The big 2014 Purdue football preview: No quick solutions

We can't hold the Boilermaker's awful 2013 against first-year head coach Darrell Hazell. But it's hard to see how Purdue will end up a whole lot better in his second year. Still, a better record could be on the way.

SB Nation 2014 College Football Countdown

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1. That really couldn't have gone much worse

The idea of a Year 0 season comes up relatively frequently in these previews. See April's USF preview, for instance. The idea is simple: sometimes a coach needs, basically, a redshirt season in a new job to get all the pieces sorted out, install his system(s), attract the type of talent he's looking for, etc.

For every immediate success story, there's a stripping-everything-down-to-the-studs situation. It doesn't earn the new coach any good will, but it can certainly be overcome. The obvious, common examples: George O'Leary and Lou Holtz going winless in their first years at UCF and South Carolina, respectively, before thriving.

If Darrell Hazell's tenure at Purdue ends up leading to bowl bids and an occasional run at a division crown, his 2013 season will be regarded as the year the seeds were planted. But since we don't know what's happening from here, all we can say for sure is this: it stunk.

Purdue gained 116 total yards (2.1 per play) against an Ohio State defense that ranked 45th in Def. F/+. The Boilermakers allowed 509 yards (7.1 per play) to an Iowa offense that ranked 60th in Off. F/+.

Purdue needed a late interception with 19 seconds left to fend off Indiana State, 20-14. If your initial reaction is, "Wasn't Indiana State pretty good last year?", you're actually thinking of Eastern Illinois, the other baby(ish) blue FCS team from the Midwest. Indiana State went 1-11 and lost by 41 points to Illinois State (also not Eastern Illinois).

Here are some teams that ranked ahead of Purdue (No. 114) in last year's F/+ rankings: New Mexico (3-9, No. 110), Kent State (Hazell's former team, 4-8, No. 106), California (1-11, No. 103), Kansas (3-9, No. 101), Army (2-10, No. 100), Temple (2-10, No. 98), Memphis (3-9, No. 83), and Hawaii (1-11, No. 82).

Here are some teams that ranked ahead of Purdue (No. 157) in Jeff Sagarin's inclusive FBS/FCS rankings: Montana State, Samford, Murray State, Brown, South Carolina State, Dartmouth, Harvard, and Princeton.

On the bright side, the Boilermakers did still rank ahead of four Ivy League schools, though Yale and Penn got awfully close. But technically it could have been worse.

Again, maybe this all ends up just fine. Maybe Purdue fans end up laughing about how poorly this went before the eventual rebuild. Maybe. But unlike Willie Taggart at USF, Hazell isn't exactly lapping his conference competition in the recruiting game. If there's a way out of this hole, it's going to take quite a bit of climbing.

2013 Schedule & Results

Record: 1-11 | Adj. Record: 1-11 | Final F/+ Rk: 114
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L 5-gm Adj. Avg.
31-Aug at Cincinnati 64 7-42 L 22.3 - 27.8 L
7-Sep Indiana State N/A 20-14 W 16.0 - 20.9 L
14-Sep Notre Dame 26 24-31 L 23.6 - 25.7 L
21-Sep at Wisconsin 19 10-41 L 18.3 - 36.2 L
28-Sep Northern Illinois 60 24-55 L 30.8 - 31.0 L -6.1
12-Oct Nebraska 39 7-44 L 9.1 - 23.9 L -8.0
19-Oct at Michigan State 6 0-14 L 26.6 - 22.3 W -6.2
2-Nov Ohio State 9 0-56 L 6.1 - 35.8 L -11.7
9-Nov Iowa 29 14-38 L 26.5 - 49.7 L -12.7
16-Nov at Penn State 61 21-45 L 30.2 - 40.9 L -14.9
23-Nov Illinois 71 16-20 L 13.1 - 29.8 L -15.2
30-Nov at Indiana 56 36-56 L 33.5 - 36.6 L -16.7
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk Spec. Tms. Rk
F/+ -14.6% 113 -11.5% 107 -1.2% 91
Points Per Game 14.9 121 38.0 114
Adj. Points Per Game 21.3 110 31.7 99

