When: Sat. Nov. 26, 2016; Noon ET
Where: Bloomington, IN; Memorial Stadium (52,929)
All-Time Series: Purdue leads 72-40-6
Last Meeting: Indiana won last year 54-36
Line: Indiana (-19)
It’s the battle for the “Old Oaken Bucket” one more time, and despite where each team stands in the grand scheme of things, this one’s always big for those that have ties to both of these universities.
Purdue might be turning the page with an uncertain future, but a win here would provide a foundation for whatever new coach backs up the U-Haul to steer the Boilermaker program into the next few years.
For Indiana, a win here makes the program bowl-eligible for two-straight years. Something that has happened in a long time in Bloomington. Head coach Kevin Wilson is also trying to keep the rise of the program on an upward trajectory, and being able to do it with a real-live defense this year could turn a lot of heads across the country.
1 Burning Question: Can Purdue get up off the mat to make this thing competitive?
To say that this year has been yet another disappointment in a long line of disappointing seasons would be the understatement of the century for the Purdue program. The passing game has really been the only thing this team can hang its hat on, but that hasn’t been enough to put wins on the board.
The Boilermakers looked to be re-energized with the coaching change, but shortly thereafter things soured again. It appears as though Purdue has mailed it in for the season, and we’ll have to see if the motivation and energy is there on Saturday against its arch-rival.
This is the last chance to leave the season with something bitter-sweet on the taste-buds. As they say, misery loves company, and keeping the Hoosiers from getting to .500 could spoil things further south down the state.
2 Key Stats:
— 101.1. That’s the average yards per game the Purdue offense averages. That’s 124th in the country. Rushing for barely over the century mark as a team doesn’t exactly invoke fear in opposing defenses. In the Big Ten, you’ve got to be a balanced team, able to take what the defense gives you. The Boilermakers have lived or died on the arm of quarterback David Blough, and unfortunately they’ve fallen on the sword more often than not. Will they be able to get anything cookin’ on the ground against a good Indiana defense?
— .302. That’s the third down percentage the Indiana defense is holding opponents to this year. Yes, we’re actually talking about defense with this Hoosier team. The reason there’s been a renaissance on that side of the ball for Kevin Wilson’s team is the ability to get opposing offenses off the field on third downs. New defensive coordinator Tom Allen has brought an aggressive mindset to that side of the ball, and it’s made all the difference in the world. It could be the difference in this one.
3 Key Players:
David Blough, Purdue QB: Okay Blough, you’re on the clock. There have been games where No. 11 has carried the Purdue offense. There have been other times when the kid has been more charitable to opposing defenses than Mother Teresa. For Purdue to have a shot in this one, we have to see the good David Blough and not the one that forces throws into tight windows. The Boilermakers can stay competitive in this one if the TD to INT ratio stays reasonable.
Devine Redding, Indiana RB: It’s no secret that a Kevin Wilson offense likes to throw it all over the yard. But over the last couple of years, Indiana’s offense has been more prolific because of the ability to get things going on the ground as well. On that note, Redding has been okay this year, but hasn’t really been the beast he was expected to be. As a result, the Hoosier offense has taken a step back a bit. This should be a good opportunity to crank out some ground and pound yards.
Richard Lagow, Indiana QB: The arm strength and talent of Lagow is undeniable, but he’s been unable to put it fully together this year. When he’s on, he make every throw you can ask of a QB, but his accuracy and decision making have been questionable at times. The Indiana offense has been poor in the red zone largely because of an inability to make the throws in space needed when the field shrinks. He should do just fine against a porous Purdue defense in this one, but if he’s not sharp, the Boilers might stand a chance.
4 Staff Predictions:
Andy: Indiana 34-7
Dave: Indiana 31-20
Phil H.: Indiana 34-20
Philip R.: Coming
Brohm looking to new additions to take Purdue’s passing game vertical
The last name Brohm easily conjures up thoughts of high-flying passing football. So, it should come as no surprise that new Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm would like to bring that idea to the Boilermakers.
However, following spring football there was a glaring problem with that plan — a lack of talent and dependability amongst the wide receiver group. Just how big a need did Brohm see following spring football and how big a deal is the development of the position heading in to the fall?
“Well, that’s going to be vital to our success,” said Brohm at Big Ten media day on Tuesday. “I think as we went through the spring, that position was not where we would like for it to be. And we do understand there’s work to be done.”
So, Brohm and Co. went to work to address that issue immediately. He scoured the graduate transfer and junior college market for talent that would make the wide receiver position immediately more productive.
Brohm mentioned two of the junior college players by name during Tuesday’s media session — Isaac Zito and Terry Wright.
