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PURDUE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 28, 2012
THE MODERATOR:¬† Welcome to week one of the pre‑football season.¬† The Boilermakers will be taking on Eastern Kentucky this Saturday at 3:30 at Ross‑Ade Stadium.¬† We'll go ahead and get started with the press conference.¬† Michael Pointer, why don't you go ahead and start us off with Coach Hope.
Q.¬† Danny, I'll just go ahead and ask right off the bat.¬† What is Beckford's status?
COACH HOPE:¬† Who am I speaking to?
Q.¬† Michael Pointer at the Star.
COACH HOPE:¬† You're the guy I talked to the other day after the scrimmage, right?
Q.¬† That is correct.
COACH HOPE:¬† Good to hear from you again.
Right now Beckford has been suspended indefinitely from the football team.¬† That was the information that we released last evening.
Q.¬† So he's been suspended indefinitely.¬† Just to clarify, Danny, he's not been dismissed from the team or anything like that.¬† Is that correct?
COACH HOPE:¬† Right now he's been suspended indefinitely from the football team.¬† In all fairness to Dwayne, we want to make sure that we allow the legal system to do everything that they have to do.¬† You know, obviously, his future as a Boilermaker is very questionable because my marching orders to him was to avoid any compromising situations or being around any compromising situations.
So there's a lot of information that we have to get a handle on.
Q.¬† What does this do for you on the floor?¬† Who does this open up an opportunity as far as starting Saturday, and how does it affect your lineup a little bit?
COACH HOPE:¬† I only understood half your question, but I thought you just asked me how that would affect the lineup.
Q.¬† Yeah.¬† Who gets an opportunity that now maybe wouldn't have gotten quite as big an opportunity. ¬†What would this do for Saturday?
COACH HOPE:¬† Obviously, Dwayne is out of the lineup, and three other linebackers that have been working significantly inside that are good players, along with Joe Gilliam, who is maybe our fourth best linebacker right now.¬† He has really played well throughout the course of camp.
And then also Sean Robinson, who's new to the position but has a real passion for learning and playing the position.¬† We have been utilizing him at a couple different linebacker spots.
And then Antwon Higgs, who has been an inside linebacker the bulk of his career here at Purdue.¬† He's a senior and a veteran player.¬† So we still have good players to compete for that spot and anticipate all three of those guys playing this Saturday and making a difference in the game this coming Saturday.
Q.¬† Beyond just the fact that it happened‑‑ you know, it's disappointing that it happened‑‑ how concerned are you about what impact it could have on the team?¬† Just from the standpoint now you're making last‑minute adjustments.¬† You've got people like me asking you questions about it when I'm sure you'd rather be talking about Eastern Kentucky.¬† Just how concerned are you about the overall impact on the football team?
COACH HOPE:¬† I think we've got a pretty good handle on it because once I finish answering this question, I won't answer any more about Dwayne.¬† We'll focus on the game and the other players on the football team.¬† So I'm fixing to wrap up that phase of it pretty quick.
Dwayne wasn't out there in the spring, and we were getting better as a football team and certainly appreciate his hard work and effort.¬† He's out of the lineup.¬† Those other guys will compete and play well, and we'll win without Dwayne Beckford as a linebacker on our football team.
Q.¬† Danny, one more thing I wanted to ask you real quick before I hand off.¬† Your kicking game right now‑‑ I'm talking field goal kicking and extra points‑‑ do you have a clear‑cut number one going into the season?¬† Did anybody separate themselves in that regard, or is it still a situation where somebody could easily stand up‑‑ the job is still open, for lack of a better term.
COACH HOPE:¬† We're very fortunate right now because we have made one heck of a commitment to special teams, not only in regards to staffing and practice time but in scholarships as well.¬† Really like what Sam McCartney has done throughout the course of camp.¬† He really started off strong.¬† He probably has been more consistent on the intermediate, the short intermediate field goals.
The latter part of camp, I thought that Paul Griggs had possibly outperformed him some in that area.¬† Paul Griggs is probably better suited to kick the long field goal right now, maybe on a more consistent basis than what Sam McCartney is.
But you can't discount Thomas Meadows.¬† He is an extremely talented specialist, an outstanding punter, outstanding kickoff man, and also hits the long field goal very well.
So we'll go into Saturday with three specialists, place kickers that can service our football team.¬† It may be specific situations that would dictate which guy gets the nod.
Q.¬† I'm good.¬† Thank you.
COACH HOPE:¬† Thank you.
Q.¬† Good morning, Coach.
COACH HOPE:¬† Good morning.
Q.¬† I just wanted to ask you about Landon Feichter.¬† He's listed as a starter at small safety.¬† What kind of a camp did he have?
COACH HOPE:¬† Fantastic.¬† He surfaced as one of our better players.¬† I really love his motor.¬† He's a very aggressive player and extremely fast.¬† Landon is very, very fast.¬† He'll run in the 4.40s on the 40 every time.¬† Always thought he was a very fast player.
He's gotten bigger and stronger, but he's always been very physical.¬† Right now he is penciled in as number one at the safety spot in some of our defensive packages, and he's also, I think, one of our top special teams performers, potentially one of our top performers in regards to special teams.¬† He's that guy that we'll set his hair on fire and cover kicks with a passion.
So he's very important to our football team.¬† He's had a fantastic camp.¬† May line up and be a starter this coming Saturday and expect him to impact special teams as well.
Q.¬† That's all I got, Coach.¬† Thanks.
COACH HOPE:¬† Thank you.
