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PURDUE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 2, 2012
Q.¬† I wonder if you could talk about just Caleb TerBush obviously coming in for you guys in a big moment in the Notre Dame game and what you've seen of him the last couple weeks to believe that he is a guy that can lead this team to where it wants to go this season?
DANNY HOPE:¬† We came into the season believing he was the guy that could lead our football team based on his development last season.¬† Last year was his first year as a starter, and he started all 13 games and had a winning season and didn't throw an interception for 20 consecutive quarters, threw for 62 percent completion and about 2,000 yards.¬† We came into the season believing that he would be in a position to take his game to another level and play his position very well, and we still believe that he can.
We got a little bit disjointed at the quarterback position early.¬† Caleb was not available for the opening game; Robert Marve played very well against Eastern Kentucky in our opener.¬† We rotated both quarterbacks, played both quarterbacks against Notre Dame, and both quarterbacks did some really good things.
And then Caleb‑‑ Robert was injured against Notre Dame, tore his ACL again, and Caleb TerBush was ill coming into our third game of the season against Eastern Michigan.¬† He had some severe migraines the Friday before that.
So this is the first game of the season that we go into as a staff where we're sure exactly where we're at at the quarterback position.¬† We can still play a lot better at that position.
I thought Caleb did some really good things on Saturday.¬† He threw for 73 percent completion.¬† Official stats, you look at his quarterback stats, you take away the drop and the two throwaways and the one pass that was batted down, he'd be about 86 percent completion percentage.
We had a couple of big pass plays that were negated as a result of penalties.¬† He lost over 100 yards in passing as a result as a result of penalties this past Saturday, or else he would have thrown for 385 yards.¬† Any time that you go out and throw for over 300 yards and 70 percent, that's a good week for your quarterback.
We think he can continue to improve.¬† I think he's gaining some momentum in getting back to the form that he was at.¬† Towards the tail end of our two‑a‑day camps he was playing very, very well, and again, got a little bit disjointed, not being available the first game and not being well for the third game.
Q.¬† With Caleb, obviously the guys rally around him.¬† Do you look at this game with Michigan and going forward as both he and Purdue football have something to prove in the Big Ten, that he can be a championship quarterback and Purdue can be a championship team?
DANNY HOPE:¬† We go through that every Saturday, whether it's Eastern Kentucky or a Big Ten opponent.¬† We have to prove that every Saturday.
Q.¬† I noticed that you had a really good passing game against Marshall.¬† Facing a team that was so heavy on the pass like Marshall, does that prepare you to face Michigan, which has options at receiver in addition to Denard Robinson?
DANNY HOPE:¬† I really couldn't understand your question.¬† Could you try it again, please?
Q.¬† You faced a team that's very heavy on the pass in Marshall.¬† Does that prepare you to face Michigan, a team that has options at receiver in addition to Denard Robinson?
DANNY HOPE:¬† I think that the fact that we played against one of the top passing teams in the country gave us a chance to get better as a defensive football team.¬† We came out of the game, gave up some yardage to Marshall, but we had met a lot of our goals.¬† I think our goal from a passing standpoint was to only allow 6.8 yards a completion, and Marshall averaged 6.6 yards of completion; and from a run game standpoint, one of our defensive goals going into the game was to hold Marshall to under 3.6 yards a rush, and we held Marshall to 3.5 yards a rush.¬† The problem is Marshall had almost 100 plays, so those numbers add up.
I think that any time you go out and play against a red‑hot offense, the No.1 passing offense in the nation, that it provides some opportunities for your football team to get better.¬† There are some things we could have done better on Saturday that I think would have minimized some of their offensive production, some little things, we can be a little bit more disciplined in some of our man techniques and a few things from a defensive standpoint we could have minimized their production significantly.
But Marshall is a very good football team.¬† Their offense is extremely explosive.¬† Their defense is much better than they are billed to be from a statistical standpoint.¬† Two of their first three games, Marshall's first three games, their defense was on the field close to 100 snaps in over 100‑degree weather.¬† Sometimes that can take its toll on a defense, and that wasn't the case this past Saturday.¬† We ran a lot of plays on offense, but it was 70 degrees and it was very little humidity.¬† I think the climate probably allowed Marshall to play as fast and fresh as they have at any point this season.
Q.¬† Anything new going on with both Marve and Bolden as to whether they might be available this week?
