CHICAGO – Purdue coach Darrell Hazell plans to play a smash-mouth, tight-formation style of football.
He wants a four-man defensive front on most plays and an aggressive style of ball pursuit from all positions.
But he doesn’t want people to think the Boilermakers will be trapped in a box because of their offensive and defensive styles.
You’ll still see a version of the spread, but you’ll see a version of everything else, Hazell said Thursday at the Big Ten media days. We’ll be in the I-(formation) one snap. The next snap, we’ll be in three tight ends. The next snap, we might be in four wideouts.
We’re going to be changing personnel constantly.
Hazell said the offense will be multiple despite its formations. It will rely on tight ends and a strong run game, but Purdue has sets that will allow the Boilermakers to spread the field and open the defense up, as well.
Senior Gabe Holmes, who figures to benefit from Hazell’s system as the team’s top tight end, loves the playbook.
It’s great, Holmes said. I know I just have to work hard and do my best to get in condition, condition myself well so I’m able to stay in the games that well.
Despite plenty of personnel changes during each series, Hazell will have his go-to players, cornerback Antonio Allen said.
Allen expects to remain in for much of the game, just as Holmes does. But during spring practice, he noticed the coaching staff’s emphasis on grooming players further down the depth chart.
This coaching staff has done a great job of developing a two-deep, Allen said. We stood up against Ohio State, we stood up against Notre Dame – the two undefeated teams. But when our second team got in, they couldn’t stick with them, and that’s when things got bad.
Hazell said that should not be a problem this year. He and his staff have worked rotations into the system that should have the defense at full-go for an entire game.
The offense will also rotate personnel frequently.
We have some very good teachers, and we try to teach from the ground level up, try to implement it as slowly as we need to – or as fast as we need to, Hazell said. We have guys that are committed to learning the system, as well. They’ve been studying cut-ups.
Defensive tackle Bruce Gaston Jr. said the team quickly bought into Hazell’s system.
He had a plan and a system, a foundation, that he knew would help, Gaston said. That got our attention because that’s what we want, especially the seniors. We want to make that jump right now because we only have right now to do it.
Gaston is another player likely to benefit from changes in philosophy. The Boilermakers will run a 4-3 but can switch to a three-man front should the situation call for it, Hazell said. If the Boilermakers can master their concepts quickly, the team could catch some opponents off guard.
Until they get all of the nuances of the new defense and offense, it won’t be bang, bang, bang, but they’ll pick it up pretty quickly, Hazell said. They’ve been excellent. I think it’s very important to them, and that’s why they do it.