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Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Boilers respond to Hazell's tough talk

By Adam Rittenberg

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- There's no sugarcoating 1-11.

Darrell Hazell
Purdue coach Darrell Hazell hopes his offseason message gets through to his players.
When a team performs as poorly as Purdue did in 2013, honesty isn't the best assessment, but the only assessment. As the Boilers closed the book on the season and looked ahead to winter workouts and a pivotal offseason, coach Darrell Hazell bluntly stated what needed to happen.

"Two strong messages," Hazell told ESPN.com. "The strong have to overtake the weak, and the right have to overtake the wrong. The guys in this program who are doing it the right way have to overtake the guys who are doing it the wrong way.

"We just keep hitting them with that message: the strong overtake the weak, and the right overtake the wrong."

The takeover is happening this spring. Is it hostile? At times.

But Purdue's coaches have seen differences in who is leading, who is working hard, and how much time players are devoting to the game.

"We don't have time for people who aren't going in the direction that we're going," quarterback Austin Appleby said. "The guys that aren't all about it are getting suffocated by us. Our goal is the Rose Bowl. Our goal is the Big Ten championship. In order to do that, everyone's got to buy in."

More players are. When offensive coordinator John Shoop shows up to make his morning coffee, players are in the office watching film. Before leaving at night, he tells players to turn off the lights.

But the cleansing isn't complete.

"It's maybe not all the way weeded out, but it's been identified," senior defensive end Ryan Russell said. "Everyone knows basically if you're not giving it your all and you're not committed, we see you, the seniors see you, and we're not taking that lightly."

Added Appleby: "Those guys eliminate themselves."

Russell admits the older players had to recommit to Hazell and his staff after coming to play for predecessor Danny Hope. The lack of coaching continuity, especially on defense, has burdened players and tested their willingness to trust.

But older players such as center Robert Kugler, linebacker Sean Robinson, tight end Dolapo Macarthy, cornerback Frankie Williams and safety Landon Feichter are leading the takeover, and others are falling in line.

"We're not going to let a weak link hold us down," Appleby said. "We aren't going to have any weak links. We're all going."