football Edit

Hazell calls season work in progress, notes

Purduehaslostitslastfourhomegames,datingbacktolateSeptember,byacombined193-45.
ButinthefinalhomegameoftheseasononSaturday,theBoilermakerswillwelcomeIllinois.NeitherprogramhaswonaBigTengameinitsprevioussixtriesthisseason.
SowillPurdue(1-9,0-6)changeitsnon-competitivewaysagainsttheIllini?
"Absolutely,"first-yearcoachDarrellHazellsaidduringhisTuesdaypressconference.
PurduehopestogetasparkfromitsseniorsonSeniorDay,thoughofthe21whoareexpectedtoparticipateinthefestivitiesat11:46a.m.,onlyabouthalfplayregularsnapsonSaturdays.
Stilltheylikelyhopetoseeasurgeinfansforthefinale.AsoflastFriday,onlyabout35,000ticketshadbeensoldforthegame.
Partofthatisaproductoftheteam'sstrugglesinHazell'sfirstseason-anoffensethatisaveragingaleague-worst8.7pointspergameinBigTenplayandadefensethat'sallowingmorepointsthanallbuttwoteamsintheleague(Illinois,Indianaareworse).
Hazellspentmuchoftheoffseasontryingtogenerateinterestintheprogram,speakingatabevyofevents,evengotouttofrathousestomeetstudents.Butwhateverexcitementthatdevelopedhaswanedwiththeeight-gamelosingstreak.
WhatdoesHazellandPurduehavetodotoregainthatlevelofexcitement?
"WehavetocomeoutandplayextremelywellonSaturdayandshowthefutureoftheprogram,"hesaid."Ithinkthat'sveryimportantatthispointintime.There'sagreatcropofyoungguysouttheretobeabletotrackandfollowtheircareerinthenextthree,four,fiveyears.They'refun.Someofthoseguysarefuntowatch.It'sgoingtofun."
The"future"Hazellspeaksof,hesays,isdevelopingtheprogramtobeamongthetopsintheconference.Thoughtheresultshaven'tcomethisseason,hesaidhe'sstayingthecourseandthat'sthemessagehe'spassingontohisstaff.
"You'vegottohavesomeforesightalittlebittoseeallthethingsyouwanttohavehappen,"hesaid."Iknowit'sgoingtohappen.It'sjustwhenit'sgoingtohappen.Gettingeverybodytodoexactlywhatyouneedthemtodo,runningtotheball,hittingpeopleondefense,offensivelyexecutingtothehighestlevelandthenplaygreatspecialteams,whichwe'replayingrightnow.Ithinkwe'replayingoutstandingspecialteams.It'sgoingtobeagreatprogram.Itellmystaffthatallthetime,justkeepworkingtheprocess,don'tpanic,don'tflinchandsometimesit'sfrustratingforyou,butyou'vegottokeepworkingtheprocess."
SohowwouldHazelldescribethisfirstseason?
"Workinprogress,"hesaidsuccinctly.
"Fighters"HazellhasbeenaroundPurdue'sseniorsforlessthanayear,butheclassifiedthegroupas"fighters."
Theclassearnedtwobowlbidsduringitsrun,winningtheLittleCaesarsPizzaBowlin2011andlosingintheHeartofDallasBowllastseason.Overall,though,theplayerswillleavewithlosingrecordsduringtheircareers.Thefour-yearseniorshadacombined17-21recordenteringtheseason.
"Youputthoseguysinthatsituationandtohavethemgothroughtheseasonlikewe'vegonethroughhasgottobehardforthem,"Hazellsaid."They'retryingextremelyhard,we'rejustnotgettingtheresultsthataredesired.Totheircredit,theycometoworkeverysingledayandputitinfortheBoilermakers.
"They'vegonethroughalotofhardsituationsandthey'vemanagedtostaytogetherasagroup,these21guys,believingineachotherandtheyfoughthardforthenewstaffcomingin."
EvaluatingEtlingHazellconsideredSaturday'soffensiveeffortagainstPennStatethebestexecutiontheteamhashadthisseason.
Theoffensescored14points,had264yardsandlostthreeturnovers.FreshmanquarterbackDannyEtling,though,saidhefeltmorecomfortable,andhiscompletionpercentagewasaidedbymorescreenspassesorquickthrowstotheflats.
ThatsoundslikeitwillbetheplanagainsttheIllini,too,Hazellmentioningtheimportanceofgettingeasycompletionsforthefreshman,whocompleted21-of-33passesfor223yardsandatouchdown.
"Hekeepsgettingbetter,"HazellsaidofEtling."That'sthethingthatyouseeabouthim.You'redisappointedabouttheonethrowhehadearly,thepick.Itwas14-7,he'sgottoseetheunderneathflatdefender.Wetalkaboutthatallthetime,makingsureyoucanfindaguywhocantaketherouteaway.Hemissedit.Butotherthanthat,Ithoughtheplayedexceptionallywellgettingtheballoutofhishands,histimingwasprettygood,hisaccuracywasprettygood.He'sgottodoabetterjoboftakingcareoftheballinthepocketwhenhefeelspressure,butyoucanseetheprogressionofthatguygettingbetterfromweektoweektoweek.
"HewasmuchbetterontheheadsetonSaturday,aswell,withthecommunicationbackandforth,sayingthisiswhatIsaw.Beforehewasveryquiet,buthewasverytalkativeonSaturday."
AchallengeAweekafterfacingamiddle-of-the-packBigTenoffenseinPennStateandallowing45points,theBoilermakersfaceapotentiallymorepotentoffensethisweekintheIllini.
IllinoisranksNo.2inleaguegamesinpassingoffense,averaging276.3yardspergamebehindquarterbackNathanScheelhaase.ButHazellalsolikesrunningbackJoshFerguson,theteam'sleadingrusher.Purduehasalloweda100-yardrusherineveryBigTengamethisseason-Fergusonhasdonethatonlyonce,againstNebraska.
"Offensively,theydosomanydifferentthings,"Hazellsaid."They'llspreadyououtoneset,thenextthey'llcomebackwithtwotightends.Ithinktheirbackisextremelyexplosive.Theirquarterbackdoesanicejobfindingthatguyoncheckdowns.(Ferguson)makesalotofguysmiss.Thequarterbackisdoinganicejoboffindingthoseguys.
"It'llbeaverygoodtestforourdefenseagain."
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