The pair was under-recruited a bit at the JUCO level and are gambles no doubt. Wright was just the No. 23 ranked wide receiver in the junior college ranks, while Zito comes in much more highly regarded at No. 11 in the JUCO rankings according to 247Sports.
To be fair, the cupboard wasn’t totally bare coming out of spring. Redshirt freshman Jackson Anthrop proved to be a thorn in the side of the defense in the spring game alone. However, at 5-11, 191 pounds, Anthrop is more of a slot receiver and weapon at the line of scrimmage.
There also seems to be potential in newcomer D.J. Edwards, who at 6-2, 182 pounds has a body that could be ready to contribute early on.
What Brohm saw as missing was that immediate deep threat, and he hopes the new players coming in can provide that.
Perhaps the biggest spotlight will shine on Notre Dame graduate transfer Corey Holmes.
At 6-1, 190 pounds, Holmes has a reputation as a playmaker when he gets touches — and that has been his issue so far at the collegiate level. Holmes comes to Purdue possessing the speed that could transform the offense, timed at 4.39 in the 40-yard dash.
This could be the opportunity needed in the offense that is a perfect fit for him. Just how quickly he picks up the offense and gets in the mix will tell just how big of an impact he and the other transfers can have in 2017.
“We’ve just got to find a way to get them all better, in the mix, see what they do best, find a way to utilize them and really if we can get some that are deep threats for us to be able to push the ball vertically,” Brohm said. “That’s what we’re really looking for.”
Purdue’s ability to fully implement Brohm’s offensive scheme is likely going to hinge on his ability to have the right pieces in the mix. If not, we may be a year or two away from seeing its full potential.
It would be shame to see David Blough’s arm talent go to waste, so the pressure is certainly on this group of incoming transfers to make things happen.
Purdue Does the Inevitable, Drops Hammer on Hazell Era
Few will be shocked to hear the news, but on Sunday Purdue University did what many saw coming and fired head football coach Darrell Hazell. It came on the heels of his team falling 49-35 to the Iowa Hawkeyes.
New athletic director Mike Bobinski announced the move on Sunday after consulting with board of trustees chairman Michael Berghoff and president Mitch Daniels.
Bobinski sited inconsistent results so far this season and Hazell’s previous three years at Purdue as the reasoning behind making the move now.
“From the first time I met Darrell, I could tell he was a man of high character – a quality person who you would want leading a group of young men – but our inconsistent performance and inability to generate positive momentum thus far this season, along with the disappointing results of the past three seasons, made it clear to me that we needed to make a change,” said Bobinski. “This is not a decision taken lightly, and I respect and appreciate the dedicated effort Darrell has put forth on behalf of Purdue.”
While announcing Hazell’s dismissal as head coach, Bobinski also announced that wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Gerard Parker would take on the role of interim head coach.
“We have a lot of football still ahead of us this season, and it’s important that our primary focus be on providing our team with the best possible preparation and opportunity for success. I appreciate Gerad taking over on an interim basis and look forward to his leadership and the continued commitment and efforts of our entire football coaching staff.”
The message was pretty clear from Purdue’s new athletics director, as he pulled the trigger on Hazell’s firing before the season was even half over. It was a move that his predecessor, Morgan Burke, had been reluctant to make, even after three seasons of bad football.
Hazell leaves the Boilermakers with a record of 9-33 overall, including a record of just 3-24 in Big Ten Conference games.
The move was made one week after the Boilermakers beat Illinois on the road to give Hazell just his third win against Big Ten competition.
However, upon returning home it was more of the same against the struggling Hawkeyes who abused the Purdue defense to the tune of 49 points and 365 yards on the ground. Purdue countered with just 46 yards on the ground, meanwhile 458 yards and five passing touchdowns from David Blough were not even close to being enough to come back from a 35-7 deficit.
President Daniels heaped praise on Hazell for his character and morals, but noted that those also have to come with competitive football to continue on as the leader of the Boilermakers football program.
“College athletics can’t have a better man than Darrell Hazell, and I would like to see more individuals with his virtues in Division I athletics,” Daniels said. “But while character is mandatory every day at Purdue, positive performance also must be there.
“With new leadership and the rapidly evolving Football Performance Complex, I’m confident that better days are ahead. The Board and I fully understand and support the need for a successful football program and recognize the positive impact it brings to the intercollegiate athletics department, the campus community and Boilermaker alumni and fans everywhere.”
No doubt that Bobinski has a plan in place and that won’t include many (if any) of the coaches on this staff as long-term options. A press conference is set for 4:30pm ET and will be carried live on BTN.