There might be a day this season when Purdue wows with offensive wizardry, when complex offense is a strength and not a liability.
Saturday isn't that day.
Coach Darrell Hazell saw enough botched execution against Cincinnati to last the rest of the decade. He wants the Boilers (0-1) playing with confidence and aggression. His solution for Indiana State (0-1): simplify the offense.
“It's very important that we be able to execute the game plan,” he said. “We didn't do a great job of that last week.
“So we scaled (the game plan) way back. We want to play as fast and as hard as we can. So our package is very thin. I told (offensive coordinator John Shoop) as we go through the week and find things we think will help us, I said, 'You've got to cut something else out of the game plan.' There's no more adding. There's only reduction of the game plan going forward this week.”
Quarterback Rob Henry took a lot of heat for last Saturday's poor offense (four turnovers, just 65 rushing yards, seven penalties, numerous mental errors).
One thing that will help, Hazell said, is getting in and out of the huddle faster.
“Sometimes you put stress on yourself when you break the huddle with 10 seconds and all of a sudden you're rushing to the line and you have motion and shifts. That creates stress.
“I want them out of the huddle and at the line of scrimmage by 15 seconds. That way we can see the defense and understand what we're blocking, so we can make our calls up front.”
That starts with Henry. He finished 18-for-35 for 161 yards and an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
“The biggest thing is our communication from Rob to the rest of the guys in the huddle,” Hazell said. “He needs to be a little more accurate and get us in and out of the huddle a little quicker.”
How can Henry do that?
“He's got to be able to take exactly what they give us,” Hazell said. “When we have open guys, he has to hit those open guys. He's got to facilitate the ball to the guys he has. He's got playmakers around him. He's got two good backs (Akeen Hunt and Dalyn Dawkins). He has wide-outs who are starting to come. He has a tight end (Gabe Holmes) that, in my opinion, is going to be a great weapon for us. He's got a good offensive line.
“He doesn't have to feel like he has to win the game. He's got to dish the ball out to all those people around him, and then we'll start seeing the chains move.”
Henry's rough game has some calling for redshirt freshman Austin Appleby or true freshman Danny Etling to play quarterback.
Hazell isn't ready to go there, especially against an Indiana State squad that lost 73-35 at Indiana four days ago. Henry is a fifth-year senior with starting experience, although it's been three years since he got significant playing time.
“I think you have to give Rob an opportunity to go back into the position,” Hazell said. “He hasn't played in a couple of years. You have to have patience with him and for him. At the end, you will be happy about Rob Henry's play.”
Hazell said the same thing about the Boilers' long-term future.
“Great things are going to happen for this program. We have a great team in our locker room. They are going to show it. I really believe that. If I didn't believe it, I wouldn't say it.”
Also, senior safety Landon Feichter, a former Bishop Dwenger standout, is set to play despite a pair of badly bruised hands suffered against Cincinnati. So is senior cornerback Ricardo Allen, whose right ankle injury isn't as serious as initially feared.