If you’re a long-time Purdue fan, or you’ve been following Big Ten Football the last 20 years or so, you remember the days when the Boilermakers would light up the scoreboard with Joe Tiller’s “Pass till you’re hot, then keep on passing” spread offense.
Tiller was the first coach to bring the spread to the Big Ten and Purdue would more often than not give opposing secondaries fits (Drew Brees did this quite often en route to Purdue’s share of the 2000 Big Ten Championship and a Rose Bowl berth). Conference opponents would respect the air attack so much that running the ball wasn’t a tall task in Tiller’s system.
However, things started going south in 2008 in Tiller’s last season when Purdue finished 4-8. After a less than impressive stint with Tiller’s successor Danny Hope, Darrell Hazell was hired from Kent State as the new head coach for the 2013 season. He was more or less supposed to be the offensive wizard to restore Purdue back to the offensive juggernaut it once was. But Hazell’s first two seasons saw the Boilermakers go 4-20, which included an 0-2 record against rival Indiana.
Unfortunately for Hazell and Purdue, that trend isn’t going to change anytime soon. The offensive side of the ball alone is depleted. The two leading rushers (Akeem Hunt and Raheem Mostert) are gone. That’s 1,478 yards and nine touchdowns between the two of them. Hunt was also the team’s second-leading receiver to Danny Anthrop, who is returning but will be blanketed by far superior defenses in the Big Ten this season. If another receiver does not emerge early on in the season, Anthrop is going to get plenty of attention from opposing secondaries.
And let’s not forget the quarterback quandary between juniors Austin Appleby and Danny Etling. Hazell needs to choose one and stick with him otherwise opposing defenses will pick up on Purdue’s offensive tendencies by keying off of whoever is taking snaps.
Even if players emerge for the Boilermakers this season, inexperience will play a factor as well, and only time can fix that. Unless Purdue puts together a stout defense this fall, it’s going to be another long year in West Lafayette.
Brooks Hooley is a Junior Big Ten Football Writer for RantSports.com. Follow Brooks on Twitter @brookshooley.