It doesn't get much worse than that for a bowl game, kids:
- Dropped passes.
- Bad calls like two missed blocks in the back on a key punt return.
- A terrible non-reversal on a replay that ended a drive at midfield.
- Terrible blocking.
- Lousy tackling.
- Even worse coverage.
- A missed field goal.
- A dropped interception.
- A defensive touchdown given up.
Basically, this game was an exercise in everything that could go wrong for Purdue. The Boilers were in it for exactly two possessions, forcing a three and out then gaining momentum with a 16-yard run by Cody Webster on a fake punt. Unfortunately, Purdue had to punt later in the drive and Josh Stewart had a 64-yard punt return aided by non-calls when Danny Anthrop and Robert Kugler were blocked in the back.
The Cowboys have too good of an offense to give them a short field, and the punt return by Stewart and the interception of a tipped pass by Shamiel Gray gave them the ball twice inside the Purdue 25. Two easy touchdowns from Clint Chelf to Charlie Moore and Blake Jackson resutled from those short fields and Purdue was down 14-0.
It only got worse from there. Robert Marve overthrew Kurt Freytag on an easy 4th and 1 pass. Sam McCartney missed a field goal when any points shifts momentum a little in Purdue's favor. Gabe Holmes somehow fumbled despite having the ball in his possession and a knee on the ground. It was 28-0 at the half and the final nail was the fumble return for a touchdown by Daytawion Lowe.
Offensively, nothing worked. Marve didn't have a lot of time to throw and two of his top receivers, Gary Bush and Antavian Edison, did nothing. The only player that seemed to have a positive day on offense was Akeem Shavers, who was sadly underused for most of the season before the final three game winning streak.
One of the disturbing things is that Joseph Randle, their excellent running back, was mostly held in check. Purdue was thoroughly beaten without their best player doing much of anything. Even worse, many of our better players like Edison, Bush, Ricardo Allen, and Josh Johnson clearly regressed and looked terrible all day long.
This has to be the low point going forward, mostly because it can't get any worse. It was clear that talent was underused this season. All six victories were against either FCS opponents or teams that didn't qualify for bowls. The final three game winning streak was against teams that went 10-26 and two of their victories (Indiana over Iowa and Illinois) were against each other. The only reason we were in a bowl was because we were a bad team that beat worse teams.
This is Darrell Hazell's team now, and the announcement of his staff is coming in the next few weeks. A blowout of this caliber in a bowl game with more than a month to prepare is at the hands of the coaching staff that stayed and I highly doubt nay of them return. The departing seniors like Marve deserve better, but next year is a completely fresh start.
In terms of a running game I really like incoming freshman Keyante Green along with Akeem Hunt and Brandon Cottom. There is some speed and talent at receiver with Bush and O.J. Ross, while I really like the young talent in Dolapo Macarthy and Shane Mikesky. Carlos Carvajal comes out of redshirt as big TE target.
There is some definite talent on the offensive line that coach Hazell mentioned specifically in his second half interview on ESPNU. Jack DeBoef and Robert Kugler are two of my young favorite on the line, while five other offensive linemen were able to redshirt.
On defenseI like a fully healthy Allen at corner. He played hurt most of the year. Ryan Russell, Bruce Gaston, and Will Lucas should return strong, while Landon Feichter has been a good safety and will be better with another year in the weight room. I liked Sean Robinson's development as well.
Finally, there is the quarterback position. Do the coaches go with experience and Rob Henry, or move him elsewhere and have Danny Etling and Austin Appleby battle from day one? I could see either one happening, but the latter gives us another offensive weapon that can be used at running back or receiver.
There is talent there almost all over the field. You even have a good punter returning and a kicker that made a game-winning clutch field goal. With a whole new staff in place I trust coach Hazell to get the right guys for the job and start producing. Coach Hope was hamstrung by poor choices for assistants and a small budget. Hazell has reportedly $2 million plus at his disposal for assistants and he's a significant upgrade over coach Hope.
So to the departing seniors, I am sorry you had this debacle as your final game. For everyone else, coach Hazell has eight months to make his mark on his program. That's why I can shake this one off a bit. Joe Tiller took less talent from 3-8 to 9-3 in one season. We'll see the results on August 31 in Cincinnati.