Notes: Dawn of a new day

Darrell Hazell's first practice as Purdue's head coach is in the books. The new-look Boilermakers took to the practice field for their first spring practice. Boiler Sports Report offers notes and quotes from day one.

-- The Darrell Hazell era is underway in West Lafayette, and the first-year head coach opened Purdue's spring drills on Tuesday inside the Mollenkopf Athletic Center.

-- Spring drills are all about establishing everything—a playbook, competition, fundamentals and a demeanor as a team. Throughout the practice, Purdue's new coaching staff was all over the field, visiting with different position groups and players. Each mistake brought a teaching moment and each positive brought praise. Explained Hazell: "I think they're trying extremely hard, so this is a good start."

-- While the new coaching staff works to learn its personnel, the players are figuring out how their new coaches operate. Said senior cornerback Ricardo Allen of Darrell Hazell: "He's really hard to read. You never know if he likes you or not." It's also worth noting Allen has bulked up, adding five pounds to his frame.

-- On day one of drills, who was Hazell watching closely? "Everybody," he simply said.

-- The first snap of the spring went to senior quarterback Rob Henry. After that, redshirt freshman Austin Appleby stepped in. While freshmen Danny Etling and Bilal Marshall also saw their share of reps, Appleby had plenty of work with the first-team offense. He was also very impressive, showing great poise while leading the offense.

-- Henry spoke to the media of what competition he will be part of at quarterback. "We're all trying to establish ourselves to the new coaching staff," Henry said.

-- New offensive coordinator John Shoop also serves as Purdue's quarterback coach, and he has established a good relationship with his position group. "Anytime you're around him, you feel like you're going to learn something," Henry said of Shoop. "He's somebody who's very passionate about the game."

-- Along the sidelines, fans filled the Mollenkopf sidelines to watch the new team. Hazell has invited fans to be a part of practice. "It's going to take all of us," said Hazell.

-- The mark of Hazell on his team was evident by the tempo of practice. Between periods, the players run to their next drill. After each huddle, they run hurry to the line of scrimmage. "It's a change from Coach Hope, from my last three years, but I think it's a good change," Allen said.

-- Hazell was also hustling around the facility. He made it a point to catch as much action as possible. "You never get to see it all; that's why you have film," Hazell said afterward.

-- The Boilermakers' biggest issue on day one was taking care of the football. While that can be excused on the first day of spring, Hazell hopes to get that fixed. He explained: "It's huge, huge. Always huge."

-- An emphasis for the Purdue defense will be improving its run defense. Explained defensive end Ryan Russell: "Last year, we didn't do so hot. We know that, we know the numbers, and it starts today."

-- At the end of practice, the players ran down and back the distance of the field—that's 200 yards—giving teammates a piggyback ride. That even includes the offensive linemen. Purdue's practices will end with teambuilding drills like this. Joked Ricardo Allen: "That always scares me. We don't know what to expect."

-- Purdue returns to the practice field on Thursday. Stay with Boiler Sports Report for continued coverage of the Boilermakers' spring drills.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Northwestern Wildcats, and currently covers the Purdue Boilermakers. A Chicago native, he resides in West Lafayette.
Facebook | Twitter| E-Mail |

Boiler Sports Report Top Stories