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PURDUE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 9, 2012
THE MODERATOR:¬† We'll go ahead and get started with Coach Hope.
Q.¬† Get your general thoughts on Wisconsin.
COACH HOPE:¬† Well, they're a big, strong, physical football team like they have been in the past.¬† They have a new quarterback.¬† They're on their second starter so far this season, so they're new at that position.¬† But obviously they're very strong with their running game, enormous offensive line, and some great proven backs in the back field.
Defensively they're very physical throughout the defensive front and they have enough good defensive linemen to rotate a bunch of good, tough players throughout the course of the ball game so they stay fresh and play really hard.¬† So they're a good football team, big physical football team, much like they have been in the past.
Q.¬† Is this a must win for both teams.¬† Do you look at it that way?
COACH HOPE:¬† Well it certainly would be a key win as far as the leaders division goes.¬† Again there's a lot of football left to be played and a lot of parity in the league and on any given Saturday there are a lot of surprises, it's tough to pick them on Saturdays right now, particularly in the Big Ten, but certainly it's a key win in regards to the race to be number one in the leaders division, certainly.
Q.¬† O.J. Ross and the contributions that he's made so far for the team this year.
COACH HOPE:¬† O.J.'s having a heck of a year and I'm not surprised because he's worked really hard in playing football and doing well is very important to O.J.¬† Obviously he had some rough sledding earlier in his career.¬† He's kind of a turnaround guy in some ways because he gives a great effort in practice, he's been much more physical on the perimeter as a willing blocker.¬† But he's been, done a great job of catching the balls that we have thrown to him.¬† He has very strong hands.¬† Cat quick hands.¬† And has been a big playmaker for us throughout the course of the season.
So he's having a heck of a year.¬† I'm not surprised, he's very talented, very fast, even though he's a bit of a short strider, he will run a 4.3 or low 4.4 every time in the 40 yard dash.¬† And he bench presses close to 400 pounds.
So he has some great physical tools and he's playing very well and I believe he's the leading receiver in the Big Ten at this point in time as far as the number of receptions per game.¬† But certainly one of our top players and doing a great job.
Q.¬† Before I ask you about this week a little bit, just wanted to ask you for a story I'm working on, you saw with Marshall last week a team that really pressed the metal as far as getting as many plays run in a game as it can.¬† And they are certainly not alone.¬† There seems to be more and more teams attempting that approach.¬† Do you, would you support any kind of move to try to slow the game down a little bit, whether more time between plays or getting the giving the defense a chance to substitute like some coaches suggested or do you think that's just the trend that's here to stay and everybody needs to kind of deal with it.¬† What's your take on that?
COACH HOPE:¬† I think it's a trend and it will probably stay for a long time or at least some teams will hang on to it forever and there's a lot of hyper speed offenses out there on any Saturday and you can look at the scores and the numbers are eye pop engine some ways.¬† I think the rules that are in place are fair as long as they are executed properly by the officials.
For example, if you have an offensive team on the field and they want to substitute, so they run a couple players from the sidelines into the huddle, well at that point in time the defense is not in position to substitute.¬† Just because two wide receivers ran into the huddle from the sidelines, you have to see who leaves, from the defensive stand point, before you can decide who you're going to send on the field to play in regards to matching up of personnel.
So at the time that's allotted by the officials, okay, it should be regulated by or dictated by when the offensive players leave the huddle or leave the field, that's when the officials have to give the defense time to get their substitution in, get their matchups in, and give them a chance to line up.¬† So I think if the mechanics from the officiating standpoint, if they're executed properly and the time allotted is based on when the offensive personnel leaves the huddle, not when the personnel comes into the huddle, I think that there's a big difference in that translation.
Q.¬† Just to be clear, say like Purdue was on defense and your opponent subs out a running back and a tight end, as long as the defense is given a chance to counter that, you're okay kind of with what's happening right now.¬† Is that it?
COACH HOPE:¬† Well if there's a fair opportunity to substitute, I can't imagine what anybody would have anything to complain about.
I thought we did a great job against Marshall, we did mass substitutions.¬† We substituted at times 11 for 11.¬† Any time they substituted someone into the ball game we substituted someone into the ball game.¬† Any time the ball got near our sidelines we substituted someone into the ball game.
But, again, from a management standpoint, I think it's key that the officials, that they give the defense the opportunity to substitute once the offensive players leave the huddle, not when the new offensive players come into the huddle.¬† You have to see who is leaving the huddle before you can make your decision in regards to what personnel you want to send into the ball game.
Q.¬† Part of the reason this came, up other than the fact that there are more plays being run, is that Nick Saban last week, and I'm guessing you didn't hear this because you were preparing for your game, but he made some comments to the effect of that it could become a player safety issue.¬† He thinks there's some player safety issues involved.¬† And he kind of hinted that he would like see the game slowed down a little bit.¬† Now how much of that is gamesmanship and how much is serious, I don't know, but do you see any player safety issues at all for defensive players in that setup or do you buy that argument?
