WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Check out the transcript to News 18 Sports Director Rob Hughes’ one-on-one interview with Purdue head football coach Darrell Hazell.
Rob Hughes: One year ago we sat here, and you were only days away from your first game as Purdue’s new coach — does it seem like a full year has passed since then?
Darrell Hazell: It’s just amazing how fast things go. We just talked about all the things that have transpired within the last 365 days. Nuts!
Rob Hughes: On a little tougher note. We showed a graphic earlier in our show about the season ticket sales. They were at 30,000. A little jump in your first year from the previous year, to 19,000 as of Monday. When you hear that, what do you think?
Darrell Hazell: Well, I think that when the fans are going to come out and watch us this fall they’re going to immediately fall in love with this football team. It’s a different football team. I understand when you don’t play as well as you’d like to play that first year that you’re going to get diminishing returns, but they’re going to really enjoy watching this team play.
Rob Hughes: You talked at Big Ten media day about a month ago, saying it’s time to rip off the rear view. What’s the significance of the timing of that? Why was that the time to rip off the rear view?
Darrell Hazell: I think that so many times we get hung up with looking back. What happened? Instead of worrying about the things that we can control right now. There’s a lot of things that we can control in front of us. There’s nothing that we can control that’s behind us. I think that the message was, “we need to start looking at the rear view mirror, and start looking out the windshield.”
Rob Hughes: We’ve heard a lot from you and your players about this new attitude and the atmosphere around the program, and that it’s changed from the previous year. Why the change? How has that helped you?
Darrell Hazell: Everything is different. First of all, they understand our expectations now. Our locker room is one that you can go into now, and see guys are interacting with each other. They’re laughing, they’re having a good time in the locker room. They hold each other accountable, which is something you need to have in a program that does well. They brought each other in, they’ve studied together, and they’ve helped each other get better. They’ve gotten a lot bigger in the weight room, and their confidence is through the roof right now.
Rob Hughes: How long did it take to regain that positive mode of thinking after a season like that?
Darrell Hazell: You know, I thought that the biggest meeting that we’ve had since I’ve been here was the meeting right after the end of the season last year. We talked about the strong overtaking the weak, and the right overtaking the wrong. I wanted them to think about that through the month of December as they went home, and they came back in January with a totally different mindset. And I like where they are right now.
Rob Hughes: As far as the x’s and o’s for your team, what’s the single biggest area for improvement for this team?
Darrell Hazell: I think if you look at our scheme. We changed it a bit to help our personnel. Before, we were a button down offense. Now, we’re going to spread the field and try to use the width to stretch teams vertically. I think that’s going to help us because we have Akeem and Raheem, and Danny can distribute the ball to all those guys.
Rob Hughes: It’s the second year in your tenure here, and you’ve had a quarterback battle in both years — how close was it between Danny Etling and Austin Appleby?
Darrell Hazell: I thought Austin did an unbelievable job making a push at it. And when we came back in the spring, Danny was clearly ahead. But Austin worked extremely hard and made it a real competition. It went back and forth, and they both did a great job — which was the nice thing.
Rob Hughes: What are your realistic expectations for this team? I know some coaches put numbers on it and some don’t, but what are your expectations?
Darrell Hazell: The thing you want to see is our team come out and play with passion and play hard. Good things will come from that. Obviously, you want to be gap sound on defense, and do all the things that you’re capable of, and put the people in the right places that you need to have on both sides of the ball — and you’ll like the result.
Rob Hughes: Last year I made the mistake of asking you about Ohio State, a game in the middle of the season, instead of the first game in the first week. With that, I’ll stick with game one this week. Your team needs to do what to come out with a 1-0 record after this weekend?
Darrell Hazell: I think we just have to play Boilermaker football. To me that is playing fast, playing confident, and being physical on defense; and we’re able to run the ball offensively when we have to run the ball, and don’t turn it over.