If Purdue is really taking a step forward under Hazell it wins this game. They are playing a team they have beaten before, Illinois has no running game at all, and Purdue is playing at home on Homecoming. This has to be a win. Purdue should be able to have some room to run on the ground and as long as David Blough takes care of the ball it can score some points. On defense Purdue has to worry about one receiver: Geronimo Allison. This is a recipe so simple I think even Shoop and Hudson can't screw it up.
That is what I wrote yesterday for our weekly picks column. Not only did Shoop and Hudson screw it up, they screwed it up so completely that you really have to wonder if they were on the take or something. The Illini entered today dead last in rushing in Big Ten play. They were averaging barely more than 67 yards per game, but with one performance for 382 yards (far more than they had gained in the previous four Big Ten games) They almost DOUBLED their rushing average in Big Ten play. So, great job, Hudson!
Not to be outdone, John Shoop had a great offensive plan that saw Purdue gain 22 yards in their first five possessions. Early on, the Illinois defensive line was pushing around Purdue's front line, and the Boilers did absolutely nothing to combat it. David Blough was as well protected as Jim Bob in Michelle Duggar with a broken condom, and the rush against him was 19 hits and counting. He never had time to throw and Markell Jones rarely had any holes to exploit. Before the last drive of the first half, after 6 ineffective possessions where not a single adjustment was made, Purdue had two first downs and roughly 40 yards.
Completing the trinity of ineptitude was fearless leader Darrell Hazell. After scoring Purdue might have actually had some momentum. It was still a 20-7 game and the Illini have shown that that was far from insurmountable over the years. Illinois got the ball back on their own 28 yard line and, knowing they would get the ball to start the second half, were content to run out the clock. They ran a simple run for four yards with no intent to score and Hazell called a timeout.
Now, I understand the logic on paper. You have three timeouts and if Illinois goes three and out you get the ball back for maybe a last minute drive. This is fine, in theory. Unfortunately, to that point the Purdue offense had barely strugglefucked itself into one drive in 30 minutes. The best case scenario, barring an Illinois turnover, is a 70+ yard drive with no timeouts and roughly 35 seconds or so with an offense that can barely get out of its own way. THIS is what you're calling a timeout for?
Given the inexplicable gift, the Illini broke a 31 yard run, and five plays after that they were in the end zone. Should we really be surprised? This is the same defense that time and again has completely and utterly failed to stop a late first half scoring drive:
- Against Virginia Tech, with the game tied 17-17 after a Paul Griggs field goal with 2:24 left in the half, Hudson's prevent "defense" gave up a touchdown drive of 75 yards in 7 played an 1:16 to a backup quarterback. This is also Virginia Tech. They aren't exactly vintage Oregon running the hurry-up.
- A week later Bowling Green took over at its 20 after Griggs missed a field goal with 2:21 left. They needed 7 plays and 1:19 to go ahead 21-14 in basically the exact situation as a week before.
- Up 10-7 at Wisconsin the Badgers drove from their own 20 with 3:03 left to the Purdue 13 before a sack and a missed field goal kept them off the scoreboard. Yes, they didn't score, but not because Purdue did anything of note.
So yes, not only had the Purdue offense shown virtually no life outside of one drive to that point, the Purdue defense has regularly given up scoring drives in situations just before the half. That didn't stop Darrell from calling a timeout that even Danny Hope thought was a bad idea. The Illini were begging to let us go into halftime down only 13 after an awful half, but that wasn't enough for Darrell.
What else can you say at this point? Presented with a major weakness, the Illini running game, Greg Hudson's preparation led to a number of yards run up that was beyond embarrassing. Both Josh Ferguson (who had been injured much of the season) and Ke'Shawn Vaughn (A PLAYER WE RECRUITED VERY HARD, SO WE KNOW HIS ABILITIES!) were well over 100 yards rushing.
The Illinois defense wasn't exactly strong, but Purdue continued to go away from the one thing that was working (Markell Jones) by getting cute. There was no blocking, the misdirection that worked last week failed miserably (almost as if Illinois had some sort of magical machine that allowed them to study Purdue's past performances), and the receivers could not get separation as usual. Shoop, like Hudson, did not prepare this team well at all. In game, we had this:
#Purdue coach Darrell Hazell on Illinois: 'They kept running the same play over and over again - the power (play) - and we couldn't stop it'— GoldandBlack.com (@GoldandBlackcom) November 7, 2015
I know this is crazy, but maybe if that is happening you can make some sort of adjustment.
Whenever Purdue has the ball it looks like the opposition is playing with 15 players. When the opposition has the ball it looks like Purdue is playing with 7 defenders. Teams convert and move the ball with ease, while Purdue struggles to make first downs. No one on either side of the ball is in position with any consistency. In fact, even the BTN writers, after three years, have no idea what identity Purdue has as an offense (aside from shitshow). Time and again the opposition runs simple out routes then cut toward the sideline to gain separation for easy receptions and we fail to adjust. Time and again our own receivers have defenders duct-tapped to them. If Purdue runs a screen there is no blocking and it gains a yard at most. The opposition runs a screen and it is a guaranteed 1st down.
As we saw today, the victory over Nebraska was not Purdue turning a corner. It was Nebraska playing a disastrous game when they weren't that good in the first place. Today was almost exactly like the Minnesota and Virginia Tech games. You had mediocre teams with glaring weaknesses that suddenly became strengths as they blew Purdue out at home.
Through all this, Hazell is still the coach. He isn't going anywhere, and he doesn't see the weaknesses of his coordinators so he can make necessary changes. The rest of this year and 2016 will not be fun. Purdue now has two very good defenses in Northwestern and Iowa on the road, followed by an Indiana team playing for a bowl and with a chance to make history by winning the Bucket for three straight years for the first time since 1947.
Hazell did say he wanted to make history.