Monday, October 05, 2009

OK. I think I'm upset.

Actually, pissed is the word that works better, but I didn't want to put that in the headline. I just read the coordinators interviews over at GBI (they're good guys over there, by the way)...and I heard it again. The dreaded, "I'd do it again" sentiment from Nord. So now, we've heard this ad nauseum from Coach Hope...and it's trickled down to Nord and Landholm and even Elliott this season. I'm pretty sick of it.

Here's my honest assessment of this staff, at this point- They're learning on the job. I know some of them are long in the tooth, but most haven't been in the situation they're in currently. Coordinating, Head Coaching, positional coaching at this level. Even if they have, I think it's the right thing to do, from time-to-time- to admit your mistakes...and they simply don't want to do it.

Confidence is good, but hubris helps no one...and right now, it doesn't look like anyone's being helped. If this coaching staff's system had been in place for a long time, and they, as a group, had had a ton of success with it in the past (a la Rich Rodriguez @ UM or Urban Meyer @ UF) and things just weren't clicking- I'd agree with them. But, I think they're generally discombobulated, as a staff.

Part of that comes with the wrong guys being in the wrong positions...and I think there will, or at least should, be some changes at the end of the season. But, the other part of the poor fundamentals and recurring issues comes from a staff that's kind of feeling its way through a season. I think it makes no sense to perpetually blame players like Jim Colletto did during his time at Purdue ("the guys aren't lining up correctly"). But, when something's wrong, admit it. And let's be honest, gentlemen- something's wrong. You can't improve when you don't see anything that needs to be improved...and the record tells me there's plenty of room for improvement.

Keep in mind, I'm not saying all is lost. I'm just saying there's a lot that's been done incorrectly and a ton of room for growth. Perpetually telling the media all is well, is going to frustrate the fan base...and it's beginning to do so. So hopefully, while the outward face is all smiles and lollipops for this staff, I hope they're wrestling behind closed doors with these issues and trying to find solutions. Because there are problems.

What problems, you ask? Well this team turns over the ball too often. Not just in the NW game, but during the entire season...and these are almost-always in Purdue territory and lead to opposition points with the quickness. While one of our readers called turnovers a nearly-random occurrence, I think it can and will be easily argued that the good teams have less of the "random occurrences" and lousy ones have them more-regularly.

And on the other side of the ball, tackling is still a concern. If Purdue's defense can play another solid game defensively, I'll back off of this point a bit...but one game does not a season make...and isn't it just awesome that when the defense thrives, the offense flounders? What ifs stink.

Pass coverage is pretty horrible too. First off, Purdue almost always never plays bump-man...and when they do, you can feel the imminent disaster. On Saturday after downs-upon-downs of the standard 10-yard cushion, David Pender creeped up and got right on the NW receiver. Kafka saw it and went for a big play. Pender (wisely, mind you) grabbed the receiver to keep him from catching the ball. Soft DB play is something we've seen for years...I'm positive we were all hoping that with an experienced group of starters and a new DC, we'd see that change...we've seen no change. And technique has been pretty lousy. Instead of watching the man they're guarding, the corners have an awful tendency to watch the quarterback and break before the ball's been thrown. We saw this on Saturday a few times...and it usually ends with the safety having to make a game-saver. Along with the DBs, the linebackers have struggled covering the short routes...and in my opinion, most of this is based on coaching.

How about fundamentals on special teams? OK- First off, most-glaringly, guys can't hold onto the ball on returns...obvious one. But something that really bothers me is the fact that the spacing has been so bad, so often. Guys seem to over-pursue and put themselves in positions which they must take bad angles to attempt a tackle...and the result is usually a longer return than it should be. In fact, Carson Wiggs has made way too many tackles this season...the good news is he's a damned-good tackler, it seems...and he's got some mean in him. I always like that.

Oh, and there's more...but I don't want to waste my entire work day.

I'm venting...and like many of my fellow Purdue fans, I'm frustrated. I'm sure the players and coaches are too. But let me close with two requests...not demands, mind you, just requests.

