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PURDUE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE


October 16, 2012


Danny Hope


Q.  Indiana obviously scored a ton of points against Ohio State on Saturday night.  After looking at that film, what did they do well, or what might be of assistance to you going forward?  Did you pick up anything from that that might be assistance going forward?
COACH HOPE:  I thought that Indiana did a great job of mixing up their types of plays that were called throughout the course of the game, and did a good job of keeping Ohio State off balance in some way and mixing up the run and the pass, and having some quick hitting runs and some quick hitting passes.
We played Indiana last year, and they do some things from a run‑game standpoint where you have to be really true to your keys and reads, and I felt like they were able to manufacture some running game.¬† Obviously, they're passing the ball very well right now, and that aided to their efforts as well.

Q.  Again, I realize you're not going to do away with your game plan.  But this Ohio State defense is obviously struggling a little bit, and even Urban's called them out some a little.  Is it much different from the last couple years from up there?  Are you seeing a whole lot different from them defensively, or what is your take on it?
COACH HOPE:  Well, certainly a lot of the same great players are back, and they look very good on defense to me in all three phases.  I think they're very strong across the defensive front, and they have excellent linebackers and a couple of new faces in the secondary.  But their defensive backs are very fast and have good size.  But a lot of the same faces are back.
They played in a really tough, hard‑nosed football Game two weeks ago against Nebraska in a key game.¬† Looking at them on film, they are similar to us in some ways.¬† Looking at their defense, it looked like they had some guys that were nicked up and trying to play, and that sometimes can negate the level of your performances in ways.
Again, looking at all their games throughout the course of the season, I think they're very strong defensively.  I think they're ranked in the top 30 in the country in regards to rush defense, and that's been a struggle for our offense as of late to manufacture the run game.  That's very important to us that we do.  So obviously, it's a big challenge for our team.

Q.  Do you need to be a little more diversified as an offense right now?  Not just with the run game, but maybe throw the ball down field a little bit more, if possible?  Is your offense capable of doing that right now?
COACH HOPE:¬† I think on most any offense needs to be diversified.¬† Sometimes from a defensive standpoint, if you're playing a one‑dimensional offense, you can have an advantage in some ways.¬† Sometimes you get behind in a game, and you have to pass it in order to be in position to catch up.¬† That can be a task and it becomes more challenging.¬† So I think we have to be more than a one‑dimensional offense.
I believe we can manufacture a good passing game.¬† We went down field more in the game this past weekend against Wisconsin.¬† The very first play of the game was a deep ball that we hit to Edison, and he caught it and took it down to the one‑foot line.¬† Then we took four or five more shots down the field and had adequate protection, but didn't connect on some of our deeper routes.
Obviously, when you go against a big, strong defensive front, you're going to have to throw the ball some.  We need to score points.  Ohio State scores a lot of points, so the deep ball would have to be part of the plan.

Q.  Quarterback situation, are you going to go with Caleb, or maybe you'll use Rob Henry and give him a chance to play if things work out the way you wanted to?
COACH HOPE:  We played Rob Henry in the game some the other day, and I thought that was the best he'd looked since he sustained his knee injury a year ago, and he's played in the games a little bit, but he seems more confident.  He seems more sure.  He has, in practice, he's been running faster and sticking his foot in the ground and making moves.  He looks much more confident now than did he two or three weeks ago.
We had in the Notre Dame game, we had some game plan that was designed for Rob Henry.  We thought that he'd be back earlier than he was.  But he has some swelling up until three weeks ago.  So his amount of reps in practice and where he was at as far as game day goes, he was still a ways away.  We think he's much further along now.  So I would anticipate Rob Henry being in the game some.  And we're going to start Caleb TerBush, and let him play, and let him take control of the offense and keep him in the game for a sustained amount of time.  Then we'll make a decision about rotating or alternating quarterbacks as the game goes on.

Q.¬† How much this week are you‑‑ you always game plan for an opponent.¬† But after the last two weeks which have been so disappointing.¬† How much are you and the coaching staff just kind of appealing to guys to their heart and saying, hey, guys, look, you've been embarrassed the last two weeks, it's time to step up a little bit?¬† Now we're going into Ohio State, and it's going to take a maximum effort to have a chance.¬† How much are you really kind of appealing to their pride and heart a little bit this week?
COACH HOPE:  Well, obviously, any time you lose it's a disappointment.  When you lose by a big score, it's very disappointing, particularly at home.  So we have shared our disappointments.  Taking a good look as far as where we're at as a football team and the things we need to do in order to get better, obviously, very disappointed in the loss and the score, and in our performance last weekend.
But we have to turn the page and move on.  We can't wallow in it all week long.  We have a great challenge this weekend.  We have to play an excellent game in all three phases to compete with a great football team like Ohio State, and that's where our focus needs to be at on getting better and getting ready to play the next game.

