Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Season wrap: Purdue
By Brian Bennett
The hiring of Darrell Hazell created optimism for Purdue fans who were sick of the mediocrity under previous coach Danny Hope. By the end of Hazell's first season, however, that mediocrity sounded pretty good.
The bloom isn't already off the Hazell rose because he has had just one year in West Lafayette. But the start of his tenure couldn't have gone much worse, as the Boilermakers went 1-11, ranked among the worst FBS teams in most major categories and lost by at least 14 points nine times. They were, frankly, one of the worst Big Ten teams of recent memory, although they did play a challenging schedule. Some freshmen provided bright spots, but this might be a bigger rebuilding project than anyone expected, and Hazell will soon have to prove he's the man for the job.
Offensive MVP: There aren't many candidates to choose from on a team that averaged fewer than 15 points per game this season. But true freshman quarterback Danny Etling at least gave the offense a spark when he assumed the job midway through the Northern Illinois game. He threw for 1,690 yards and 10 touchdowns in eight games and gave Purdue some offseason hope with his 485-yard, four-touchdown performance against Indiana in the finale.
Defensive MVP: Senior cornerback Ricardo Allen tied for the Big Ten lead with six interceptions and also had a forced fumble and four tackles for loss. He holds the Purdue record for interceptions returned for touchdowns. If you consider a punter part of the defense, this award would have gone to Ray Guy finalist Cody Webster. He was probably the team's best player, which tells you something about the Boilers' season.
Best moment: In the third quarter of a prime-time home game against Notre Dame in Week 3, Rob Henry found B.J. Knauf for an 18-yard touchdown pass to give Purdue a 17-10 lead. At that point, the future seemed pretty bright. Unfortunately, the Boilermakers went on to lose by seven points, which was the start of a 10-game losing streak. Henry would move to defense a few weeks later, and Knauf earned a midseason suspension.
Worst moment: A 56-0 loss at home to Ohio State on Nov. 2. The Boilers had played the Buckeyes very tough the past couple of years, including an overtime loss in 2012 in Columbus. But Ohio State, which led 42-0 at halftime before calling off the dogs in the second half, could have named its score this year. The 56-point loss matched the worst defeat in school history.