DANNY HOPE:¬† Well, they're closer to being ready, and I believe that Robert Marve possibly could be ready physically.¬† Again, we would have to make a decision on what we would assume or anticipate his role would be going into the ballgame.¬† He hasn't had a whole lot of snaps since he was injured two or three weeks ago, and again, I think Caleb TerBush played very well this past Saturday, and it's the first time that we've had a little bit of continuity at that position.
We were in good shape in the Notre Dame game because we thought that both quarterbacks were in position to play well, but there's still some unknowns as far as how Robert would perform coming back into a live game with a torn ACL.¬† But we think he can get the job done, and he's going to get a lot more reps in practice this week, and I believe that he'll be available to play in the game on Saturday.¬† We may not go into the game with a predetermined rotation or plan, just based on the fact that he hasn't played in a live game, this is a big game against a very physical football team, we may not go into the game with a predetermined plan that he's going to play a certain amount or a certain point in time in the game.¬† But we may go into the game and utilize Robert Marve as necessary.
He can certainly come in‑‑ he's playing well and he's adapted to playing how things go right way.
Rob Henry obviously is a guy that's coming off of an ACL surgery, and he's just now getting to where he's closer to being full speed.¬† It usually takes about a year and a half or more to really be fully recovered from an ACL injury.¬† Obviously we like Rob Henry.¬† He's a great athlete and we can utilize him at any position in our offense and also under the center, as well.¬† He could play a bigger role in this game this Saturday.¬† He played a little bit this past Saturday, but we were trying to maybe manufacture more run game in the second half against a lot of pressures, and we felt that Caleb TerBush was the best guy to manage our offense at that point in the game.
Q.¬† Because of injuries and the fact that Caleb obviously had his best game of the season on Saturday, are you closer now back to kind of, for lack of a better term, that traditional one‑quarterback use as opposed to the two‑ or three‑quarterback system we were talking about a few weeks back, or do you still think you've got that option in your toolbox to go to two or three quarterbacks?
DANNY HOPE:¬† Well, we still have the option.¬† I think now that Rob Henry is becoming healthier that we can use a two‑quarterback or a multiple‑quarterback system, if you will, with both of the quarterbacks in the huddle at the same time, or we could play Rob Henry some at quarterback.¬† That's a little bit different plan compared to when we had Rob Henry on the shelf coming back from an injury and two very capable dropback quarterbacks that could probably execute a very similar offense, and both of them ready to play and experienced and seniors that have played one.
Obviously we're much more focused in right now on Caleb being the guy, based on how the season has unfolded.¬† Again, being a little bit disjointed at the quarterback position.¬† Last Saturday was good that we had Caleb in the game and he was playing well, then he was getting better, and right now he is the best quarterback for our football team going into the game this Saturday, but don't count the others out.¬† Again, Robert Marve is a fantastic talent, and if for some reason Caleb isn't hitting on all cylinders or something happened that we'd have to‑‑ we need Robert to play in the game, we won't hesitate.¬† There's obviously a plan to get Rob Henry involved in the game, as well.
Q.¬† What are your general impressions on Michigan?
DANNY HOPE:¬† They're a very good football team.¬† They play with a purpose.¬† Very physical on defense.¬† Their secondary tackles very well.¬† Big, strong, tough defensive line, very sure about their business, where they line up at, what they're hanging their hat on.¬† Very impressed with their defensive football team.
Offensively they have a ton of weapons, a big, good offensive line, talented offensive line.¬† Obviously Denard Robinson can do some things to change the outcome of any football game, and they have a host of players around him that they can feature throughout the course of the game as a producer of offense.
They're a very, very good football team, not just from a talent standpoint or not just from an execution standpoint.¬† I think they do very well at both, but I think they play with a purpose and they play with a lot of emotion and enthusiasm, and they play to win, and they're physical and fast and a very, very good football team.
Q. ¬†With a quarterback like Denard Robinson, you want to put pressure on him, but do you have to be careful when you do it, in other words, because of his running ability?
DANNY HOPE:¬† You have to be sound from a defensive standpoint.¬† If everything is geared to stop Denard, then you reduce the potential to defend the rest of their offense.¬† So you have to be really sound with your calls.¬† Everything can't be geared just to stop Denard.¬† He's a great player.¬† He has a good arm, a live arm.¬† We evaluated him as a high school prospect and really liked him, liked him as a passer, liked him as a great athlete.