Q.¬† Can you talk a little bit about Eastern Kentucky, what kinds of problems they present, first off.
COACH HOPE:¬† They're a very proud football team.¬† Obviously, I'm very familiar with EKU and EKU football.¬† They had only one non‑winning season in almost 50 years, 40‑something years, only one time they have not produced a winning season.¬† So they're very proud, and they expect to win.
From a personnel standpoint, they're a talented football team.¬† They have two All‑American, preseason All‑American tackles with Patrick Ford and Aaron Adams.¬† They were both guys that myself and Shawn Clark were involved with recruiting four years earlier.¬† They're outstanding players.
They've got an All‑American running back, a guy that rushed for over 1,500 yards last season and didn't start, I believe, the first five games.¬† Had a handful of games over 200 yards and one of the top performers at that level.
Big wide receiver, 6'5" wide receiver, last name of Goard.¬† He's a very good player.¬† He's a guy that they can obviously sell a play action fake and send the ball up the field to a big 6'5" wide receiver.
Great big tight end that's 6'7".¬† That's a good blocker on the front side and also the back side of the plays.
And a very experienced quarterback, who I believe has 30‑something starts and only 600 yards away from being the all time career passer at Eastern Kentucky.
Special teams, they're wide open.¬† They do an assortment of everything.¬† They really test your ability to align and assign against the assortment of looks and chances they take from a special teams standpoint.¬† That's been great for our football team.¬† It has resulted in some advanced training for just about everything we could possibly see throughout the course of the season.
So really a blessing in disguise in the development of our special teams.
Defensively, they have good size, better size than what you'd imagine.¬† Bigger across the defensive front.¬† They can bring some pressure.¬† They like to bring pressure.¬† They play a lot of three deep.¬† They'll give you a little bit of room, but they make you earn it the hard way.¬† You have to really execute to manufacture a drive.
They have outstanding experience at linebacker.¬† I believe all three of their linebackers have been all‑conference performers the last couple of years, and, again, good size across the defensive front.¬† Also an outstanding punter, a guy that is listed as a preseason All‑American punter that can handle all type of kicks‑‑ the Australian punts, the sky kicks‑‑ has good hang time on his punts.¬† He's an exceptional specialist.
They have a lot of good players, and they'll be excited about coming into a big venue at Ross‑Ade.¬† When I was the head coach at Eastern Kentucky, we played I‑A teams every year.¬† Some of them we didn't do well.¬† We had some rough sledding against University of Kentucky when they had an outstanding football team and rough sledding against North Carolina State when they had a outstanding football team, but played very well against Vanderbilt and Central Michigan.
They played very well last year against the University of Louisville and also competed very well against Kansas State and some other I‑A teams as well.
Q.¬† Offensive line, where do you see that?¬† What needs to start happening in terms of development there?
COACH HOPE:¬† Our offensive line?
COACH HOPE:¬† I like where we're at.¬† We've really come a long way throughout the course of camp.¬† We got great work in the spring.
Unfortunately, we had two of our starters out in the spring, but, fortunately, that allowed us to get some good prospects a lot of reps to develop some depth and also some opportunities for some guys that have been in the program to emerge as contenders for starting jobs.¬† So I think it was a blessing in disguise that we had to get a lot of reps to guys that hadn't played as much.
I like the way we suited up, and I like the way we're lining up right now.¬† We have Trevor Foy at the right tackle position, and he's much further ahead than he was this time last year.¬† This time last year he had played sparingly and was coming off serious shoulder injuries and surgeries as well, and he's much bigger and stronger and much more physical and sure.¬† He's 6'7" and over 300 pounds now.¬† He's gotten a lot bigger and stronger.
The right guard spot right now, there's been competition between the junior college transfer Devin Smith and also Cody Davis.¬† They've both done a heck of job.¬† Cody can be utilized at the right guard spot, the left guard spot, and also the center position as well.¬† I anticipate him seeing‑‑ potentially playing time at all three spots.
I've really been impressed with Devin Smith.¬† He brings some things to the table that's really important for our offensive line right now.¬† That's size and ability.¬† He's 6'7" and about 330 pounds.¬† He moves well.¬† He's a low rep guy, very easy to coach, a real joy to coach, and I have really been impressed with his level of execution and his detail to technique.¬† He's also big and aggressive, and that goes a long ways.
Then our center, Ricky Schmeig, I think, is a top center in our league.¬† Could be one of the top centers in our league.¬† I think he has the potential to be a center to play on Sunday when he's finished playing at Purdue, and Ricky's in great shape.¬† He has trimmed down.¬† He's about 6'5", about 305 pounds and really has a knack for playing the position.
We get Peters Drey back at the left guard spot.¬† He was injured last season, missed a lot of playing time, he really struggled a bit.¬† He's able to play this year, and he's healthier now.¬† He's a bigger, stronger Peters Drey.¬† Peters is probably 6'5" and 303 pounds.
Then we have two players who are rotating at the left tackle spot.¬† Kevin Pamphile is penciled in at the left tackle spot.¬† He's a real talent.¬† He's 6'5", about 305, runs very well.¬† He'll probably run between 4.9 and 5.0 flat.¬† He was recruited here at Purdue as a line prospect.
He was someone we thought from an ability standpoint had the potential to be a defensive player but certainly had the size to move to offense.¬† As an athlete, he's a real upgrade from a talent standpoint, a little bit behind from an experience standpoint.
