WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana — Saddled with a 41-13 defeat Saturday to a Minnesota team ranked last in Big Ten scoring, Purdue coach Darrell Hazell spent the next 48 hours analyzing his team.
Considering Hazell is 5-25 at Purdue, including 1-17 in the Big Ten, with eight consecutive conference losses, nine consecutive Big Ten home losses and 10 straight defeats at the hands of FBS programs, it certainly is time for self-evaluation.
On Saturday, the Boilermakers (1-5) travel to Wisconsin (4-2), which has lost only to Alabama and unbeaten Iowa.
"We're on the ropes," senior wide receiver Danny Anthrop said after Tuesday's practice. "We have to respond."
Hazell has decided that Purdue's offensive package might be too complicated for redshirt freshman quarterback David Blough, who will be making his fourth college start on Saturday.
Through Big Ten contests at Michigan State and at home against Minnesota, Blough is 36 of 80 for 343 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. One was returned by Minnesota's Jalen Myrick for a touchdown in what became 41 consecutive Golden Gopher points after Purdue had a 6-0 lead.
"We looked at that at length to see how much the young quarterback can handle, and one of the things we did is we took a lot of things out of the game plan," Hazell said Tuesday. "This new game plan that we have put together will make sure that we can operate at a high level of efficiency. That will help David."
Hazell also spent time with the players' council on Sunday and again on Tuesday to get their input on what has gone wrong. Purdue is 4-14 in home games under Hazell with two victories against Indiana State, a victory against Southern Illinois and a 2014 season-opening victory against Western Michigan. He is 0-9 in Big Ten home games.
Senior center Robert Kugler said the players aren't getting the job done.
"We're just not executing in all phases," Kugler said. "We all have to do the things we are expected to do. Disappointed probably is the word right now. We all know we are capable of playing better than this."
Blough, who replaced junior Austin Appleby after three games, was impressive in his first start against Bowling Green. But he's completed only 45 percent of his passes in eight quarters of Big Ten football.
He wasn't happy with the way he played against Minnesota.
"We didn't execute well enough, and we didn't do our jobs well enough," Blough said. "Then we turned the ball over three times, and I think they scored on at least two of those. When you do that, it's hard to beat a team that runs the ball like Minnesota did."
While the Purdue fan base is beginning to crumble — announced attendance was 33,780 for the Minnesota game when most students, faculty and staff were away from campus for fall break — Hazell remains confident the second half of the season will produce some victories.
Purdue has home games remaining against Nebraska, Illinois and Indiana — a collective 1-5 in Big Ten play — and road games at Wisconsin, Northwestern and Iowa (4-2).
"I do believe we have the confidence and the belief that we can win," Hazell said. "We talked about that at length when we kind of slowed the team meeting down on Sunday and talked about a lot of different things.
"I told them we're going to be in a lot of close football games the last six games of the season, and we have to be able to come out of those things on the right end. They still have the confidence. They are very resilient."