2. Bad on offense, then just bad

Hazell spent seven seasons as a Jim Tressell assistant, and as he proved at Kent State, he shares his former boss's aversion to pace. This can help when you're outmanned; shrink the game, minimize the number of possessions, and you will need fewer breaks to either keep up or win. That teams like Alabama, Georgia, and Florida State tend to operate at a plodding pace almost works to their detriment; if you have a per-play advantage, you should in theory want a lot of plays. For Purdue in 2013, a complete lack of pace made perfect sense.

You do eventually have to score, though. Purdue scored 14 or fewer points in six of 12 games in 2013 and scored seven points in a three-game span in October and November. Predictably, the defense, which was rather competent over the first half of the season, eventually gave out.

Adj. Points Per Game (first 7 games): Opponent 26.8, Purdue 21.0 (minus-5.8)
Adj. Points Per Game (last 5 games): Opponent 38.6, Purdue 21.9 (minus-16.7)

In retrospect, Purdue's near-upset of Notre Dame qualifies as one of the most confusing outcomes of the year. This was a Notre Dame team that beat the No. 6, No. 11, and No. 13 teams in the country according to F/+, and nearly beat No. 3 on the road (and, yes, lost to Pitt). Meanwhile, this was a Purdue team that lost its other four games against top-40 opponents by an average score of 39-6.

Regardless, the peak came around halftime on the evening of September 14, and the final nine games were one giant valley, a chasm that just got bigger and deeper.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 0.99 120 IsoPPP+ 93.2 97
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 36.6% 115 Succ. Rt. + 91.0 90
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 30.4 79 Def. FP+ 101.4 41
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 3.3 117 Redzone S&P+ 91.5 93
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 19.1 ACTUAL 22 +2.9
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 121 102 91 103
RUSHING 124 97 84 114
PASSING 79 102 94 87
Standard Downs 99 90 103
Passing Downs 108 87 81
Q1 Rk 84 1st Down Rk 79
Q2 Rk 113 2nd Down Rk 114
Q3 Rk 85 3rd Down Rk 98
Q4 Rk 80

3. Going down swinging

Two things you notice from the numbers and charts above:

A.) Purdue's offense wasn't actually good at anything. The only ranking above 79th anywhere above is the Boilermakers' No. 41 ranking in opponent-adjusted field position, which was due almost entirely to a badass punter. So yeah, Cody Webster, the punter, was Purdue's best offensive player, and it wasn't close.

B.) Purdue passed like crazy when it was losing big. I guess that's a positive sign? Despite a slow pace almost custom-made for avoiding huge losses, Purdue went down swinging in a way that almost assured that a bad loss got worse. In theory, that's good for installing a winner's mentality ... and pretty bad at establishing any precedent for success.

The offense was all sorts of young in 2013, so in theory, getting a lot of practice at picking yourself off the dirt could pay off. (I meant that figuratively, but it does bear mentioning that quarterback Danny Etling has already been sacked 31 times in his career, and his senior prom was only about 13 months ago.)

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2014 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Danny Etling 6'2, 218 So. 4 stars (5.8) 149 267 1690 10 7 55.8% 31 10.4% 4.9
Rob Henry 81 152 832 4 6 53.3% 8 5.0% 4.9
Austin Appleby 6'5, 229 So. 3 stars (5.5) 5 6 68 1 0 83.3% 0 0.0% 11.3
David Blough 6'1, 190 Fr. 3 stars (5.7)

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
Opp.
Rate
Akeem Hunt RB/WR 5'9, 184 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 123 464 1 3.8 4.2 28.5%
Brandon Cottom RB 6'4, 258 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 45 154 1 3.4 2.9 33.3%
Dalyn Dawkins RB 32 115 0 3.6 2.7 31.3%
Danny Etling QB 6'2, 218 So. 4 stars (5.8) 24 119 1 5.0 3.1 41.7%
Rob Henry QB 21 86 2 4.1 3.8 38.1%
B.J. Knauf WR 5'10, 183 So. 3 stars (5.6) 14 92 1 6.6 6.1 50.0%
Raheem Mostert RB 5'11, 186 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 11 37 0 3.4 1.9 45.5%
Keyante Green RB 5'9, 205 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6)
David Yancey RB 5'10, 205 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5)

