As boilerdowd alluded to, the bloom is coming a bit off the rose in West Lafayette. The pitchforks certainly aren't out yet for Coach Hazell, but people are in the barn looking for those forks when conversation turns to the offense and John Shoop. So what do we know 1/3 of the way through the season? And what do we look towards now as progress and, frankly, using wisely what will wind up being a lost season?
We talked on the Handsome Hour a not long ago about when might be the right time to shake things up on offense, and what we sort of deduced was that the coaching staff (obviously) felt that Rob Henry was the right guy for the job at the outset of the season. If that plan wasn't working, this seemed to be the kind of plotting, measured coaching staff that would make decisions at the most logical times. To that end, I think many of us can agree that throwing Appleby or Etling in to start against ND or once things got ugly vs Wisconsin were not ideal options. You don't really want your future QB's first action to be utterly demoralizing.
So, probably more to keep us sane than anything, we looked at the schedule and noted that after the fifth game of the season (this weekend vs NIU), the Boilers have an off-week and, in fact, only play two games in October. What better time to step back, re-assess and, if necessary, retool the offense. So in Coach J and Boilerdowd's world, Rob Henry starts again this weekend and if he has a monster day, you could again talk yourself into the idea that he's moving in the right direction. A record of 2-3 obviously wouldn't be ideal, but it would at least put you in a position where dreaming of a bowl game isn't completely insane. (Just mostly insane.) It would also make the Boilers 2-1 at home, which is not entirely unacceptable and would likely keep some contingent of fans showing up. Knowing the next home game is versus Nebraska will also draw fans.
Speaking of that next game being against Nebraska, if Rob Henry continues to look like he's throwing with the wrong arm and the Boilers simply get run off the field by the MAC team coming to town on Saturday, things will get ugly fast if he is not pulled during the game. So perhaps against that MAC team is when you give one of the youngsters some reps. If not then and it is another loss, then the old proverbial drawing board must be revisited during the two weeks leading up to Nebraska.
Nebraska will bring their laughable "blackshirt" defense to town, which actually sets up nicely for a team that has decided to stretch the field, so to speak. So with a couple weeks to prepare and only two games from 9/29 to 11/1, this would appear to be the time to make a decision. Particularly if the team is 1-4, since there will simply be no reason to not begin to accept that this is a lost season. Nothing against Rob Henry at that point, but giving him reps does nothing for 2014 and beyond.
There have also been many criticisms of John Shoop, dating back to when he first took the job. Many Bears fans point to his time running the Chicago offense in the NFL as a young man. One reader even sent us a link to a story about how inept the Bears offense was. A story from 2001. About a Bears offense with Jim Miller at the controls, he of the career 75.2 QB Rating. (You'd think Bears fans would know a lousy QB when they see one, but yet there they are being talked into Jay Cutler every year.) Point is, I'm not sure it's fair to say because this Purdue team has gotten off to this start with these pieces in place that John Shoop should be blamed because it's just like a completely unrelated team and situation 12 years ago. But hey, you're obviously entitled to your opinion. My opinion is simply that it's too soon to cast judgement on Shoop or any of this staff just yet. Sure, we'd all have liked to have seen more progress to this point, but there is definitely still time to make adjustments we want to see. Remember, Danny Hope was given four years with this program. I don't think there's any doubt that Darrell Hazell can oceans better at his job than Danny Hope -- time will tell, though, I guess.
In any event, that's how I've reconciled what we're seeing in my head: these guys committed to this QB and this approach for at least the first month of the season and don't want to change course suddenly. If my theory is supported by them making a logical change during the bye week, then frankly, I'm fine with the ways things have been handled. If not, and this offense continues to not show progress, it will be hard to defend those decisions much longer.
If Coach Tiller were still the HC, he WOULD HAVE started one of the young guys. He stated this prior to the season. At the very least he would have replaced Henry by now. Look at Tiller's track record with Purdue. He had very little patience for a QB that wasn't performing well. He replaced Brandon Hance with Kyle Orton in the 4th or 5th game (Mich St. game) of Orton's freshman year and the rest is history. He did the same with during Painter's freshman year by pulling Kirsch (a Jr). So I have these expectations from prior coaches that I want our current staff to emulate. That's what they are paid to do. People act as if these young guys (Blue Chippers BTW) will go into the game and get BLASTED. That's just ridiculous to think that way. Hell...a freshman won the damn Heisman trophy last year. Freshman play all the time and many do very well. At this point...IT WILL NOT HURT to play these kids. And I think you'll see a completely different offense if they do. It's time.