COACH HOPE:¬† I don't know where the safety issue would be at, if you had a fair chance to substitute.¬† No one's hit until the ball's snapped.¬† So if people leave the field and people come up and you line up and play football, then the rules haven't changed after the snap.
So other than exhaustion as a safety issue, if you don't have enough good players, you have to leave your top players on the field for a hundred snaps early in the season when it's 100 degrees outside, that's a safety issue.
But again, you have to have a team that's in great shape and you never know how many plays you're going to have to defend on any given Saturday.¬† So I'm not on the same page about the safety issue with him.
Q.¬† Switching to this week's game a little bit, it sounds like Ralph Bolden is close enough where you're thinking you can use him and maybe use him quite a bit.¬† Is that accurate and where does he stand for this week?
COACH HOPE:¬† Well I hope that's accurate.¬† Odds are we'll probably find out this weekend.¬† We weren't exactly sure last weekend how much he would get in the ball game.¬† We knew that he was close or maybe ready, but again we feel a little bit better about seeing him get a few more reps in practice and I thought he got some of that done last week.¬† Got in the physical part of practice a little bit more.
We're just now getting to the point where we're asking him to fit up on some of the linebackers and the ends and in regards to blitz pick up.¬† And again, we haven't tackled Ralph in practice and we will not, but I think that Ralph probably could have helped us some this past Saturday and was maybe ready this past Saturday, but we are a lot more comfortable about playing Ralph this weekend and I think Ralph is more comfortable as well.
Q.¬† I realize you're not going to give away your game plan, but if you played him, would you like to think you're going to go in there and say, hey, we're going to play him at least 20 plays or something like that or is he still in a situation where the game would kind of dictate that a little bit?
COACH HOPE:¬† We have a lot of good players, a lot of skill players on offense, I think that we do a good job of spreading the wealth around some and I think that allows us to keep our players safe and fresh and create some longevity with our skill players throughout the course of the season.
I don't anticipate putting Ralph in the game for 25 or 30 plays or 20 something carries.¬† That would be a lot I think for a guy that hasn't played in a game in almost a year and a guy that hasn't had that many reps.¬† But he does look fast, quick and confident and sure in practice as he's running the plays behind the number one offense so I'm comfortable with Ralph going in the game and I think he can help us win.¬† How many plays or what kind of plays, that's still yet to be determined.
Q.¬† At the quarterback position are you, are we at a situation back where, I know you said Caleb is the starter, but are we back to kind of where we were earlier in the year where Caleb was maybe going in the Notre Dame game where Caleb was number one, but Marve was doing some pretty good things and you wouldn't hesitate to use him if need be?
COACH HOPE:¬† We were at that place this past Saturday.¬† Where Caleb was number one and we were comfortable to put Marve in the game if we needed to or saw a reason that he could come in and maybe make a difference in the ball game and that happened this past Saturday.
Caleb was playing, starting and he was playing very well, and he hit his hand on someone's helmet and came out of the ball game.¬† And at that point in time we were behind some, I think by three scores, we put Robert in the game.¬† And he has a magnificent arm and has some big play potential about him.¬† And I felt like he went in and impacted the game some for while he was in there, particularly early.
But we'll make a decision towards the end of the week as far as our rotation plan goes whether or not we'll have a predetermined plan of rotation or whether or not we'll play it by ear and use him as needed.¬† There's a difference, in that he's very capable of doing both.¬† He's a very good player.
Q.¬† Any concern at all about a carry over affect, because I know your guys were really excited to start Big Ten play after playing pretty well in the early part of the season and obviously they were disappointed in the outcome and stuff.¬† With college kids I'm always interested, is there any concern about a carry over this week or do you think they have put that behind them and realize that if you beat Wisconsin this week a lot of your goals as far as in the division and stuff are still out there?
COACH HOPE:¬† Obviously the magnitude or the potential magnitude of this game will get our team's attention and obviously we'll need all of our focus to be towards getting ready to play a Wisconsin team.
I would be disappointed it we were so weak minded that we would let a loss linger and affect the potential of the outcome of our team in the season.¬† So I believe that we have weathered the storm, obviously very disappointed that we didn't win and embarrassed that the score was lopsided in our own stadium, but again, after going back and looking at the film, I thought our team gave a good effort and played very hard and at times we were very close, but if you give that outfit a little bit of space and a great player like Denard a little bit of light he'll take it the to distance.¬† And he did three or four times this past Saturday.
But we'll bounce back as a football team, I don't have any reservation about that part of it.¬† We have to play better, that's for sure.¬† We have to play better as a football team and we're capable of doing so, but we're excited about the opportunity this weekend and that's where our focus is at.
Q.¬† When you're facing a running back like Monte Ball, what makes him so effective and why has he been so effective and in particular in scoring touchdowns?
