WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Some might see Purdue's win over Indiana State as a disappointment and some might see it as an improvement.
However you look at it, each game has certain aspects to think about going into the next week of play. The 20-14 victory over the Sycamores had some very coachable points that need to be addressed moving forward.
Boiler Point No. 1 -- Purdue’s special teams unit had a great game from beginning to end. The average football fan fails to realize how important and good special teams unit can be. The Boilermakers started out the game with a well-drawn reverse kickoff return that was executed to perfection. The handoff from B.J. Knauf to Akeem Hunt did a great job of jump-starting the attack. Purdue’s special teams accounted for 13 of the 20 points that the team scored in the game.
Not only did the special teams unit score for the Boilermakers, but punter Cory Webster accumulated a total of 280 yards against the Sycamores in a game where punts were crucial. Webster put four punts inside the 20-yard line to maximize the field position game. All in all, the special teams unit played a big role in the victory over Indiana State.
Boiler Point No. 2 -- The passing game that Purdue displayed left something to be desired going into next weekend’s matchup against Notre Dame. Rob Henry completed 15 of 24 passes, accumulating 150 yards with no touchdowns. You have to believe that a stat line like this will not get it done against a football powerhouse like Notre Dame.
Rob Henry did a good job of keeping plays alive and scrambling for freedom when there was nothing available for him. However, you have to think that the Fighting Irish will provide a bigger challenge than what Indiana State brought. The fifth-year senior and his receiving corps have some work to do in anticipation of meeting the Fighting Irish.
Boiler Point No. 3 -- The Boilermaker rushing attack showed a lot of progress from week one. Akeem Hunt went for 82 yards on 22 carries during the game. The combination of Hunt, Henry, B.J. Knauf, Dalyn Dawkins totaled 134 yards rushing. A concern from last week was whether or not the offense can establish a rushing game that can counter the defense.
We saw against the Sycamores that the offense is very capable of beating a defense. Akeem Hunt could have gone for at least another touchdown at the end of the first half. If Purdue can make the proper adjustments, the running game will score more and the Boilers will add a dimension that is hard to contain.
Boiler Point No. 4 -- The offensive line played a good game, but is in need of a great game to get wins against the Big Ten. During Saturday’s game, we saw the line come up big with blocks that sprung running back Akeem Hunt for some solid games. However, it broke down when allowing time for Rob Henry to make certain pass plays.
Henry needed more time to go through his reads and allow him to make the best possible decision. Certain corrections that I’m sure Darrell Hazell can address will correct this miscommunication on plays that Purdue needs to execute to win.
Boiler Point No. 5 -- Personnel changes can inhibit the ability for a team to achieve their goal on the field. For example, at the end of the first half, the Boilermakers went through many personnel changes to get the ball in the end zone. They ended up kicking a field goal after the clock ran out that didn’t count.
The confusion of changing personnel caused them to lose control of the drive and fail to score in a very optimal situation. Communication and unity for a team with a new coach are critical to achieving success. Purdue has achieved that in practice and it will have many chances to correct miscommunication going forward.
Purdue is in a situation that will require perfect execution from every player on the field, in each phase—offense, defense and special teams. You better believe that Notre Dame will meet a Boilermaker team that is hungry to achieve perfection and optimal performance when the two meet next Saturday.