He's rotating at that spot right now with Justin Kitchens.¬† And Justin moved over a year ago.¬† He was recruited as an offensive line product, a big defensive end.¬† Justin is about 6'4", 290 pounds.¬† Played last year.¬† Had a shoulder injury, had shoulder surgery, but he's done very well.¬† He's one of the fastest offensive linemen I've been around in the past 30 years.¬† He'll run the 40 in the 4.7s.¬† Both of those guys at the left tackle spot are outstanding athletes to have on your offensive line.
Kitchens also rotates some with Trevor Foy at the right tackle spot as well.¬† I like where we're at right now with the offensive line.¬† We've made great progress.¬† We're much further along in regards to pass protection.¬† Not exactly where we want to be at right now, but probably the furthest we've been along since I've been back at Purdue.
Q.¬† Last question.¬† I may be the only one who's interested in this question.¬† There is a high school coach in Arkansas that never punts, had a lot of success.¬† Is that possibly feasible at the college level?¬† If it was, you sometimes like to gamble.¬† Could you envision yourself going four downs, no punting?
COACH HOPE:¬† If I thought it would work, we would certainly go in that direction.¬† Again, the closer the opponent gets to the goal line, the odds of him scoring increase significantly.¬† Where you're at on the field, I certainly wouldn't go for it on fourth and long if I had 70 yards to go to get a touchdown and if we didn't convert, give them the football on the 30 yard line.¬† I can't say that I buy 100 percent into his philosophy.
I do like to take a chance now and then, but it has to be a calibrated chance and something we have practiced over and over again and something that we feel we have a good chance of making it happen.
Our onside kicks last year, we have been‑‑ we batted almost 1,000 in practices throughout the course of the season.¬† We utilized some onside kicks last year.¬† We didn't execute the kicking part that well in the game, but we recovered the onside kicks.¬† I thought there was a 90‑something percent chance we were going to get them when we called them in the game.
Q.¬† It would take an extreme level of confidence, would it not, with just not putting?
COACH HOPE:¬† You'd have to be confident your offense could convert on fourth down and really confident your defense could stop them if you gave them the ball at that point on the field.
I'm not sure I'm at that level from a confidence standpoint for my football team, or any football team for that matter.
Q.¬† I don't think you're alone, Danny.
COACH HOPE:¬† Good.
Q.¬† Hello.¬† We noticed on the roster that Aloyis Gray was listed as a wide receiver.¬† Is that a change you made?
COACH HOPE:¬† Sure is.
Q.¬† You like what you can see out of him at that position?
COACH HOPE:¬† He's really smart.¬† He's one of the brightest guys in the freshman class.¬† It's a very bright freshman class.¬† He averaged a core GPA of our freshman class was about a 3.1 in their academic classes, and the average SAT score of this freshman class is about 1150, and Aloyis is one of the brightest of the bunch.¬† He communicates extremely well.
He's behind in regards as a passer, long ways away from the quality of some of the other passers on our football team.¬† But he is a good football player with a big body and great skills.
We have had some opportunities to use him some as a ball carrier in some live tackling drills, and he was really impressive.¬† I think he's going to be a heck of a player on the football team at the wide receiver position.¬† We recruited him out of high school as a wide receiver.¬† Never saw him throw a pass in his high school career.¬† He wanted an opportunity to try to play quarterback, and we've given him that opportunity and think that the best thing for his future at Purdue is to play the wide receiver position.
I believe he's all in.¬† He's a great team member.
Q.¬† How much progress has Will Lucas made over the last year, and how critical a player does he become for you because he is sort of now your most veteran linebacker and probably a guy who's going to be out there on the field quite often, I would imagine.
COACH HOPE:¬† Will's a very good football player and has a lot of redeeming qualities that could allow him to become a very special football player.¬† At times he is a special football player.
We have a lot of guys on defense, when they play their best, we are the best, and they are the best, and Will Lucas is one of those guys.
I think that the new system that Coach Tibesar brought with him, I think, is very linebacker friendly.¬† It really clarifies a lot of the keys and reads.¬† It maybe cuts back on some of the teaching, and there's a lot of offense out there.¬† I know that, in my next life, I do not want to come back as a defensive coach, just based on the amount of offense that you have to be sound in the linemen assignment‑wise.
So hats off to all the coaches that coach defense and all the players that play defense.¬† But Will is way ahead.¬† He's really done a good job grasping the new scheme, and he could be a standout player for us this year.
Q.¬† In your defense, do you have a player out there who makes the defensive calls?¬† If that's the middle linebacker, will you do something different considering that position might have a trio of different guys who may be a little inexperienced.
COACH HOPE:¬† Football has changed a lot in the last five or six years.¬† The old everybody believes the center is the quarterback on the offensive line, and he certainly is, but with the amount of things that people present from the defensive standpoint, I don't want the center to have do a whole lot of thinking and a lot of communicating.
So we have over the years gravitated to rules that encompass a lot of the details of what they're supposed to do and minimizes communication by the center, particularly in the venues that we play in in this conference where there's 100,000 people in the stands.
It's the same thing for the mike linebacker position.¬† For most of years in the past, the mike linebacker has been the quarterback of the front seven, and that still can be the case in some ways, but we have a lot of ways to get the plays called in and a lot of ways to get the adjustments that‑‑ prior to it.¬† Changing the depth chart has nothing to do with the mike linebacker.¬† So I don't anticipate the calls or responsibilities or the duties faltering a bit.
We, from a defensive standpoint, really hang our hat on the volume of the communication.¬† If the communication lacks volume, then it lacks confidence, and right now, from a defensive standpoint, I like the volume that I'm hearing from a communication standpoint on the field.