COACH HOPE:¬† He's been surrounded by a lot of great players.¬† He himself is a fantastic player, a very strong runner, he can make you miss, powerful runner.¬† You watch a lot of film on him, he breaks a lot of tackles.¬† All of their running backs break a lot of tackles.¬† They're a physical outfit.
He's had the luxury to run behind one of the biggest and best offensive lines in all of college football.¬† And then last year he had a great season and then the fact that they had an out standing quarterback with Russell Wilson I thought opened some opportunities for the other playmakers on their football team.¬† It particularly their running backs.¬† And again this season he's a featured back and has rushed for almost 600 yards already, and the season's only five games old, into the season only five games and he's rushed for almost 600 yards.
So he's a great player and someone that you have to wrap up and be physical when you tackle him because he can break tackles and make you miss.¬† And he's excellent as far as reading the blocking schemes and having a feel for where the holes will be, based on the fronts and just has great vision and great feet and is just an outstanding player.
Q.¬† Obviously Wisconsin had an offensive line coaching change early in the year, and maybe perhaps the offensive line wasn't as dominant as it's been in the past, from what you have seen though does this line still look pretty imposing?
COACH HOPE:¬† They're a real challenge.¬† Very large.¬† I think the smallest offensive lineman is 318 pounds.¬† So they still have a fantastic size.¬† They lost some outstanding offensive linemen from their team last season and they have some more outstanding offensive linemen waiting for their opportunity and so continuity is really important on the offensive line.¬† They lost some guys to the NFL draft last year, some great players, they had a lot of stars and they had a lot of continuity.
So, like our offensive line, we're not near as big, we have some, we're a very athletic offensive line and we have some starters back, but not near as many starters as we would like to have and we're still developing our continuity up front.¬† And I think Wisconsin is growing and developing in the same way.
But they have a big imposing offensive line and they're still physical and they will still mash you and come off the ball and knock you back and hang their hat on playing big and physical and playing well on the line of scrimmage.
Q.¬† And last thing for me, the defense has given up some significant number of points the last couple games.¬† As you look at the film, is there, one, how concerning is that and two, is it anything in particular that's causing that?
COACH HOPE:¬† Well against Marshall they ran so many plays and we also used the no‑huddle offense against Marshall and our defense was on the field not necessarily an inordinate amount of time, but an awful lot of plays.¬† And we had held Marshall to our, to the goals that we had set going into the ball game as far as how many yards per catch and how many yards per rush, we had held them underneath the goals that we had set.¬† But they had almost a hundred plays, so those numbers add up.
This past weekend we played against a great Michigan football team.¬† A team that won 11 football games last year and had a ton of fourth and fifth year players back on their roster.¬† So they were a physical, mature, well‑executing team on both sides of the ball.¬† They did a great job of executing the multitude of runs and blocking schemes that they have.
And when we looked at the film on Sunday I was very pleased with our defensive effort and there were a lot of plays that were very close to containing their runs some, but they were able to capitalize and nudge it around for a little bit more per play than we would have liked.
Denard had 150 yards rushing on three plays.¬† Three plays where most of the guys on the defensive side of the ball had executed their assignment.¬† Run fits were really important, how we came down and how we fit up on the blockers and how we maintained our gap integrity.¬† That was key going into the ball game.¬† And looking at the film, from a defensive standpoint, I thought we did a really good job with the consistency in regards to our run fits.
I think we were a little bit hesitant to pull the trigger and come down hill and we didn't take the blockers on and execute our run fits maybe quite as early as we needed to in the play and that created a little bit bigger seams, a little more daylight and there were many times we were just inches off and Denard was able to take the play and turn it into big yardage.
So looking at it, we have to do a better job of keying our reads and trigger and coming down hill and fitting up versus the run game.
Q.¬† Where are you with Gaston?¬† Is he good enough to go this week?
COACH HOPE:¬† He's more ready than he was this time last week.¬† And we were able to get some play out of him last week.¬† So I'm optimistic that we'll get play out of Bruce and hopefully better and more than we got last week.¬† Because he was very limited coming into the ball game.¬† He went from doubtful to questionable, whatever the difference is between the two, can't be much.
We weren't sure, going into the game, even late in the week, if he was going to be effective and whether or not he was able to go.¬† And towards the end of the week he was able to practice a little bit.¬† He lined up some and maybe even got caught up assignment‑wise, but he practiced very little last week and he's further along this week than he was last week.¬† So we feel good that he'll be available for Saturday.
Q.¬† What has, aside from the obvious, that he's making kicks, what has Paul Griggs done better here recently that has maybe given you more trust in his abilities?
COACH HOPE:¬† Like you said, making kicks.¬† Making kicks in practice and in the games.¬† And he's become a lot more consistent.¬† When we evaluated him when he came to our camp he was an outstanding prospect.¬† We thought one of the very tops in the nation.¬† And certainly still feel that way.
But he came on board as a true freshman and had some competition and had to press through that.¬† But he had been very consistent in practice.¬† He's got excellent leg strength.¬† He has some polish, for a freshman specialist.
