Time To Get Better
As J pointed out, Saturday's loss was a gutpunch to a fanbase that was salivating for change. I believe if Danny Hope had still been coach of our Boilers during the trip to Cincy, the results would have been similar...only the schemes would have been different.
That's obviously not a good thing for Coach Haze and co. If you're like me, you probably thought coming into the opener, that Purdue's talent wasn't significantly-less than a team like Cincinnati. So now, as a fan, I'm at a crossroads- do I buy into the idea that Hope left the cupboard as empty as it looked OR that the coaching staff simply didn't have the team ready to play. Neither option is good.
Sure, that's a pretty stark question and there are probably shades of right and wrong within this either/or scenario. But what we do know is Purdue simply did not look like a BCS conference team on Saturday...and it's time to improve.
Darrell Hazell is a no-nonsense guy...and I suspect that he accepted no excuses from his coaches or players on Sunday. The heat was pressing down on the players in the white jerseys just as it was in those in the black...but the team in black looked gassed in the second half. The team in white helmets was learning new systems, terminology and culture in the offseason just as the team in the gold hats...but the the one that I really wanted to see win looked confused and outmanned.
For the last few seasons, we've heard that certain players looked better in practice...but in games, that story didn't seem to match up with what he did on Saturdays. Perhaps we saw a bunch of players who were impressive in practice, but simply aren't gamers. I don't think that 35,000 fans should wilt an athlete's mental make-up...but something made Purdue look like they didn't belong on the same field as Cincy, and it's Hazell's job to figure out what it was. One thing we can all be very sure about is the venues get larger, louder and more hostile as the season progresses in the coming weeks...Excuses of mental preparedness and even talent disparagement do not matter when a team is between the painted lines.
In fact, the better the opponent, the more likely they'll be to kick our Boilers in the collective ribcage while they're down on the ground gasping for air and begging for mercy. Cincy did it by going for it on fourth down time and again...by intercepting inaccurate passes...by hitting harder and by turning up the intensity as the game progressed. After the ISU game, it gets no easier and all excuses will fall upon deaf ears- both outside of the Purdue family and inside it.
It's simply time to get better.