Q.¬† You obviously didn't practice yesterday.¬† So I would imagine that not much has changed.¬† But nothing new from an injury point of view?¬† The guys we know are going to be out are probably out, and nothing much has changed there, I would imagine?
COACH HOPE:¬† Obviously, Ishmael Aristide is still out, and Bade will be out a couple of weeks.¬† He may have not factored into the game just from where he's at on the depth chart.¬† I think he was doing very well prior to getting injured.
And Carlos Carvajal is out, but that's at a position where we have good players ready to play, and Carlos is a great prospect.¬† He is an outstanding tight end prospect, not only as a blocker but as a receiving tight end.¬† If he was healthy right now, he could probably help our football team just from a size and talent standpoint.¬† He right now will be not be ready for the game.
And Tommy Thomas, obviously, had surgery on his foot, and he'll still be out for a little while.
Q.¬† So you mentioned Gilliam as the fourth or the next best, however you phrased it.
COACH HOPE:¬† Performed the best after the top three throughout the course of camp.
Q.¬† How much has he worked at mike?
COACH HOPE:¬† We've worked him there throughout the course of camp.¬† Again, it's not near as complicated as it may seem.¬† If you're on the outside looking in, you only have a couple of linebackers line up inside the box, and their keys and reads are similar.¬† And we have linebackers that line up outside the box, and their keys and reads are very simple or very similar.¬† I don't anticipate a whole lot of‑‑ not much of a learning curve, if you will, from Joe Gilliam going from one spot to another.
He's been playing inside throughout the course of the spring, and he's had reps at both the mike and the will position, and he'll do a fine job.¬† I really like his progress and development.¬† He's an aggressive guy.¬† He plays better when he's mad, and, of course, at camp he really got after it out there several times at camp.¬† He's a good linebacker.¬† I really thought very highly of him in the recruiting process.
I thought that, when he came out of high school down in South Fork, that he was the top four or five football players in the State of Indiana.¬† There may have been some others that might have been rated higher than him just based on how recruiting goes sometimes, but I thought as far as putting on the uniform and playing the game, that he was one of the top four or five football players in the State of Indiana senior year.
I'm not surprised to see him doing well, and I think he'll take this thing and really run with it.
Q.¬† Who are the linebackers you have working in the nickel package?
COACH HOPE:¬† I'm not going to give up a whole lot of game plan, if you will.¬† I want someone to listen to our interviews and figure out the best way they can get the right matchups.¬† You can pick the depth chart and figure any one of those guys that plays inside could remain inside.¬† When we put our nickel and dime packages in, those guys probably won't play a whole lot on the outside.¬† You can be creative and take it from there.
Q.¬† I'm writing a story about Robert Maci.¬† I know we talked about him quite a bit during camp.¬† One of the things you guys liked about him was his intelligence, and that kind of shows up being able to play multiple positions.
Does he just grasp things quickly?¬† Why is he a guy who was able to kind of do the dual duty?
COACH HOPE:¬† Robert is a very good football player.¬† Two years ago he was our top special teams performer.¬† I think that's always indicative of what type of football player you are if you can go out there and be a standout on special teams as a kick cover guy and all the blue collar stuff that comes with special teams.
He's very bright in the classroom, and he has an outstanding football IQ.¬† He really gets it.¬† If he had been physically bigger and stronger coming out of high school, he might have been a three‑year starter at the defensive end position.¬† He's always played football very well, but he had to get bigger and stronger to compete on the line of scrimmage in Big Ten football.¬† There's some big guys on the line of scrimmage in Big Ten football.
Robert Maci played last year when he was healthy.¬† He's much bigger and stronger and much more mature looking and much more physical looking to me right now.¬† I like him in certain situations as a defensive end.¬† He was a very good linebacker in high school.¬† Football makes a lot of sense to him.¬† So some of the transition to the Sam linebacker position has been very easy and somewhat natural for Robert in a lot of ways.¬† Obviously, he won't be perfect, but he really works hard and strives on being excellent.
He's very important to our football team.¬† We've been very pleased with his athleticism.¬† He looks different now.¬† He's 6'4‑1/2", 6'5", 250‑something pounds and 27 years old, and he looks the part and plays the part very well.
Q.¬† I was going to ask the athleticism and kind of the speed.¬† You would think, even if you're matching up maybe with the tight end, you need to be fast, at least a little bit be able to cover.¬† Just in terms of that adjustment.¬† I know you dropped some of the end sometimes in a little bit of coverage depending on what defense you're in, but just in terms of the challenge for him to cover more maybe.
COACH HOPE:¬† Well, I don't know if it's a challenge.¬† It's something that he has to be able to execute and perform.¬† He's big enough and strong enough to line up on the tight end and be successful with the physical part of it.
Sometimes the run comes that way, and the tight end is responsible for engineering, or manufacturing the running opportunity for the backs, and I think Robert Maci will line up and match up very well from a physical standpoint with a lot of tight ends.¬† We see some talented tight ends in this league, and we're going to see a great big talented tight end this weekend.¬† The tight end at EKU that's going to play on Saturday is about 6'7" and 250‑something pounds.¬† He's very big and a very good player.
But Robert Maci is a big mature guy, and he matches up well against tight end prospects from the physicality standpoint, and he's certainly athletic enough to play defensive pass coverage against tight ends and getting his drops and play man or whatever we may ask him to do.¬† He's a good Sam linebacker and a good defensive end player for us.
