|I hope these uniforms don't make it back from Texas...but this is a pretty sweet shot.|
Danny Hope wasn't on the sideline, but he watched the game from the stands. Even with Higgs at the Helm, the Boilers looked eerily similar to the team we saw versus Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn State and Minnesota...a team without the ability to beat good (not even great) teams.
Make no mistake, Purdue was overmatched versus the 7-5 Cowboys. Okie State fought through adversity this season, being forced to start three quarterbacks during the year...yet they were able to beat five bowl-eligible teams. Purdue had a relatively healthy season, yet squeaked into a bowl from the weakest Big Ten in memory. Purdue squeaked into the the Little Caesars Bowl...but found themselves in Texas anyway...and it showed that our Boilers belonged in Detroit from the get-go.
The final score was 58-14...but it felt much worse. If nothing else this game was a reminder to those who were on the fence of why Danny Hope had to leave. Heading into the game, OJ Ross, Ricardo Allen and other veteran Boilers expressed confidence in their opinion that Purdue would win easily as the Boiler defense would handle the Cowboys' offense. That wasn't the case...not even close. But everyone earned this loss.
|One of OK State's many TDs.|
Purdue had five turnovers on offense- three fumbles and two interceptions. On the other side, the defense allowed 5.2 yards/carry...and allowed two quarterbacks to play close to perfect. OK State could pretty much do whatever they wanted on offense and at the same time, Purdue's offense lacked pop and executed poorly, with one exception- Akeem Shavers played a great game until he went down injured late in the game. The Texas native had 14 carries for 93 yards and four receptions for 54 yards. I haven't yet heard how severe his injury was, but it was a knee...and it looked pretty bad.
If Purdue wasn't down two coaches and everything went their way, they probably still would have lost. But with a makeshift coaching staff, this Boiler team had no chance. The blood letting started early and didn't stop until the game hit 0:00.
A few things were noteworthy to me as I watched this Purdue team play its final game before Hazell starts his time in God's Country:
-Webster's fake punt from the endzone in the first quarter was a "what-the-hell" play call that looked like it might foreshadow a fun caution-to-the-wind game. Turns out, not even a second successful fake punt would matter as the game was simply out of hand from very early on.
-Tommie Thomas scored his first TD of his career- Good for him. We've become virtual pals with #12 via Twitter and love seeing him succeed. He's been a good ambassador for the university and the program. It's great to see that type of guy get a moment in the sun...even if that sun came via an out-of-hand game at a cloudy, cold bowl locale.
-We don't like calling out players, but OJ Ross' fumble after the catch in the second half was easily-avoidable. The guy typing this post played Freshman football in high school, and I know that you should cover up the ball as you prepare to get hit, especially when facing two defenders. Instead, Ross was careless with the ball and it changed a Purdue first down to six points for OK State. Gabe Holmes also didn't do a great job securing the ball. Both of these guys are extremely gifted...and both deserve to be benched by the next coach if they can't get the details right. They have all of the potential in the world- speed, size and strength...but without mental toughness, they'll perpetually be just what ifs.
-The team looked visibly out of shape...something I can't remember seeing in the last four years. A couple guys who I had never seen with soft midsections looked to be on the Boilerdowd diet and exercise schedule. Sure, the holidays are filled with gatherings that include delicious cookies, big meals and egg nog for many, but you hope that's not the case for our Boilers. This didn't seem to have any bearing on the game as Purdue was simply dominated. An extra pound or two didn't make it happen.
The Darrell Hazell Era began when Oklahoma State was the official champ of the Heart of Dallas Bowl...and not a moment too soon. I'll be rooting for him to get one more victory before he starts looking for houses near my favorite college campus. But when he trades in his golden rod Kent State shade of gold for the metallic beige of his new employer, he'll have his work cut out for him.
Years of sunshine being blown up the backsides of Purdue's players have left him with a difficult project...This Purdue team, as it stands now, needs schematic improvement, attitude and mental adjustments and personnel shifts. They looked slow today, but they're not a slow team. They looked weak at times, but it's not a team of weaklings. What they were today was what they've been the last few seasons- an ill-prepared squad with unrealized potential.
I'm not sure Hazell has a full rebuild ahead of him, but it should definitely a large-scale remodel...and I'm already excited for the Spring game to see the early changes.
*Please note, my headline isn't questioning the heart of the individuals on the team...but it is pointing to the team's collective heartbeat and cohesiveness.
Happy New Year, everybody. I hope your 2013 is blessed and prosperous!! Thanks for reading the site.