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Darrell Hazell, Purdue football coach, talks with the media at the Lerner Theatre on Thursday, May 8, 2014. (J. Tyler Klassen / The Elkhart Truth)

Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell talks in a huddle in the first half of a game at Cincinnati on Aug. 31 in Cincinnati. Hazell was coaching his first game for Purdue. (AP)
Buried in 2 days of film watching, Purdue football coach Darrell Hazell found optimism
Posted on May 9, 2014 at 8:15 p.m.


ELKHART — Over the course of two days this week, Darrell Hazell watched 920 snaps of Purdue football film.

That's eight total hours of studying what the Boilermakers are doing right, what they're doing wrong and what still needs refining before August.

A year after one of the worst seasons in program history (1-11, 0-8 Big Ten), Purdue's head football coach has a lot to examine.

"What I saw was that guys were finally figuring out the concepts that we're running," he said at the Lerner Theatre on Thursday, May 8. "And now it's about the details that makes the play great. Guys are starting to love it.

"Guys are starting to show the passion they need to show for us to be a good football program."

Even eight hours of spring practice film couldn't answer all of the remaining questions. Hazell still hasn't named a starting quarterback between Danny Etling, who started eight games last year as a true freshman, sophomore Austin Appleby and early enrollee freshman David Blough.

But between increased running back production and a promising senior season for defensive end Ryan Russell, Hazell is optimistic.

"I am so proud of our football team right now, how hard they've worked," Hazell said. "They've made tremendous strides between January and today. It's fun to watch the growth of our football team."

Hazell visited Elkhart as part of Purdue's Coaches Caravan, which consists of the university's top coaches traveling around the state to speak with alumni and supporters.

As Hazell was in the heart of Notre Dame territory, the conversation inevitably turned toward the Irish. Purdue will meet Notre Dame at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the Shamrock Series game Sept. 13.

Though the Purdue-Notre Dame series streak dates back to 1946, this fall will mark the last meeting between the two teams until 2020.

"It's always great to play Notre Dame. That's a rivalry that goes back many, many years," Hazell said. "That's what makes this year so special because we won't get to play them for another five, six years."

Hazell enters his second season as Purdue's head coach with a fresh perspective and an important lesson learned from the woeful 1-11 campaign.

"You learn that you got to stay the course," he said. "A lot of times you don't see the gradual success that you need to see. but you know what it's about at the end. As long as you stay the process and continue to work at the things you need to work at ... You know what the end result is going to be."