Q.¬† Lamont had asked you about Feichter earlier.¬† Is he more of a run stopping safety or is that a Charlot thing?¬† I know he'll change depending on what package you're in.¬† How would you characterize their abilities?¬†
COACH HOPE:¬† I think that Landon Feichter has done very well at both.¬† He's very, very fast.¬† He plays fast and practices fast.¬† He's extremely wide open.¬† He's one of our more aggressive players.¬† He likes the contact part and physical part of football.
I think he's really good against the pass.¬† He's smart.¬† He does a great job with his reads.¬† He knows where he's supposed to be the majority of the time.¬† He's courageous.¬† He'll break on the ball.¬† He does a fantastic job of fighting and scrapping for every inch and fighting and scrapping for the football.¬† I think he's a good safety.¬† From a pass defensive standpoint and also from a run stopping standpoint.
Q.¬† Does Charlot have a strength?
COACH HOPE:¬† I think he does very well at both.
Q.¬† I didn't mean it like that.
COACH HOPE:¬† He must have a strength or else he wouldn't be here.
Q.¬† He started laughing at me.¬† I meant what is he better at?
COACH HOPE:¬† Right now I think he's doing very well at both.¬† He's a little big bigger than our other safeties we have back there.¬† Max has a decent size about him.¬† So you would maybe assume that his role as a run defender could be important to us, but he played a lot last year and understands pass coverage.¬† I think he does both very well.
Max is a very bright guy.¬† He's in one of the tougher degree programs here at Purdue, and I check his grades on a regular basis.¬† I'm not sure what those classes are that he's in, but he's making pretty good grades in them.
Q.¬† What's your role in the nonconference scheduling?¬† We talked about it this summer, how important it is to maybe start ratcheting it up depending if the other Big Ten teams have to go that way with the playoff system.¬† What's your role with working it?¬† Do you sit down and talk about it, or how does it work?
COACH HOPE:¬† That's a tough call.¬† Since he became the head football coach at Purdue, we've had to realign the schedule several times for different reasons.
When I first came back as the head coach, we had to realign the schedule because we weren't sure the rivalry game with Notre Dame was going to continue.¬† So we realigned the schedule.¬† Thank goodness, we were able to extend the contract for many, many years.¬† It's huge for us and huge for Notre Dame.¬† After that was squared away, we had to realign the schedule again, which is tough at times because, again, revenue is a big part of the equation, if you will.
Then we started with the Pac‑12 agreement and started to realign the schedule again, and now that has fallen through.¬† Obviously, we have to get the schedule squared away.¬† A lot of it has already been done in advance.¬† We want to play Notre Dame every year.¬† We'd like to schedule a couple of teams that have to come to Ross‑Ade so we can play at home.¬† Creates revenue, something for the fans to get excited about.¬† And obviously play a top tier program as well, another top tier program as a nonconference opponent.
So I like to be aggressive from a scheduling standpoint.¬† I think that the league has to kind of everyone be on the same page.¬† We want to be aggressive with our scheduling because it's good for revenue and the fans are excited about it, and yet allow everyone around me to schedule themselves into Bowl eligibility before they play a Big Ten game.¬† So me, there's still a lot of groundwork to be covered in that area.
Q.¬† You had mentioned before too, having the I‑AA or FCS, whatever, it's important for them to get these kinds of games.¬† Can you just maybe give us your perspective on being that side of it.¬† What does that do for a program like that to be able to get‑‑ I think it's $400,000 this year for this game.
COACH HOPE:¬† Several years ago, the NCAA passed a rule that would allow the FBS teams to schedule an FCS football team on an occasional basis, every other year basis, I believe is what it is.¬† And count that game, if you want, towards Bowl eligibility, and that was huge.¬† Prior to that point in time, there wasn't any reason to schedule an FCS football team because a win wouldn't count towards Bowl eligibility and it was looked as maybe downgrading your schedule some.
Since they passed that rule, that was one of the best things that ever happened to FCS football.¬† Obviously, I've played at that level and coached at that level.¬† I have a real passion for that level of football.
From a revenue standpoint, it's a struggle at that level.¬† One year, when I was the head coach at Eastern Kentucky University, we played our archrival Western Kentucky, and they had made the move up to I‑A ranks.¬† We were in the transition to move up to the I‑A ranks.¬† They came to our stadium.¬† It was the fifth largest crowd in the history of the school.¬† It was a great atmosphere.¬† And the gate probably drew $100,000.
So you could schedule one FBS program and generate four times the revenue than you could than one of the largest crowds in the history of the school.¬† It was a challenge.¬† When I went there, the schedule was not that way.¬† They had a very soft nonconference schedule.¬† They only played one Division I‑A team in ten years.¬† But we were low on a revenue standpoint.¬† It was horrific in a lot of ways.
So we were aggressive with the schedule.¬† We had 15 nonconference games during the course of the year.¬† Two of them were on par with us, had the same amount of scholarships we had.¬† We played Appalachia state, national contender annually.¬† We played western Kentucky, who was moving up the ranks and had more scholarships than us.¬† And every other one of those nonconference teams were I‑A teams.¬† It's the only way to manufacture the revenue at that level‑‑ or one of the only ways that most of the programs at that level can create the revenue to not only support their football program but all the other sports as well.
Q.¬† What you said earlier begs a followup question about in your next life, you wouldn't want to come back as a defensive coach.¬† So in your next life, you would come back as?
COACH HOPE:¬† That's a tough question.¬† I'll have to think about that one, all right?¬† Got to make sure it's the right thing to say.
Q.¬† It begged a follow‑up question.
