*Full-time or a week or two a year. It’s just stupid for a multitude of reasons.
Even baseball was a source of frustration yesterday. The free online game was an afternoon game yesterday, which usually is great news for me. But, for some reason, MLB could not seem to understand that I’m actually in Indiana, even after putting in my credit card information that usually clears that right up. Awfully frustrating. Not that I was intensely interested in the Braves and Mets, but it helps the afternoons go by faster.
Still, I come back to that game last Saturday. Granted, I didn’t really think Purdue would win that game, especially on the road. But I was certainly particularly interested in the game to get a glimpse of what Coach Hazell had in store for this upcoming season. I’ll admit that I was a little disappointed to hear that Rob Henry was named the starter. Nothing against Henry, I’m sure he’s a great guy who has shown some promise at quarterback. The problem I had is that he’s a senior quarterback trying to install a brand new offensive package. I understand the hopes of the future on the shoulders of David Blough, who’ll be a freshman next year. And that’s great, I’ve heard nothing but amazing hype about this kid. But that doesn’t help much this year. And this year is important.
Purdue will get a lot of slack this year. It’s the first year for the new coach, and I think everybody understands it takes a few years to get your guys in and in position. But there is some excitement about Boilermaker football that has been lacking during the Hope era,* and it would be an absolute shame to squander it because this year’s team took a big step backwards. It seems that giving Danny Etling (a four star recruit)** the reins would seem like a bolder move, especially with an eye toward the future. And, well, if you’re looking to make a big move in the conference in the next couple years, might as well get the kid polished during the year with some wiggle room, right?
*Ironic, isn’t it?
**Blough is a three star recruit, for whatever that’s worth. The answer is usually “not much,” and I’ve read much more hype over Blough than Etling, though that could well be because Blough is from Texas and Etling is from Terre Haute.
I do expect Etling to be starting before the year is over, and I expected that before last Saturday. There are some arguments for starting Henry right now, though. And some that actually extend beyond “the kid’s a senior and paid his due, he deserves a shot,” which is argument enough for a few games. Most of that argument rests on what looked to be a pretty shaky offensive line. I don’t remember that being a particular problem for Purdue the past several years. In fact, the line on both sides of the ball seems to have been a pretty big strength for the program lately. But it looked porous against Cincinnati, forcing Henry into some pretty bad spots and pretty bad decisions. While you want Etling to learn, there’s probably not much to be gained from watching the game on your back. Kind of like Jay Cutler’s problem with the Bears. I’m not particularly a Cutler fan, but I think he’s a much better quarterback than he’s shown in Chicago thus far. It’s hard to be effective when you’re running for your life every play.
After watching the first half of Saturday’s game, though, I felt hopeful. Sure, the touchdown came on a fluky punt play* and the goal line package was a disaster. And the pass protection showed some holes. But Purdue was moving the ball and not doing a bad job at all of running it. The defense was keeping the Bearcats in check for the most part. There were reasons to think it would be a close game. Then halftime happened, and it was the last productive thing about that game. The defense showed the first half was probably more about Cincinnati finding their legs than anything Purdue was doing. The offense totally stopped and took most of the quarter just to gain a positive yard. It was about as ugly a half as you could imagine and things got out of hand quick.
*News flash, nation. Cody Webster still has a cannon leg.
You would like to think you could chaulk Indiana State up as a win now, but I’m unfortunately hesitant. First of all, as you might have heard, the FCS didn’t have a bad opening week, scoring wins at USF, Connecticut, (ranked) Oregon State, and others. In some cases, the FCS schools beat the FBS schools handily. Secondly, Indiana State wasn’t a bad team last year. They spent quite a bit of time ranked in the FCS and heavily flirted with playoff spot before faltering a bit at the end. You might also remember the ISU had Indiana in trouble, if not beat, before finally falling by a touchdown. This year’s tilt in Bloomington was a little different, mostly in that the Hoosiers were able to ring up 73 points. But the Sycamore did manage 35 points of their own. Purdue had better win this game, and I’m certainly expecting them to, but I just don’t feel nearly as confident about it now as I did this time last week.
I was going to write a bit about Wabash’s upcoming season, but this has gone on a bit longer than I thought it would, plus (as mentioned earlier) I’ve got another week before they face off against Hanover, so I’ll save that for another day.