So I think he's a star in the making, potentially a star in the making, with great potential, and becoming more consistent in practice and in the game.¬† So I think his performance speaks for itself.
Q.¬† In terms of decision making before the snap.
COACH HOPE:¬† Whose decision?
Q.¬† I'm not done with my question.
COACH HOPE:¬† Oh, okay.¬† It's not fair whose making the decision.¬† Go ahead.
Q.¬† Making the right reads and adjusting to the front and changing the plays, which quarterback is more accurate?
COACH HOPE:¬† More accurate?
Q.¬† Makes the right calls more often?
COACH HOPE:¬† I think that Caleb TerBush is probably the best decision maker in regards to checking the right plays against the right fronts, the right blitzes, the right protections versus the specific blitzes.¬† He's, I think Caleb TerBush is, that's one of the reasons why he's out quarterback, obviously.
Q.¬† How big of a factor is that specific knowledge or whatever you want to call that in your decision to start Caleb?
COACH HOPE:¬† Well it's a huge factor in quarterback play.¬† The one that can manage it the best, along with if he's talented enough to win with, is the guy that you want to have out there.¬† If decision making wasn't a big part of it, if you weren't really sure that you had certain plays that you wanted to run against certain defenses, then we wouldn't practice we wouldn't have any playbook, we would just send them out there and let them play and run their own deal.
So we don't do it that way.¬† We spend about 80 hours a week preparing our football team to get our self in the best situation based on stats, tendencies, what we expect to see from our opponent on both sides of the ball.
So executing the game plan to the detail of the letter is a very important part of winning, but a very, very important part of playing the quarterback position.
Q.¬† Listening to you the last couple games, you sound perplexed as to why people would question Caleb as the starter.¬† Do you think that's, is that an accurate statement that you just don't understand why people want Robert out there?
COACH HOPE:¬† Well I understand people, okay.¬† But that helps me understand why they would want Robert Marve out there.¬† Obviously he has a fantastic arm and has some big play potential and those are the things that stick out in your mind as a natural response, it's, it's a defense mechanism called repression.¬† That's why there's such a thing called the good old days.¬† The tough things in life or things that don't go well, as a human being, you have a tendency to repress it in some ways.¬† And the good things stand out in your mind.¬† The big plays certainly stand out in the minds of the fans and mine too.¬† That's why we are committed to getting him ready and playing him in the ball games.
But I'm not perplexed as to why some of the fan base would prefer Robert Marve.¬† That's a tendency on a national level.¬† The number two quarterback is always the favorite.¬† All right?
COACH HOPE:¬† Possibly.¬† If not, you wouldn't have anything to write about.
Q.¬† In short yardage situations, I'm talking three yards or fewer, when that's what you need, you've run 27 times and converted 15 of those.¬† So that's like 56 percent in short yardage, when you run.¬† Is that an okay number, 56 percent, or do you think you need to be better when you're trying to run the ball to get the first down?
COACH HOPE:¬† We always want to be better, but you have to look at your numbers when ‑‑ third and three is not considered short yardage, that's considered medium.¬† Third and three and four is medium.¬† But third and two or less are short yardage.
We decide if a play's successful on first down if we get four yards or more.¬† Okay.¬† That makes it second and six or less.¬† And then we decide on a second down if the play's successful or not if we get to third and short or better.¬† And third and short and third and two minus are better.¬† So you might want to redo your research, but 50 something percent is not exactly what we want, but it's not as bad as some outfits that performed in the past.
I would like to be able to knock them out of there every time it's something as short and feel good about making it happen.¬† And that's been the case some throughout the course of this season, we have been awfully good with our third down conversions, I think we're still ranked in the top in our conference and that's even after having a poor performance this past Saturday where we were only about 10 or 12 percent third down conversion.¬† So whatever we're doing, it's working or we wouldn't be ranked top in our league.
We had some good competition this season.¬† Even though our best games came against teams that we were supposed to beat, Notre Dame is ranked one of the top defensive teams in the country I think they're ranked 12th or 13th best defensive team in the country, and I think they're second or third as a scoring defense.¬† And they played a fantastic schedule.
And then going into the ball game we thought Michigan was a very good defensive football team.¬† They had turned the ball over five times against Notre Dame and Notre Dame could only manufacture about 40 more yards of offense than we did.¬† And we had less takeaways than what Notre Dame, that they manufactured in their big game against Michigan.
So again, being more consistent in the running game will make a difference, I think, certainly to convert any third and short, but you don't always have to run it, we can throw it some too.¬† But I like where we're at from a third down conversion rate.
Q.¬† And you do have a better success rate when you throw the ball in the short yardage, just FYI.¬† I was just asking specifically about the run.¬† Do you feel like with the implications of this game with the division and then what you have coming up with two road games that this is kind of a make or break kind of a game for your season?
COACH HOPE:¬† I would hate to think that any one particular game makes or breaks a whole season.¬† If that were the case, really it would take away from your preparation and all the, every team in the nation having a chance to be successful in the end.