Obviously you have to do some things, you have to be smart with your rush lanes.¬† If you get out of your rush lanes and he sees a big opening, he sees the seas to part, then he's going to take off with the ball and then he's really hard to catch.¬† He adds a whole new dimension to the ballgame.
You have to do some things to make sure that you can try to minimize his production some, but if everything is geared just to stop him, then you disregard their other great players on their offensive football team, and that can really get you in trouble.
It's going to be a challenge for our defense.¬† They can come out and get in two backs and they can feature two backs, and they can come out and feature runs that are designed just for Denard.¬† They can come out and feature plays that he has the choice to either hand the football off or throw it out on the perimeter.¬† They have plays and formations and groupings that can feature Denard as a runner with all the zone read options and outside run read options that you can manufacture from any shotgun offense.¬† So they present a lot for our defense to have to defend.
Q.¬† The opportunity you have, obviously you want to win every Big Ten game, but Michigan's opening game, if you want to be a contender and you want to win a championship, just talk about the opportunity this presents.
DANNY HOPE:¬† Well, it's a fantastic opportunity for our football team, our program, all of the Boilermaker nation.¬† It's not necessarily a do‑or‑die situation.¬† There's still a lot of good football to be played, and obviously there seems to be a lot of parity in the league.¬† We're in a different division, but this one certainly counts.¬† But it would be huge for our football team to get another win in Ross‑Ade Stadium and continue to be undefeated in Ross‑Ade Stadium, and a win over a quality opponent like Michigan would be just fantastic for our team and our program.
It's a big game, and obviously the only one we can focus on at this point in time.
Q.¬† And this is kind of an issue question.¬† A lot of points were scored last week all across the country, 70 to 63 West Virginia‑Baylor.¬† You guys obviously had a high score, Georgia‑Tennessee.¬† Is that indicative that maybe offenses are more ahead of defenses right now?¬† Is it indicative that maybe teams are putting their best players on offense instead of defense?¬† What kind of translates to that?
DANNY HOPE:¬† I don't think it's indicative that the best players are going to the offensive side of the ball.¬† You'd better get loaded up on defense or you really will struggle to compete for any type of championship.¬† The best teams in the country and the championship teams throughout our country are the ones that play great defense, and we're hoping we can continue to improve on the defensive side of the ball and become a great defensive football team.¬† If that happens we have a legitimate shot to be championship contenders.
I think the high‑scoring affairs that you're seeing on Saturday are a result of a lot of different things.¬† I think people have taken the spread offense and they've taken it and evolved it to a different level.¬† There's a ton of plays and a ton of reads, and I've made the statement before that in my next life I sure do not want to come back as a defensive coach.¬† It's just too hard and too many headaches.
There's a lot of teams that are going to the up‑tempo offenses where they're manufacturing a ton of plays, hyper speed type offenses.¬† Again, you look at our numbers, we met our goal this weekend as far as average per rush against Marshall and average per pass completion against Marshall, but they had a ton of points and a ton of yardage.
People aren't used to seeing 100 plays on every given Saturday.¬† In the NFL I don't believe the offense has ever has had more than 45 to 50 plays a game, so you're seeing twice as many plays at the college level.¬† And then sometimes early in the season when heat is a factor, again, I look at Marshall coming into our game and they had played West Virginia, a high‑scoring offensive football team on a very, very hot day, and their defense was on the field a lot, and they got wore out.¬† So it was really hard to assess exactly how good Marshall was on defense based on two of their first three opponents were teams that ran about 100 plays in about 100 degree heat.
So I think that inordinate amount of plays and the style of offense and the spread offense evolving and the dual‑threat quarterback being able to feature a passer and a runner and spreading the field and spreading the defense thin, I think all those things together make up these unbelievable scores that you see on Saturdays.
Q.¬† It even seems like some of the rules changes have favored the offense.
DANNY HOPE:¬† Well, some of the rules changes that favor the offense were made years ago as far as you can use your hands more in pass protection, and that was done for some obvious reasons.¬† I think there's tougher calls now.¬† The ball is in the air, the ball is all over the place, and the defenders are close to the receivers.¬† There's maybe more opportunities for PI on either size of the ball.
So I think the game is much tougher to call, and at the same time things are getting sped up.¬† There's people snapping the ball with 25 to 28 seconds left on the 40‑second clock.¬† So things happen in a hurry, and that makes it a little bit more of a challenge for everyone involved in the game, the offense, the defense, the officials, the coaches.
