AL HAMNIK: Purdue, Hazell bracing for rough seas this stormy season

2013-10-01T17:30:00Z 2013-10-07T18:22:13Z AL HAMNIK: Purdue, Hazell bracing for rough seas this stormy seasonAl Hamnik Times Columnist
October 01, 2013 5:30 pm  • 

For many unfortunate people, when it rains, it pours.

Purdue first-year football coach Darrell Hazell hasn't started building an ark just yet, but he's probably got a shopping list for Menards.

His Boilermakers find themselves at 1-4. They've been outscored 183-85, are allowing 183 yards rushing and 414 total yards per game, have 11 turnovers, have missed three field goals and opponents are converting nearly 50 percent of third-down situations.

"I'm glad we have a bye week. There's a lot of things we need to re-evaluate and assess," Hazell said during Tuesday's Big Ten coaches teleconference.

The most pressing issue is at quarterback, where freshman Danny Etling saw his first action last Saturday against Northern Illinois, replacing the ineffective Rob Henry.

"We're going to talk to the quarterbacks later (today) and let those guys know where they stand," said Hazell, who'll likely go with Etling, adding there would be no open competition.

The job was Henry's to lose and he wasted no time, going 5 for 16 for 130 yards and two interceptions deep in NIU territory. Etling, who has a stronger arm, was 19 of 39 for 241 yards, two TDs and a pair of picks.

"You saw there was a little bit of energy with Danny out there," Hazell said.

The Boilermakers had five pre-snap penalties on offense in the NIU blowout and quarterback Jordan Lynch, a Heisman candidate and Mount Carmel grad, had his way with a defense that needed a lariat to contain him in the pocket.

Hazell must feel like he's coaching high school ball.

The clouds grew darker and the rain came down harder Monday with the arrest of two Purdue receivers -- B.J. Knauf and Jordan Woods -- on charges of theft.

Knauf is a starter, Woods a red-shirt freshman, and newspaper accounts said the pair was arrested at a local Kohl's after allegedly stealing two tie bars, valued at $20 each.

Tie bars? You have a Division I scholarship to play football. You're treated as big shots on campus and in the community, and you throw it all away by stealing two stinking tie bars?

Darrell Hazell certainly didn't need that headache.

"It's very disappointing," he said. "We always talk to our guys about doing the right things, and they made a bad decision, both of them.

"We're still gathering information, and we'll take the necessary disciplinary actions when we find out all the information."

Meanwhile, it's back to work for a program that is 43-51 over the last 7 1/2 seasons and 22-34 in conference play during that stretch.

Hazell had said he wanted to build a new football culture at Purdue, but he has had to swerve around countless roadblocks his first season.

"We've got to do a better job of getting to our gaps on defense," he added. "We're one gap off. We need to get to that gap in order to stop the run.

"Obviously, when the game is in the balance, you can't turn the ball over. We turned it over three times the first half while driving down the field.

"They're all self-inflicted and we got to eliminate that. The turnovers are very frustrating. You pull your hair out when those things pop up."

Hazell is not a quitter, but with Nebraska and Ohio State on the horizon, he may want to build that ark as storm clouds roll in and the waters rise.

Purdue fans have almost forgotten what the sun looks like.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at

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