While the Ryan Russell- and Landon Feichter-led defense had the better of it during Saturday's spring game in Ross-Ade Stadium, the trio of seniors Akeem Hunt and Raheem Mostert, along with junior Danny Anthrop, flashed the kind of speed that could make the Boilermaker offense much more difficult to defend in the fall than was the case in 2013 when Hazell's first Purdue team lost 11 of 12, beating only Indiana State.
Hunt rushed nine times for 54 yards and caught nine passes for 73 yards in leading the Gold team to a 12-7, come from behind victory, winning it on redshirt freshman Keyante Green's 4-yard touchdown run with 2:48 to play.
Mostert, the Big Ten indoor track season's champion in the 60 and 200 dashes, rushed 10 times for 42 yards and caught a pair of passes for the Black. Anthrop caught five passes for 91 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown reception from freshman David Blough on the third quarter's final play for the Black team's only score.
"He is playing fast and seeing things very well. He is running strong. We are a much better football team when we spread people out. We will be tight at times, but I think we need to spread the field. We will still run the ball, but we have to be able to spread people out."
Appleby also has observed this spring that the offense has speed and can make plays.
"Our offense is structured in a way that somebody always is open," Appleby said. "We just have to work even faster and continue to push each other. We have to be able to identify who that open guy is. We have enough guys to get the job done."
While Hazell has his playmakers, he is not ready to name a starting quarterback heading into the fall. Returning starter Danny Etling completed 10 of 17 passes for 96 yards and was not intercepted. Blough, who split time between each squad, was a combined 13 of 20 for 147 yards and the aforementioned TD pass to Anthrop. Appleby, who was intercepted twice and who also lost a fumble, was 7 of 16 for only 21 yards.
The quarterbacks were sacked a collective seven times.
"There were a lot of good things from today," Etling said. "We continue to keep getting better and have shown a lot of progress throughout the spring. We had a quarterback today (Blough) who still should be in high school, and he was calling all the plays."
Many of those plays were made by the speed members of the offense.
"Our offense believes we can make a big dent in other teams by spreading the defense," Mostert said. "We can run it, catch it and throw it. We have weapons. We are going to do it and get the job done. We are going to spread everyone out. We can run it down your throat, or we have the Jet Sweep with Danny Anthrop and Akeem. We are trying to make the most effective way possible for us to win."
Anthrop said that by the Aug. 30 opener against Western Michigan, this offense will have many options.
"We can stretch a defense and throw deep to any of the three starting receivers,"Anthrop said. "When the defense starts getting spread out a little bit, we can run those Jet Sweeps with Akeem and myself. In this offense, you need a lot of different options. This was a good spring for us."