Saquon Barkley is Good
The main purpose behind firing Darrell Hazell during the season was not because there was a budding head coach on the sidelines who could make Purdue into a bowl-bound team: it was to acknowledge to Purdue football fans, alumni and boosters that Hazell wasn't getting the job done, and that wasn't acceptable. Last Saturday, Gerad Parker confused things for a while, coaching the Boilers to a halftime lead against a top-ten Nebraska squad in Lincoln. The Huskers shut down Purdue in the second half, but it was still a solid effort.
Saturday, Purdue faced a similar challenge in a top-25 opponent, only at home. Again, the Boilers put in one solid half ... but this time, the second half was much worse. A significant factor was that Saturday's opponent had Saquon Barkley, and last Saturday's opponent did not. Barkley rolled up 277 yards from scrimmage, including an 81-yard run to start a 21-point fourth quarter, as Purdue managed only a 62-yard David Blough to DeAngelo Yancey TD in the second half, falling 62-24.
Make no mistake: while the firing of Hazell meant something, it was a sign for the future, not for 2016. Purdue still has the same struggles on defense (511 yards total offense allowed, 62 points allowed, although this time only 2 for 9 on third down), the same problems with second-half adjustments (-38 points today), and the same concerns about the remaining schedule, which looks just as bad now, with Minnesota's crushing win at Illinois making next week's game in Minneapolis look even more ominous.
David Blough did what he could - 34 for 50, 281 yards, 2 TDs and just one pick - but when you are giving up 8 yards per play on defense, it really doesn't matter what your offense does if you aren't running a Loyola-Marymount-caliber offense like Big 12 teams do. With no ground game to speak of (a 23-yard Markell Jones TD run comprised exactly half of Purdue's rushing yards in the game), it was essentially Blough on his own, and that's not going to be very effective against teams with even reasonable pass defense.
As good as Barkley is, those offensive numbers that Purdue conceded were a reminder of how poor Hazell's last choice for DC was. Ross Els is unlikely to get another coordinator job after this mess - with any luck, the next coach will have a better eye for coordinator talent. Fortunately, most of the remaining schedule consists of teams with less potent offenses than Saturday's foe had ... even Indiana has slumped to 24.1 points per game prior to their game today against Maryland, so hopefully there won't be another 60-spot this season.
Next up - the Gophers, winners of three straight and carrying just two one-score losses on their record. Parker and company will have their work cut out for them this week; with any luck, next week's recap will have something more fun to read.
Feature image courtesy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. That didn't happen Saturday, but it could have.