Looking at the Rice game (and pretty much Purdue football in recent years), we just seem to lack an identity. Are we a passing team? Are we a rushing team? Are we a stingy defensive team? An identity is actually more like a niche, like our bread-and-butter that we can always count on. In basketball, we take GREAT pride in our defense. We know we can always count on our players to play hard, hustle, and play tough, hard-nosed defense. That's our identity.
But football? In Tiller's early years, we are basketball-on-grass. We know we can always count on our passing game that we are still dangeorus at 3rd-and-15. Obviously I won't even trust 3rd-and-4 these days.
Well, Hope, as a line coach, at least establish our line then. Make our line fearsome like the Wisky's, that we'll just bully the defense. Instead, they can't be trusted to make holes to establish the run or protect the QB in a pocket, and we have to always roll the QB out in order to attempt a throw.
Despite the so-called Cradle of Quarterbacks or Den of defensive ends, suffice to say QBs and DEs aren't our strength this year. Well, with an All-American kicker you would think we at least have a niche in the kicking game. Thanks to poor clock management and timeout management by the coaching staff though, we can't even establish our niche as a kicking team. Not even that!
That's the frustrating part! I hate the culture of mediocrity, that beating a D-IIa team or a team that hasn't played a bowl game for years is already an accomplishment. Look what Rex Ryan did when he came to the Jets or when Joe Tiller did when he came to Purdue - they change the losing culture and declare that their team WILL compete against the Big Boys. They establish their identity (defense for Ryan, passing for Tiller), and they quickly turn around the team. As head coach, Hope needs to give the players and fans more than naive optimism. He needs to give the players an inspiring vision, that we will be the best team to do X. In football and in life, we need to develop a niche, do what we do best, and focus on that.
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