COACH HOPE:¬† I'll give that some thought and come up with something for you.
Q.¬† You're playing against Eastern Kentucky, a program you coached at, attended, and played there.¬† Your thoughts on playing that program, just kind of your emotions of playing this game just from your standpoint.
COACH HOPE:¬† The game is not about Coach Hope, obviously.¬† It's about EKU versus Purdue, and it's going to be an exciting game.
But from a personal standpoint, the little bit that I will reflect on it is that any time you have a chance to go up against your own, you want to make a good impression.¬† I would like for where I came from to be proud of the job we've done at Purdue.¬† So I certainly would like to make a good impression on those that play at EKU and the program.¬† That comes from a pride standpoint.
Q.¬† You addressed the kickers earlier, but when you make the determination of who kicks‑‑ I understand one guy is maybe better kicking long and one guy is better kicking intermediate or short.¬† Is it a numbers game at that point?¬† You're charting kicks at camp and practice.¬† Does it eventually come down to this guy made more in camp?¬† Or what's your rationale that you're going to pick a guy for?
COACH HOPE:¬† It can, but there's a lot of factors.¬† Going into the first week of school, Sam had about a 10 percent edge on Paul Griggs and McCartney did.¬† About a 10 percent edge on completion percentage and his field goal attempts.¬† The last week of practice, Paul Griggs has closed the gap and probably performed better other than the last day of practice.¬† We're still trying to figure out what's going to be the best fit for us.¬† We'll see how they perform this week, and that will be a big part of it.
It may be a game day decision.¬† The wind may be a factor.¬† The surface may be a factor.¬† There's a lot of things that could be a factor.¬† We're very fortunate to have Coach Gibboney on board because he's an expert with the specialists, and he has a great handle on it.¬† He and I will sit down and make a decision as to which guys ‑‑ potentially all those guys will factor in the game this Saturday, but I imagine they'll all factor into the season at some point in time or another.
Q.¬† Thomas Meadows, you mentioned him being in the mix.¬† Where is his strengths as far as when it comes to place kicking?
COACH HOPE:¬† It really is.¬† We're fortunate to have Coach Gibboney on board.¬† He's connected to the fraternity, the secret society of specialists.¬† He's on the inside looking out in some ways, and that's important.¬† We have camps here, and we're closely connected with the other kicking gurus and the instructional camps.¬† So we have an idea who the top specialists in the country are, and we get most of them to our campus to perform for us.
So we've had a chance to eyeball those guys and watch them perform in our camps.¬† When Thomas Meadows came to camp, he was outstanding in everything.¬† He was really good with his kickoffs.¬† That's so important to us this year, particularly because Carson Wiggs exhausted his eligibility and moved on to another level.
I don't know there will be any dropoff at all, knock on wood.¬† Up to this point in camp, there hasn't been any dropoff at all in regards to the kickoff performance of Thomas Meadows compared to Carson Wiggs.¬† So he's an exceptional specialist.¬† He's really good at kickoffs.¬† He's an outstanding punter, gets great strike or kickoff on the ball.
And he has the composure that at any time you can call him outright in the competition he's not involved in, and he's stepped in and put some balls in without batting an eye.¬† So we think he has the potential to be a very special specialist.¬† Correct English?¬† You guys would let me know.
Q.¬† With your linebackers, do you view where Lucas is and then your middle spot.¬† Do you view them interchangeable in any way where you could potentially slide Will in the middle and have another guy in his spot?
COACH HOPE:¬† It would depend upon who you play when he is maybe the only linebacker on the field, if you will.¬† Again, the teaching has a lot of carryover.¬† The reads and keys are very simple.¬† I've been in every one of the defensive install meetings and examined where we're at on the install standpoint and an execution standpoint.¬† I think Lucas can play any one of the linebacker spots.
Sometimes it's confusing when you talk about the will linebacker and Will Lucas, that's easy to do.¬† Will at will or is Will at mike and Mike at will, and you've got to keep track of that.¬† But either way, he's a darn good linebacker.
Q.¬† Who's on first?
COACH HOPE:¬† You got it.
Q.¬† Trying to follow up with Dwayne.¬† Over the summer, you've been a backer of Dwayne.¬† You've come out and said that, that you believe in Dwayne Beckford.¬† Does the activities the last week or so, will that in the future prevent you from backing a kid as much as you want?¬† Do you shy away now?¬† Kind of moving forward, when you deal with kids that have encountered discipline problems, will your approach change?
COACH HOPE:¬† I don't believe my approach will change a whole lot.¬† Obviously, if we have certain issues that are team issues, there could be a place, for example, that maybe not be the best place for our team to patronize at.¬† If that's the case, then I can institute a law to make that place off limits.
If there is a sensitive point in time where I'm concerned that maybe someone needs to‑‑ the team needs a little time to think before they tweet to the world where they're at today emotionally, I may cool that Twitter stuff off for a little bit.¬† But I'm not going to change who I am or why I got into coaching.
I got into coaching for two reasons.¬† Number one, I didn't think I could live without football, and, number two, I like working with young people.¬† I really feel like, when it's all said and done, our job is to impact their lives.¬† Obviously, we have to win football games, and it's a major‑‑ the magnitude of the undertaking at this level is unbelievable.¬† When it's all said and done, I'm in it because I love football and I love working with young people.
Our prayers are with Dwayne and hope that things work out for him, and I believe that they will and soon that‑‑ and hope that soon he'll get his diploma and be paying taxes.
