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September 21, 2013
No break for Purdue offense; notes from Wisconsin
MADISON, Wis. - On the first play of the fourth quarter, Purdue had eight reserve defensive players on the field, including a few who aren't even in the two-deep.
But the offense never did any such substituting, keeping its starters and top reserves in the game to the finish, salting away the minutes of a 41-10 to loss to No. 24 Wisconsin.
Quarterback Rob Henry, who had struggled some of the day, played from start to finish, as did the starting offensive line, which had equal problems.
Hazell was asked why after the loss, Purdue's third in four games this season, particularly at QB.
"We're just trying to get better on offense, trying to move the ball, trying to get some first downs," the first-year coach said. "All the work we can get is going to be beneficial for us. That's why we left those guys in there.
"Plus, we were beat up on defense. We were moving guys left and right on defense, that was part of the deal."
Purdue's offense struggled most of the afternoon, generating only 180 yards of offense and converting only 2-of-14 third downs. It had the ball more than 10 minutes in the second half, when the Boilers were outscored 20-0.
But Hazell never went to the backups. Jordan Roos was the only reserve offensive linemen to play, but he did so in the first quarter before leaving due to injury.
Purdue's skill position players at the end were the same as the ones at the beginning.
On defense, however, it was a different story. On the first play of the second half, Purdue had only starters Anthony Brown, Taylor Richards and Will Lucas in, joined by reserves.
But the trio's stay was also short-lived. Later, walk-on safeties Evan Feichter and Ashkan Mizani played, as did linebacker Andy James Garcia.
Ricardo Allen and Roos didn't finish the game for the Boilermakers.
Allen was injured at 6:08 of the third, when teammate Greg Latta rolled over his legs while the duo was trying to get back into a play. Allen hobbled off, and removed his right shoe, perhaps indicating a foot injury.
Roos, a backup right guard, played a series in the first half, but was injured. In the second half, he was in street clothes on the sideline, with a boot on his left foot.
"I have no medical report right now," Hazell after the game.
Cornerback Frankie Williams was also briefly shaken up, but he returned to play in the second half.
In each of the four third quarters this season, Purdue has given up points on its opponents' first possession.
It's a disturbing trend for the Boilermakers, as they've watched teams either pull away, or get back into games.
Saturday, it was the Badgers' turn, as they marched 68 yards in only six plays to turn a two-touchdown halftime lead into three.
Last week, Notre Dame scored on its opening drive, tying the game at 10; it was Indiana State the week before, helping the Sycamores make a game of it in the second half; and in Week 1, Cincinnati held a 14-7 lead at the break before scoring to start the second and winning by 35.
"We need to find a way to win," Richards said. "We were in the game in the first half. Second half came, we need to find a way to win. We came out a little bit slow. They ganged up on us in the third quarter. That's how it's been for the past couple games we've lost. We've got to come out in the second half and find a way to win."
Twice more on Saturday, Purdue couldn't score a touchdown after having first-and-goal situations.
It happened previously this season vs. Indiana State, with the Sycamores holding the Boilers to only three points on two drives. And Purdue let the same opportunity slip at Cincinnati.
Against the Badgers, Purdue had to settle for a second-quarter field goal after Allen's interception set the Boilers up with a first-and-goal from the 10. The Boilers rushed for only three yards on the first two downs, before Henry was off on a throw to Justin Sinz.
Then against Wisconsib reserves in the fourth, offensive pass interference was called on tight end Sterling Carter on Purdue's first-down pass, creating a first-and-goal from the 15. After three passes, Henry's fourth-down attempt was picked off.
The lack of rushing - Purdue had 45 yards on 21 carries - is killing the Boilers, especially in close.
"We've got to be able to run the football better," Hazell said. "So yeah, I think it does (help in the redzone). If we mix it up a little bit more, or better, it's probably going to help our percentages getting into the end zone from that point."
Purdue's only touchdown vs. Wisconsin came on a busted play.
On a first down, Henry faked a handoff to B.J. Knauf, whom he bumped into, on a sweep, then turned toward Akeem Hunt, but the running back wasn't there. Henry then looked toward the end zone, and took off through the left side of the line, following center Robert Kugler's block.
The 22-yard run was Purdue's longest play of the day and its longest running play of the season.
"Execution wasn't perfect," Henry said. "But luckily the offensive line blocked it well. Just had to improvise a little bit."
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