Q.  Defensively what has to happen to pick up the level of play?  Obviously, the last two weeks haven't been what you wanted.  What has to happen to get that defense playing better?
COACH HOPE:  Well, the last two weeks we have not played very well defensively, and then the numbers speak for themselves.  But I felt like the two games were different in some ways.  I felt like against Michigan, even though they had a great day offensively and Denard rushed for 250 yards, there were a lot more plays against Michigan that we were much closer to being successful on.
We were in the right spots from alignment, assignment standpoint, and I thought we were consistent with our keys and our reads.  We probably didn't trigger and come downhill into our run fits quick enough against Michigan.  As we talked about last week, sometimes playing against a great player that has diversity as an athlete that Denard Robinson has, it can get you on your heels some.
But we didn't make that many mistakes against Michigan.¬† We didn't come downhill and execute our run fits like we needed to do against a run‑oriented football team that was running the types of plays that Michigan was running.
This past weekend was a lot more result of alignment and assignment errors.  We were misaligned and misassigned some, and we tackled very poorly.  It was the worst we've tackled around here in a long time, and certainly the worst we've tackled at any point in time this season.  We didn't tackle Denard very well either or he wouldn't have rushed for 250 yards, but we tackled poorly as a defensive football team this weekend, and that allowed the numbers to really rack up.
We went into the ballgame defensively nicked up from a personnel standpoint.  Had a lot of guys on the defensive side of the football that I believe showed courage and went out there and tried hard and laid it on the line.  But guys that were injured throughout the course of the week that you had some question about whether or not they were going to be effective enough on Saturday or not.
You know, Bruce Gaston didn't practice a whole lot, but I thought he played hard, but not as well as he can play from a technical standpoint.  But I thought he gave a good effort and showed a lot of courage.
Brandon Taylor didn't practice at all last week.¬† He went into the game and played some and did some good things, but wasn't quite as physical as he's been in the past.¬† I think this past weekend we were a little thin personnel‑wise, and that's not a good thing when you're going against a great big offensive line like Wisconsin has, and a big, strong running back and the great players that they have.¬† Then it was a result of some missed alignments, a few more missed assignments than what's acceptable, and very, very poor tackling.

Q.  When you face a quarterback like Braxton Miller, I know he's not identical to Denard Robinson, but does he in a lot of ways present the same problems?
COACH HOPE:¬† He presents a lot of the same problems and even more.¬† He's an exceptional passer.¬† They do a great job in their offense keeping the defense off balance, mixing in the run and the pass.¬† They put him in the shotgun and do all of the quarterback run‑read game that you can imagine.¬† They have a lot of good decision‑type plays where he has to make a decision whether or not he's going to run or pass the football.
They do a great job of getting receivers open, and he has an excellent arm.  He's very accurate.  I think he's obviously one of the top players in our league and certainly one of the top players on a national level.  He would in my mind be the top two, three, four players, offensive players in the Big Ten.  You know, you take him, and excuse me, he and Denard Robinson, and the big running back at Michigan State, you know, and there are two or three others.  But he is one of the very top offensive players in our conference.

Q.  The last thing, is Robert Marve okay?  He took some shots on Saturday.  Is he okay?  Is he in the rotation and able to play?
COACH HOPE:  He's fine.  He'll play.  He came out of the game in good shape.  Again, any time you're dealing with an ACL, you don't know exactly what to expect.  But he came out of the game in pretty good shape.  The same way with Ralph Bolden.  We didn't play him a whole lot.  The game speed was still a challenge for him, but he was in good shape on Sunday, and there were no setbacks as a result of he or Robert Marve playing in the game this past Saturday.  No physical setbacks.

Q.  Landon Feichter had 12 tackles and an interception last week.  How does he continue to progress throughout the season?
COACH HOPE:¬† He's playing very well.¬† We would have liked for him to have less tackles.¬† That means the ball carrier was getting past the line of scrimmage into the depth of the safeties, and that's not always a good thing.¬† But Landon's a good football player, and he's very fast.¬† He'll run in the 4.4s, and he's a wide‑open guy, high motor guy, loves football, has a lot of fight about him, is in the right place at the right times, and a guy that gives you his all.
So he's a very, very good football player, and he has been since the day that he came to Purdue.  He was one of those guys on the scout team.  When he was on the scout team as a freshman, you would come in at night time and look at the practice film of the offense, and you'd ask, who is that guy back there No.34 running around making all these plays?
So he's always stuck out as a football player, even when he was a freshman walk‑on the scout team.¬† He was a high‑motor guy that flew to the ball, and played hard, and tackled hard, and made hits, and fought for the ball while it was in the air.¬† He's very competitive, and looked very, very scrappy.¬† So he has a lot of redeeming qualities about him that makes him a good football player.