Q.¬† Talk about how you think Devin Smith is doing this year.
DANNY HOPE:¬† I think he's doing pretty good.¬† I think he's hit the wall a little bit.¬† He came to Purdue as a mid‑year guy from a junior college, and he is a joy to coach, a fantastic guy to be around.¬† Very, very big.¬† He brings some things to the table that we desperately need on our football team, some larger offensive linemen, and he is jumbo size, 6'7", about 330 pounds, and he's got some fight to him.
Playing football at this level takes an unbelievable commitment at any level.¬† He puts a lot more time into being a student athlete at Purdue than he probably did in high school and at the junior college that he attended prior to coming to Purdue.¬† He's probably hit the wall a little bit from a fatigue standpoint.¬† I see him early in the morning, he's lifting weights and going to class, and then he's in study hall in the evenings and he's usually around until 10:00 or 10:30 night at the office.¬† Usually when I'm wrapping up and trying to get out of here, Devin is still here with his tutors and his mentors and studying.¬† So I think he's had a lot of input.¬† He's put a lot of effort into it, and he's hit the wall a little bit.
But I like his development.¬† I particularly liked his performance this past Saturday.¬† I think that was his best performance this past Saturday.¬† I like his development, and I like coaching him.¬† I think he's going to be a very good player for us.¬† He can help us win now, and he can certainly play better and increase our odds of winning.
Q.¬† He's a JuCo guy who got thrown in pretty early here.¬† Do you feel like his ceiling is still pretty high as far as what he can learn this year?
DANNY HOPE:¬† Just from a playing standpoint, if you're talking about performance on the field and getting it out of the stance in a hurry and being sure about where he's going and the techniques to use, he still has a long way to go to be a polished‑up offensive lineman in our offense.¬† From a physical standpoint, even though he's 6'7" and 330 pounds, he still hasn't had the great opportunities to train under Duane Carlisle and our sports performance staff for more than a semester and summer school.¬† I really think this time next year that he'll be a whole different animal in some ways from a physical standpoint.¬† He'll be leaner and faster, and he'll be stronger.¬† He'll build a lot of strength between now and this time last year, so I think he has a very good ceiling.
I think he's done a heck of a job.¬† To be honest with you, he has done more early in his career at Purdue than I thought he would coming in, so I'm very pleased with him, but he's not exactly where we want him at yet.
Q.¬† I'm probably going to have to ask you about Ralph until he actually plays, so I'll jump on that grenade.¬† What do you think about Ralph, and could this be the week?
DANNY HOPE:¬† It could be.¬† It could be.¬† You know, you have to look and see exactly where he's at, and it takes time.¬† Just like last year he's going to be better at the end of the season than at the beginning of the season.¬† Right now is he going to be more effective than Akeem Hunt or Raheem Mostert or Shavers or some of the other backs that we have right now that are fully healthy and playing fast and playing physical, and Ralph is one of the better players on our team, and I think one of the better running backs that I've been around.¬† I think he's a dynamite player, a make‑you‑miss, catches passes, physical, excellent blocker, outstanding player, but he's coming off of his third ACL.¬† So is he going to be more effective in the games right now than the other running backs?¬† I'm not exactly sure, even though I think he's getting much closer to being ready to play, and I think in his mind he thinkshe is, which is a good thing, because again, it's his call as far as when he allows us to have the liberty of putting him in the game at our discretion.¬† Just because he says he's ready doesn't mean we're going to put him in.¬† But we're not going to put him in until he says he's ready, and he feels like he's ready now.¬† So there's a chance he could play this Saturday, but again, situations will determine that and also the performance of some of the other running backs, that's going to determine some of it.
Q.¬† At some point even if he doesn't play this year, would you encourage him to perhaps try to come back for a sixth year?
DANNY HOPE:¬† I'd get on my knees and beg him, okay.¬† He's a really good football player.¬† He's a really good football player.¬† I like Ralph.¬† I like coaching Ralph.¬† He's a tough guy, old school in some ways.¬† He can do it all on the field and have an awfully lot of respect for Ralph Bolden.¬† If it worked out that he didn't play this year‑‑ and I believe he'll play this year.¬† There's things that are going to happen, and he's a guy that can help us win, so I think the odds are he's going to play this year, I just can't guarantee it's going to happen this weekend.¬† But if for some reason he didn't, we'd love to have him back for another year.
