No QB decision yet; more Monday notes
As of early Monday afternoon, Darrell Hazell wasn't yet ready to name a starting quarterback for Purdue's trip to Illinois on Saturday.
Sophomore Danny Etling has started the last 12 games, but his performance in a loss to Iowa Saturday - he was 11-of-26 passing for 61 yards and an interception - has again left the window open for a change.
Purdue had a similar discussion earlier this month, before ultimately deciding to stick with Etling prior to the Notre Dame game.
"I don't want (the QB conversation) to be a weekly thing, we just have to make sure we're improving at every position," Hazell told a small group of local reporters Monday afternoon. "It's not only him that's being evaluated. That's what everybody sees. But it's every position."
Etling, though, is the centerpiece.
Or Hazell could decide to switch to backup Austin Appleby, who has subbed in three games this season, twice at the end of losses. The coaches had a personnel meeting set for 3 p.m. Monday afternoon, in which they'd discuss options.
"To me it's about how you can produce the best at that particular time," Hazell said. "That's all it's about to me. It's not, 'OK, is it long-term? Short term?' It's, 'How can we get production out of whatever position - it's not just the quarterback, it's the tight end, wide receiver, offensive line - how do we get the best production out of that position group at that point in time?"
Against the Hawkeyes, Etling appeared rattled early, missing on opportunities to drive the Boilermakers to scores after repeatedly being given good field position. He wasn't always helped either; Keyante Green dropped a pass that preceded back-to-back sacks, the first on Etling, per Hazell, and the second on the offensive line.
But Hazell wouldn't go as far to say that Etling got out of sync due to taking repeated hits. The second-year coach, however, did say he thinks Etling's struggles are a continuation of a previous problem: That he's overloading mentally.
"Still feel that's part of it, absolutely," Hazell said. "After our press conference on Saturday ... I was walking back through the locker room and grabbed him and sat him down in the mud room and said, 'Why do you think you're going through this right now?'
"It was the same thing. He said, 'I'm trying to figure out this (and this) and what coverage am I getting?' And I said 'OK.' We kind of let it roll off our shoulders at that point in time, but we'll revisit it this week."
Etling played nearly the entire game vs. Iowa, coming out only after throwing an interception in the fourth quarter. Appleby was 2-of-6 for 11 yards and threw a pick on his last play in his only series.
That Purdue's offense wasn't functioning in general didn't help matters. The Boilermakers in particular struggled to pick up yardage on second and third downs, negating their ability to sustain drives.
"It's about a breakdown somewhere, whether it's a physical breakdown, whether it's a mental breakdown, whether it's a twist where they beat us inside, whether it's a poor throw, whether it's a catch-and-drop, rather than a catch-and-run," Hazell said. "It's a lot of different things there that we have to take that next step."
Robert KuglerClick Injury notesHere to view this Link. is questionable for Illinois, Hazell said, after the center suffered a gluteal strain late in the game Saturday.
Kugler played four more snaps post-injury, before heading to the sidelines and leaving Ross-Ade after the game on crutches. He had an MRI, but it was negative. It'd be a big loss if Kugler, a captain, can't face the Illini.
"He's the one guy up front who has been playing at a high level and has been doing an unbelievably good job for us," he said.
If Kugler can't play, Purdue likely will put Cameron Cermin, the starting left tackle the first five games of the season, at center. Then, David Hedelin would start at left tackle and J.J. Prince at right.
Backup linebacker Joe GilliamClick And Kirk Barron, a true freshman who is likely to redshirt, would again be the backup center. Here to view this Link. will miss the rest of the season - and his Purdue career is over - after tearing his ACL during practice on Thursday.
Hazell says Gilliam "stepped wrong" during practice but "he ran off the field and thought he felt OK, but the next day it blew up. We had the MRI done and it showed a tear in the ACL. It's unfortunate for him and us."
Although he was one of Purdue's most experienced defenders, Gilliam had played only 17 snaps combined against Notre Dame and SIU, before being in street clothes Saturday. Garrett Hudson moves into the backup role now at middle linebacker.
Prince had a mild shoulder injury on Saturday, but is probable for this week.
"I think he'll be OK for this week," Hazell said, "but he'll be a little sore the first couple days of the week."
Hazell says Prince could not have re-entered late in the game vs. the Hawkeyes. Instead, Jason Tretter played at right tackle, after Cermin moved to center.
After not getting a single offensive snap against Iowa, Raheem Mostert is likely to get worked back in to a larger role against the Fighting Illini.
The senior running back, who was Purdue's starter the first four games, is listed (with Keyante Green) as an co-backup to Akeem Hunt. Against the Hawkeyes, Hunt had 90 yards on 14 carries, while Green had 20 on eight attempts.
But Mostert, who hasn't had a carry since his second lost fumble of the season in the third quarter against SIU, seems set to get more.
"We'll get him back in some situations this week and put those two (Hunt and Mostert) back in the backfield again like we had in the first couple weeks," he said. "We'll get him going again."
Wide receiver Dan MonterosoClick This and thatHere to view this Link. played Purdue's last three offensive snaps vs. Iowa, ending speculation that the sophomore might redshirt.
"We'll continue to play him," he said. "We're just trying to find the right combination of guys in the wideout package right now. Just finding who our best three or four guys who can give you some energy and juice and can get off the ball and get separation and give us more oomph on the outside."
Purdue missed 12 tackles on Saturday, most coming in the second half when its defense was wearing down. Iowa had the ball for 20 second-half minutes.
"I think it's the first game we've seen as a staff since we've been here that you see guys straining all the time the way you want them to strain," Hazell said. "They were flying around and throwing their bodies around, making a lot of plays. I thought they played exceptionally well."
Insight into the style Purdue wants to play?
Paul GriggsClick This was Hazell's message to his team after the game: "You play good defense and you play good special teams, minus three (bad) plays, you're going to be in every contest. You are, if you don't turn it over. ... And now, you've got to figure out how to make those plays in those close ball games, when you're up seven or down seven, to take that next step."Here to view this Link. will continue as Purdue's kickoff specialist, after taking over for Ian MacDougallClick This was Hazell's message to his team after the game: "You play good defense and you play good special teams, minus three (bad) plays, you're going to be in every contest. You are, if you don't turn it over. ... And now, you've got to figure out how to make those plays in those close ball games, when you're up seven or down seven, to take that next step."Here to view this Link. on Saturday.
Of Griggs' two kicks, one went into the end zone for a touchback; the second went to the goal line, but was returned 47 yards.
Iowa safety Johnny Lowdermilk could have taken his second interception, the one that ended the game, to the end zone for a pick six. Instead, he decided to slide and let his offense run out the clock at the end of a 24-10 win.
Part of his reasoning - and a fumble in a similar situation in the bowl game vs. LSU last year likely played a part, too - was his respect for Hazell.
"Obviously I wanted a touchdown, especially after last year," Lowdermilk told HawkCentral.com. "But I respect Hazell and his staff so much, because they gave me an opportunity when they were at Kent State.
"This would have been an unnecessary touchdown. Obviously, I want a touchdown. But it wasn't needed."
Hazell, the former Kent State coach, says Lowdermilk had a KSU offer and appeared set to go there.
"And then Iowa came in late, really late in the process and took him from us - he was never committed to us, but we thought we were going to get him - and we had that relationship with him," Hazell said. "A good guy, good family."
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