Q.  With Raheem injured, what do you plan on doing on kickoff return at this point?
COACH HOPE:  We have some options, which is a good thing.  We've had O.J. Ross back there before.  Antavian Edison was back there before.  We went with Danny Anthrop this past weekend.  Anthony Brown is another guy we like back there as a kick returner.  We have good specialists and guys that were very good at that in high school.  Akeem Hunt, I think has done a fantastic job throughout the course of the season.  Very fast, very tough, very courageous.
But he was our off returner, Raheem was our primary returner, and based on the success we had last year as a kickoff return unit, a lot of our opponents were kicking the ball Hunt's way.  I thought he did a fantastic job with it.
So we can take Hunt and leave him as the off returner or make him the primary returner, either way.  He plays winning football at both spots.  If he became the primary returner, then either Anthrop or Edison or O.J. Ross could become the off returner.  But we have a mix of guys that we can use.
I really like Danny Anthrop back there because I think he makes good decisions.¬† He's a good football player, very sure‑handed.¬† He seems to have some composure about him.¬† He's very reckless with his body.¬† He'll turn it up in there and take on the unblocked cover man, which is part of the responsibilities of the off returner.¬† He's also very good with the ball in his hands.¬† So we may go with Danny Anthrop.¬† We went with him the other day and thought he did a good job.¬† So I like him and Antavian Edison and O.J. Ross and Anthony Brown.¬† Any one of those guys could go back in that spot.

Q.  Wanted to ask you about a couple of other injuries.  How's O.J. Ross? Is that a turf toe?
COACH HOPE:  I don't know.  We did not do a whole lot on Sunday.  We normally don't.  We got out there and warmed up and reviewed our errors.  That took a while because we made a lot of mistakes this past Saturday.  But O.J. wasn't able to go Sunday.  I thought that he showed courage in the game this past Saturday.  Still playing hard and playing sure is one thing, but doing it when you're injured is another.  I thought that he went out there and tried and did well even after his injury, as long as he could.
But he's questionable right now for Saturday.  It's comparable to a turf toe.  Classified as a turf toe would probably be a fair assessment of it.  A turf toe is funny.  It's hard to tell.  Sometimes they linger and last and become an issue, sometimes they heal quick.  So we'll have to wait to see what happens the next couple of days.

Q.  What about Ricardo?  It seems like he's not quite a hundred percent.  Can you bring us up to date on where he is with whatever it is his injury is?
COACH HOPE:  Well, Ricardo has been struggling.  We hope to to get him healed up and freshened up for the big game this weekend.  He started off as an ankle injury, and he continued to practice and continued to play, and it became aggravated in some ways.  Sometimes when you get one wheel that's lost a little air, the other tire can go out some too.  So both of his ankles are sore right now.
He's had some pain into his shins.  Didn't practice much last week.  He tried to go some and get his reps and go some.  Some phases of his game I thought he did very well the other day.  I thought he did a good job of planting and driving and still being physical making tackles.  But about halftime it worked in, and was struggling from a mobility standpoint.  So he's further along now than he was this time last week.
We'll manage him throughout the course of the week, so I'm very optimistic that he'll be able to play on Saturday.  Whether he'll be as effective or last as long as this Saturday, I don't know.  But since he's further along now than he was at this point in time last week, I'm assuming he'll be further along this coming Saturday.

Q.  You mentioned some other guys that are nicked up.  I assume those guys like Gaston and Taylor and Phillips and some others, you're anticipating that they'll be good enough to go this weekend?
COACH HOPE:  Yeah, I think we'll be in better shape this week compared to last week.  We are on Sunday, and we will be today.  But again, it depends on how it goes in practice if you can keep them healthy.  At the same time, be able to manage their reps and be able to play the ballgame.