Can someone please reconcile this quote with the offensive scheme we've been playing most downs this year:
“You've got to be careful. Everything looks good on film, but if it doesn't fit your personnel and what you can do, it's not going to help.” ~ Coach H.
Ummmm, okay, Coach. You might want to pass that tidbit on to your OC.
I honestly feel that with how young Appleby/Etling are and their inconsistency in the spring was the reason for not playing them to start the season. I think our coaches knew it was going to be rough and didn't want to chance demoralizing or injuring one of our young QB's. I said to my buddies at the start it would take 6 games or so before we had the chance to see one of the young guys.
In all honesty there is no way the coaching staff expected the team to play up and down (mainly down) the way they have. In the Cinci game I watched as the team came off the field after the first interception with their heads down (the mentality and same shit that we have watched through Hope's era). That's culture that cannot be changed in 1 game and probably not in just a season. I am still optimistic of this team and for damn sure of this coaching staff, but it will take time.
Now with the young QBs.... I was at the spring game and followed about all of the practices. Etling was without a doubt the most surprising. His top side seems extremely good. From what I recall, and have heard talking with people and players, Appleby's biggest issue is majorly inconsistent and Etling wasn't getting a grasp of the offense. Those things can change quickly though and big deal Henry doesn't seem to have either of those going for him in game situations anyways. They send in a play and Henry is looking at his wrist figuring out what the hell to play is and it's taking us forever to get to the line and get going. It seems like 30 seconds minimum between running plays.
I despise IU and laugh about their season so far but they are running plays between 8-12 seconds during the Missouri game. Just to compare that to Chip Kelly's offense at the Eagles, when they were going balls to the wall they were averaging like 7 seconds. Those are damn fast offenses. Even if we pushed I don't think we could manage plays every 20 seconds.
Maybe that is our plan since our Offense sucks right now, take as much time to get plays off to give as much rest for our defense as we go 3 and out.... haha.
Also, looking at the games so far and my analysis of the teams we played.
Cinci: Away game to start, confused offense, looked overwhelmed. Now people that were at the game and watching on TV, that place was insanely pumped up and they were looking to make a statement. Makes a big difference.
ISU: Aweful game, but they couldn't do anything against our defense besides a couple long passes to set them up nicely. We also were on the goal line and didn't convert, i believe that game was much farther apart than the score showed, even though I left feeling like it was a loss.
ND: Ross Ade was awesome, we stood the whole game, the blimp was there, and the buzz in the stadium felt like something could happen. We were there to play and wanted to win, but it slipped away with 2 plays over the course of the entire game... A pick 6 and an 82 yard TD over F'n Ricardo (needs to pick it up)!
Wisc: AWEFUL... we came in and it didn't look too good, but we then scored and it felt like ok maybe we can do something, BUT they just kept pounding it down our throat and we forgot how to tackle or we were afraid to tackle them (ok so that glimmer of hope i had was mid 1st quarter then it was gone haha). Wisconsin is damn good, but we looked and acted like we did against Cinci week 1!
If Henry is at QB I would load the box against us and blitz on every down the entire game. Wow he has a 10-15 yard deep ball threat...... and the other thing why the hell does he take a 15 step drop after the snap. His 10 yard passes are really 20 yrds because he is never in the pocket, I guess that has to do with our O-line struggling badly!
Well... This was a lot longer than I planned, but just rambling thoughts....
Here's hoping to see some improvements moving forward and to hopefully see one of our QBs for the future, because at 6 wins (doubtful) and a bowl game we can go get humiliated again most likely on the national stage. Ill always watch, ill always cheer, and I will always have my season tickets!
Question for the board and the BS guys: If Appleby takes over at QB and thrives, leading us to a bowl game in the process, should Shoop be fired? A large part of a coaches job is evaluating talent and if this were to happen, it would be clear that Shoop screwed up big time. Maybe this is why the coaching staff is so reluctant to make a change.
nice article trying to do what we do best as Purdue football fans: seeing the glass half-full by midweek after an embarrassing debacle. I was at Madison for the pathetic showing. Our defense may be out-manned, but I saw no communication among teammates, no energy between plays....basically them just bending over and taking it. I've got one more game left in me this year...probably aO$U to do my part to keep those idiot fans from taking our stadium over.