No one game should make or break a season, but this certainly is a game that could spring board our team and our program and put us in position to really do some great things as a team and program.
So the magnitude of the game, the opportunity is huge.¬† We all recognize that.¬† But there's still a lot of great football left to be played.¬† And a win this Saturday would be huge for our team, but only if we continue to follow it up with a win the next Saturday, the next Saturday, and the bulk of the time throughout the course of the season.¬† But certainly a huge game.¬† A huge game and a great opportunity for both ball clubs.
Q.¬† You talked about the defense being tentative last week, not coming down hill as fast as they should.¬† I guess why?
COACH HOPE:¬† I don't know if I said tentative or hesitant.
COACH HOPE:¬† There's a little difference.¬† Maybe tentative's the word, but I really feel like sometimes when you play against a great player that sometimes that person can have you on your heels a little bit more than what you would like.¬† We see the film, we were watching the film, we can slow it down and we see everyone going in the right direction and everyone sees their keys and reads and they say okay, pull your trigger and go.¬† And then they hesitate just for a second.
And I think a lot of times when you're going against a great player, he can make you a little bit hesitant to make a decision because you're not exactly sure where he's going to go and when you make that decision, if you're going to get to him, many times, sometimes playing against a player of that quality at times can make you a little bit hesitant to pull your trigger and come down hill.
Again, there were a lot of plays where it was just a successful play.¬† You know, it's second and six, and you want to make sure that they don't get to third and short.¬† And you look at the play and the defense is playing hard and playing tough and thank goodness they tackled everybody, but they got four and a half yards.¬† So they got a little bit more than what you wanted.
And that really added up throughout the course of the ball game.¬† That made a huge difference in the outcome and their ability to score a lot of points and stay on field.
Particularly the opening drive.¬† They had an 18‑play drive and we had one penalty on defense that was probably the largest distance that was traveled throughout the course of that drive.¬† So on every play they got just a little bit more than what we had liked them to have gotten and it added up to an 18‑play drive and ate up the clock the first quarter.
We had played 10 snaps and we were down 21‑0.¬† A pick six and they manufactured a long drive and next thing you know we were behind significantly and had not ran a whole lot of offense.
Q.¬† How did you evaluate the offensive line coming out of Saturday?
COACH HOPE:¬† I thought they played good.¬† Feel a lot of room for improvement.¬† Michigan's a very big physical defensive front.¬† We're going to play against another very big, physical defensive front this Saturday.¬† But I thought they did some things technically better that allowed them to have a little more success protecting the quarterback.¬† There's five guys that are up there playing at one time.¬† Five guys have to block someone most of the time.¬† And sometimes there's a little bit of pressure so you think, well, we're not doing a very good job protecting the quarterback.¬† If the other four guys are blocking the best they ever did and one guy is a little bit on the edge, then you made some improvement.
I saw a lot of guys on the line that played better than they had.¬† It was Peter's best game of the year.¬† He rated in the high 70's.¬† And he played against a very good physical player, one of their defensive tackles who I think is an outstanding player.¬† Peter's had some struggles this season coming off his back injury, but Saturday was his best day.
So I thought our line played better than they have in many some situations, pass protection wise we did a little bit better, we sat back and were a little bit stronger and we took them on and had a little bit better technique and a little bit better fit, were a little bit more sound with our sets.
We would like to have established more of a running game.¬† I thought that Michigan did a great job of how they tweaked their front.¬† I thought that negated the productivity of a couple of our top running plays.¬† Maybe we could have or should have, I know hindsight is 20/20, but maybe have gone in there with a wrinkle or two from a run game standpoint that could have given us an advantage against the fronts that they had adapted to throughout the course of the ball game.
But I thought that our offensive line made some improvement.¬† And that was encouraging because that was an area of our football team that we needed to continue to improve at.
Good players on the offensive line, we do not have very much experience.¬† Kawann Short has more starts in his career than probably three quarters of our offensive line all put together.¬† So even though we have some guys that have started some while they were here, we don't have a whole lot of starts on our offensive line.¬† We're behind reps wise.¬† Continuity wise as well.
Q.¬† Facing a Wisconsin team where their three linebackers had double digit tackles last week against Illinois, being able to take care of those guys so they don't make plays, I guess what's the, what will be the key in that regard?
COACH HOPE:¬† Those are the same two guys that had double digits in tackles in almost all their games last year.¬† They were, I believe when the season ended last year, I believe those two guys were in the Top‑10 tacklers in the league.¬† At least they were for a majority of the season.¬† Very good players.¬† Sometimes it's good to run away from them, where they're not at.¬† Because that can go a long ways at times.
But you have to play physical with condense.¬† Wisconsin is a physical team.¬† Both of their inside linebackers and they move them all around, they will play them anywhere, but they're playmakers and they're old school in some ways where they really get after it and just deliver the big hits and very physical across the line of scrimmage.¬† And even though they use them in coverages some, they're more downhill, get after you, knock you back, tackle you hard, slam you to the ground type linebackers.¬† They're very, very good players.
