I like Cody Webster...but I'm sure he didn't want to be the only bright spot during the trip to Cincy. Sadly, he and the guys who play on the punt team were...by a lot. In fact, they were the only reason Purdue scored this afternoon in the Queen City.
When Purdue needed a stop on 3rd and 8 or 9, Cincy would get 10 or 12 yards. When the offense needed five or six yards on third down, they'd draw a flag...Both sides of the ball played poorly...and the coaches did not have the team prepared.
Last year, a Senior-laden Purdue team played a lot of games like this...Games in which Purdue didn't compete...made poor decisions and had too many penalties. Today was a continuation of last season. That's really tough to swallow.
Hazell's Debut left off where Danny Hope dropped the program
On Twitter and on message boards alike, some Purdue fans are quick to lay blame at the feet of Danny Hope. While there's no doubt that part of this can be attributed to old habits dying hard, Hazell has been at the helm since the late winter...and HIS team had too many false starts, too many other costly penalties and too many turnovers.
Cincinnati had a lot of wins last season. But Cincinnati didn't beat many good teams last season (you can go check, if you'd like), but Purdue made them look like Alabama. Cincy lost some important parts from last year's team...and lost much of their coaching staff from '12-'13. For a program in transition, they looked rock-solid. While the "bones" of the Bearcat program are clearly healthier than Purdue's, there is simply no excuse for what we saw from our Boilers.
Before I start on this next section, understand a few things. I like Rob Henry and think he's a great athlete...and he's not the only reason for today's outcome...BUT, the starting QB has to lead the offense better than Henry did today.
What we all know about Henry as a passer prior today was continued on the field versus Cincinnati. His passing mechanics aren't good- he throws off of his back foot too much, side arms at times and tends to stare down his target. Atop of that, he doesn't have a ton of arm strength and isn't super accurate. I really believe much of that can be covered by a scheme that plays to his strengths, smart decisions and great leadership in the huddle. The problem is, today we saw Henry struggle to get the plays off in time...we watched him make poor decisions in key situations...and he looked rattled regularly throughout the game. He ended the game 18/35 with 2 interceptions and no TDs.
Based on what we know right now...what we've seen in game situations, it's tough to believe he should be the starting QB for this Purdue team. Midway through the third quarter, Purdue had 90 yards of offense while Cincy had 275. That's damning for both sides of the ball.
Hazell said the Senior class deserved the best chance of winning, right now...so he'd play the QB who gave Purdue the best chance to win NOW, regardless of which class he's in. A ball control offense with a QB that can't stretch the field will not lead this Purdue team to many victories.
Purdue's defense was allowing Cincy to succeed on 75% of its third down attempts in the closing minutes of the 3rd quarter. By that time, I believe, it was 35-7...the game was over for all intents and purposes.
Rustiness happens in first games...especially for offenses. BUT, Purdue's best offense was clearly the scripted first 10-15 plays...sadly, much of the momentum created in that period was ruined by turnovers and penalties.
I think the most-pessimistic of Purdue fans didn't see today's shellacking by Cincy coming. The good news is, it only counts as one loss. The bad news is, this game shows how much work there is yet to be done...Not for Purdue to be a B1G champ like Hazell aspires them to be, but for Purdue to be more than a automatic W for the upper third of the conference.
Next up, D-I AA opponent, Indiana State.