Trying not to break into my Jim "Playoffs" Mora voice here about the bowl game dream. I think it's true that Henry will get the start, but if they're treading water by the half, I wouldn't put it past them to switch to one of the other guys after the half. I do like someone's suggestion of trying Henry as a TE, though Purdue has decent ends- The problem is that the Numbers 1-3 receivers on the team are Hunt and then two TEs (Simz and Holmes). Heck, if you add up all receptions by all the WRs, I think they just about equal Hunt's numbers. So Shoop needs to get someone OTHER than Hunt to shoulder the offensive burden, because if I was a defensive coordinator, if I stop Hunt I stop Purdue cold.
I like Rob Henry. I think he is an outstanding representation of what is good about Purdue University and its athletic program. He has put in his time and worked hard to come back from injury. If you were looking for an individual that is humble, charismatic, and a good leader Rob is your man. Having said that, there are a lot of guys in college football with Rob's traits. The problem is those traits alone don't win football games. Purdue needs a QB that has an arm capable of stretching a defense. I think we have those guys in Appleby and Etling however the coaching staff feels the need to continue down this path of futility with Rob as QB. Don't get me wrong, I as a fan understood we were going to struggle this year. This was not the equivalent of 1997 and Joe Tiller. Tiller had the benefit of a gunslinger in Billy Dicken at QB and a pretty good defense. Billy, in my opinion, was a better athlete than Rob Henry with an arm capable of making all of the throws. Add in the fact they had two legitimate big ten tailbacks and it was obvious in the right scheme Purdue could flourish. Fast forward to today and Purdue has one half of Billy Dicken, two slot backs playing running back, and a scheme built on a drop back passer. Now either Hazel puts in the drop back passer and lets him learn how to run the power style offense or he simply cans that thought and goes back to gunslinging. Personally I think we picked the wrong coach for the talent. We are no different than Northwestern or IU on offense. Both of them are making a living running a wide open style that plays to the strength of their players. We on the other hand are trying to take Ohio States offense and cater it to Purdue style athletes. As I said in another post, we tried that already with Colletto and we didn't have a lot of success. Sad thing is I would have loved to see Alstott, Watson, and Corey Rogers running a form of Chaney's offense. Could you imagine the carnage those three guys would have inflicted had Purdue spread the field via formations instead of lining up on top of each other trying to run between the tackles.
@acboiler I don't believe Shoop has a job here after this season. At the very latest after next season. Kinda makes me wonder why Coach Hazell didn't bring his OC from Kent over. Shoop doesn't have the best reputation here in the midwest and by what I've read...anywhere. And he's not really doing much at the moment to mend that.
@SkekTek Umm...yeah...until Henry is removed as QB, those numbers will never change. Henry has enough problems hitting a WR on a WR screen...let alone a down field pattern. Unless it's a screen or a VERY short crossing pattern...the entire football world knows Henry cannot complete it and any pass is 'taking a chance'. And I thoroughly believe Dalyn Dawkins should be the #1 RB. He doesn't go down with a gust of wind or play dance off at the line of scrimmage like Hunt. He runs harder, runs forward and falls forward.
@pub76 Very well said. I do think that a staff needs to tailor the offense to the skills of the players. It was widely known that Borges at Michigan wanted to run a pro style offense but they had Denard Robinson on the team and therefore kept a lot of the plays where he ran the ball and spread the field. The games that they struggled the most were the ones where they tried to make him a pocket passer (BAMA, ND). Rob Henry's greatest strength is his speed, it seems silly not to use that more.
I will be honest and say I do not know enough about the nuance of football to know whether or not Purdue can ever be successful running a pro style offense (after the staff has had a chance to recruit "their guys") but I do know that the spread has been credited with leveling the playing field between the blue blood programs and the rest (so your comments make sense).
Ultimately what irritates me the most (and likely many of you) is that there seems to be an insistence on doing the same thing over and over while hoping for different results (the definition of insanity). If things aren't working try SOMETHING different. (OK done ranting)
PS I like Rob as well on a personal level and hope that people can keep the criticism civil regarding the players. Also before Hope was fired the feeling was that he had upgraded the talent but failed to capitalize on that so it seems like cop out to to say the the cupboard is bare (not that anyone is saying that in this thread - just a general comment)
@pub76 Amen, Pub. Rob Henry is a good man and his parents should be proud of him and we as fans should be proud of him. He'll be a great success in life; but that life won't be football (at least not QB). I feel bad for the guy frankly. He probably knows as well as anyone that he's being asked to do something he's not great at. That's no fun for anybody. Keep him on the field; Lord knows we need a wideout who can catch a long ball as badly as we need a QB who can throw one.