Darrell Hazell may be a paltry 2-21 at Purdue against FBS teams, but against the FCS, watch out! A 24 point win over Indiana State would normally not be much of a reason to celebrate. The last 2+ years of Purdue football have proven differently, however. We're not in the position to pooh-pooh any win over anyone. By margin this was the largest win over an opponent under Hazell and the 38 points scored tied for the second most points scored under Hazell with last year's games against Illinois and Minnesota.
More importantly, for one Saturday afternoon Purdue was (mostly) in control from the opening kickoff until the final gun. You can't really say that about any game under Hazell. Not even the win over the Trees two years ago when they were much, much worse. So yes, there was improvement, and it was good thing.
Austin Appleby - The maligned quarterback was far from perfect. He had some questionable throws and reads, but there were no interceptions and four touchdowns on a career high 289 yards. His deep balls to DeAngelo Yancey and Dan Monteroso were beautiful, patient passes and he even ran the ball well with 50 yards on 12 carries. I think ultimately this was a game to regain some confidence for Austin. The three 50+ yard TD passes in one game was a first for a Purdue QB since Billy Dicken in 1997. He also spread the ball around to 10 different receivers.
Markell Jones - It is still early, but Kory Sheets holds the Purdue touchdowns record for a career with 54. Jones already has three in just two games. Today he had his first receiving TD with another rushing TD and 99 yards from scrimmage. The true freshman is making a huge impact within the offense already.
Anthony Brown - If someone was making a play for B1G Player of the week, it was Brown. He had 39 yards rushing on a fake punt, his first career interception, a fumble recovery, and three tackles. He was in on several other plays aswell.
The Defense - All in all, I think the defense played really well. First, they had 13 tackles for loss, which is a ridiculous number. They generated three turnovers (Robert Gregory had his first career interception), got four sacks, blocked a field goal, held ISU to 3 of 16 on third downs, and one of their two scoring drives was 33 yards after a shanked punt was the result of a blown coverage, which can happen in any game. Yeah, they gave up some yards, but Indiana State's best offense was Matt Adam scrambling out of the pocket because there were no open receivers. As a unit they did exactly what they were supposed to do.
Dan Monteroso - Today he had only his second career reception as a true junior, and it came on a saavy move where he snuck in behind the pile on the hail mary and waited for the tip. When everyone mis-timed their jump he was right there. Before today he had a run for -1 yard and a catch for 4 yards.
Joe Schopper - The Show made his freshman debut after a massive shank from Thomas Meadows set up ISU's first touchdown.
These guys need to work on a few things:
Paul Griggs - Griggs was supposed to be a plus as a senior kicker after a good junior season. He is now 2 of 5 on the year after two misses today. Distance is not a question, but accuracy is. Purdue did not need those six points today, but they will soon. We have to hope he shapes it up.
D.J. Knox - He had a great game last week and 91 yards today, but two fumbles, one on special teams, is not acceptable.
Austin Appleby - The same player in both categories? Yeah, that is Appleby. I feel like Austin today put up the numbers he had because this was a Big Ten vs. FCS matchup and went like said matchups should. There were still some bad reads, a 4th down stop at the goal line, and one near interception. He could get away with it today because we were playing Indiana State. He won't be able to next week.
Thomas Meadows - Did the senior just lose his job to a freshman? We will see.
Purdue did what it was expected to do today. That is the best thing you can say about today. It wasn't fantastic, but it was dominant against a team it should have been dominant against. Now the Boilers enter a critical two game stretch, mad even more critical because of the come from ahead loss at Marshall. Virginia Tech and Bowling Green are both good teams. Purdue needs a split, at minimum, to have a realistic shot at a bowl game. I fully believe Purdue can win both games. I also know Virginia Tech has a great defense going against our erratic offense and Bowling Green has a quarterback that has thrown for 800+ yards and 7 TDs in two games against a ranked SEC team and a Big Ten team.
These are both turning point games. If we're truly getting better, Purdue gets at least one of them. If it is going to be a breakout "surprise everyone" Purdue gets both and the Marshall game is suddenly the "they really grew up a lot after that loss" game. Hazell's future as Purdue's coach relies a lot on what happens the next two weeks:
- If he wins one, he buys time.
- If he wins both, the bandwagon is back going forward like it was pre-Cincinnati.
- If he loses both, we question if Purdue can ever compete and win under him.