Purdue eager to benefit from bye week
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) Purdue had an entire week off to contemplate what’s gone wrong this season. The next step is doing something about it with Nebraska coming on Saturday.
The Boilermakers (1-6, 0-3 Big Ten) have lost nine consecutive conference games and five in a row since defeating Indiana State on Sept. 12.
Purdue fans have taken to social media and radio talk shows to voice their displeasure with third-year coach Darrell Hazell’s 5-26 record, 1-18 in the Big Ten without a conference victory in Ross-Ade Stadium.
Yet Hazell said his players are staying the course, closing ranks while continuing to pursue an elusive Big Ten victory. He said he liked what he saw when the team met Sunday night after being given a couple of days off during the bye week.
”There was a tremendous energy in the building on Sunday as we met for the first time after the break and had a little workout,” Hazell said Tuesday. ”The guys are ready to go and get back into game mode against Nebraska (3-5, 1-3).”
After Wisconsin defeated Purdue 24-7 on Oct. 17 in Madison, Hazell viewed the bye week as a good thing as the Boilermakers attempted to solve offensive and defensive issues.
”There comes a time to step back and really take a hard look and take a deep breath and refresh your mind and your body,” Hazell said. ”Where we were coming into the bye week, I think it was good for us to get away. I know it was good for me.”
After playing well in his first college start on Sept. 26 against Bowling Green, redshirt freshman quarterback David Blough has struggled in Big Ten losses to Michigan State, Minnesota and Wisconsin, completing only 51 of 106 passes (48.1 percent) for 479 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions in league play.
Blough said he is disappointed but he and his teammates are excited about the five remaining games.
”You would’ve never thought after seven games that we would be sitting here at 1-6,” Blough said. ”You get punched in the mouth, you’ve got to get up and keep swinging. That’s the mindset and mentality we have to attack Nebraska with.”
Hazell has seen no sign of a team ready to simply go through the motions during the final five games.
”We have a close-knit group of guys in our locker room, and they haven’t wavered from this,” Hazell said. ”Obviously when you are not as successful in the win/loss column, there are always guys that think they should be playing to help the team. That’s normal everywhere you go.
”But in terms of cohesion within the locker room, supporting each other and working at the high level they have continued to work at, it’s still there.”
Hazell said the Boilermakers were ”decompressing” during the bye week, stepping back from the game week grind, focusing on fundamentals and starting to prepare for a Nebraska team that has lost five times by a total of 13 points.
”You need to get a rest and drop your shoulders a little bit,” Hazell said. ”I think that probably is the biggest thing.”
Nebraska defeated Purdue 44-7 in 2013 in West Lafayette and 35-14 in 2014 in Lincoln.