Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, December 24, 2015
Saturdays in the fall in West Lafayette are long, as Darrell Hazell can?t seem to flip a losing script. He now stands 6-30 in three seasons. And three of those victories have been vs. FCS programs. How many Big Ten wins does Hazell have? Two, against 22 losses. And the defeats are often lopsided.
Is progress being made? Are players being developed after they arrive? There is a lack of dynamic playmakers across the board. And then there is the quarterback position where Hazell has switched signal-callers during the season each of his three years. Purdue is desperate for stability under center.
But most disturbing: Purdue almost always gets whipped in the trenches. If you can?t win up front, you have no shot. Purdue was No. 13 in the Big Ten in rushing (131.3 ypg) and last in rushing defense (214.9 ypg). With attendance sparse, Hazell had to do something to spark hope. He fired offensive coordinator John Shoop and defensive coordinator Greg Hudson, so Hazell?s hires will make or break his tenure at Purdue.
Record: 2-10 overall; 1-7 Big Ten/7th West
High point: In a two-win season, there aren?t many. So, this is easy: It was the 55-44 win vs. Nebraska. Yes, the Cornhuskers used a former walk-on quarterback and committed five turnovers, but the victory-starved Boilermakers will take any win they can in what has been a dreary three-year run under Darrell Hazell. The victory ended a five-game losing skid, while also being the last time Purdue would sip from the cup of victory in 2015. The next week, the Boilers reverted to familiar form. An Illinois team on a three-game losing streak coming off a 39-0 loss at Penn State ripped Purdue in West Lafayette for 48 points and 595 yards (382 rushing). (Sigh.)
Low point: How much time do you have? The first play of the season, Purdue QB Austin Appleby dropped to pass ? and tossed a pick six. That?s called ?foreshadowing.? Home losses to Minnesota (41-13) and Illinois (48-14) were colossal embarrassments, as the Boilers got obliterated by teams that finished with losing records. But let?s go with a season-ending 54-35 whipping suffered at the hands of rival Indiana ? in Ross-Ade Stadium on Senior Day, no less. IU piled up a stupefying 659 yards (350 passing; 309 rushing). And the win clinched the Hoosiers? first bowl since 2007-and it was IU?s third in a row in the Old Oaken Bucket series. Indiana had not beaten the Boilermakers three times in a row since the 1940s. A sad end to another sad season.
Offensive MVP: RB Markell Jones. A tough, physical true freshman, Jones was the only constant on offense, running 168 times for 875 yards and 10 TDs and netting honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades. The kid has a bright future.
Defensive MVP: CB Frankie Williams. An honorable-mention All-Big Ten choice, the senior broke up 10 passes and picked off three passes. This moribund defense needed more players with the heart and hustle of Williams.
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