A team with more than 70 underclassmen on its roster is bound to make mistakes.
Mistakes born of youth, born of adrenaline, born of inexperience. And it was only a matter of time before those mistakes cost Purdue a game.
On Saturday, the Boilermakers negated a pair of kick runbacks with penalties. Punt returner and defensive back Frankie Williams collided with a defenseless Central Michigan receiver and was kicked out of the game. The offense had two fourth down conversions wiped out -- one by penalty and another by a Raheem Mostert fumble.
In all, Purdue was penalized seven times for 69 yards on its way to a 38-17 loss to the visiting Chippewas.
Boilermaker head coach Darrell Hazell last week praised his team for not committing penalties that hurt the team in a season-opening win over Western Michigan. But a more experienced Central Michigan squad managed to avoid mistakes -- the Chippewas turned the ball over just once and were penalized only once for five yards.
For the second straight week, Purdue's offense appeared unsure of its identity.
In the opening quarter, the team attempted to build on the success it had in week one with its hurry-up offense. But sophomore quarterback Danny Etling was off-target on a number of his passes out of the no-huddle, leading to several short drives.
When the offense slowed down, Etling at times looked more composed than against Western Michigan. The Terre Haute product was no longer throwing short passes too hard and he was using his legs effectively. Etling scrambled away from pressure, made accurate throws on roll-outs (whether designed or improvised) and ran for 50 yards on ten carries, including his second TD in as many weeks.
Unfortunately, two underthrown balls were picked off by the visitors -- the first resulting in a 57-yard return for a touchdown and the second in Etling's benching in favor of backup QB Austin Appleby -- who rifled a 23-yard TD pass to Danny Anthorp on his first play under center this season.
But as Purdue's offense slowed to a methodical pace, Central Michigan's only sped up. After Purdue used seven minutes of clock and 17 plays to march 77 yards for a score, the Chips responded with a quick four-play, 73-yard touchdown drive of their own, using just more than two minutes of game time.
The Purdue defense, despite giving up some big plays, did respond to a call from Hazell to tackle better and pressure the opposing quarterback more than in the season opener.
Led by freshman linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley, the defense sacked Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush (11-of-16 passing for 172 yards and 2 TDs) three times. A Bentley interception and runback set up Appleby's scoring strike and on the next defensive series Bentley stuffed CMU running back Thomas Rawls on a third down and short to give Purdue the ball back.
It's play like that from its young team that Purdue will have to rely on if it hopes to improve upon last year's one-win season. The 1-1 Boilermakers play Notre Dame next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.