Q.¬† You came into the season with some high expectations for you tight ends and I'm sure still have those, but would you like to see them become a bigger part of the offense?
DANNY HOPE:¬† I think we have to.¬† We've done some things with them.¬† Sometimes you can't see exactly what we're doing with them.¬† We flex them out some to get some bigger blockers on the perimeter which is really important for us because, I don't mean this past week, but over the course of the season that's been part of our game plan to get the tight ends out on the perimeter some to manufacture some bigger blockers, some of our quick screens that we do out on the flanks, and that's helped us some, and then a lot of the plays that we run, the run plays that we run, the tight end is a factor in it, some of the plays we get the ball out on the outside, the tight ends are involved in those plays, and we'd like to be able to hit the tight end more in the passing game, and I think we can do that more as we get better with our protections and get better at the dropback passing part or our offensive attack.¬† I think the tight ends are going to be featured more, but absolutely I'd like to see Gabe Holmes catch more footballs and be a bigger part of the stats on offense.¬† I like what I'm seeing from him as far as a blocker and the things he's doing to help us win, but we'd love to get the ball in his hand more.
Q.¬† I know Crosby is playing on Saturdays, but is he a little bit nicked up?
DANNY HOPE:¬† He hasn't hardly practiced in a couple of weeks.¬† He's a very good player, understands his position.¬† He's a low rep guy, and Saturday during the game most of the time he was very productive.¬† Some of the things that we ask him to do are things that it takes a person that's a very good technician, guy that knows how to do it, and when we called on him Saturday he did a good job, but he didn't practice very much at all last week.
Q.¬† Why is this team ready for Big Ten play?
DANNY HOPE:¬† We don't have any choice, do we?¬† That's who's up next.
We're a good football team.¬† Defensively, a strong front, defensive front, a very good defensive front, one that can compete with any football team.¬† And then our secondary is talented and experienced, and even though we could have done a few things a little bit better on Saturday, we did get two pick‑sixes and broke up some plays.¬† And I think we have a very good defensive football team, one that over a period of time could be on the brink of becoming a great defensive football team.¬† That was one of our goals for the season.
And then offensively we're manufacturing some points.¬† Even though we've been a little bit disjointed at the quarterback position, we're still doing very well statistically, 3rd down conversions, red zone, passing offense.¬† Our rushing offense in the second half of Saturday wasn't a whole lot to write home about, but throughout the course of the season I think we're still maybe in the top four or five of rushing offenses in the Big Ten.
We have a very good punter who's as good as any punter on any given Saturday, and I think we've done some things special teams wise from a coverage standpoint that I feel good about.
So I think if we‑‑ we have to get better as a team, just like last week one of our goals was to get better as a football team.¬† I think our performance and our play this past Saturday will put us in a position to take some steps as a football team the better that our quarterback plays.¬† He's just now starting to get back in sync and back in rhythm.¬† The better he performs and the better the players around him perform, then we have the potential to be very explosive on offense.¬† We have to progress some obviously on the offensive live line to give our quarterback and our skill players a chance to be impact players throughout the course of the game.¬† But I think from a personnel standpoint and from a performance standpoint so far this season, we're certainly ready for Big Ten play.¬† But again, we don't have any choice; it starts Saturday, ready or not.
Q.¬† You feel like you are ready?
DANNY HOPE:¬† Absolutely.
Q.¬† This is a question about Robert Marve.¬† Last time we spoke with him he said he had to prove to the coaches that he was ready.¬† What will you be looking for out of him at practice that will tell you that he's ready to get in the game and everything will be fine with him?
DANNY HOPE:¬† The best way to tell if he's ready is going to be based on how he performs in a game.¬† We're not going to go live on him out in practice with three ACLs.¬† Before he got injured, he had really developed as a quarterback.¬† He was doing the best he's done since he has been at Purdue and the best he's done in his collegiate career.¬† Here's a guy that's been in college football for six years and he's played 20 something games.¬† If you take how much playing time he had in each one of those games, he doesn't have much more than a full season of football throughout his collegiate career.
I think if he goes back out at practice and he looks like he's getting the ball out of his hand in a hurry ‑‑ that was the one thing that really stuck out in my mind the last two or three weeks of his development prior to becoming injured again was the way that he was getting the ball out of his hand in a hurry.¬† That negated some of the rush.¬† It's hard to always fit up just right against the defensive pass rushers that we see on any given Saturday, and Robert was getting the ball out of his hand in a hurry to the point where it was negating the rush some, and he was very accurate with his passes and certainly has a magnificent arm and a great competitor.
