Having taken a giant step in the wrong direction in Week 2, Purdue has many issues to fix and not much time to do it before playing unbeaten and 11th-ranked Notre Dame on Saturday night in Indianapolis.
In a 31-10 loss to Central Michigan, Purdue struggled with tackling and with running the ball, and committed several crucial penalties. Starting quarterback Danny Etling was also pulled in the fourth quarter in favor of Austin Appleby after he threw a second interception.
Now 2-12 as the Boilermakers coach, Darrell Hazell says one of the keys is not making mistakes that hand the opponent an easy advantage.
"There's a lot of things, obviously, that we have to do better as a football team at every position," Hazell said Tuesday. "We cannot self-inflict wounds where we are at this stage in the program."
Hazell will evaluate Etling and Appleby this week in practice before selecting a starter. He said both need to be better.
"They both are young guys, and that is the thing you have to remember with them," he said. "They are not going to be seasoned veterans after 12 or 13 college games."
If Purdue (1-1) hopes to keep Notre Dame's offense off the field, running backs Akeem Hunt and Raheem Mostert must be more productive than they were — 50 and 53 rushing yards, respectively, against Central Michigan — last week.
"We knew that Central Michigan was not going to give up the big play," Hazell said. "But it was disappointing that we did not get more big plays. A lot of things were blocked well, but we were getting 4 or 5 yards. We didn't get the safety blocked to get those huge runs that you have to have."
Purdue offensive guard Jordan Roos said the line didn't help the backs enough last Saturday and must do more against the Fighting Irish (2-0).
"Everybody just has to do their job," Roos said. "It's very important to know what you have to do and then do it while not trying to do somebody else's job. If everybody is blocking it the same way, then we will be successful."
Purdue's missed tackles helped Central Michigan make several big plays in the running game and in the passing game. Defensive lineman Jake Replogle is convinced Purdue can repair its tackling problems.
"A lot of those missed tackles just came from people being out of position," Replogle said. "Coach Hazell is just stressing doing your job. If you do your job and are in the gap you are supposed to be, those missed tackles will go down."
Purdue has been guilty of seven penalties in each of its first two games, but the penalty issue was much more glaring in the loss to Central Michigan.
"We had a targeting penalty that led to a touchdown, and a hands to the face penalty that led to a touchdown," Hazell said. "We have to stay out of those penalty situations. Those are the things when you beat yourself. We say there is one team on your schedule you never want to beat. That is yourself."