Q.¬† You talked Sunday about Neil Armstrong and you wanted your team to know who he was. ¬†What do you want them to know about him, kind of your message to who he was and what he stands for?
COACH HOPE:¬† Well, pride is something that I think you have to constantly educate your team about.¬† Witch a lot of players on your team that aren't from around here and a lot of students at our school not necessarily from around here.¬† Purdue pride is a big thing.¬† That "P" on their chest means a lot.¬† I coached here before.¬† This is my tenth year.¬† I believe my tenth season as a coach at Purdue.¬† I have a lot of pride.
I'm a Boilermaker and also very patriotic.¬† I love our country.¬† I remember what a big deal it was for our President to initiate the space race and how important it was for us to put the stars and stripes on the moon first many years ago, how much that meant to our country.¬† I believe that there are very many young people out there who understand the significance and the importance of that, that pride in that moment.
And a couple of years ago he was back on campus for the National Football Foundation.¬† We had all the great quarterbacks back here.¬† In his presentation, he talked about how he knew he would make it to the moon, but there was a less than 50 percent chance he'd get back.¬† If you start talking about courage and a hero, that certainly is the epitome of it, somebody that his country meant enough to him that he wanted to be the one to put the flag on the moon whether he came back or not.
I think that's something that should have been shared with each and every player on our football team so they obviously, you know, puff their chests out a little bit more about that "P" on their chest and also about the stars and stripes of our country.
Q.¬† Coach, how do you plan to divide the time among your quarterbacks on Saturday?
COACH HOPE:¬† That's a good question.¬† You know, obviously, we're in a good situation right now, and Caleb has played very well last year and has practiced very well.¬† Robert Marve is at his very best right now.¬† Rob Henry is a little behind from a recovery standpoint, kind of like where Robert Marve was last year where he was cleared and then go some and then all of a sudden have a lot of swelling where he'd have to be held out.
Henry has experienced a little bit of that.¬† Not nearly to the degree that Robert Marve had, but Marve was coming off two ACL surgeries.¬† I think Rob Henry is coming into his own now.¬† Even though he's not exactly where we want him, I think he'll get better and better from a health standpoint as the season goes on.¬† There's a place for all three guys in our offense throughout the course of the season.
We have a plan.¬† Again, I don't need to detail our game plan with the opening game being so close.¬† But I've said all along that we have a plan to play all three of those guys.¬† I think it's going to be a real asset from our team and program this season.
Q.¬† What's the latest on Ralph Bolden?
COACH HOPE:¬† He's doing well.¬† I didn't know where he'd be a month ago.¬† He came off his third ACL, and there's a confidence issue for anyone, first time going back out there, coming off of three ACLs, and we've limited his reps some.¬† We have a green jersey on him, which indicates that he is injured and no one is to lay a hand on him.
But the last couple of practices, he got more reps in shorts with no contact.¬† He looked very fast and very sudden.¬† It's going to be up to Ralph, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him playing at some point throughout the course of the season and maybe soon.¬† But it's really up to Ralph.
I've seen him the last couple of practices.¬† He didn't have pads on, but he is sharp and looks fast and quick and sudden.¬† Ralph's a brave man.¬† If anybody can do it, Ralph can.
Q.¬† Sometimes it's tough to get the attention of your team if you're playing an FCS team.¬† However, this team led Kansas State at the end of the third quarter in their season opener last year before losing 10‑7.¬† Do you tell your team stuff like that to get through their attention or does it matter at this point?¬† Most of those guys are back.¬† It's a little bit different type of team than some FCS teams that they've matched up against.
COACH HOPE:¬† They're a very talented FCS football team and a very proud FCS football team and an FCS football team that is used to winning.¬† If you look at their last three games against FBS opponents, they played very well against the University of Louisville two years ago.¬† They played them, I think, within a touchdown.
U of L may have been 7‑6 that year, and EKU might have been 5‑6, whatever that was.¬† And the year before that, they played a Kentucky team close, maybe it was Kentucky.¬† Obviously, Kansas State last year.¬† But we certainly communicate with our players about that.
They have to be conscientious that this is a good football team.¬† I know some head coaches don't prefer to play an FCS football team because they're afraid their team won't get up to play them.¬† I can assure you we'll be ready to play this Saturday.¬† We know what's coming in, and it's really important to this football team that we start off 1‑0 and play well and know what we're capable of.
We know what our potential can be as a football team this season, and the better we play this Saturday, it really increases our odds of not only winning this Saturday but creating some momentum and confidence as we roll into the rest of the season.
So our guys are ready to play.¬† They're so tired of hitting each other, and they have paid one unbelievable price to be a good football team, not just in the last several months, but since they've been here at Purdue.¬† And we have a chance to do very well this year.¬† I was very pleased with what I saw on Sunday when we came out on Sunday.¬† We came out in shorts, and they were into it.¬† They were sharp.¬† They were crisp.¬† You could tell there was something different.¬† No one had to say a word.¬† They were getting ready to play the game.¬† So this is a hungry football team.¬† I would anticipate this group of guys playing very well this Saturday regardless of who your opponent is.
Q.¬† Last thing from me.¬† As a player, do you recall‑‑ I don't know.¬† Did you have a chance to maybe play up in terms of playing like a higher level Division I team as a player?¬† What do you remember about it?
COACH HOPE:¬† When we played there, we played Kent State and beat them.¬† Football was a lot different back then.¬† I don't believe they invented‑‑ back then you were allowed to call it I‑AA because that's what it was.¬† They really didn't invent I‑AA until 1978, and the first I‑AA was FAMU, Florida A&M University, the Rattlers.¬† And I believe the second national champion was Eastern Kentucky.