So hopefully we can block them some without tackling our running backs or maybe run where they're not at some, because they're both outstanding players.
Q.¬† Just how far O.J. has come, it's well documented what happened at the end of last season and how he's picked himself up and playing good football right now.
COACH HOPE:¬† Yeah, I'm very proud of O.J.¬† And there was a point in time I wasn't sure if he would make it.¬† I was concerned that he wouldn't make it here at Purdue.¬† His commitment to school wasn't what we wanted.¬† He had a lot of academic apathy.¬† We had to get on the same page with that.¬† That's something that we don't tolerate in our program.
But then again, sometimes it takes a young guy a couple of years to figure it out.¬† And we're patient, we're a patient staff.¬† I'm glad we were, because he's a heck of a player.¬† But I've really been impressed with his work ethic and I really believe that any time that you outwork the others and put your all into it that odds are you're going to be successful.
I think he has really exemplified that since he was reinstated and put back on scholarship and had to earn his scholarship back and had to earn his position back.¬† I think he's been excellent in regards to the work ethic.¬† He works as hard as the hardest workers we have on our team and I think that's the best thing that I've seen from O.J. Ross.
Now I like the way he plays, but I like fact that he's paying the price to be a great player, not just showing up and assuming he's going to be one.
Q.¬† Talked earlier about the strides Paul Griggs has made this year.¬† Has he cemented himself into that place kicker role or is it a week to week battle?
COACH HOPE:¬† He's our number one place kicker right now.¬† If he continues to improve and be consistent, then I think he can hold on to his position.¬† If he, from a performance standpoint, if he slips and the other guy starts performing better then obviously we'll be back into trying to figure out who our place kicker is.¬† But right now we feel really good about Paul Griggs and he's come a long way, he's hitting the ball well and has a lot of talent and technically is very sound right now and has improved a lot significantly.¬† So he's our guy right now.
Q.¬† Robert Maci seams to be growing more comfortable at linebacker every week.¬† Talk about the transition from defensive end and just the impact he's had on your defense this year?
COACH HOPE:¬† Robert Maci is a not just growing as an outside linebacker, but he's growing.¬† He's getting bigger and stronger and has really matured and looks the part.¬† He's a big, good looking, well proportioned, mature player.¬† And he was always a heck of a football player.¬† But him coming to Purdue and playing the defensive end position, he was two or three years behind from a developmental standpoint size and strength to be a dominating player that we needed in the ball game.
And even though he's played a lot, he's much better now as a senior when he's playing defensive end and I think he's done an outstanding job at the Sam linebacker position.¬† He's a heck of a football player and always has been, but now he's a fifth year senior and he's 20 something years old and has some starts at defensive end and some starts at Sam linebacker and he was our most valuable special teams player a couple years ago.
So he's one of our best players and he's taken his game to a different level.¬† From a physical standpoint he's 6‑4, 250 something pounds and runs well.¬† So we have a lot of scouts, NFL scouts coming to our practice sessions to look at the seniors on our team, in particular Kawann, he draws a lot of scouts to the practice sessions.¬† And a lot of scouts are walking away putting some stars by Robert Maci's name.¬† They're surprised at how he looks and how well he runs and his ability to keep his knees bent while he plays and change direction and the physicality that he plays with.¬† And he's an A plus high character guy.¬† So he's going to be a great investment for some NFL team.
Q.¬† With Wisconsin making a change at quarterback and going to the younger guy as their starter, is there anything you really see differently from them offensively?
COACH HOPE:¬† Well, he's a young player, new to game day and that's different than maybe a Russell Wilson‑type guy that was MVP offensive player of the ACC a couple years in a row and a guy that in his rookie year is a starter in the NFL.¬† So it is a little bit different, obviously.¬† There's no comparison right now.
But that's part of being a young quarterback and a new quarterback.¬† But he's a good decision maker, and they don't put him in positions that he has to, where he could be a liability from a decision making standpoint.¬† He's surrounded by a lot of good players.¬† And he throws the ball very well.¬† Their run game is so strong that he does a good job of cashing in on their play action pass game.¬† He's very good at that.
So I think he's, if you take Russell Wilson out of the equation, I think he's a lot like the quarterbacks they have had in the past.¬† Big, strong, good decision making quarterback that does a great job of managing their offense and makes good decisions.¬† So I think he's a lot like what they have had in the past, taking Russell Wilson out of the equation.
Q.¬† Is there anything that you do differently from a defensive kind of schematic knowing you're playing a young quarterback on a Saturday?
COACH HOPE:¬† We're going to base our game plan based on what we see on the films, obviously.¬† So we'll defend what it is that they present to our defensive football team and obviously he's at quarterback, so we'll have to defend the pass and the run.¬† And even they though don't use him a whole lot as a runner, he's not like Denard, you still have to keep him in check, so we'll play defense the same as we have in the past.
