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October 18, 2013

Kickin' with Kitch: 19 kids and counting

My wife loves a show called "19 Kids and Counting". It's about a family that has a whole slew of kids and how they adjust and survive.

I think I need to pitch a show to the BTN called: "19 Freshmen and Counting: The challenges of Purdue Football and finding out if our fans will survive."

We see freshmen all over the country performing well, but usually they are plugged into a spot where they are surrounded with veterans who have been through the battles. I think of guys like Stu Schweigert and Landon Johnson. They were true freshman starters (Stu started as a true freshman), but they were surrounded by guys like Chris Clopton and Jason Loerzel who could bring them along and help cover up mistakes. Stu and Landon may have made some mistakes but they knew they had to learn fast because they did not want to let the older guys down.

I know Stu played with more passion because he did not want to let guys like Drew Brees, Akin Ayodele, and Matt Light down. There was a leadership and a feeling that as an underclassman you had better preform because those guys before us have layed their hearts and souls into this program for four and five years.

For me it was Matt Light. I am sure I have shared this story before but we have all slept since then. When I was a freshman I went to training table and sat with the linemen. I ended up sitting next to Light. Now Matt had moved from tight end to tackle not too long before and had yet to start at tackle. So as we were eating, he asked me what position I played. Me being a cocky freshman said left tackle…he looked at me and said "Not while I'm here you won't".

To be honest that single comment fueled my fire and I competed in everything against Matt. It didn't matter if we were one on one for king of the boards, running 100 yard sprints, or seeing how much Prime Rib we could eat at Lawry's during the Rose Bowl, I wanted to beat him because he was the best I have been around and I figured if I can compete with Matt then I can compete with anyone.

Who are the guys these freshmen are playing for? I think of the captains when this question comes up; Bruce Gaston, Rob Henry, and Ricardo Allen. Granted I'm not as close to this team as the ones I played on, but I do not get the sense that our captains are demanding excellence. I know with Rob it's hard to be vocal when you didn't perform as well as you would have liked and quarterback and got demoted. This team has to find something or someone to play for. I do not see this changing anytime soon, but maybe we are seeing the birth of those guys who will be the program.

I will say, do not give up on this staff. The foundation is being rebuilt and I believe that Darrell Hazell is a man and coach that greatness can be built upon. One day it will click and we will all see it, and when it does..watch out because it's gonna get fun again. Boiler Up!

You can follow me on twitter for updates from the sideline during games @kelly_kitchel

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