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Thursday, October 2, 2008
Boilers need some leadership -- fast

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Reporters love the type of quote you're about to read from Purdue defensive tackle Mike Neal, and we realize they're rare in the tight-lipped world of college football. But Neal's brutal honesty about the Boilermakers' halftime mood last week at Notre Dame was somewhat shocking and it says something about the leadership -- or lack thereof -- on the team.

Keep in mind Purdue went to halftime tied at 14-14 at Notre Dame Stadium before melting down in the third quarter and falling 38-21.

Here's what Neal told The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

"When you come out flat and you're not ready to play a football game and you look bored at halftime, what do you expect?" Neal said. "Then you have a lot of guys after you go through a first series like that, and they run the ball down your throat and you get to the sideline and look into everybody's faces, and they don't look interested in playing a football game. That has to be another part of why they continued to do it the whole third quarter."

Wow.

Somebody has to change the attitude in that locker room. Head coach Joe Tiller could try, but it would be a lot better if a player or two spoke up.

Senior quarterback Curtis Painter is a team captain, but he strikes me as more of a quiet type who leads by example. Linebacker Anthony Heygood is an affable player with tons of experience, so he would be a good candidate. Defensive tackle Ryan Baker is another captain who plays a prominent role.

It's one thing for a team to lose confidence. But to seem disinterested in the middle of a game against Notre Dame is extremely troubling. If the Boilers don't change their mood before noon ET on Saturday, they'll be in big trouble against Penn State. Like 35-0 big trouble.