The Boilermakers come into 2015 with Darrel Hazell in his third year, and a 2014 campaign that produced only three wins. Travis Miller of our sister site Hammer & Rails gives some insight into what the Boilers have been up to this spring and summer:
Entering year three of the Hazell tenure, is there a mark of progress you're hoping for aside from more wins?
The progress so far has been slow, but it is there. Aside from getting pantsed by Central Michigan Purdue was generally more competitive in every game last season. Even in year one it seemed like we could be competitive for a half before falling apart. Last year it moved up to three quarters.
I think I would like to see Purdue get to the point where it can start beating the bad teams like Indiana and Central Michigan again. Not getting embarrassed by a MAC team at home for a third straight season would be nice. I would also like to see us stay close with Marshall and Virginia Tech in the non-conference season. Once in conference playing everyone tough and getting more than a single win would be nice. If we can at least beat Indiana and Illinois at home it would be nice.
Any class of 2015 signee you're particularly excited for or that could see playing time as a freshman?
I am interested in seeing Markell Jones, the top player in the state of Indiana. Last season he ran for 3,500 yards and 60 TDs in 14 games. Most of the time he didn't even play in the second half because his team was ahead by 30 points or so. After losing our top two running backs I think Jones could see quite a few carries early on.
What're a couple things Purdue needs to get better at on either side of the ball that they've been practicing in spring/summer?
On offense there needs to be more accuracy and production in the passing game. Once Danny Anthrop was injured last year the momentum Purdue had totally went away. The Boilers need a quarterback, and it will likely be Austin Appleby or David Blough.
On defense there needs to be more of a pass rush. We're still awful on third downs and can't get off the field. Being able to end a drive with some pressure would be a huge positive.
What's a Purdue fan's impression of Jim Harbaugh without even playing against him yet?
He is a solid coach that gets results at every stop. It might take some time at Michigan because I know the Wolverines have plummeted pretty far (by their standards, at least) since 2006. They are still Michigan, however. Recruiting is much, much easier at Michigan simply because of name recognition.
Beer question: Offseason local brew of choice for the final push to football season?
Excellent question! I live in downtown Indianapolis and it seems like we have a brewery a week opening. Not much else is better in the summer than the Sun King Sunlight Cream Ale.