Q.  If Allen can't go as much as you'd like, Frankie Williams has played a lot for you.  Where are you at with his development?  Are you pretty happy with how he's playing?
COACH HOPE:  Very pleased with Frankie Williams.  I think he's one of our better football players.  I think he's a real future star here at Purdue.  He has a lot of confidence.  He runs fast, he hits hard.  He makes plays.  He has a lot of fun, an unbelievable personality.  He brings some things to the team as a player and character standpoint that is important for our football team.
I think he's done a great job.¬† He's one of our better players.¬† We anticipate potentially getting Normondo Harris back this week.¬† We've held him out the last couple of weeks.¬† He had a bad knee strain or sprain, if you will, back in the summer pitching and catching as he was training for two‑a‑day camp.¬† Then went out in camp and practiced hard and it debilitated his knee.¬† We kept him off of it, and tried to play him in some games, and he's really struggled throughout the course of the season.¬† So we've held him out the last couple weeks, and he feels a lot better.¬† We think he might be able to service us some this weekend as well.

Q.  After watching Pamphile play the whole game at left tackle, what did you think?
COACH HOPE:  He did really well, particularly early.  He has to be consistent as far as being disciplined with his techniques.  When he gets in and out of the stance and uses a good technique and plays hard, he's an outstanding player.  He has to get in and out of the stance on a consistent basis using a great technique and playing hard every down.  He can and will be a great player.
But I was very impressed.  He was significantly better in the game last week than at any point in time throughout the course of the season.  Again, we moved him to offense last year about midway through the season.  That was a tough adjustment for him.  He played in the game some and did a good job of getting him ready.  We've just got to put him into the game.  He got some experience last year, but still a lot of work to do in regards to his development.
I think he's made a lot of progress.  He's probably made more progress in the last two or three weeks in practice than he did throughout the course of camp.  Sometimes the guy plays the position for a while and starts to figure some things out and they start to become more natural and a part of him and his play.
I see those things happening with Kevin Pamphile.  He's very talented.  He's big, he's probably close to 6'5", and weighs about 305 pounds.  He's a very solid build, very strong, very muscular, runs very well.  He probably runs 5 flat, and he's very smart.  So he's an excellent offensive line prospect.  He's just way behind from an experience standpoint.  But he can make up for that in a lot of ways with talent.

Q.  Will he potentially start this week?  How is Kitchens?
COACH HOPE:  We held Kitchens out on Sunday to allow him a couple more days to recover.  Kevin played very well.  We'll have to see how Justin is doing.
We could take Justin Kitchens, and originally my plan going into the season was that we thought Pamphile would be the left tackle and Foy would be the right tackle.  And Foy had a shoulder injury a year ago.  Kitchens’ is coming off of a shoulder injury.
So originally our thoughts were that Foy would be a right, and Pamphile would be a left, and we'd play Kitchens some at both positions, the right tackle and left tackle position.  And that still could happen some.  So we get Justin back, and we'll have three tackles that are good players with game experience, and that's a good situation for our team.

Q.  I know you mentioned you work on tackling every week in practice.  Are you going to try to change something this week?  I don't know.  The player that's you're missing are pretty good players, but is there something can you try to do differently?
COACH HOPE:  We'll do a few things different.  You have to be careful.  You can get disappointed in the tackling and go out there and tackle a whole lot, and next thing you know you get what you have left injured even more.  So we have to be smart about it.
Even though we are very disappointed in our tackling, we haven't tackled much in practice the last couple of weeks, and we've had a lot of guys that have been in green when we do our team situations.  When we go our one offense versus our one defense.  We've had Ralph Bolden in there and we've had him in green.  So no one is allowed to even emulate a tackle against him.  We've done the same with several injured players the last couple of weeks.
So we haven't come downhill and thumped him up, and wrapped him up as often in practice as we normally do.  That's set us back some from a tackling standpoint.
So we won't tackle a whole lot more this week from a live standpoint than we normally do.  But we'll emphasize coming downhill and thudding it up and wrapping it up, and getting into a much better football position and getting a more ideal tackling position as we go against ourselves in practice.  If that means taking green shirts off of players or putting players as ball carriers that do not have green shirts on so their defense can set them up, then that's the way it will be.  That's the plan.

Q.  You go into the game this weekend as underdogs, I would assume?
COACH HOPE:  Probably.  That happens often.  That's okay though.  We're used to that.

