdue team...and from what I've seen so far, that comparison needs to be shelved. BUT, after watching this team with my own eyes, my memory took me back to the darkest season in my memory as a Purdue football fan, 1993.
Colletto's 1993 Boilers really didn't get a whole lot better as that season went on...other than they stopped playing Pike, mostly due to injury...but the QB change didn't really help those beleaguered Boilers.
Two of Purdue's best games of that season were two-plus TD losses- 17-0 v. UND, and 25-10 @ UM. Mmmmmmmm, moral victories.
The 2013 Boilers have been showing 50 shades of horrible, that are beyond concerning...and if you watched the ISU game, you know what I'm talking about. The offense isn't just vanilla, it's as flavorless as a plain rice cake...and right now, seems about as tough crack. On the other side of the ball, the defense will play well for stretches, but they have lapses and mistakes that show us that they probably can't win a game on their own (versus a B1G opponent...top or bottom of the conference).
Do I think this Purdue team will go 1-11? Hope not...that's about as much as I can say right now.
Some really bad Purdue teams have beaten the absolute stuffing out of D-IAA teams...but this year's team had to be saved by an interception in the closing moments of the game. Let's not forget that ISU was without their best offensive player...YET, they looked stronger on offense in the fourth quarter than their in-state big brother.
They wore Purdue down...on offense and defense. Let that flow over you, if it hadn't already registered with you.
Here's the hardest realization I had on Saturday- A Danny Hope-coached team would be better right now. I'm not theorizing or guessing, I'm positive of this. Is it possible that by the end of the season THIS Purdue team will be better than they'd have been if Hope had not been fired? Kind of tough to imagine from where I sit.
Now, I'm not saying that I think Hope should have stayed...even with what I've seen so far. I'm not saying Hazell isn't the right coach. I am saying that this rebuild, even if it's just one season like this, could be the most-painful season we've seen as Purdue fans in 20 years. I think that says a lot.
Football wisdom tells us that most teams improve more between week one and two than any other time during the season...if that's true...Uh oh.
The good guys got smacked around by a bad Cincinnati team in week one, and were nearly beaten by an undermanned D-IAA team in week two. Bleak is the word that comes to mind.
Have any questions been answered in the first few weeks? Sure.
1. Is Rob Henry a better passer than he used to be? Sure doesn't seem to be.
2. Is this offensive line better than we thought they'd be on paper? Nope.
3. How about those linebackers, are they gelling and is the system clicking with them? Nyet!
4. Is the defensive backfield stronger than last year? Nine!
5. Is Shoop's scheme better than detractors thought it'd be? Not even a bit.
Do I sound like Debbie Downer? I don't think so...she's unfairly negative...I'm just stating observations.
Installing new systems, philosophies and schemes takes time...no doubt about that. But I really thought a bunch of B1G players would be able to run draws, sweeps and passes to the flat while controlling the offensive trench...then on the other side, I thought the speed and athleticism of a bunch of kids from the deep South (who many Purdue fans told me were a sure-fire road to success a few years ago) could manhandle a bunch of small-timers from the fourth tier of talent from a basketball state. Guess not.
Saturday was depressing...and sadly, I don't have a Cymbalta prescription...so I'm not over it yet.
Purdue hasn't ended the season ranked since 2003...that's 10 years. It's been 11 years since our Boilers have won a bowl game NOT played in Detroit...15 since this program has won any post-season game of consequence. Perhaps the culture is just really, really broken??
These posts are supposed to be therapeutic for me...today, it isn't working. Maybe I should shift my gaze.
Is there anything that we can take away from the first two games that's positive? I actually can find a couple things.
-I really like the way Dawkins and Hunt run...both hit holes hard and seem to be faster than everyone else on the field. Unfortunately, they really haven't been put in positions to succeed.
-Next, Ben Knauff looks great so far...his quickness and swagger are awfully tough not to compare to Vinny Sutherland; all good there.
-I loved the opening kickoff return from the ISU game...once again, it showcased Hunt's speed and athleticism.