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
%SD Yds/
Target
NEY Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
DeAngelo Yancey WR 6'2, 200 So. 3 stars (5.5) 70 32 546 45.7% 18.6% 47.2% 7.8 79 8.0 65.6
Justin Sinz TE 6'4, 251 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 55 41 340 74.5% 14.6% 60.0% 6.2 -122 6.7 40.9
Akeem Hunt RB/WR 5'9, 184 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 52 38 340 73.1% 13.8% 43.2% 6.5 -93 7.7 40.9
Cameron Posey WR 6'1, 182 So. 3 stars (5.5) 34 26 297 76.5% 9.0% 45.5% 8.7 7 9.5 35.7
Shane Mikesky WR 6'4, 211 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 31 17 186 54.8% 8.2% 66.7% 6.0 -38 7.3 22.4
B.J. Knauf WR 5'10, 183 So. 3 stars (5.6) 28 14 136 50.0% 7.4% 52.4% 4.9 -58 5.8 16.3
Danny Anthrop WR 6'0, 180 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 27 17 313 63.0% 7.2% 25.0% 11.6 105 5.4 37.6
Dalyn Dawkins RB 20 9 84 45.0% 5.3% 41.7% 4.2 -49 2.3 10.1
Sterling Carter TE 14 8 74 57.1% 3.7% 71.4% 5.3 -29 5.1 8.9
Gary Bush WR 13 10 57 76.9% 3.4% 83.3% 4.4 -54 0.4 6.9
Gabe Holmes TE 6'5, 243 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 12 9 69 75.0% 3.2% 40.0% 5.8 -32 7.1 8.3
Brandon Cottom RB 6'4, 258 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 10 7 99 70.0% 2.7% 33.3% 9.9 18 2.5 11.9
Kurt Freytag FB 6 4 32 66.7% 1.6% 100.0% 5.3 -16 3.6 3.8
Dolapo Macarthy TE 6'5, 220 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 2 1 6 50.0% 0.5% 100.0% 3.0 -8 3.3 0.7
Patrick Bade TE 2 1 5 50.0% 0.5% 100.0% 2.5 -9 2.8 0.6
Dan Monteroso WR 6'3, 185 So. 3 stars (5.5)
Bilal Marshall WR 6'3, 182 So. 3 stars (5.6)
Matt Burke TE 6'6, 220 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5)

4. Experience won't be an issue

Granted, experience needs to be helpful and developmental in some way, and granted, simply being on the field while your team is getting whipped doesn't automatically make you better in the future. If there's minimal talent, experience doesn't really matter.

But if we're to believe some combination of recruiting rankings and previous production, there are some interesting players among Purdue's skill position ranks, and it certainly doesn't hurt that basically everybody returns -- the top three running backs (four including Akeem Hunt), the top eight pass targets, and of course, Etling himself. Etling overtook Rob Henry as Purdue's starting quarterback, and while his production was certainly lacking, it was lacking in a "he never had a chance" kind of way. His first game was against Northern Illinois. His next four were against Nebraska, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Iowa. That's just unfair.

Etling did start to figure some things out late in the season. In his last three games, he managed a passer rating of at least 120.0 each week and completed 67 percent of his passes with six touchdowns to two interceptions. When you think about him getting all of his receivers back -- including DeAngelo Yancey (also a freshman in 2013), jack-of-all-trades Akeem Hunt (who had great per-touch numbers in 2012), and tight end Gabe Holmes (25 receptions in 2012 before injury setbacks in 2013) -- you can start to talk yourself into Purdue's passing game a bit. At least, you can if you ignore the offensive line.

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 89 2.78 1.26 33.5% 46.9% 23.6% 81.6 5.6% 8.8%
Rank 104 86 126 115 125 120 93 88 93
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Career Starts Honors/Notes
Justin Kitchens RT 25
Trevor Foy RG 22
Kevin Pamphile LT 21
Robert Kugler C 6'3, 284 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 19
Devin Smith LG 14
Jordan Roos RG 6'5, 320 So. 3 stars (5.6) 6
Jason King LG 6'3, 300 So. 2 stars (5.4) 5
Cameron Cermin LT 6'5, 300 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0
Cody Davis C 0
J.J. Prince RT 6'6, 288 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0
Jack De Boef LT 6'7, 290 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0
Joey Warburg LG 6'5, 271 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0
Jason Tretter RT 6'6, 300 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4)
Charlie Long LG 6'1, 250 RSFr. NR
David Hedelin OL 6'5, 285 Jr. 3 stars (5.7)
Cory Clemente OL 6'8, 375 Jr. 3 stars (5.5)

5. A short-yardage abomination

On the plus side, if you have to lose four of your five most experienced linemen, you might as well lose them from a pretty awful line. What's it going to do, get worse than 104th in Adj. Line Yards and 93rd in Adj. Sack Rate? Technically, that's possible, but if anything it's only got so far to sink.

Three players with starting experience (30 career starts) do return, but the key to 2014's line might be the addition of two rather well-regarded JUCO transfers -- David Hedelin and Cory Clemente. (Clemente is enormous, but that's neither here nor there.) If they can find a spot in the rotation, and if there's any sort of positive second-year-in-the-system development, Etling might actually get a bit of protection in 2014. But that's not a given.

Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.05 24 IsoPPP+ 110.4 19
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 51.9% 123 Succ. Rt. + 90.1 99
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 28.5 100 Off. FP+ 100.5 55
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 5.0 117 Redzone S&P+ 82.7 112
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 14.3 ACTUAL 20.0 +5.7
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 105 77 99 61
RUSHING 116 76 95 63
PASSING 55 76 89 47
Standard Downs 67 99 10
Passing Downs 87 94 59
Q1 Rk 85 1st Down Rk 49
Q2 Rk 63 2nd Down Rk 55
Q3 Rk 59 3rd Down Rk 107
Q4 Rk 69

6. Bend-don't-break, like it or not

Purdue's defense was perhaps a bit above average over the first half of the season. That's lukewarm praise, but it still counts as praise. Before the late-season collapse, the Boilermakers had a pretty good bend-don't-break thing going on; they were terribly inefficient (99th in Success Rate+), but they were in the top 20 when it comes to IsoPPP (an opponent-adjusted big-play prevention measure). The big plays they allowed weren't very big; the problem, of course, is that small big plays still add up. That, and this was an awful defense in the red zone. Bend-don't-break only works if you don't break.

And if you want to attempt some other style of defense, you need play-makers. It's not evident that Purdue has very many.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 95.5 3.38 3.61 49.7% 77.4% 14.8% 105.8 2.8% 7.4%
Rank 79 115 97 124 107 114 49 108 53
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Bruce Gaston DE 12 39.5 5.6% 7.0 3.0 0 0 0 0
Ryan Russell JACK 6'5, 275 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 12 30.0 4.3% 5.5 2.0 0 0 0 0
Greg Latta DE 12 25.0 3.6% 1.5 1.0 0 2 1 0
Ryan Isaac NG 12 16.0 2.3% 0.5 0.0 1 0 0 0
Jake Replogle DE 6'4, 240 So. 3 stars (5.5) 7 11.5 1.6% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Jalani Phillips JACK 6'4, 260 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 7 8.5 1.2% 4.0 2.0 0 2 0 0
Ryan Watson NG 6'2, 306 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 7 7.0 1.0% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Evan Panfil DE 6'4, 240 So. 3 stars (5.5) 7 5.0 0.7% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Jules Williams DE 8 3.5 0.5% 3.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Chuck Ayres DE 6'4, 265 Jr. NR 5 3.5 0.5% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Ra'Zahn Howard NG 6'4, 315 So. 2 stars (5.4) 6 3.0 0.4% 1.0 1.0 0 2 0 0
Eric McDaniel DT 7 2.0 0.3% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Michael Rouse II DE 6'4, 305 Jr. 3 stars (5.5)
Antoine Miles JACK 6'3, 250 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5)
John Strauser DE 6'2, 242 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5)
Will Colmery DE 6'5, 250 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Will Lucas WILL 12 61.5 8.8% 2.5 1.0 0 3 0 0
Sean Robinson MIKE 6'3, 240 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 11 37.0 5.3% 2.0 0.0 0 1 0 0
Joe Gilliam WILL 6'1, 227 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 12 28.0 4.0% 2.0 0.0 0 3 0 0
Ruben Ibarra MIKE 7 25.0 3.6% 5.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Collin Link SAM 6'2, 210 Sr. NR 12 21.0 3.0% 2.5 2.0 0 0 1 0
Andy James Garcia LB 6'0, 220 So. 3 stars (5.6) 12 12.5 1.8% 0.0 0.0 1 0 0 0
Jimmy Herman SAM 6'4, 220 So. 3 stars (5.5) 12 11.5 1.6% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Armstead Williams LB 12 7.0 1.0% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Johnny Thompson LB 6'3, 200 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5)
Garrett Hudson MIKE 6'3, 230 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4)
Danny Ezechukwu WILL 6'3, 240 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4)
Gelen Robinson LB 6'2, 230 Fr. 4 stars (5.8)
Ja'Whaun Bentley LB 6'2, 245 Fr. 3 stars (5.6)

7. Are there any play-makers here?

The jack position is usually categorized as an outside linebacker in your typical 3-4 alignment, often a bigger linebacker who isn't quite big enough to be a defensive end. Purdue's jacks are listed as defensive ends, but the use of "jack" gives you a rough idea of what defensive coordinator Greg Hudson is aiming for. Whether we want to classify his defense as a 3-4 or a 4-3, he wants some of those 3-4 principles -- disguising attackers, confusing blockers near the line, etc.

Hammer & Rails

With the right weapons, a 3-4 defense almost gives you an opportunity to blitz without blitzing, since you're disguising where your rush is coming from. And that's great. But you need play-makers for it to work. Even while posting decent numbers for half the year, Purdue just had no chance of making big plays, only preventing them. The Boilers made just 55 tackles for loss in 2013, 114th in the country. They made a "havoc" play (tackle for loss, pass defensed, forced fumble) on only 11.5 percent of their snaps, 117th in the country. Hudson had no choice but to play things conservatively, and that might not change in 2014.

Purdue only had five players with at least 4.0 tackles for loss, and three of them are gone. Ryan Russell could be a pretty good jack, and young players like redshirt freshman Antoine Miles and Danny Ezechukwu, and perhaps four-star freshman Gelen Robinson appear to have athleticism (and open playing time if they earn it), but unless a newcomer breaks through in a major way, it's hard to imagine Purdue wreaking much more havoc than it did last season.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Anthony Brown CB 5'11, 192 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 12 60.0 8.6% 3 0 0 3 1 0
Frankie Williams CB 5'9, 186 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 12 53.5 7.6% 2 0 2 3 0 0
Taylor Richards S 5'10, 192 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 12 53.5 7.6% 1 0 1 2 1 0
Ricardo Allen CB 12 47.5 6.8% 4 1 6 3 1 0
Antoine Lewis CB 5'10, 185 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 12 22.0 3.1% 0.5 0 0 1 0 0
Landon Feichter S 6'0, 189 Sr. NR 7 19.5 2.8% 1.5 0 1 1 0 0
Leroy Clark CB 5'10, 175 So. 3 stars (5.6) 11 15.0 2.1% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Austin Logan S 6'0, 190 So. 3 stars (5.5) 10 11.5 1.6% 1 0 1 0 0 0
Normondo Harris CB 9 10.0 1.4% 0 0 0 1 1 0
Ashkan Mizani S 6 3.0 0.4% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Robert Gregory S 6'2, 211 So. 3 stars (5.7)
Evan Feichter S 6'0, 187 So. NR
DaWan Hunte CB 5'10, 180 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6)
Tim Cason CB 6'1, 185 Fr. 3 stars (5.6)
Juan Jenkins S 6'0, 200 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)

8. The wrong kind of symbolism

Let's just say it doesn't say good things about your secondary when your quarterback gets overtaken on the first string, then moves to safety and immediately finds himself on the two-deep.

Granted, Rob Henry didn't exactly see a lot of playing time at safety in the final half of the season, but the implication wasn't stellar. Seven of last year's top eight defensive backs do return, and the fact that the top corners, Anthony Brown (a safety last year) and Frankie Williams, each made multiple stops behind the line gives you a modicum of encouragement. But somebody has to make a play to get the defense off of the field, especially if the Boilers don't make any improvements on their red zone defense. Who exactly is it going to be?

No really, I'm asking. Williams? DaWan Hunte? A healthy Landon Feichter?

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Cody Webster 70 43.5 1 18 24 60.0%
Rob Henry 3 37.0 1 0 2 66.7%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Thomas Meadows 6'0, 182 Jr. 37 59.0 6 0 16.2%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2014
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Paul Griggs 6'1, 200 Jr. 21-22 4-7 57.1% 2-5 40.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Akeem Hunt KR 5'9, 184 Sr. 24 26.1 1
Raheem Mostert KR 5'11, 186 Sr. 11 23.5 1
Frankie Williams PR 5'9, 186 Jr. 5 16.8 0
B.J. Knauf PR 5'10, 183 So. 4 5.0 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 91
Field Goal Efficiency 115
Punt Return Efficiency 26
Kick Return Efficiency 57
Punt Efficiency 1
Kickoff Efficiency 122
Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency 121

9. An odd dichotomy

Cody Webster averaged 43.5 yards per punt, with a good percentage of his kicks ending up either fair caught, inside the 20, or both. Purdue was going to have pretty good net punting numbers even with a sketchy coverage unit, but the fact that the Boilers were first in Punt Efficiency suggests that the coverage unit was pretty awesome.

Meanwhile, Purdue ranked 122nd in Kickoff Efficiency. Covering punts is different than covering kickoffs, but ... you don't usually see that.

Purdue ranked first in punting and still ranked 91st overall in special teams, and that was before Webster graduated. The return game seems solid, but the legs are a giant question mark.

2014 Schedule & Projection Factors

2014 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
30-Aug Western Michigan 117
6-Sep Central Michigan 109
13-Sep vs. Notre Dame 25
20-Sep Southern Illinois NR
27-Sep Iowa 34
4-Oct at Illinois 63
11-Oct Michigan State 13
18-Oct at Minnesota 73
1-Nov at Nebraska 40
8-Nov Wisconsin 15
22-Nov Northwestern 50
29-Nov at Indiana 47
Five-Year F/+ Rk -9.3% (86)
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 67
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* -2 / -4.9
TO Luck/Game +1.2
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 13 (7, 6)

10. More wins, at least

I'm not guaranteeing three wins here (sadly), but the simple fact that Purdue plays Western Michigan, Central Michigan, and Southern Illinois in the first month of the season should guarantee that the Boilers finish better than 1-11 in 2014. Plus, a major increase in overall experience might get them within shouting distance of an upset or two.

Still, how do you look at the schedule above and see anything more than about a 3-9 or 4-8 record? It would take a pretty significant upset for PU to do any better than 1-3 in conference home games, and while trips to Illinois, Minnesota, and perhaps Indiana are in no way intimidating, all three of those teams are still projected quite a bit higher than Purdue in 2014.

Granted, three or four wins would represent improvement, but you'd still like the ceiling to be higher than that. And it's hard to see Purdue's ceiling getting too much higher in 2014 or, perhaps, even 2015.

Even if Hazell ends up succeeding, it's hard to figure out how that happens soon.

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