Q.¬† Just in terms of being in that role, do you think you guys‑‑ last week you were favorites all of a sudden.¬† You went through this quick evolution, and then you're favorites.¬† Do you think these guys feel more comfortable in this kind of a role where nobody thinks that they can do it?
COACH HOPE:  I don't want to analyze it quite that deep.  But I think when you go into a place like Ohio State that's just an unbelievable atmosphere, and you play against a great opponent for the quality of athletes that they have, it's not unusual to be an underdog.  Sometimes when you go into a game like that where you have nothing to lose, that can take some pressure off your football team.  But we obviously have to up our level of play significantly to compete with a great football team like that.
So we can't go in there (Indiscernible).  We have to go in there with our assignments and our alignments and know that we have to play physical football and take care of the football.  If you turn it over too many times to that outfit, they have great players, and they'll score a lot of points.
So we look forward to the challenge.  It's a fantastic opportunity for our football team to go to Ohio State and play well to be an important key for our football team to gain confidence and momentum again.

Q.  After you played Notre Dame tough, I know that some in the media, especially nationally started jumping on your bandwagon as the favorite to win the division and go to the championship game.  I wondered if you think the players started buying into that or believing that at all?  Was it a factor in the past two games?
COACH HOPE:  I don't know if it was a factor in the last two games.  I think the fact that we started off fast and maybe some other teams didn't start the season off quite as fast as we did, we received some recognition and acknowledgment of potentially being a good football team.  But I would think the fact that you're being identified and recognized as a good football team, and you're playing a game on a Saturday against a quality opponent, and there's huge stakes on the line would be something that would motivate your football team and bring the absolute best out of your team.
So I would hate to think that because we had some success and were identified and recognized as a promising football team that that had to be a setback for our team and our program.

Q.  I heard it mentioned by someone, a player not as an excuse, but he was asked a question about the wet field on Saturday and whether it might have been an issue in your bad tackling?
COACH HOPE:  I don't know if it was an issue or not.  It did rain, and the field got a little bit sloppy.  But I've been in much more inclement weather than that and have played well.
We didn't play well in the second half.  I thought maybe taking TerBush out of the game in the first half, and he hadn't done anything wrong when we took him out.  He was playing the game and executing the game plan and we were having some success, not near as much success as we'd like to have.
But at that point in time we looked like we were going to be challenged from a run game standpoint.  We didn't have many plus plays from our rushing standpoint early in the first half.  I thought our offensive line was doing a more than adequate job from the protection standpoint and we were able to throw the ball down the field some.  We had a few drops, but we thought we could make some pay from a pitching and catching standpoint.
We thought if we put Robert Marve in our ballgame, he would help our team.  Sometimes we put a player in to make some plays to help us win.  So we put Robert in the ballgame, and he didn't have as many opportunities because the players around him didn't play as well as they needed to.  Same with Caleb.  At times the players around him didn't play as well as they needed to, and that often can negate the performance of the quarterback.
But maybe taking Caleb out in the second quarter and him not returning into the ballgame until the third quarter and all that time off in between probably didn't add to his potential performance as far as having to get warmed up and get going again.
Sometimes if you're a quarterback and you stay in there and get used to the rhythm of the ballgame and stay warmed up that can be advantageous to you in some ways.  So looking back on it, maybe we should have left Caleb in.  But I don't know.  I think Robert's an awfully good player, and we looked like we were going to be able to pitch and catch.  So I thought it was a good personnel adjustment at the time.

Q.¬† Regarding the quarterback situation, considering what you just said, does it make you second guess your decision at all to go with this rotation that you've been going with for some time?¬† Along with that I wondered why‑‑ I know that you had put them off limits to the media for I'm not sure how long.¬† But I wondered what your reasoning was for that?
COACH HOPE:  I think Caleb will be in here today.  But sometimes we have to focus on getting ready to play the game.  When you have something like competition at the quarterback position that the media spends a lot of time on it, it turns into a quarterback controversy.  Sometimes that seems to be the focal point of everything that we've talked about.  It's been addressed around here for I don't know how many weeks in a row.
I just wanted a couple days in a row to get ready to play the game, and not hear everybody's second opinions about the quarterback position.  The multiple quarterbacks that we have available in our offense isn't something that we had designed in the playbook when I first came to Purdue.  It was a result of having a whole lot of injuries.
We go into the season with Caleb TerBush that had started 13 games last year and had one, and had gone 20 quarters without throwing an interception.  Then Robert Marve who had struggled the last year to get enough reps to be the player that he could be.  Then Rob Henry coming off a knee injury and not being ready until a couple of weeks ago.  That's kind of been the scenario.  Not necessarily in that order, but throughout the last two or three years.
So we end up coming into the season with three quarterbacks that have started and played well.  Three guys that were talented.  Then we have two senior quarterbacks both that have played well.  So rotating those guys in the course of the ballgame pretty early in the season to see if maybe one would surface as the difference maker for us, I thought was a good plan.  Then if Rob Henry had been healthier earlier in the season he would have played more.
I always like the idea of having a dual‑threat quarterback.¬† A guy that can manufacture any of the quarterback runs that's also a viable passer as well.¬† So a lot of the result of where we've been at in the quarterback situation has stemmed from an inordinate amount of injuries and an unbelievable management nightmare from a personnel standpoint, not necessarily a schematic preference.