The difference between now and then is there weren't many I‑AA teams.¬† I don't know if there was a double digit number of I‑AA teams, and now there's more I‑AA teams or FCS teams than any other division.¬† But we did play up some.¬† I remember going and winning at Kent State.¬† There were a couple of other teams we played up against, but they weren't necessarily top tier conference schools.
Q.¬† You had called Eastern Kentucky before your, quote, dream job.¬† What was that experience like being able to coach your alma mater?
COACH HOPE:¬† It was fantastic really.¬† Always dreamed of going back and coaching there and reconnecting.¬† I'm not a very good network guy.¬† I can be your best friend but not call you for a decade or two.¬† And to be quite honest with you, I still love you, man, but I don't do a very good job of staying in touch.
So to be put in a position to reconnect with a lot of people I was really close to was really a lot of fun for me.¬† At EKU, it's a matter of pride.¬† I took a lot of pride being the head coach there.¬† We got a lot done.¬† Very similar to the situation here.¬† This is just a much bigger stage where I was following a coaching legend, a guy that had been unparalleled with his success as a football coach at Eastern Kentucky, just like Coach Tiller here at Purdue, but not necessarily inheriting a program at its strongest.
So a real commitment.¬† It meant a lot to me.¬† The things we got done meant a lot to me and to our fan base and all the former players.¬† So it was a great experience all the way around.
Q.¬† When you took your Eastern Kentucky teams into games like this, where, obviously, a, quote, unquote, I‑AA team plays against a Big Ten team, they're going to be the overwhelming underdog.¬† What was kind of the point you wanted to get across to your team?¬† What did you kind of talk to them about to motivate them?
COACH HOPE:¬† Probably the same thing I tell this team when we go into a game as an overwhelming underdog, and that's been the case some the past couple of years with the status of the program when I first came back and also with the inordinate amount of injuries.
We're going to go in there and fire out of both holsters.¬† We're never going to look back.¬† As a coach and a player, personally, I've always had just one philosophy, and I try to share that with our team on a regular basis.¬† That is, you should never have to look back at the result and never second guess your effort.¬† That's the way I've always done it.¬† That's the way I've always felt as a player and as a coach.
So I believe they'll come here and treat it like a rivalry game.¬† It would be a signature win, obviously, if they could manufacture that.¬† We'll draw their best game.¬† They'll be sky high.¬† We're looking to take the program this year and return it to national prominence.¬† We're going to be sky high.¬† It's going to be a heck of a football game.
Q.¬† They have a couple of really good offensive linemen obviously.¬† They have a kid that ran for 1,600 yards last year.¬† Is that kind of the strength of the offense as you watch them?¬† Watch what they did last year?¬† You look at them as wanting to come in here and establish the run first?
COACH HOPE:¬† Obviously, that's their bread and butter.¬† They're going to do what they think our defense will allow them to do.¬† Whether they'll come in here and run it the majority of the time or come in here and take their quarterback that's only 600 yards away from being the most prolific passer in the history of the program‑‑ I'm not exactly sure what they're going to do, to be quite honest with you.
But I am familiar with their offensive line, being a former offensive line coach.¬† They have two preseason All‑Americans, Patrick Ford, their left tackle, is a very good player.¬† He's 6'6", 305 pounds.¬† He recruited Patrick to come to EKU.¬† His dad and I played on the same National Championship team together.¬† We were freshmen.¬† We came in as freshmen together and played all the way through college together.¬† His son and my son were best of friends growing up when we lived in Richmond, Kentucky.¬† They played alongside each other in high school.¬† He's been to my house a million times.
My son Chaz was on the football team up until a year ago.¬† He's been a teammate of Patrick's‑‑ of Patrick Ford for seven or eight years, and I've known Patrick since he was in diapers.¬† And the other offensive tackle here, Aaron Adams, is an exceptional athlete.¬† We thought either of those guys would have the opportunity to develop into an NFL offensive lineman from a talent and skill standpoint.¬† Looking at them on film, I think both those kids have a chance to be good NFL players.
They have a very good offensive line, and it starts with their two preseason All‑American tackles.
Q.¬† When you said Chaz, obviously, when this game was scheduled, you thought he was going to be on the team.¬† Was that something you really were looking forward to?
COACH HOPE:¬† It would have been nice to see, but we can be father and son after the game.¬† That would have been the case.
COACH HOPE:¬† Well, he's not there, so it doesn't matter.¬† It would be great to see him, but that doesn't have anything to do with the game really.¬† It's EKU versus Purdue.¬† He has graduated, and he's in pursuit of his vocation and doesn't play college football anymore.¬† Moot point.
Q.¬† Going to test your memory a little bit.¬† 1987, Purdue‑Louisville.¬† You were on the staff with Coach Gary Nord.¬† Was the first time you were in Ross‑Ade Stadium.¬† The game was in a 22‑21 tie.¬† Do you have any memories of that game?
COACH HOPE:¬† I remember we hit Craig Swabek right up the pipe against two deep men to on a halfback flag pass to win the game ‑‑ or tie the game.¬† I remember that much about it.
Q.¬† That's pretty good.¬† Was that the first time you were ever in West Lafayette?
COACH HOPE:¬† First time I'd ever tell anybody about.
Q.¬† Thank you.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Any other questions for Coach Hope?¬† Appreciate your time, Coach.
COACH HOPE:¬† All right, guys.¬† Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports