Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

December 3, 2013

Purdue hoping late progress carries over to 2014

(Continued)

INDIANAPOLIS —

That's where Purdue (1-10, 0-8 Big Ten) must take its next step.

Hazell has already started building toward a brighter future.

After changing quarterbacks in early October, handing the starting job to freshman Danny Etling, Hazell made an almost unprecedented midseason flip from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 because the staff determined it was better suited to the players.

With the exception of offensive linemen Kevin Pamphile and Justin Kitchens, all of Saturday's offensive starters return and last weekend's two-deep roster included 10 offensive players who have been in the program one or two years. That list does not include starting receiver B.J. Knauf, whose season ended early with a sprained ankle. Even with all those young players, Purdue managed to score nearly as many points (87) in five November games as it did in seven games in August, September and October (92).

Plus, if David Blough follows through on his oral commitment, the Boilermakers will welcome one of the nation's top prep quarterbacks to the mix. It doesn't get much better than that.

We have a young offense and they're going to be great," senior cornerback Ricardo Allen said. "You can't look around the country and see as many freshmen playing a lot and making plays on a consistent basis as they do. So just give it time, it's going to be great."

Defensively, Purdue must replace three starting linemen — Bruce Gaston, Ryan Isaac and Greg Latta — and Allen, its best cornerback. But the replacements may already be on campus.

Three freshmen and a sophomore served as backups along the line and another freshman, Leroy Clark, backed up Allen, giving the Boilermakers hope things will be dramatically different next season.

All the Boilermakers have to do now is execute Hazell's plan.

"Obviously, we're not where we want to be record-wise, but we'll make strides. We'll make significant strides," Hazell said. "We're not as close as we'd like to be right now. That's all part of the growth process."

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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