It’s Okay To Be Excited -- Purdue Football Has An Identity Again
Welcome back to Boiled Sports’ “It’s Okay To Be Excited,” starring Boilerdowd as the Fresh Prince with No Hair. We’ll be giving you reasons why we’re excited about the upcoming Purdue football season. Sure, Purdue has won nine games total since Danny Hope left (he won 13 in his final two seasons). And sure, Purdue has won just three Big Ten games since Hope left (he won three in his final month). But dammit, college football is coming and we really want Purdue to be a participant.
Up today, we’re excited about Purdue having an identity again.
Does that sound simple? Well, sure it does and that’s okay. You have to start with the basics when your program has been ground down to the bedrock (let’s hope), and it’s fair to say that for a while there Purdue football had no direction at all. We have been obsessively covering Purdue athletics at BS for almost 11 years and quite a many in the pre-interwebs days as well and yet we were never able to answer what Darrell Hazell’s Purdue teams were. Besides…bad.
As nearly everyone who likes Purdue knows, the most recent glory days were the Joe Tiller years, from 1997-2008. Ten bowl games in twelve seasons under Coach Tiller, eight or more wins 50% of his seasons, and only two losing seasons in all of those years. The identity of those teams was what persists in people’s minds to this day about Purdue – air it out, bubble screen the crap out of you opposition and basically, in a nutshell, keep them guessing. Tiller recognized – as we think Brohm also does – that Purdue was never going to have superior athletes in the competitive Big Ten. So to keep those often superior athletes across from you off-balance, you have to make them respect the pass, plain and simple. You burn them a few times on deep throws or gadget plays and suddenly they can’t just stack the line, overpower your linemen and tee off on your undersized running backs.
Guys like Billy Dicken, Drew Brees, Kyle Orton and even Joey Elliott made great use of this scheme and “Basketball on Grass” was a thing for a long time.
Coach Hope continued the spread approach and, well, the overall results were unimpressive enough that everyone got tired of hovering around .500 and playing in Detroit for bowl games. To punish us for being brats, Morgan Burke hired Darrell Hazell, who thought the best thing to do was take a team on the brink of being good again and installed a difficult to execute pro-style offense with usually a single back. Hey, what had worked at Ohio State under Jim Tressel had to work here, right?
So I guess you could say that was the “identity” under Coach Hazell, but it amounted to getting their teeth kicked in because they simply didn’t have the horses to run that kind of offense. Add in the fact that in the late Hope years right through the Hazell era, the offense could never seem to make defenses pay for putting nine in the box and just pinning their ears back and coming after guys like Etling and Blough. That leads to lonnnng Saturdays.
Under Jeff Brohm, it’s reasonable to expect him to assess what he has and – lo and behold! – play to the strengths of those guys.
We’re excited to see the offense from a coach whose teams were among the best in the nation offensively over a sustained period of time.
Let’s face it… we’re now at the stage where the mere potential to be somewhat competitive is cause for celebration. It’s both depressing and yet kind of exciting at the same time.