Q.¬† And there was talk about the struggles and the change that they made as far as the offensive line coach position is concerned.¬† Over the last couple of weeks, in watching their film, have they kind of fixed some of those struggles?¬† Are they getting better along the offensive line back to what we're used to seeing from Wisconsin football?
COACH HOPE:¬† I think they're a team on both sides of the ball that's gotten better throughout the season.¬† And then again it's, as I mentioned earlier, that's one position on the team where continuity is key.¬† And they're starting to develop some continuity on the offensive line and they're big and they're talented and I think that they played better the last couple of games than maybe they did the first couple of games, so obviously they're improving.¬† Just like our offensive line, we're improving as well.
Q.¬† I know you've been asked about Caleb and Robert, I guess what do you, what's your thoughts on, what do you want to see from Rob Henry the rest of the year?¬† How do you work him in with the other two guys?
COACH HOPE:¬† We got a plan for Rob Henry and we thought that he would help us win this past Saturday and would be a factor in the ball game.¬† But when you don't have the football very much in the first quarter or the first half, it changes a lot of things.¬† You want to be able to get out there and get in a rhythm and create some continuity, but there was a football game last year that we played in where he didn't have the ball very much in the first quarter and we went ahead and rotated Robert Marve in for Caleb just based on the predetermined rotation, by quarter.¬† And as a result we didn't feel that we gave Caleb a chance to get into some rhythm or get in sync or get untracked.
That was kind of the case again this past weekend where we didn't run enough plays in the first part of the football game to start doing a whole lot of diversity or from a play calling standpoint, manufacturing different quarterback play.
We wanted Caleb to get in the game and get into some rhythm and execute the offense.¬† And we didn't have many plays in the first quarter and not many plays until we were behind someone and that negated some of our game plan that you have to plan for Rob Henry.
Q. ¬†How is Robert Marve doing physically now, having taken contact and do you feel comfortable playing him as much or more this upcoming week given what you saw?
COACH HOPE:¬† I'm amazed really, I've been amazed since he re‑injured it.¬† He re‑tore his ACL in the Notre Dame game and the next day he walked into my office like he's perfectly fine.¬† Very, you know, there was no limp, he had some swelling in his ankle, that usually happens with an ACL injury, usually there's a foot planted in the ground and your foot's in the ground and your leg and knee's going in the opposite direction.¬† That's usually how it happens.
But he had some swelling in his ankle, but I was shocked the day afterwards.¬† Very little signs of a bad knee injury.¬† And in practice he ran around some the latter part of the week.¬† We moved the pocket a little bit and he ran around some and avoided some rush.¬† And we were kind of holding our breath a little bit in the last couple weeks watching that in practice.¬† And he's held up very fine.
And then I just knew Sunday morning he's going to come in really sore or on crutches or a boot or a wheelchair or something, and he walked in the office and he said, I feel great.¬† And he looks fine.
So I feel a lot more confident about his safety, if you will, putting him in the game.¬† Watching him play the other day, he ran and avoided the rush some and played hard and put some pressure on the knee and came through just fine.
So I think he's much more ready and much further along now than I thought he was going into the week last week or even going into the ball game on Saturday.¬† Very pleased with Robert Marve.
Q.¬† There was a lot of hype around the program based on what Kirk Herbstreit had said last week.¬† A lot of other folks.¬† They're college students, they watch TV, they hear things, but do you as a coaching staff ever address stuff like that or do you just let them deal with it?¬† How do you deal with that much outside attention?
COACH HOPE:¬† Well, we meet every day when we practice.¬† And I usually have a few minutes to meet with the team.¬† Obviously they have their position coaches and learn the plays and see the film, so I usually have about 15 minutes every day.¬† And we have some housecleaning issues that we have to deal with and then obviously some direction and focus on the game.
And I follow the social media and what's out there and I kind of keep handle on it.¬† And obviously we knew that when the season began that people considered us pretenders and then basically we progressed a little bit and then we became a dark horse and then contenders and then all of a sudden we became favorites.¬† And we only played three games or so.
So we had to take all of that with a grain of salt.¬† And that was addressed throughout the course of the week, but you never know what's in the minds of these young people now days.¬† But it was addressed and I don't think that they were, you know, fat and sassy or anything, as a result of reading their press clippings.¬† I thought we played a very good team and they played better than we did and we're a very good team and we didn't play as near as well as we needed to and as a result we got beaten at home by a large margin.
Q.¬† One last question on Marve.¬† Do you have a read on how much you can actually ask him to play in games?¬† Is there any cap on how much he can play with his knee?
COACH HOPE:¬† I think as long as his knee holds up he can play as much as he can, as long as he can stand up.¬† I think that sometimes at the quarterback position people don't realize that the stamina and the cardio vascular conditioning that's involved in that.¬† You take off running and everybody's chasing you, trying to kill you, and you got the ball and that takes the wind out of a guy.¬† That's a fighting shape, you know.¬† Get in a fight or get in the ring and that's a whole different type of stamina compared to just practicing or executing the plays.