Q.  Kawann Short blocked another kick, and you may have addressed this already.  But I think he's got eight now for his career.  Is that just a product of his strength, his athleticism or his ability to find that tiny little opening in a blocking scheme that allows him to do that?  What is it about his proficiency?
COACH HOPE:  I think it's a combination of a lot of things.  The one he blocked this past Saturday I believe set the school record.  So he's a record holder now at Purdue for blocked extra points and field goals.  We still have a lot of football left to be played, so he's going to block some more.  So he may etch that record in stone, and it may be in place for a long time.
It's a combination of a lot of things.¬† He's very big.¬† He's got a tremendous lower unit.¬† He gets a lot of push, so he's able to knock the guards back, and he has very good hand‑eye coordination, and a good sense of timing.¬† He gets his big paw up and swats the ball down, and has a good eye for it.
So I think he has a knack for it.  I think he has the skill sets that make him unique for that.  And we have a plan, techniques and schemes that we go into each ballgame with to block the extra points and the field goals.  He's a big part of that.  So we schematically try to put him in that position.  But he has a knack for it, and all the talent in the world for it.

Q.  Coming into this season I think his consistency from play to play and his conditioning were a couple issues that he needed to work on.  Have you seen improvements in those things this year, and particularly the past two games where he struggled to stop the run a little bit?
COACH HOPE:  I think he's made a lot of progress in being a good player on a more consistent basis, down for down.  But he's in much better shape than he's been at any point in time since he's been here at Purdue.  In the Michigan game, he made a lot of plays.  I don't know what his actual grade was when his position coach was done grading him.  Sometimes he has to be more detailed in his techniques and his gap integrity, like all defensive linemen.  But he was able to get off blocks and make a lot of plays against Michigan.  He had some tackles and tackle for losses.
When you tallied up his production points as a defensive player, he had a lot of production points a week ago against Michigan, even though they won and they ran for a lot of yards.
This past weekend he was not as productive.¬† I thought that Wisconsin did a good job with their play‑action pass package, and they got some double teams across the front and had all the gaps taken care of.¬† And they rolled out of the pocket some and moved the pocket some, and that negated Kawann's pass‑rush performance to some degree.
But I think he's playing harder than he has at any point in time since he's been here at Purdue.  He has more good plays and more good games halfway through the season now than at any point in time in his career at Purdue.  So I think he's getting better.  He's not where he wants to be yet, but I think he's making progress.

Q.  From a coaching standpoint, how do you help this offense get back to what it was doing in September?  Easy solution, I don't know easy solution, but talk about the vertical passing game.  Okay, do you just throw deep now to open it up?  How do you help this offense get back on track?
COACH HOPE:  Well, in order to throw the vertical game, you have to protect.  So we have to do some things to help us out from a protection standpoint.  Whether that be a scheme or getting extra blockers involved from a numerical standpoint.  Just improvement across the offensive line.  I think we've made real progress the last couple weeks against good competition in Michigan and Wisconsin.  They both have outstanding defensive front personnel.  I think we've made progress.
You can't tell by the stats.  We took some sacks this past weekend that maybe the quarterback could have thrown the ball away and avoided the sack, and then the numbers from a protection standpoint wouldn't be as ugly as they are.
But when I look at the film, the offensive linemen are cleaner in their pass sets.¬† They have their hips down lower.¬† They're stronger taking on the pass‑rush than four weeks ago.¬† So I think we've made some progress as an offensive line from the pass protection standpoint, and that's huge for us.
We run the same plays in the game that we do in practice.  We execute them in practice, and obviously the competition on Saturday can negate your production and performance some, but we have to make plays.  There were a lot of plays that we didn't make on Saturday that we normally make.
We've been more shorthanded at the receiver position throughout the course of the season and in camp than we were this past Saturday.  We have to be more accurate with our passes and do a better job blocking up front in the run game so we don't become more one dimensional.  All of those things will aid.

