Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Football Recap: Purdue at Cincinnati - (Un)welcome Back

Hi boys and girls!  Did you miss me?  I'm sure you did, almost as much as you missed Purdue football.  Hopefully you enjoy more than you liked that pitiful excuse for football you watched at Nippert Stadium on Saturday.

That's right, coach Danny Hope once again led the Boilers into a game where they were poorly prepared with an inadequate game plan, misused their starting quarterback, displayed poor discipline, and were horribly over-matched resulting in a 42-7 shellacking to a good team.  Man, I am sick of this!

Wait, you say Purdue fired Hope last season?  Wow, you could have fooled me.

In all seriousness, the game was miserable, and while it may look like Hazell's regime is starting out like more of the same old garbage, there's more to this loss than meets the eye.  But let's jump into the obvious problems first.

1. Rob Henry: Excited for that read option and a quarterback that's a serious threat to run?  Then go watch Clemson or the 49ers.  Instead, Coach Hazell seems set on using Henry as a pocket passer, something he's unfortunately not very good at.  Henry went 18 for 35 for only 161 yards and two interceptions (one of which looked like the receiver ran the wrong route, but I'm not going to defend Henry that hard).  It was brutal seeing him repeatedly overthrow receivers, and his best pass of the day, a 27-yarder to DeAngelo Yancey on the second series, was thrown behind the receiver pretty badly.  So is Hazell as poor an in-game coach as Hope and stupidly misusing his quarterback?  Maybe, but it's more likely that Hazell is getting this team ready for a more traditional pocket passer in the future, but Appleby and Etling simply weren't good enough to be thrown to the wolves yet.  We have to think about the long game, since it's clear this year's team isn't going anyplace, but as a fan, it would sure be more fun to watch the offense play to Henry's strengths instead of his weaknesses.

You want me to do what? Throw the ball?!  You realize Drew Brees isn't wearing this jersey anymore, right?
2. Turnovers: The Boilers turned the ball over four times, two of each flavor.  The interceptions were horrible as were fumbles by Hunt and Bush.  There were also at least three Purdue fumbles that they were able to recover.  Sloppy care of the football plagued Hope's squads, and it seems the team is still infected.

3. The offensive line: This is probably the reason we aren't seeing a freshman quarterback this season.  The line isn't very good, which was probably why the Boilers couldn't even score with a first and goal opportunity from the five yard line.  Silverberry Mouhon sacked Henry to force a fumble (nice call in your preview, Erik), and Purdue saw a lot of hits behind the line of scrimmage.  The line also had trouble blocking for the rushing game.

4. The rushing attack: Blame the line, but Akeem Hunt was also lackluster.  Other than his sloppy fumble, Hunt only ran for 21 yards on seven carries.  Dawkins was a little better, but for the Boilers to have any success on the ground this season, Hunt needs to bring out the big play potential we saw last season.

5. Penalties: Seven penalties that included at least three false start calls and a couple delay of game mistakes.  Working those kinks out in the first game, huh Boilers?  You do practice, don't you?

6. The linebackers: Cincinnati ran for 221 yards and Munchie Legaux frequently found receivers open on short routes in the middle of the field.  This was a clear weakness heading into the season, and it likely won't be too difficult for good teams to exploit.  The secondary isn't off the hook either, as they didn't perform up to their caliber either, and the defensive line only tallied one sack (Ryan Russell).  Giving up 42 points is an indictment of the entire defensive squad.

Play of the Game: This week's game ball goes to Cody Webster for his 73-yard punt from his own end zone that caused the Cincinnati returner to fumble and set up Purdue's only touchdown of the game.  Always a sad game when the best player on the field is your punter, but good for Webster!

No one should have expected this football team to be fixed in a week, let alone a season.  Many of the problems that plagued the program for the last few years are still unfortunately front and center.  Hazell's turn around will take time, but I think we all were hoping for a little more excitement and passion from this group of players.  The schedule is brutal, but instead of simply losses this year, we'll be looking at a bunch of blowouts if the players and coaches don't figure out how to play with pride.

That's no fun at all.  Let's hope the team takes their frustrations out on Indiana State this weekend.

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