First- be slow to blame players. These kids make plenty of mistakes, no question. I think Elliott deserves a large chunk of blame this season, and Valentin's recurring mistakes are painful...but almost everything can be traced back to poor-preparation or poor-positioning (meaning a guy probably shouldn't be playing in that situation). Blame the pros, not the amateurs...unless a player is divisive to a team, acts like a thug or malcontent or simply gives up, blame the hired guy, not the one placing himself in harm's way for free.

Next- don't jump ship, yet. It's been five games...and I'm clearly angry at the coaches for some prevalent themes I've seen. But, it's so darned early...And there are a lot of factors that are playing into this equation right now.

We're not blind...we see Kevin Sumlin's success...and we know there are other good coaches out there. But, they're not Purdue's head coach...and it's not fair to give up on a guy and a program this early. A ton of coaches have flat-out lousy first seasons at their school. Kirk Ferentz only one a game during his initial season at Iowa...and Alvarez at Wisconsin struggled for a few before the Badgers became the mother of a program that he was given time to build. And while I don't think Hope needs three or four seasons, I do know that there's a lot to look forward to...if some things can go Purdue's way. It's hard right now...but let's try to keep our collective head up.

14 comments:

Chris said...

Very good post. I just wanted to say I probably came across a little harsh in the other thread and no offense intended. You guys do an awesome job here; it is much appreciated. I agree that the coaches will have to be held accountable until they win or are gone. I think Hope is a culture shock to a lot of people because he's so intense and straightforward and, well, perpetually positive. It reminds me of Howard Schnellenberger, a guy both Hope and Nord have experience with. Schnellenberger of course was the bombastic coach who transformed Miami (with the help of in-state talent) into a National Champion, and revived (figuratively and literally) the football programs at Louisville and FAU by constantly harping on the will to win and being doggedly determined that it would work. He also spectacularly flamed out at Oklahoma where the culture-shock outdid him and it did not work at all.

This is a big change from laid-back Tiller, who was refreshing in that he called it like he saw it but most saw that he had grown complacent. I don't know if Hope's direct approach will work either. It's a bit iffy at this point, obviously.

Anyway, here's hoping the ship rights itself, both this season and more importantly next, and keep up the great work dowd, j-money, etc.

Eric said...

I don't understand how you place so much blame on Elliot. And I don't understand how fumbling the football away time and time again is the fault of the coaches. The offensive line looked horrible Saturday.

BoilerUpAT said...

I think the overall playcalling, on both sides of the ball, has been a breath of fresh air when comparing to the last few seasons. Sure, there have been questionable calls in key 3rd down situations and goal line situations, but mostly they have been pretty good. I'd like to see some more of the Power I, use of Crank and Halliburton, some 2 tight end sets, etc.

The reason I say this is because the lack of performance has not necessarily been about play calls. Its about execution. When a guy drops a ball on a kickoff, handoff or whatever its all about execution. I don't blame the coaches for that. If you get kids ready to play, and put them into position to make a play, and they don't make it, is it the coaches fault? NO.

Now, having the right guy in the spot at the right time is a coaching decision and some weight must fall on them, but overall if the kids don't execute on the field its on them. I'm not jumping on the bandwagon to hang the coaches just yet. As a matter of fact, I think they have done a pretty good job working with what talent we have this year, with 2 exceptions. The secondary is awful (coverage, tackling, etc) and the special teams punt/kickoff coverage is terrible. Those are the only 2 regards the coaches need to review what they have been teaching.

I am still on a positive note based on the fact of how hard they play. Typically the past few years our teams would have rolled over and been steamrolled. We have lost 2 close games that we played hard in. Yeah, it sucks something fierce, but it could be much, much worse. If we were losing by 20+ points a game then I'd be headhunting.

I have faith-give it time and this will be a good program. I have faith in D Hope as a good coach, and when the recruits start coming in and learning the system then we will be back on track.

BTFU

Brad Hunter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brad said...

