As Darrell Hazell builds promise in the Purdue program, the first year will likely continue to be a struggle. But in each game—win or loss—there are positives to take. I offer a look at three things to be satisfied with from the loss to Notre Dame.
Henry gives Purdue a chance
The drubbing in Cincinnati was just two weeks ago. It seems like that was months ago. In that game, quarterback Rob Henry had a horrid showing, not even giving the Boilermakers a chance to be competitive. But in Saturday's seven-point loss to Notre Dame, the fifth-year senior paced Purdue's offense.
It was a different Henry from those first two games. He played with confidence and made the big plays. His lone mistake was very costly, a pick-six to Notre Dame cornerback Bennett Jackson. But Henry gave the Boilermakers a fighting chance against the Fighting Irish. The schedule is about to get brutal for the Boilermakers, but they can hope Henry continues his strong play.
Strong showing from the o-line
One. It's the number of progress from Purdue's offensive line. A unit which struggled throughout much of preseason camp allowed just one sack to Notre Dame's talented defensive line—and that came from a cornerback blitz by Bennett Jackson.
When Henry was under pressure, he made plays with his feet (see above). The offense kept moving with Henry's arm. He can thank the offensive line for keeping him upright. This is certainly encouraging to see.
Knauf is a playmaker
The greatest beneficiary of John Shoop's unique offense has been B.J. Knauf. The speedy receiver has been making plays all over the field for the first three games, taking handoffs and becoming one of Rob Henry's top targets. In the loss to Notre Dame, Knauf added another touchdown to go with four catches.
Knauf is just a redshirt freshman and finally playing at full health. Hopefully, this trend will continue and he will keep making plays in Purdue's offense.