This is now three straight losses by more than 30 points. Each one seems to have a different share of blunders. See the head hanging as the Boilermakers left the field after falling by 37 to Nebraska. It was another brutal defeat.
During the bye week, first-year head coach Darrell Hazell did just about everything possible to jumpstart his team. He brought in the exciting freshman as quarterback, made several personnel changes to maximize talent, and even flipped up the schemes. There were plenty of good vibes on the practice field. None of that mattered on Saturday.
"We're not in a great spot right now—that's the reality of it," said Hazell after Saturday's loss. "We don't feel good about it, nor should we."
Here's the challenge Purdue now faces. It's a program building for its future (duh), but this current team relies heavily on its senior leadership—both on the field and in the locker room. These Boilermakers must stay together amid these serious struggles.
As the Danny Etlings, Cameron Poseys and DeAngelo Yanceys learn on the fly, the Rob Henrys, Ricardo Allens and Bruce Gastons must help keep the team together. The seniors must be supportive of the rebuilding process, even knowing they won't see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The only way Purdue can grow is with a concerted effort. The puppies must learn from their many mistakes, then fix it on the practice field. But it takes a team effort to improve. All the players—freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors—must push each other to be better. The head hanging has to stop.
"There are only two ways we can go," Hazell said. "I know our football team and they'll work to get out of this hole. We'll do everything we have to do to keep clawing and scratching and fighting to work to get better."
But Hazell can't say that with certainty. In fact, it's completely out of his control. His Purdue players, namely the seniors, must take ownership of this.
Fifteen freshmen played against Nebraska. Each one gets to watch the film and review what went right and wrong. This is a critical juncture for a program filled with promise. Nobody can quit on this process.
The burden falls on the leaders of the locker room. Even at rock bottom, Purdue must play like its fighting for a championship—every team meeting, practice rep, and game play.
This is the only way One Brick Higher will happen.