-Cody Webster is still damned good at his job...but bad teams typically have pretty good punters. Good news for Webster, he's gotta be getting some attention from NFL scouts.
-The defensive front has shown some flashes of solid play...but needs much more speed on the edge. Gaston has been the most-noteworthy player on defense; he's living up to his billing thus far.
-Penalties were down from game one to game two. Good good.
Here are a few more questions that haven't been answered:
1. Why haven't we seen Cottom carry the ball? Seems to me that if you're trying to ram it down a team's throat, which Purdue clearly was doing on Saturday, you'd bring out the biggest, baddest back in the stable.
2. Why haven't we seen Macarthy at WR? I know he had a bit of nagging injury this summer, but he said he was healthy a month ago. I still think he's a difference maker and is really tough to defend (he does need someone to accurately deliver him the ball though).
3. Why not more spread? Purdue ran a bit of true spread during the third quarter on Saturday...and it was effective...then it was quickly done away with, it seems.
4. Is notable improvement possible this season? This is the biggest question to me...and many personnel decisions should hinge on this question.
I looked at the conference stats so far...and they're even more depressing than this post. Name an offense category- Chances are, Purdue is in the cellar there. Worse than that, they don't even show up on many of the positive statistical categories. We've got a looooooong way to go, my friends before Saturdays in Ross-Ade will be anything more than a chance to enjoy a fall breeze. Coach Hazell has a real opportunity to earn his salary in the coming weeks- it only gets more difficult.
I guess the good news is I had them at 1-1 at this point...plus I got to enjoy a weekend in which Purdue won, UND lost, IU lost and the Colts won...always nice. But yeah, Purdue's win absolutely deserves an asterisk- I'm one of those guys that thinks the games versus FCS opponents should be done away with.
We're five days away from the red-faced Campbell's Soup kid leading his Irish into RA for a rare night game.
Oh...and one more question. Do you think Hazell will stick with Henry to the bitter end...no matter how many bad passes, picks, fumbles he has?? If so, why? Do you believe Coach Hazell is of the mindset these players need to learn how to lose before they can truly enjoy the fruits of their labor? Not sure...but it kind of feels that way.
I think those who visit Boiled Sports are some of the more knowledgeable Purdue Fans there are. So as the hours pass and I find myself worrying less about work and more about getting embarrassed Saturday night, I thought about the Spoliermakers of old. Years that I'd much rather forget have seeped into my mindset. Losing to atrocious teams one week only to follow it up by beating a top 20 team. As many of you know, I am not a fan of Rob Henry playing quarterback. (I believe he's an amazing athlete that should know his role) That being said, I'm interested what the knowledgeable Boiled Sports fans believe will happen this week with Henry under center? Do you give us even a whimper of a chance? Or...are any of you of the same mindset as I? Believing (in this offense) that Appleby or Etling give our Boilers a chance to compete or even pull this thing off?
I was at Purdue in 93 also. Problem with that team is they didn't really have a defense and the offensive line had a ton of injuries. That was the year they lost to minnesota after scoring 56 points. I will say that the 1994 and 1995 teams were good enough on offense to win 6 or 7 games. Problem is the defense had to play some pretty good young players. Guys like chike okeafor, mike hawthorne, and chukie nworkie.
This team just isn't built for a power style offense. Our linemen are built to pass block not run iso plays like they did in 94and 95
Freshman in '93 here as well. But I am also a towny. I think the big difference between then and now is back then we all pretty much knew the team didn't have the players to win. Today's team has plenty of options to make it work...or at the bare minimum...better. And that starts by replacing the man pretending to be a quarterback.
Great summary Bdowd. It is nice to see someone capture the way I am feeling about the team. I still like the Hazell hire but some of the shine has definitely worn off. I can easily see 1-11 or 2-10 and a lot of Beckman style jokes coming Purdue/Hazell's way at the end of the year. With any luck UI shows some improvement to give us hope about the future with Hazell because Colleto never did much better after '93
Thanks for reminding me about 1993.I recall leaving most of those games at halftime to go watch other games on TV.I think we picked up an extra win that year due to an MSU forfeit (or was that 1994), so the 2013 team may not have as many wins as the 1993 team.Good times.