Q.  When you suffer losses like you have in the last two weeks.  Is it human nature that we need to push the reset button and do different things from a coaching standpoint, is it easy to just stay on the path that you believe in and the personnel you have out there, or do you consider making any kind of personnel changes to help jump start this team?
COACH HOPE:  You can shuffle the deck some and look at certain positions on your football team.  If the performance at those positions is not getting the job done, you can make changes or put guys in position to compete, and that will happen some throughout the course of the week.  But we're not going to change what we've been working on the last several weeks or the bread and butter plays of our offense, or the bread and butter packages of our defense.  We have to execute them better.  We're not going to change.  We may put a new wrinkle or two in or a trick play or two in or some type of pressure that we haven't shown in the past, a new wrinkle for the upcoming opponent.
We're not going to change what we do or believe in.  There are always going to be opportunities for competition and personnel changes.  That could happen some this week.

Q.  Any specific positions you're going to look at?
COACH HOPE:  We'll practice some and go from there.

Q.  In the second week of the season you went into South Bend against a Top 10 team.  Final minute you're tied with them.  How do you get your team believing how they were in the second week that they can go in and compete with those guys?  Because after coming off two tough losses, confidence is a little low.  How do you get them remembering, hey, we can do this?
COACH HOPE:¬† Well, that's a great question and something that our team has to‑‑ a lot of it has to come from them.¬† Obviously, as a head coach and position coach, part of your job description is motivating.¬† Our players work really hard.¬† They show up and lay it on the line in practice and do what we ask and work as hard as any group I've been around.
They work as hard.  There is a difference between you going out here and working them or them showing up and working hard.  They do a great job of showing up and working hard.  I think they can see the film and show where we've fallen short at and see that they're not that far off from making the plays that will give them the opportunity to compete and win against the best teams in the country like we were doing just a few short weeks ago.  But it has to come from them.  Everything can't come from the coaches.  We'll coach them hard and be very demanding.
We still believe in each and every one of them.  But we have to identify the areas that we're performing poorly at and get it corrected.  Everybody has a burning desire to get it done, and I believe they do.  The coaches will be demanding, and we'll coach them hard.
But I don't think it's to quite the challenge to get this team motivated to want to regroup and be successful and win.  We have lived on both sides.  We have won together and lost together, and it's not even close.  Winning is living, and they know that, and they've experienced both.  So they're a hungry football team that will bounce back.  I'm sure the motivation will be there from the coaches and the players themselves.

Q.  What do you think the biggest difference from that week to now offensively and defensively?
COACH HOPE:  I really can't put a finger on it.  I think the health status has taken some toll.  When you don't feel as good and the competition really picks up and the challenge becomes greater.  We've played some outstanding football teams the last couple of weeks and had a few guys nicked up, and I think that's negated our fire power in some ways.
We started the season off a little bit disappointed at the quarterback position with Caleb not being available in the first game then Robert playing well in the first game and getting injured in the second game and not being sure where Rob Henry was at.  I think there is some clarity being brought through the quarterback position and some continuity again.
The first time we've been able to put Rob Henry out there and do things with Rob Henry and believe that it was going to be a potential difference maker in this ballgame or one of the ballgames in the near future.  So I think that we'll get back on track and get going in the right direction.
It was only a couple weeks ago that we were hitting on all cylinders and practicing as well as a football team.  We have to lock out the distractions on the outside and focus and lock on from the inside.  That's for sure.

Q.  I'm curious when you got in here on Sunday and talked with the team, what kind of a team did you see?  Was it angry?  Was it disappointment?  What?
COACH HOPE:  Well, we met as a team after the ballgame, and there were a lot of disappointed players and certainly embarrassed to lose like that at home.  Homecoming is a huge loss, so it's tough.  A lot of the emotions and reactions are postgame on Sunday.  Spent a lot of time in the locker room together, and a lot of very disappointed players.  Obviously some guys that have to take a good, hard look at their performance and do what they have to do to step up.
Sometimes you have a guy that plays really hard and gives you all he has, but he makes the same mistakes over and over again, little things that can add up.  So each and every one of us on the football team has to look at our performance and be critical of ourselves.  In spite of the great effort, we have to do the little things in order to get it done.
So I think that's been addressed, and I think our football team understands exactly the significance of that concept as far as them getting better as a football team.
Spent a lot of them with them on Sunday talking about their performance and what our expectation level is as a football team and what we have to do to get back on track.  I think they're eager to do that.  Everyone wants to be successful, and we have a football team that's willing to work.  They've proven that in the past, and they do care about winning.
Again, we can't spend a whole lot of time wallowing in why we lost and the effects of not playing well.  It hurt, and it was a tough situation for our football team, and it hurt us greatly and hurt all the Boilermaker nation and we want to bounce back and do well.  I think that our team will rally up.  I don't have any question about that.