I think if he looks like he's ready in practice, that'll make us feel better about his potential to make a difference in the ballgame, but I don't think we're really going to know exactly where he's at until you put him out there in a real live game.
Q.¬† A lot talk about Denard Robinson.¬† He factors into everything they do offensively, but beyond him, what concerns you about their offense that they could potentially bring here on Saturday?
DANNY HOPE:¬† Again, they have several different plans.¬† They have a plan to feature two backs and be a two‑back offense and be a physical offense.¬† They can come downhill and run it at you.¬† They have a plan to feature designed quarterback run plays.¬† They have a plan to feature decision plays where you can either hand the ball off or throw the ball to certain route structures that look open and available based on a pre‑snap read, and then they have a shotgun offense that features just about every type of quarterback run read game imaginable to football.
He's a handful, but what they do presents a lot of things that you have to prepare for, and then they run a lot of different formations.¬† They have several personnel groupings, whether it's one back and one tight end or two tight ends and one back or one tight end and two backs or two backs and no tight ends.¬† They have a ton of different personnel groupings that they feature and a lot of formations that they feature out of each and every one of those personnel groupings, and it's hard at times early in your preparation.¬† We hope we learn more about them as the week goes on, but early in the preparation part, it's hard to get a handle on tendencies, and I think that allows them to be unabridged in their play calling, and they have a host of play makers that they can get the ball to.
They're a lot to defend, and Denard is a big piece of that equation.¬† He's a great athlete, great player, great competitor, but he's surrounded by a ton of good players and a fantastic scheme.
Q.¬† Obviously one common opponent you have is Notre Dame.¬† Do you take anything out of that game, watching Michigan play Notre Dame, and then kind of comparing it to what you did against Notre Dame?
DANNY HOPE:¬† Well, I think it's encouraging in some ways that we played Notre Dame right to the wire with a chance to win the ballgame and recognized the fact that if we could have minimized a few errors, maybe played a little bit better that we could have increased our chances of winning despite a tough break or a tough call somewhere.¬† The Notre Dame game gave our team some confidence in spite of not getting a win.
We watched Notre Dame versus Michigan, and it's a great match‑up, both very fine football teams.¬† They're very similar in a lot of ways as far as what they have from a personnel standpoint.¬† Notre Dame turned the ball over some, Michigan turned the ball over some.¬† Notre Dame's offense had some opportunities to manufacture some extra drives with the amount of turnovers that Michigan had produced in that game, and yet Michigan was still able to hold their offense to a minimum.
So I think their defense is really strong.¬† But it's hard to say, looking at our game against Notre Dame and looking at Michigan's game against Notre Dame, which team would have the edge.¬† Different style of offenses and different situations throughout the course of the game that affected the outcome of the game.¬† And then both games, different scenarios affected the outcome of the game.
I think maybe we can gain a little bit of confidence going into the game this weekend because we played them really close and Michigan did, as well.
Q.¬† The versatility of Robert Maci, he started defensive end Saturday.¬† You could tell us how many snaps he played there.¬† But for him to‑‑ he said he enjoyed putting his hand in the ground again, just the versatility that he gives you in these situations.
DANNY HOPE:¬† Well, he is a difference maker for us from a personnel standpoint.¬† He's a very good player, but he allows you to do some things from a personnel match‑up where you don't have to do wholesale changes.¬† They can come out there and be a run‑oriented football team and you can have a Robert Maci at the Sam position, and he plays it well, and he's a big Sam linebacker.¬† He's 6'4?" and 255 pounds and plays the position very well.¬† And then at times he can put his hand down against some of the more pass‑oriented football teams, and he's a very good pass rusher, really understands‑‑ the defensive end position has changed a lot with all the things that they are presented with as a result of the shotgun and the zone reads and all the quarterback run reads and all the variety of offenses out there, the defensive end position has become a lot more difficult to play, and Robert Maci is a very, very bright person and has an excellent football IQ.¬† So there's some times you'd like to have Robert Maci out there in the game playing in, but he's a very good football player, but he's also a good decision maker from an assignment standpoint.¬† And then also he's the best Sam linebacker we have by far just from a size, athleticism and experience standpoint.