I sat right in RA on Saturday and looked at family and said "with this last possession of the half, just run the ball and the clock out and head into the locker room with the lead and the ball back. And it took 3 turn overs (nearly 4) for the coaching staff to kneel on the ball and end the half. Why in the hell were we throwing the ball on our own endzone with 2 minutes to go in the half up 21-3? And after the first fumble and score, kneel on it and end the half. They have no time outs. NOPE! Let's go again. That is poor coaching.

Then our first possession in the 2nd half, we go up the middle on 3rd and 15. WTF was that? I agree that the coaching staff need to step up and start admitting to mistakes because blowing a 21-3 lead to NU is unacceptable.

Personally, if Hope doesn't work out in a year or two, I think we need to be looking again. And someone who is not associated with Tiller should be the target. A lot of Tillerball is still around WL these days.

BoilerUpAT said...

OH, and one more thing.

Until this team develops the sack to push the vertical pass play (down the field.............) our 2nd half offense is going to continue to be non-existent. If we never pass over 5-10 yards then the run game will never transpire and the DB's will sit on the line and bump our WR's and push coverage. I haven't seen us take one shot down the field all year.

We have 2 good big receivers in Smith and Carlos at least, throw Valentin in the mix and even the FR WR's. Let them loose at least once or twice a game, let Elliott throw the ball down the field.

Get one of those completed and then the O line won't have to work so hard to open up the running lanes for Bolden as the D will be forced to blitz less and be forced to drop the LB's into coverage more.

Purdue Matt said...

Tempted to check out mentally until next season. I don't care what happens the rest of the season as long as we beat IU.

And I agree that you can't let a coach get away with saying it was a good call but poor execution. If it was poor execution, that is the coach's fault! You should know what your players are capable of and call the game accordingly. It's just mind blowing that we squandered a 21-3 lead.

Purdue Matt said...

My word was "laying." As in...will the Boilers lay down this weekend and let the Gophers get a win in TCP Bank Stadium?

jfschultz said...

"Tempted to check out mentally until next season. I don't care what happens the rest of the season as long as we beat IU."

I see the boiler basketball mentality is now translating over to football. great.

Eric said...

"And while I don't think Hope needs three or four seasons, I do know that there's a lot to look forward to...if some things can go Purdue's way."

I'd say he absolutely needs three or four seasons. The coaching carrousel only lengthens the rebuilding process. I thought this website was going to give Hope some time considering the way it called for Tiller's head. Kind of becoming another blog for the alarmists fanbase.

dozer8589 said...

This just in - according to GBI, ball-security is going to be a priority at practice this week. They went on to report that water is wet and the sun is large.


As far as giving Hope time, I think Coach Hope is the right fit for Purdue. I just want to see what happens when he has all of his "own guys" in there. Joey Elliot is just too much like Curtis Painter for my taste. I want to see what TerBush has...

The Accidental Expat said...

Time will tell if this staff has the right chemistry and can make noise in the B10-- and that simply cannot happen over the course of 5 games. Hope is saying the right things, and appears to be a good fit... but I really wished at the time that the athletic department aimed a little higher considering the caliber of available coaches out there (getting Larry Coker would have been a coup).

Nord is an interesting case. He has over 25 years experience as a coach, and was a longtime disciple and assistant to Howard Schnellenberger, a man known not to suffer fools gladly, who hates losing, and who knows how to build a team from the ground up (Miami, Louisville, and Schnell personally created Florida Atlantic's program). As a head coach (UTEP, 4 seasons), Nord made for a great argument that some guys are better suited to be AC's for life (cough cough, Colletto), but looking at his resume the bottom line is that this guy could not have gotten to his station in life by life by faking it. Why is there a disconnect between the coaches and players? Don't know, maybe the players were used to Tiller being soft, phoning it in and not giving a rip towards the end, while these coaches demand a whole lot more. But I'm willing to give this crew the benefit of the doubt. For now.

Gregg Z.

J Money said...

Eric -- If you think we're impatient "alarmists," you don't pay attention at all.

Oh, look! Something shiny!

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