Q.  Want to go back to something Mike sort of addressed.  How fine is that line as a coach when you walk in to see a team on a Sunday afternoon after a game like that?  I would think that the nature is you want to scream, yell, and be frustrated and that sort of thing.  But maybe they need to hear more from the motivator.  How fine is that line?
COACH HOPE:  I think you have to be yourself.  You can't sit around and wonder what you have to do that maybe someone else does in order to get their attention.  I think you have to be yourself.  If you're not, that's when you can start losing your team and the people that believe in you.
We've always as a football team been very open, honest and direct with our dialogue, and we've always put the cards on the table.  The good, the bad, and the ugly were all addressed on Sunday.  Obviously, we're going to treat them with respect.  We care about them.  They've been loyal to us and have worked hard.  So to go in there and scream and rant and rave and show signs of panic, I don't believe is the way for us to build our football team.  Let those around us rant and rave and show signs of panic.  We have to show signs of strength and composure.

Q.  Can you point to things like last year in the second half of last year to try to get these guys motivated?  Like, "Hey, you've done it before; you can do it again"?
COACH HOPE:  I think can you point to any part your football career as a player or a coach, because winning is never easy.  There's only been a few times in my life that winning was easy, and most of the time you have to do a lot of things right in order to win.  Particularly the last three years since I came back to Purdue, it's never been easy.  We've had to fight our way out many times in the past.  So obviously maybe the experience that we've had with that can aid to our efforts some this season.
But this is nothing new.¬† This is big‑time football.¬† This is Big Ten football.¬† It's competitive, and it's no place for the feint‑hearted or the squeamish.¬† Football at Purdue is tough.¬† You have to be tough‑minded and a tough person, and have blue‑collar work ethic person, and that's part of it.¬† They knew that when they signed up.¬† We take a lot of pride in that.¬† Just like school at Purdue.¬† You have to work really hard to be successful at Purdue.¬† We knew that when we signed up, and we take a lot of pride in that.

Q.  When you look at Braxton Miller last year, he was obviously talented but he was pretty raw as a freshman.  When you look at him now as opposed to then, where do you see the biggest difference?
COACH HOPE:¬† He's very polished for only a second‑year quarterback.¬† He made great plays last year and was obviously a great athlete.¬† He really does a fantastic job of executing their offense.¬† He has a lot more confidence about where everyone is around him.¬† The total package of their offense.
He's fantastic in regards to making people miss.  People have him hemmed up or maybe in a position to sack him.  He finds a way to get out of some of the toughest situations and make big plays out of it.  He did that some throughout the course of the year last year.
But I think his comfort level in the game slowing down around him puts him in position to do that on an even more consistent basis.  But this season he's having an excellent year.  He's not that far away right now from already rushing for a thousand yards.  He's an excellent passer.  I think he's thrown for over 70% completion percentage.
I remember him in high school.  Thought he was a good player and tried to recruit him.  He's a great player.  Not surprised to see his development or his success.  I don't think it's a surprise to anyone.

Q.  I wanted to ask, you've got three home games in a row and a lot of recruits on campus.  At this stage of the process, where are you with things?  Do you feel you're being received pretty well?  Are you happy with how things are going?
COACH HOPE:¬† It's going great.¬† We have a lot of guys committed.¬† We did very well.¬† We worked really hard last spring‑‑ too hard last spring.¬† It was a real challenge when our recruiting coordinator left on the spur of the moment at a critical time in the recruiting process.¬† So we were behind the eight ball in some ways.¬† So we had to roll our sleeves up and put a lot more time in in the spring from an information standpoint, evaluation standpoint and actually recruiting of the student‑athletes.
So we worked really hard in the spring and got caught up and on a lot of the right guys and did our jobs.  We had several guys committed before the season started.  The guys that we've been recruiting hard are from further away.  They're just now getting on our campus, and they really love Purdue.
Our players have been our greatest ambassadors.  They come on our campus, and get around our players and we're a strong football family.  In our program, we put our players first.  That's our marching order.  The players come first, and they echo those sentiments to the recruits while they're here.  The recruits like our staff.  We have nice facilities, and Big Ten football is exciting.  And the value of the Purdue degree is second to none.
So we've done a great job with the pool of recruit that's we have.  Right now I forget how many commitments we have.  Probably 13 or so, maybe more.  So we probably have 10 or 12 more guys that are spots potentially, and dozens and dozens of guys that we're still recruiting for those handful of spots.
But I think it's gone really well to this point in time.  Every weekend we bring a group of guys in and we get commitments, or guys tell us that we've moved up their chart in some ways, so I think it's gone really well at this point in time.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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