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2014 Purdue Football Post Mortem

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Was real improvement made and what can be done?

Big Improvement is needed in all areas
Big Improvement is needed in all areas
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

For the second year in a row Purdue finished dead last in the B1G. For the second year in a row Purdue lost to Indiana University. On the plus side Purdue won three games this year in comparison to just one during the 2013 season. It's disgusting that the plus side is that Purdue won three games. It's really disgusting to see a program that just 10 years ago was a top five team. You can argue about how that season would've ended up without the fumble and the hip injury to Kyle Orton. In 10 years Purdue has fallen from top five in the country to dead last in the conference and losing to MAC teams. I don't know entirely how to explain this. Let's take a look at some steps that were taken this year, some things that saw little to no improvement, and what we can look forward to as we move forward.

Positives

  • I know this is shallow but Purdue did win two additional games this season compared to the 2013 season. Horrible that this is good news but we do have to keep that in mind.
  • The offensive line did show great improvement from last year to this. They are by no means an elite unit but at least the Purdue QBs weren't running for their lives each and every snap. The offensive line sort of wilted down the line but the hope is it's something to build on.
  • The offense, believe it or not, was much better in nearly all facets this year. I know this season was just awful to watch at times but let's not forget how terrible 2013 was. Purdue averaged just under 15 points a game last season. This season they averaged just under 23 points per game. That's an eight point difference for the IU grads reading this article. During the 2013 season there was a three week period where Purdue scored just seven points. Man the 2013 offense was just downright abysmal.
  • Akeem Hunt was a beast. No explanation necessary. Sadly though he is gone now.
  • The defense, while not spectacular, was again much improved from last year. Purdue gave up 38 points a game last year compared with just over 31 a game this season. That's a touchdown difference between seasons. Still not great of course but movement in the right direction. Couple that with the offensive improvement and Purdue was roughly 15 points better combined this year.
Negatives
  • The receiving corps at Purdue showed absolutely no growth outside of Danny Anthrop and the sometimes healthy BJ Knauf. In some cases they even regressed in the case of Yancey. The tight ends weren't much better. Dolapo was criminally underused, Justin Sinz was only targeted around twice a game despite his sure handedness, and Gabe Holmes had yet another disappointing season despite being the most talented tight end in the history of the tight end position according to the coaching staff.
  • Coaching decisions, particularly personnel, were head scratchers. I can't understand the misuse of Dolapo and Brandon Cottom as well as the seeming manic thought regarding Raheem Mostert who is possibly the fastest player in the country. The QB position was also one that was a bit strange. Anyone could see that Etling simply wasn't getting it done all throughout the beginning of the year yet Purdue threw away a game against Iowa that was winnable because of failure to switch QBs.
  • The QB position in general has to go here. Etling looked lost and overmatched while he was on the field. Austin Appleby looked great for about 3 games and then looked average at best. The receiving corps didn't help either QB look better of course. With Appleby it could be that opposing coaches were able to get tape on him and figure out how to slow him down. Whatever it is Purdue started their seventh different QB against IU in the last seven seasons. That's insane. This is the school of Drew Brees, Bob Griese, Jim Everett, Mark Hermann, Len Dawson, and Mike Phipps. Now Purdue can't find a consistent QB over the last seven years. This position needs fixed badly. Going into next season Purdue has two players who have started games neither of which set the world on fire and Blough who has no game experience. It's gonna be a toss up.
There's lots more that could go here but those are the highlights so what do I think Purdue should do? I posed the question on Twitter and the majority of the responses were that Purdue should either A.) Fire Burke, B.) Fire Hazell, C.) Fire Shoop, or D.) FIRE EVERYONE!. You want my suggestion? If you're reading this article I suppose you do. Purdue should do nothing. I know it's not popular but it's what they should do. It's the smart decision. People hate on Morgan Burke for being cheap but he spent money on facility upgrades and a new coaching staff after his cheap hire of Danny Hope so I'm not sure what they want from him in this case. You can't fire Hazell that idea is just absurd so please stop that. In regard to Shoop there's an argument to be made that his offense was predictable. I understand that argument but it's flawed. Shoop lost the two best receivers he had and his "star" tight end was a dud who couldn't catch. What's he supposed to do with that? He's got receivers who can't catch the ball and a line that tires out in the second half. It's not an easy job.

I know my opinion isn't the popular one but getting some continuity in this program is a good thing. Purdue needs to implement offensive and defensive schemes and learn them and perfect. Under Danny Hope Purdue was criticized for the number of defensive coordinators that supposedly stunted the growth of the defense. Why is it different now with the offense? Purdue has to grow by leaps and bounds in the next couple of seasons if they hope to win back the hearts and minds of the fans. A lot of work needs done but I don't think firing those associated with the football program is the answer, not yet at least. Hazell deserves at least four years. it's called rebuilding for a reason. Purdue has a lot to rebuild.