And so I don't know if he could play a whole game or not, but if his knee would hold up, and if we need him to play the whole game, we would.¬† But I don't know, from a stamina standpoint, how well he would hold up, because we don't run him conditioning‑wise.¬† We do some things to try to keep him in shape.¬† But would it be a good idea to keep him after practice and do wind sprints on his knee with no ACL and a brace?¬† So we don't condition him a whole lot.¬† We have a strength coach, a sports performance coach, a medical staff that's in charge of rehab and they have done some things to keep him in shape, but I have no idea if his stamina will allow him to play 80 snaps.
If he took off running with the ball every time he wouldn't last 80 snaps, he would gas out.¬† I'm sure he would.¬† He's a heck of a player and he's ready to go and that's good for our team.
Q.¬† On Wisconsin, obviously last year they had great quarterback, they had a lot of balance offensively.¬† They still got the passing game, they still got the same guys running the ball, do they have the same sort of balance, maybe not as much as last year, but are they still a pretty balanced offense?
COACH HOPE:¬† They can be, but again it's not the same as having Russell Wilson behind the center.¬† Regardless which team you're talking about.¬† You can take a great player like Russell and put him in anybody's offense and things change.¬† Not just Wisconsin's.
So I don't take anything away from their new quarterback, he's doing a heck of a job, he's a good player and surrounded by a lot of great players and someone they have a lot of confidence in or he wouldn't be their guy.¬† But it's not really fair to compare him to an accomplished player like Russell Wilson who was a top player in the ACC for a couple years and a starter in the NFL and a guy that led them to a Rose Bowl year ago.¬† You can't compare them like that.¬† It's tough.¬† It's too early in his career to do so.
Q.¬† Through five games how do you think your linebackers have played?
COACH HOPE:¬† I think that Robert Maci has done very well.¬† I think he has developed into being one of our best players.¬† I like what we're getting out of Joe Gilliam, he's into it, he has a lot of sense about him as far as making calls and getting people lined up around him on time and in a hurry.¬† And that's really important that you're lined up and someone has the generalmanship to take charge of that role on the field and that's usually the wide line backer.¬† And I think Joe has gotten a lot better.¬† I think he's really improved.¬† So I've been pleased with Joe.¬† I think he's getting better.
And Antwon Higgs has been a good player in the past and it's great to see him back on the field playing and having fun, because he brought a lot of energy to the field and to our defense.¬† So I'm pleased with Joe and Antwon Higgs.¬† Very, very pleased with Robert Maci.¬† And Will Lucas has been solid and consistent throughout the course of the season.
We played some different styles of offenses.¬† We played one two weeks ago that threw it almost every down out of the shotgun.¬† And one last weekend that was a combination of power football and single wing and triple option all combined.¬† And those variety of offenses is a challenge for our linebackers.
But I'm really pleased with Robert Maci.¬† We have done well at that spot.¬† The two guys that haven't played very much the last couple of years getting the bulk of the reps.¬† And Will Lucas has been a solid performer for us throughout the course of the season.
Q.¬† In your coaching career do you either take it by a case‑by‑case basis or do you take it, is there advice one of your mentors gave you in regards to when you coach in a game where you got beat so decisively like Saturday.¬† And my point is some coaches say, burn the tape, forget it, delete it from your memory.¬† And other coaches say, don't ever forget it.¬† What's your philosophy moving forward from this past game?
COACH HOPE:¬† I've been in the game for a long time and there's a couple of games that I didn't want them to see the video.¬† I've been part of that where you played so bad that it's so bad you don't even want to show it to them.
But that wasn't the case this past weekend.¬† I didn't know what to expect when we came in on Sunday.¬† Disappointed with the loss, embarrassed by the score, in Ross‑Ade stadium.¬† And so you don't know what you're going to get until you see the film.¬† But we didn't have anything to be embarrassed about in regards to our effort.
So I think it was important for us to emphasize the play from the past game against Michigan, to really dissect the videotape and sit down with our players so they could see how close they were to making the plays that could have given ourselves a much better chance to compete against a great team that was playing very well.
So there was a lot to be learned from the game this past Saturday.¬† Embarrassing someone sometimes is a motivational tool.¬† It's not my favorite motivational tool.¬† But there was nothing that was really embarrassing on that videotape, it's unfortunate that he got through the seams a couple of times and we didn't have anybody that was fast enough to catch him.¬† But there's a reason why he's rewriting all the record books in the Big Ten and on the national level.¬† He's that quality of a player.
But there was a lot to be learned from the game this past weekend and a lot to be learned from the videotape.¬† So we spent a lot of time with our players looking at their play so that we can improve and play better.
There were a lot of plays throughout the course of the game this past Saturday, that we were really, really close to playing good defense, but close doesn't count.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports