The band Avenged Sevenfold has a song call, "An Epic of Time Wasted" That is now the official theme song of the Danny Hope era in West Lafayette, which needs to come to an end this year. For the second straight week Purdue looked completely unprepared and got blown out, at home, by an opponent that was good, but hardly light years better than our Boilermakers. It was far from inconceivable that Purdue could have won both games based on what we knew going in.
Last week Purdue went three and out, gave up a long TD drive, then completely rolled over. This week we at least had the gumption to take a lead and play solid football for a minute. By a minute I mean almost exactly one minute. Raheem Mostert gave us a big return, we showed some guts by throwing long to Antavian Edison, Caleb TerBush punched it in from a yard out, and even Thomas Meadows kicked the following kickoff for a touchback.
From there we might as well have gone home because on both sides of the football we proceeded to do nothing the rest of the way.
After doing this for two straight weeks we can only look at the coaching staff. The offensive line was beyond terrible today. It didn't matter if it was TerBush, Robert Marve, or Rob Henry back there, the pocket collapsed all day and any time they rolled out there was a guy in their face. Danny Hope is a freaking offensive line coach! He built one of the best offensive lines in Big Ten history for crying out loud! This should be an epic strength, but it is getting worse every week.
On the other side of the ball we acted like the simplest of play fakes and misdirection were illegal and we wanted to wait around for a flag. A player rushed for over 200 yards on us for the second straight week and as a team the Badgers had 467 yards. We made Montee Ball, a player who has struggled this year, look like the Montee Ball of old and James White had acres of space to run on every sweep and reverse.
The pass coverage, aye. I have to shake my head when tight end and guys like Jared Abbrederis (their only real receiving threat) are wandering all over the field wide open. Wisconsin only completed 12 passes, but like last week they had guys wide freaking open on every obvious passing down. Joel Stave was able to easily pickup when we were up to stop the run and check out to a wide open passing play.
How on earth do you still give up 467 yards rushing when you know and can prepare for it, especially when you know a team like Wisconsin wants to run the ball like today and has struggled all season doing so? Shit, if this is us preparing for their run game I'd hate to see if we hadn't prepared!
Sadly, Wisconsin didn't do anything special. Landon Feichter said it best, they played like men and we did not. Once again, we shrank from the moment and got physically dominated by the Badgers. They shoved us around on offense and prevented us from getting anything going. They shoved us out of the way defensively and opened hole. They even shoved us aside on special teams and blocked a punt.
Even then, we still had a chance. A pair of missed field goals in the first half meant it was just a ten point deficit at halftime. That's hardly insurmountable. Instead, we gave up a 67-yard touchdown run in the first minute of the half and promptly went three and out. Any chance we had of seizing the moment was pissed away, yet again.
There were a number of key plays that all went against Purdue and caused things to snowball:
1. Caleb TerBush threw an atrocious interception (High and over the middle) when we were on the edge of field goal range after Wisconsin tied it 7-7. That's at least the chance at three points off the board as we're trying to answer. It was also after a great return by Mostert. this was a wasted opportunity.
2. The first play of the second quarter was a dump off to Akeem Hunt, but it was tipped on third and three. Hunt has at least a first down and a lot of room to run if the ball gets to him. It is also still a tie game there.
3. After Robert Marve found Gary Bush for a 26 yard pass and we got an additional 15 yards for a late hit we're in field goal range again at the 32. There is plenty of time to get a TD and make it 17-14, but even making it 17-10 is still important because it makes it a one possession game. Instead, the line completely and utterly breaks down on two straight plays for 23 yards of sacks.
4. Purdue twice had Wisconsin back inside its own three yard line. Both times Ball had a run of 20 or more yards to get the jam. The biggest might have been in the first quarter, when Sean Robinson hit him in the end zone for a safety, but he spun out of it for eight yards. If he's wrapped up for a safety there it is huge.
5. Purdue went 3 and out on all four possessions in the third quarter. Yes, it was raining. Yes, we were down 24-7 at this point, but for the love of God at least try to fight! Instead, it was an endless run of screens, draws, and QB sacks where we couldn't move the ball even for a first down. In 12 plays in the third quarter we lost 10 yards and had a punt blocked.
That last statistic is the most damning, and it is squarely on the coaching staff. The struggles in the first half constitute an appalling lack of preparation and the third quarter struggles show a mind-boggling inability to make even the smallest of adjustments.
I have given Danny Hope the benefit of the doubt before, but he needs to be fired. His teams continue to be ill-prepared in anything resembling a big game. His in-game decision making and adjustments have been suspect for four years and have shown no signs of improving. His teams are not mentally tough, and check out at the slightest hint of adversity. He is blessed this year with the most talented team of his tenure, yet there has not been a change in results against the marquee teams on the schedule. We got beat 37-0 in his first year by Wisconsin, and got beat 38-14 with only two big plays leading to our touchdowns with a better team.
That is all on Danny Hope. He cannot pick a quarterback. He cannot prepare a team. His offensive coordinator cannot run more than a vanilla package despite finally having the experience that was an excuse two years ago. Finally, he cannot adjust in game. These last two games were a chance for Purdue to step forward and show that things could, indeed, be better under Hope. He failed miserably, so it is time for him to go.