“Is notable improvement possible this season?”Sure it is!It would take this team as much effort to get worse than they currently are as it would for them to start getting better.That being said, it does appear that the state of football at Purdue needs a complete cultural shift if the team is going to get to play anywhere warm come the holiday season (not so much this year, but in the coming years).I think the light bulb will go off for a couple of guys this year, but that probably won’t be enough to lift the entire team.I think the bigger question is can Hazell do here what he did at his last job, and if so, how long will that take?More importantly, how long is the increasingly disgruntled fan base going to give him?
Purdue is in rehab. The "Nord-fence" looks like it has a long withdrawal period. The players are gonna have the shakes, the sweats, and the look of a terrified kitten. But, it will end. Eric Thomas spoke to the athletes a few weeks ago. One of his basic messages is "pain is temporary". This pain will end some time. On the other end of pain, if you don't quit, is success.
Considering this offensive group was designed by Nord to run 50 bubble screens a game, is it surprising that they cant switch to the power game quickly? Purdue went from disaster in week 1 to near disaster in week 2. That is progress. Give it a couple of weeks, we might get competitive. Which is more than we can say about Hope's teams.
Maybe Hazell is an evil genius that is sandbagging the first two weeks to catch ND off-guard.
That's all I got - completely irrational and wishful thinking.
My wife and I are going to go out next Saturday night, to a local bar with no TVs. I don't want to watch a 49-0 shellacking at home.
I, too, was a freshman in 1993. I remember Coletto telling us in the new student welcome at Mackey that "we're going to Pasadena!" Ha! The only good thing about that season was watching Alstott run and sticking with a top 10 Irish team for 3 quarters. I think the comparison, sadly, is fair at this point.
Cottom is sidelined due to academics. A friend close to the team told me that after I asked him the same question on Cottoms under usage.
I had a terrifying thing happen in church yesterday. I was speaking with a good friend of mine who is a die hard Hoosier fan ((He is an IU alum with season tix to football and basketball, so he's okay with me (ish)). We got to talking football and he says, with honest concern, "Man; You guys got a rough season ahead of you.". He wasn't rubbing it in. He meant it sincerely. It was terrifying.
@BoilerBloodline We talked about this topic on the soon-to-be posted Handsome Hour...We should have that up on the site tomorrow
@BoilerBloodline BS readers- what say you?
@pub76 Lots of big time talent on that '93 team...just no one knew it yet; accept for Hawthorne. I had class with him...he told me he'd be going pro early when he was a Freshman.
@boiler66 Or Cottum? Where was he on those First and Goals on the 1? Those were as painful as anything I'd ever seen.
@boiler66 Haven't found a good answer to that one yet.
@BoilerBloodline I think that the defense has options to make it work, but the same can't be said of the offense. Just zero proven production there at every position.
@Kmkeller_99 UI looks vastly improved...but had to fire a big chunk of the coaching staff...
@Kmkeller_99 Totally agree! Good Bdowd summary and on the impending jokes. Sigh, I lost the last remnants of the "you just wait until Purdue surprises people" smugness I had in the second half. Although I graduated in 92, I stuck around until 93 and was an unfortunate bystander to how bad Purdue football could be (Akers and Colletto, jeebus christmas)... The old cheer was "1.. 2.. 3.. PUNT!" Eric Hunter had talent as a QB, but he was nuttier than a fruitcake. Someone needs to call Matt Light and see if he can come back and knock some sense into these guys.
@boxercr"The players are gonna have the shakes, the sweats, and the look of a terrified kitten." LOL! Yup. That was the look in the second half against ISU.
@awaterfi If he's sidelined due to academics, why would he be allowed on the field for special teams play?
@awaterfi Good info- thanks!