He's had a great year, and a lot of the NFL scouts are coming out and looking at our players and really like Robert Maci because he's big and good‑looking and has a good body, and he can service your football team as a Sam linebacker, he can service your football team some as defensive end, and before he became old enough and mature enough to be a star for us in the front seven, he was our top special teams performer a couple years ago.¬† And I think that said a lot for a guy if he's a set‑your‑hair‑on‑fire, wide‑open guy that can be your special teams player.¬† I think Robert Maci is a very good football player and been a difference maker for our defensive football team this year.
Q.¬† How many things have to go right on an interception return for a touchdown?¬† You had two of them the other day.¬† Stats tell you that this doesn't happen very much, but how many things do have to go right for something like that to happen.
DANNY HOPE:¬† Well, if you throw it that many times, that increases the odds of you getting some interceptions, and we have good defensive backs, experienced defensive backs.
One of the things that we do in practice is when the ball is on the ground in practice, whether it's a fumble or whether it's just an incomplete pass, our closest defender will scoop that ball up and he'll get down the sidelines and score and the rest of his teammates are to lead him scooping and scoring down the sidelines and that's a standard that we have in practice.¬† It does two things for you:¬† It trains your defense to get out in front of the man that just got the takeaway to provide some blocks downfield, and it also conditions your football team throughout the course of practice, and I think that we did a good job on Saturday when we picked the ball of scooping and scoring, and some of the defenders were getting in position to provide some blocks.
But how many right things have to happen?¬† Well, if they throw it a lot and if you pressure the quarterback and disrupt the front and get him out of sync and he's throwing it 60, 70 times, you'll probably get you a couple picks.¬† Every game that they throw it that many times, you ought to get a couple of picks, and if a guy like Ricardo or Josh that runs real fast and has guys out in front of him blocking, I think the odds are pretty good.¬† It hasn't happened a lot.
Q.¬† Are you satisfied with the home attendance here at Ross‑Ade for the season so far?
DANNY HOPE:¬† Well, we still have some empty seats, and I this I that's a work in progress.¬† I think the fans are coming back.¬† I like the fact ‑‑ I don't know where the student body count is at, but I like the student body participation.¬† The Ross‑Ade brigade, the students that are there with a purpose to make a difference in the stadium on Saturday, that group has been there.¬† They've been loud, they've been vocal, their numbers are increasing.¬† There wasn't as many students in the stands pregame.¬† I don't know where they were at.¬† I guess they were still getting their pregame warmup going.¬† But when the ball was kicked off and I looked up in the stands, there were a ton of students here and a lot of energy.
I think the stadium is alive again and there's energy in there and our football team is playing well, and I think the fans that are there are having a great time, but there's still some empty seats.¬† But this weekend is huge from a fan base standpoint.¬† We've won, I believe, eight of our last 10 ballgames in Ross‑Ade and we're undefeated, 3‑0 right now in Ross‑Ade Stadium.¬† So this is a big weekend for us.¬† A win this weekend will put us in a great position as a football team, but I think it'll really reenergize our fan base and get a lot of our fans to get on board and be with our football team as we pursue not only just a great season but potentially a championship year.
Q.¬† Do you have fall break this weekend and whether it'll hurt the atmosphere with people going home?
DANNY HOPE:¬† It could make a difference in attendance some, but I don't think it's going to change the atmosphere.¬† We're going to be there playing hard against Michigan.¬† If we win the ballgame this weekend, we're in a favorable position in regards to the league or division, there'll be a ton of fans there, a ton of students there.¬† Michigan always brings a great crowd, so the tickets that we don't sell to our fans I'm sure the Michigan fans will buy, so it's going to be a great atmosphere and a good crowd, and I think there will be a lot of energy and a great ballgame to be at.
Q.¬† Do you think you're running more man coverage this year because of your increased confidence in Ricardo and Josh on the outside?
DANNY HOPE:¬† Well, you have to have confidence in players to lock them up in man coverage, and we are playing a little bit more man coverage.¬† Sometimes it's hard to tell because we can line up and look the same and play man or zone, and sometimes you can be in zone coverage, but based on the formations, you can have a defensive back that is playing the man in his zone with man‑to‑man techniques, but we are playing a little bit more man coverage.¬† Sometimes that's also attached with some of our zone concepts.
Q.¬† Before the season started, you talked a little bit about how you wanted this program to reemerge on the national stage.¬† Is this the first game that you guys really have an opportunity to do that this season?
