The Purdue football outlook for 2016 season. The pressure is on to finally turn the program into a winner.
The assistants were shuffled around/replaced, the veteran players have been put into place, and the chances have been there to produce. Now Purdue has to actually win.
Head coach Darrell Hazell has had plenty of time to show what he can do in his first three seasons, and for those who think the program had to be completely blown up to start over, Purdue went to a bowl game the year before he arrived.
Hazell did the impossible and won 11 games at Kent State, coming really, really close to taking the MAC title. Purdue knew it needed to start over and needed time to blow things up with the hopes of finding something that could work on a regular basis, but it hasn’t come close to happening yet.
How bad has Purdue been? Hazell has won six games in his era with just three of them – Nebraska last year and Western Michigan and Illinois two years ago – coming against FBS teams. But this is Purdue – the program has just one winning season since 2007.
Can Hazell at least make the program more competitive? Can he just come up with five wins to show that there’s hope with things going in the right direction?
Purdue had Marshall in big trouble in the opener, but melted down with interceptions. It pushed a strong Bowling Green team with a loaded offense – okay, it’s a MAC team, but it won the conference – and it gave Michigan State and Northwestern a hard time. But even if the Boilermakers had somehow been on the right side of two of those games, they’d still be just 4-8.
In comes new offensive coordinator Terry Malone to try settling things down and create a more consistent attack with a veteran crew of receivers back and enough nice running backs to hope for more for a ground game that averaged just 131 yards per game.
The D that allowed 35 points or more eight times gets a new coordinator, too, with Greg Hudson trying to ramp up the pressure, especially against the run. The line is the strongest in the last few years, the linebackers are going to be far stronger, and the experienced secondary should be a plus.
This is the program being rebuilt. This will be the fruits of Hazell’s labor over the last three years. It’s not hard, but this should be the best team in his era by far.
If it’s not, there won’t be a Year Five.