@winamacboiler He's right...but he might wanna be careful; IU could be teetering right now. They needed to beat Navy.
@boilerdowd @BoilerBloodline I know I am going to get abused for writing this however I think if Purdue truly wants to turn the football program around they need to drop the ND game. I never got overly excited when Tiller's teams beat Notre Dame because to be honest those ND teams were pretty mediocre. I don't buy into this game like many other alumni because to be honest it just adds an "L" on our schedule each year.
@boilerdowd@BoilerBloodlineBest case scenario? Cottom comes back from an unknown issue and Purdue returns to its strengths (running game with a mobile QB). Purdue gets an opening drive field goal, then makes Brian Kelly gag on his gatorade when Our Boys pull out a hook-and-ladder play on the second drive and storm to a quick 10-0 lead. Then a fortuitous turnover or two to preserve a surprising lead into the half (17-14). After the half, it gets tight until the end and we go down by only 5-9 points (31-24). Worst case? Hazell tries again to make Henry into a pocket QB, has him stand behind the leaky OL too long, and Henry gets clobbered for 7 sacks, 2 fumbles, and 2 rushed INTs as ND blitzes nonstop.
I don't think Hazell has any choice but play Henry the entire game. Nothing good will come of putting Etling or Appleby in against a ranked team cold- all they're likely to do is get hurt. I expect we won't see a change until NIU unless Henry gets hurt. Just my 2 pesos.
@boilerdowd @BoilerBloodline afraid I see a major beatdown coming. Rees will pick us apart, and Henry will continue to struggle. Throwing Appleby or Etling in there to the wolves now will not help our chances, but could gain some experience. We gain nothing by having Henry play QB this year, as has been stated by several on here. Henry will never be a great quarterback or even develop into that Joey Elliott 2009 role. A lot of us 'knowledgable' fans on here, as grads of world-class Purdue majors like Engineering, Pharmacy, etc., just have a hard time understanding that football systems are difficult to learn...so we end up getting on here to vent. Especially a power run game where we couldnt even impose our will on ISU. I believe it will get better, but it's gonna be a loooong season and a lot of venting on here. Like that top quote on the right side of the page...bdowd and J are pouring the tough spirits, and we're the sorry lads trying to sit find a comfortable sitting position on the Harry's benches.
@BoilerBloodline We're trying a new format this season...the video HH had its drawbacks; let us know what you think!
Other than that, it's a major exercise in irritation. When I lived in southern Michigan about 40 minutes from South Bend, falls were torture listening to the bleating of the typically uneducated but arrogant (always a great combination) ND fans. I remember when I lived down there in '99, my well-meaning but flat-line godmother told me, matter-of-factly, that, since Our Lady had won the national championship in '77 and 88, they were online to win in '99. You might remember how THAT game ended for ND.
Glad I'm now 8 hours away from that pigsty.
I'm with pub76 and Haylard- ND is a historic game, but it would be nice to get some diversity especially with an alternate-year replacement with other major conferences. SEC games would definitely get us more visibility for recruiting- not that I'm suggesting we should schedule Alabama, but we have Vandy, Missouri, UK and UT in nearby states. We played Washington each year back when I was an undergrad (late 80s), but with those teams we weren't competitive. Good idea!
@pub76 @boilerdowd @BoilerBloodline Maybe not just because it adds an L most years but simply because of playing the same non-con game every single year....but I didn't grow up knowing the ND/Purdue rivalry. I'm sure in the old days it was great exposure for us to play them every year on national TV, but isn't that getting to be obsolete now? Purdue is pretty much the only reason I ever travel north of Indy and I never have any desire to go to South Bend for the game. Would like to see us get back to having a Pac-12 team on there. The Oregon game is probably the last time I remember being at Ross-Ade and it had the same buzz as '03-'04. I'd much rather travel up there to see a Pac-12 or SEC game...yeah I said it...wouldn't that jack up things up quite a bit to bring the SEC in Ross-Ade? I think it would resonate with recruits as much if not more than playing ND every year. BTFU