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COLUMN

The football buck stops with the Boilers

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Kickoff: Indiana State at Purdue, noon, Saturday
RADIO: 1380
TV: BTNCBS

Online: For more on college athletics, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

Purdue has Indiana State to turn things around

Monday, September 2, 2013 - 12:21 am

Purdue's Rob Henry is a buck-stops-here guy. You want that in your quarterback. You need it, in fact.

He's waited five years for this opportunity, where he is, without question, the Boilers' No. 1 quarterback.

He isn't going to blow it.

Yes, Henry had a bad game against Cincinnati. So did the rest of the Boilers not named punter Cody Webster. They were way out of rhythm, in part because they have yet to fully master offensive coordinator John Shoop's offense, in part because Cincinnati forced them into enough mistakes for half a season.

Henry tweeted an apology, then tweeted that he would be done with Twitter for a while because he had a lot of football work to do.

An NCAA rule limits athletes to 20 hours of athletic participation a week, but nobody follows it — not because they want to break the rules, but because if you want to be good, you have to. And when your work gets displayed in front of packed stadiums and regional or even national TV audiences, you put in whatever time is necessary.

So how bad was Henry?

He was 18-for-35 for 161 yards and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. He ran for a touchdown. He had a pair of fumbles. There were a couple of botched snap exchanges, although center Robert Kugler took the blame for one of them. Backup center Cody Davis was involved in the other.

Coach Darrell Hazell's public critique was brief and to the point: “I felt he missed a couple guys, but he stood in there a couple times. We'll watch the film and make an assessment on Rob."

Things got bad enough to make you wonder if backups Austin Appleby and Danny Etling should get a shot. Hazell said that was never considered.

“No, not at all.”

Appleby is a redshirt freshman. Etling is a true freshman. Neither has close to Henry's experience. Neither is the second coming of Andrew Luck or Penn State true freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg.

Purdue's best chance to win rests with Henry getting it figured out along with the rest of the team.

In an ideal world, the Boilers would have opened with Indiana State, got a lot of bugs worked out in a solid victory, then traveled to Cincinnati.

As we know, this is not an ideal world. Sometimes the best lessons come when you get embarrassed.

Sometimes.

Indiana State comes to Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday and it is not close to Cincinnati's class. The Sycamores will likely be without standout tailback Shakir Bell, who separated his shoulder while gaining 113 yards Thursday at Indiana. They return the same defense that got torched for 73 points by the Hoosiers.

This is a game the Boilers should win by 30, even if talented cornerback Ricardo Allen is out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain. They should get physical, assert their will, win big and brace for the Notre Dame onslaught, and beyond.

Hazell's hiring generated a lot of buzz. So did Friday's Tailgate Tour event in downtown Indianapolis.

The Cincinnati disaster smothered most of that buzz. There's only one way to bring it back:

Win.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Pete DiPrimio at pdiprimio@news-sentinel.com.