DANNY HOPE:¬† Well, and I think the first game of the season was the first opportunity.¬† By winning and playing well, I think we positioned ourselves as a football team to be in a position to play a ranked opponent, a team that played well last year, won 11 football games.¬† A win this Saturday would be a huge win for our football team, and I think it would be an excellent step in the right direction in our pursuit of returning our football program to national prominence.¬† Michigan won 11 games last year and they're an excellent football team.¬† Great opportunity, but we've positioned ourselves to be in this position.¬† If we were 1 and 3 right now it wouldn't be the same.
Q.¬† Is that something you talk to your team about during the week?
DANNY HOPE:¬† We talk to our team about some aspects of returning the program to national prominence.¬† What we talk to our team mostly about is what it's going to take for them to win each and every Saturday against the opponent that we're playing, but it's all part of the master plan and all part of our mission statement as a football team, and it's something that I think about on a daily basis all day and all night long.
That's why we're here.¬† We came to Purdue to return the program to national prominence, and we sold that to our recruits in the recruiting process, and we expect to win and we expect to do well, even though we've been a little bit shorthanded and we've had some rough sledding at times in the last couple of years.¬† We've still been able to manufacture some signature wins as a result of our expectations in ourselves.
Q.¬† They had, I believe, a bye week this week.¬† What kinds of‑‑ I don't want to say problems, but what kinds of things can get thrown into a bye week that make it more difficult for you to play a team coming off a bye week?¬† Do you see teams throwing in new plays?¬† You already talked about formations and things like that.
DANNY HOPE:¬† There will be some wrinkles.¬† They'll have time to look at what we do and come up with some new wrinkles to try to exploit some of the tendencies that we may have and some of the plays that we call throughout the course of the season.
I know in our bye week, in our preparation for Marshall, it helps us in a lot of ways because against their hyper speed, no‑huddle offense, you had to get some work on that from a recovery standpoint and a conditioning standpoint, but you couldn't climb that whole mountain in just three or four days right before the ballgame or you'd wear them out.¬† So we had a chance to prepare for Marshall during the open week, get the process down how we were going to substitute our players in and out of the ballgame, and we did that frequently this past Saturday; we probably played more players in that football game than any football game I've ever been a part of.¬† No, I am serious.¬† We went into the game ‑‑ I believe we played 22 defensive players only in the first quarter, but we had a week to plan that and to try it out and to get the wrinkles and the kings out of it, and Michigan will be in the same position this week.¬† They can see some areas of their play that they want to do better at, to increase their chances of winning, and they have time to get some of the wrinkles out of their performance and also some time to put some new wrinkles in against some of the plays that we call, some of our tendencies.
There will be some new things.¬† Last year when we played them, I thought they did a really good job of coming into the game and spreading the wealth around.¬† We were really geared to stop what we had seen them call in their first‑‑ whatever many games it was prior to our game, and they did some things that were different, some things that were new, and they created some problems for us.¬† So we are going to have to be smart with our alignments and assignments and be able to execute our base defense to get a handle on exactly what they're trying to hang their hat on throughout the course of the game this Saturday.
Q.¬† You look at this offense, and I don't think anybody expects this to be a 50/50 run‑pass offense or even 50/50 yardage run‑pass, but are you getting the kind of balance out of this offense now that you really want to get out of this offense?
DANNY HOPE:¬† I think from a numbers standpoint we have, but again, you have to take what the defense gives you.¬† You can go into a ballgame and said I want to be 50/50 run‑pass, and they have the line of scrimmage and the box loaded up.¬† Well, guess what, you're not going to call more run plays in that game.¬† You'll have to maybe go to the air a little bit more.
We like to be balanced.¬† I think we go into every game with a balanced attack, but sometimes there's certain things that present themselves throughout the course of the ballgame that mandates that you go heavy in one direction or the other.
In the second half of the ballgame against Marshall, we were up by four scores, and we would have liked to have ran the ball more.¬† It just only makes sense.¬† But Marshall, they loaded the box up, realizing we were probably going to run the ball a little bit more, and again, we were pounding the square peg in the round hole a little bit trying to force the run, and as a result we weren't near as productive in our run game in the second half.
So if we had not had the big lead, we probably would have came out in the second half and used the same game plan we used in the first half and mixed the run and the pass up a little bit more, and that might have been a little bit more productive for us.¬† But we had a four‑score lead and we were trying to burn the clock up some without having to huddle up every time to keep their offense off the field.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports