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October 30, 2012

Danny Hope

Q.  Let's start with general thoughts on Penn State?
COACH HOPE:  A very, very good football team.  A team that plays inspired football.  At the beginning of the season you could tell they were out of sync a little bit.  Looked like they have really played hard throughout the course of the season and played themselves into great shape because they go hard from snap to the whistle.  They really get after it.
They're very talented.  Offensively, very big, physical, good offensive line.  The quarterback is playing excellent, McGloin, the leading passer in the Big Ten right now.  Very physical running game.  They employ four tight ends who do a variety of things with their tight end packages, if you will.  It's kind of hard to get a feel of exactly what they're going to do from a personnel standpoint in regards to defending Penn State.  Offensively, again, a big offensive line, the quarterback is playing well, physical running backs.
Defensively, very, very strong in their front seven, maybe as good as any front seven we've played all season long, and we've played some great front seven defensive football teams, including Notre Dame who I think was outstanding.  I think Penn State is right along the same lines from Notre Dame from the talent standpoint in their front seven.
So it will be a heck of a challenge for our football team this Saturday.

Q.  An update on can a Kawann Short?
COACH HOPE:  I'm optimistic that he'll be in position to play this Saturday.  Again, it's not a green light yet, but a little more encouraged from the report this morning than I was two days ago.  We'll have to wait another day to see in regards to the swelling.  (Indiscernible).
I'm optimistic we'll get some play out of Kawann this Saturday, but not a hundred percent sure yet.

Q.  I guess maybe the defense has obviously been banged up this year.  Are you getting healthier or is it still a concern?
COACH HOPE:  It's still a concern.  We were not banged up when the season started.  We started off the season in great shape at a fantastic camp and we were loaded on the offensive line.  I still believe that was and is our football team.  We are two deep, strong mature players, all a hundred percent healthy and playing very physical.  That maintained its position for a while.
We got into Big Ten plays, and got nicked up some, and worn down some.  We were a little thinner across the defensive front than we were three or four weeks ago.  We may be in better shape this Saturday than we were last Saturday.  Not sure where we're going to be with Brandon Taylor.  He had an ankle injury, and came out, wasn't able to perform.  Kawann came out of the ballgame.  Wasn't able to go back in and perform.
But we have other players that have been banged up that may be more healthier now than they have been.
I think Ryan Russell is healthier now than he has been.  In the last couple of weeks he's been banged up and played, but hasn't been near as effective or physical.  I think he has a chance to step up his level of play some this weekend regaining some help.
So we are a little thin across the defensive front.  Know where we're at compared to the beginning of the season.  Hopefully a little further along this Saturday than the past two or three Saturdays.

Q.  Are you seeing the player resolve that you need to see in practices?  Is the belief still there?
COACH HOPE:  Certainly did last week.  That's why I was surprised by our poor performance.  We played well against Ohio State.  Played well enough to win against a top opponent, in a hostile environment.  Thought we came away from that ballgame with a lot of confidence.  We were disappointed in a loss.  Bounced back and practiced probably as well these past two games as we have throughout any other time in the course of the season.  Didn't perform as well this past Saturday.  There was nothing happening between the Minnesota game and today where I can really indicate how the team's going to respond, because we only had one team meeting this past Sunday.  We don't practice on Monday, so we'll find out today where the team is at.
I know they were embarrassed by their performance this past Saturday, and I expect to see them bounce back with a real commitment, on a real mission.

Q.  I guess the obligatory question is how is that shaking out with Caleb and Robert?
COACH HOPE:  Well, we play all three quarterbacks Saturday.  Rob Henry played at mini skill position this past Saturday.  He caught a pass, he blocked, he carried the football, he threw touchdowns.  He did it all this past Saturday.  He's a very good player and starting to regain his health 100%.
Caleb and those around him at times did not play as well as we'd have liked for them to play.  As a result, Caleb didn't play as well as he has or as well as we expected him to.  We put Robert Marve in the ballgame, he played very well, complete aid bunch of passes.  I don't think he had any true incomplete passes.  Had he some drops and a batted ball, but had great quarterback stats and was able to generate some drives.  He was very, very accurate with his passes.  Really put him on the money, which he does often, but they were much more catchable ball this is past Saturday.
Had a little more touch on his passes this past Saturday, so he played very well.  We'll go into the ballgame this Saturday with Robert Marve as our starter, Caleb TerBush, and Rob Henry serving in the back up roles.

Q.  Danny, was Kawann's injury an ankle or something else?
COACH HOPE:  His ankle.

Q.  I'm sorry, what did you say about it?  It was an ankle?
COACH HOPE:  It was anklish.  He has a large ankle.  It covers a lot of ground.  He's a large guy.  It was below the shin, between the shin and the toes.

Q.  So it's in that area?
COACH HOPE:  I would say lower extremity, but he's almost all lower extremity if you take a good look at him.

Q.  Gotcha.  I don't know if you've read it or not, but what was your reaction to the statement that Morgan Burke put out yesterday?
COACH HOPE:  I read it, but didn't pay a whole lot of attention to it, or didn't try to read between the lines any.  I think it's a pretty generic statement and pretty similar to the one that was posted out this time last year.  Our focus is to prepare our football team for a game this Saturday.  So didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the statement.

Q.  When I listened to your show last night, you seemed to be saying that the effort is still there and you think this team is still not that far away from being a very good football team.  What was your response to somebody that said, yeah, but you played Minnesota who is an okay team, but certainly not an Ohio State and you gave up 44 straight points?  There seems to be some kind of a conflict with that.  What would you tell people who asked you that?
COACH HOPE:  Well, we started off expressing how disappointed we were with our play.  But still there were some good things on the field this past Saturday.  The game got away from us really fast, and that's unfortunate.  It's tough to play catch‑up.  Give credit to Minnesota, they played very well.  They were in a tight ballgame in the fourth quarter with Wisconsin, the final score doesn't necessarily indicate that.  But Minnesota is greatly improved.  Throughout the course of the season many times we've been a greatly improved football team.  We didn't demonstrate that this past Saturday.  But there were still good Saenz.  We stopped them, and went out there and scored on our opening drive.  That is a good sign that the guys are into it and ready to play.  We rushed for 20 yards, 5.5 yards per carry.
We were 9 of 18 on third down, which is a decent statistic.  We tried to make our come back in the second half even though we were behind a couple possessions.  We honestly made an attempt to come back and make a ballgame out of it.  I thought our offense did some good things.
We were physical in the run game.  Had a few missed assignments and Robert Marve came in and played exceptional.  So in my mind offensively, maybe we're not that far off.  Even though the competition really picked up this westbound end, because Penn State is exceptional across the front seven.
Saturday when I look back at our offensive performance, the disappointment is the fact that we gave a come of sacks up at key times in the ballgame.  That's happened throughout the course of the year.  Minnesota was close enough to our receivers to manufacture pass break‑ups, so we were not detailed and did not defeat the coverages from a wide receiver standpoint.  We had a few penalties and some drops.  That negated our performance more so in the first half.  We had four series on offense, a touchdown, and we were behind 28‑7.  So the game got out of hand.
But still, there were some good things offensively from a play standpoint.  Defensively we came out and played harder in the second half, and they didn't score a touchdown in the second half.  We had a bad punt, a short punt.  Gave Minnesota a short field.  We held on to a field goal.
So we held them to a field goal in the second half.  So I don't believe our team has given up.  We're thin a little bit personnel‑wise right now.  We've got some guys that are banged up.  The competition is really tough.  We played poorly against some of the top teams in the country at home, Big Ten games, key games.  Games that were marked on our calendar as difference makers potentially for our season and team and program.  And we were not successful.
So we lost a little momentum as a football team, and maybe some confidence as a football team, and those are the things that we're working on the hardest right now.

Q.  Just to put a bow on that, obviously you're trying to stay positive.  I think that's pretty obvious from listening to you the last two or three weeks.
COACH HOPE:  Could you repeat that?

Q.  I was saying it's obvious you're trying to stay positive these last couple of weeks.
COACH HOPE:  I am positive, not staying positive.  There's a big difference.

Q.  Fair enough.  Is there any concern at all that you hear the old saying, when things start snow balling either way, they have a tendency to get worse and worse?  Is there any concern from you that what's going on now is just going to continue to snow ball and be really tough for your team this last month?
COACH HOPE:  Obviously you want to be aware to stop any negative momentum or any downward spiral.  But you hope that you surrounded yourself with the right coaches and players that can do something besides just being ordinary when you're going through tough times.  This is a time for extraordinary people, not ordinary people.
I believe we have enough extraordinary people around us to still manufacture a good season.  There is still a lot to be played for or to play for.  There are four games left - A third of the season.  We can still win seven regular season ballgames.  I believe there are only 25 times in the history of Purdue football we've won seven games or more.  We can win seven or eight ballgames still.
So still a lot to play for.  We have to focus on getting ready to play this Saturday because our opponent is a tremendous challenge this weekend.

Q.  Just for us that cover Penn State, explain what type of talent Kawann Short is?
COACH HOPE:  (Indiscernible)  He's a great teammate.  A team‑first type of guy.  I think he's a good leader.  He's a guy that will take charge of the guys around him from a focal standpoint, and also a guy that will get with a player one‑on‑one and try to motivate a teammate.
So I like everything about Kawann.  He's a guy that I think has some ambition about him.  He's been a developmental player.  Was a long ways away from being a top NFL prospect potentially when he came out of high school.  There was some potential there, but he was a long ways away.
So I give him a lot of credit for the effort that he's put forth in becoming the player that he is or trying to capitalize on his opportunity.  He deserves a lot of credit for that.
Best thing he's done or biggest thing he's done since he's been here at Purdue is what he's done from an academic standpoint.  He came here to Purdue as a student‑athlete that had to work really hard to catch up from an academic standpoint.  He's on track to graduate, and we're very, very proud of Kawann and his academic records as well.  He hasn't been any problem to our football team as a player, on the field, off the field or academically.  So he's done a fantastic job, and he's a joy to work with.

Q.  How about your corners, you have some very experienced corners.  How do you think they match up with a young receiver like Allen Robinson, how curious are you to see those match‑ups on Saturday?
COACH HOPE:  I think we match‑up well from a talent standpoint.  I think we have a talented football team, and a football team that's given effort.  We haven't made some plays.  We haven't been as detailed from a coverage standpoint as we need to be whether it be man or zone coverage.  There are little things we haven't done throughout the course of the season that's allowed the opponents to manufacture big plays.
So I think we match up well, but we have to come out and play very disciplined in the secondary, very disciplined in the back half or we can be exploited as we were in the last couple games.
So I like him as a match‑up from a talent standpoint, but we have to come out and play our A‑game, and we haven't done that in a couple of games.

Q.  I know it's a much different system at Penn State this year than it was under Coach Paterno.  But when you turn on the tape of this year's team, what one or two things jump out at the tape at you?
COACH HOPE:  Talent, very, very talented football team.  Very, very talented football team.  They're the same Penn State football team in regards to talent.  They have some of the top talent in our conference that really jumps off at you on film.  But the way they're playing right now, they're playing with purpose and passion.  Look at the first couple of games of the season where they didn't play quite as well, and weren't in position to win as a football team.
You look at where they are now, and they're definitely more improved.  So those things jump out at me.  The talent level is exceptional, and they're playing the game the way it should be played.

Q.  I'm from Philadelphia, and you have a running back on your team, Brandon Cottom, one of our local guys.  How has he been playing so far, and what do you expect from him in the future?
COACH HOPE:  I think he has a great future at Purdue.  He has a lot of talent.  He's a big back, a very big back, and they're hard to come by.  Particularly the ones that are as athletic as he is.  He's a little over 6'2", about 250 pounds.  He runs very well.  He played some last year as a true freshman, and then sustained a knee injury.  That set him back some, and he wasn't able to get many reps throughout the course of the spring.  We've played him some sparingly throughout the course of the season, but his role has decreased some.
He's big enough and continues to develop as a football player.  He'll be physical enough to be a great fullback, but he's also skilled enough to be an outstanding ball carrier as well.  He catches the ball very well out of the back field.  He has good vision, very good speed, for a 250‑something pound running back.
We evaluated him in high school, and he was a very good prospect on film, but he was a good punt returner in high school.  Had extremely quick feet for a guy his size.
When you look at the running back position, particularly big running backs, you want to find the ones that have quick feet and great eyes.  I believe he has those qualities about him.  So I believe he has a great future here at Purdue.  His role has been limited some.  A lot of it has been based on him coming back from an ACL repair last season.

Q.  Landon leads not only your team, but I think the league with interceptions at four.  He might be one of your leading if not leading tackler on the team.  I understand he's a former walk on.  Can you talk about what kind of player he's become, and maybe has he exceeded some expectations there for you?
COACH HOPE:  I think when he was on the scout team we'd come in at night and watch the offense, and I'd ask the coaches all the time, who is that guy?  Oh, that's a walk on from Fort Wayne.  He'd really run fast to the wall and hit people, and compete and fight for the ball in the air.  He had a lot of fight, and scrap about him, a nose for the football.  Very, very fast but was a little undersized.  He competed hard throughout the course of his career here at Purdue.
Even though we had players on scholarship that were ahead of him on the depth chart, he outperformed them in practices and scrimmages and earned a starting job.
So hat's off to Landon Feichter.  He runs fast.  A little undersized at the safety position, but he still has two years of eligibility left.  He was and still is an outstanding player on special teams, so he has that wide open mode that you're looking for as a special teams player and also as a defensive player.  So I like everything about Landon.  He's fast, hits hard, competes, has a good nose for the football.  Gives you all that he has.  He's a great teammate and good player.  He's a little undersized at the safety position, and over the next several months he'll get bigger, and stronger, and be an even better player next season.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?  Ricardo Allen?
COACH HOPE:  Better from a health standpoint.  I feel Ricardo played hard.  He's at times a great player.  When you're injured, it's tough to be a great player, and this is kind of where we're at in some ways, particularly on the defensive side of the football.  We have some guys that are very, very top players, Ryan Russell and Kawann Short, Ricardo Allen.  Those are the best players on our football team, and best players on the defensive side of the football team.
They've been banged up and not been as effective and Ricardo falls in that boat.  He came out in the game without reaggravating it.  He's further along than he was this time last week.  I believe he'll be closer to his normal level of performance this weekend.  Certainly we welcome that, because he's a difference maker for us when he's playing his best.

Q.  What about Normondo?  We thought maybe he was going to play a couple weeks ago, and he hasn't.  Where's he at?
COACH HOPE:  Well, he's fallen behind.  It's really difficult unless you've been around football a lot as a coach and a player, it's really difficult to miss a lot of practices and a lot of reps.  Even though you may be regaining your health, you'll still be the same player that you were before you got injured.  Maybe that was a lot easier to do 20 or 25 years ago when there wasn't so much involved in the big scheme of football.
The amount of offense that you have to defend nowadays from an assignment and alignment standpoint is unbelievable compared to 10, 15, 20 years ago.  So the guy gets out of the rotation, out of the mix as a result of an injury, sometimes you can fall behind.  But from a mental rep standpoint, they're not playing near as well.
That's where Normondo is at right now.  I think he's okay physically.  Not a hundred percent, but he's much closer to it.  He's now getting confident in his knee again, but he's fallen way behind in regards to mental reps and reps in practice.
So he's behind on the depth chart and he's behind right now as a player.  He's still talented and has the potential, but he's behind right now as a player.

Q.  I don't know how much he played in the first half of the season, but could he red shirt, do you know?
COACH HOPE:  I'm not sure if he could or not.  I'd have to look to see where his reps are at.  I haven't given that any thought.  We're trying to get ready to play this weekend and three weekends beyond that.

Q.  Appleby's not going to play this for for you.  But from what you've seen from him on the scout team and things this year, what kind of progress has he made?
COACH HOPE:  I think he and Bilal Marshall have been outstanding.  Austin is a big, strong, pro‑style dropback quarterback that has a good arm and fantastic football IQ.  Outstanding football IQ for a young guy and a real passion to study football.  He looks like he has outstanding leadership abilities about him, so he does a great job on the scout team.  We knew when we recruited Austin, that he was the type of guy that you'd want in the foxhole with you.
Bilal Marshall is very similar in a lot of ways.  He's a give you all he has type of guy.  He's exceptional on the scout team.  He's one of the most talented athletes on our football team.  Very, very fast, very, very tall.  Throws the ball well right now.  A developmental passer in some ways, but probably further ahead than where Rob Henry was in his stage of development as a quarterback.  But very tall, very fast, extremely athletic.  A big time play maker who also gives you all he has and gives the defense fits down there on the scout team.
Some of the offenses that we face this year with the Braxton Millers at the quarterback position, and the Denard Robinson at the quarterback position.  We've had Marshall on the scout team executing those styles of offense, and we haven't been able to stop him either.
So he's a heck of a player and a great prospect.  He and Austin Appleby will be very good players here at Purdue.

Q.  Certainly there were some things at the end of Joe Paterno's career.  How difficult will it be to not see him on the sidelines on Saturday?
Not to me.  I never look across the sidelines to the other head coach anyway.  Quite honestly, it's not a stare down contest.

Q.  You don't arm wrestle?
COACH HOPE:  No, don't arm wrestle or anything like that.

Q.  What ultimately came out of the meetings on Sunday that you think will help the team?
COACH HOPE:  Well, I think that we reidentified some leaders on our football team and earmarked some areas of our play that we needed to put those cards on the table to make sure that our team was aware and acknowledging.
Sometimes you can go through life and not acknowledge some things that everyone else sees as obvious, as human nature in some ways.  There are probably a lot of things about you guys that are obvious to me but not obvious to you and probably the same with our football team in some ways.  We had to identify some things that were obvious to me and the coaches and not up to standard, if you will.  Identify those, and try to put our heads together to find out what we have to do in order to play much better.

Q.  You said before the season you wanted the team to be defined as more physically and mentally tough.  Do you think you are a physically and mentally tough team?
COACH HOPE:  Not at times.  At times we have been.  I think when you go into Ohio State Stadium a 20‑point underdog and shut down a Heisman Trophy candidate and play them down to the wire in overtime, I hate to look at that as a sign of weakness.  But I feel like we didn't play near as well against some of the top competition at home.  It is what it is.
But at times, people can loosen around you, and that's when you have to become more mentally and physically tough.  When things start to loosen up around you, everyone has to tighten their grip and not let the outside creep its way in.  Don't let the outside or things on the inside‑‑ never waiver.  Don't let doubt creep into your mind.  There might be a couple times in the course of the ballgame where things didn't go our way.  And I think our team wavered some or let doubt creep into their minds.
So we're not as physically tough as I'd like to be.  I think at times we've shown some physical and mental toughness.  It's hard to be physically tough when you're beat up and you're playing against other big, strong football teams.
I give credit those playing hurt.  I give credit to Ralph Bolden and think he might be the most mentally and physically tough guy I've been around.  I see Robert Marve who for the bulk of his career here I wouldn't say scrutinized, but maybe criticized often throughout his career.  See him out there playing in the quarterback position with a huge target on him with no ACL at all.  I think that's an unbelievable sign of physical and mental toughness.
Collectively, not where we want to be.  But individually okay.

Q.  Has Robert been practicing better?  That is something we talked about in this quarterback competition that Caleb was practicing.  Was the decision to start Robert based on his performance in the game or other factors?
COACH HOPE:  It was based on his performance in the ballgame, and the fact that we believe now he can play with his leg like it is.  A month ago we were told that he probably wouldn't play football again.  So even though he was saying all the right things and we were hoping that he could, the medical experts were telling us it was very doubtful.  It could happen, but most of the time it doesn't.
So for us to put all of our eggs in that basket four weeks ago when our sports medicine expert wasn't sure whether or not he was going to be able to start with our football team, it set Robert back a little bit.
So he's practiced some.  He was doing great until he got hurt.  With the opportunity that's he had.  I thought his game was starting to come on.  I felt like it was the opening game of the season, and throughout times in the course of the season, he was starting to get it together, and began to play his best football ever.
The problem was that he was behind a guy that started 13 games and played very well the year before.  But hat's off to Robert.  He worked hard, overcame a lot of things and started to become the player we all thought he could be.  Then he gets his knee blown out again, and we're told odds are he probably won't serve our football team, yet he hung in there, stepped up and became our starting quarterback again.
So very, very tough management situation.  You can't imagine what we've been through as a staff trying to manage the rash of injuries and the hardships at the quarterback position the last couple of years.  Then you mix in the mendacity that sometimes comes with the media has really stirred the pot and made it a tough management situation for our staff.  Has really taken a lot away from the collegiate position as the quarterbacks have evolved to be honest with you.
So hat's off to Robert Moore, Caleb TerBush, and Rob Henry as well for the most part to overcome unbelievable adversities.

Q.  Do you expect Caleb to rotate in at quarterback on Saturday?
COACH HOPE:  We'll see how the game goes.  We'll do what we have to do to try to win a ballgame.

Q.  Michael played pretty much then fire second half with those guys out.  What did you think?
COACH HOPE:  I thought he played pretty good.  I was hoping he would get an opportunity, because with as many good older defensive linemen we have on our football team right now, Michael Rouse is a good prospect and very important to the future of our football team but was negated some opportunities just based on numbers.  Then again he fell behind a little bit.  He'd been on the scout team most of the season all year long down the scout team most of the time.
Again, you're not getting varsity reps when you're down on the scout team.  You can fall a little behind in your preparation to play in the real games on Saturday.  But he's big and has the potential to play physical.  He's v very, very smart, he's in one of our engineering schools here at Purdue.  So I thought he played well.  Played with good leverage, if you will, which he doesn't always do at 6'5".  I'd like to have the pads down, knock the front back and was active and did a good job this past Saturday.  That's really important.  We went into the ballgame knowing that we're probably going to‑‑ if the guys that had been banged up didn't hold up, we were going to be down to Michael Rouse and the freshman Ryan Watson, and we were hoping those guys could respond.
We were really counting on Michael Rouse to come through because he's a little older, bigger, and been around a little longer.  Very pleased with Michael, and he can help our football team right now.

Q.  How do you think (Indiscernible) has played this year.  It is a big year, fight to go come back.  How has he played?
COACH HOPE:  I don't think he's maximized on all of his potential.  A lot of time it's takes years for that to happen in the development of a big time player.  But I think he's played much better than he did at any point in time here at his career at Purdue.  He's made more plays.  I don't know where he is on your staff, but we look at production points.  He's played more physical, harder on more snaps.
But he's still not where he can be.  He still has a ways to go.  But he's much improved from where he was last year.  Particularly at the beginning of the season.  Last year at the beginning of the season I thought he was way behind.  He was much further along this season than he was last year.  Now he's been dinged up some and I know he'll bounce back.
But I think he's played better than he did since he's been at Purdue, but not at the level he can play yet.

Q.  Talk about the offense on Sunday.  Starting fast on the first possession, but not sustaining.  As you go back and look at it, what are the areas of concern after that first drive that you're not getting that kind of production again?
COACH HOPE:  I think I covered that a couple minutes ago.  I looked back on the game from this past Saturday, and looked at our offensive performance, 200 yards, 5.5 yards per carry.  And the number of times I've been head coach at Purdue and rushed for 200 yards and lost hasn't happened very often.  We did some good things on Saturday.  Did well in the red zone.  Robert Marve played well.
But when I look back on the game in my mind, the things that stick out in my mind were the facts that we were not as detailed in our routes and we did not beat coverages.  We and our opponents manufactured some pass breaks from Minnesota.  We also had an inordinate amount of drops early in the ballgame which negated some drives, which put us in a hole a little bit.  We were down 48‑7.  We go out in the first half and run better routes and get more open, they don't break the passes up, now we're moving the sticks.
If we don't get a couple of penalties, it's easier to convert some down and distances in some key times throughout the ballgame.  If we do a better job pass‑protectionwise, and our quarterbacks are able to step up and make big plays.
So those are the areas we're behind this past Saturday.  If you asked me that two weeks ago, I would have said we can't run the ball on anybody.  We haven't manufactured a good running game for a couple of weeks now.
That's what I would have told you against Minnesota.  I'm sorry, against Michigan and Wisconsin.  We did better last week against Ohio State in the running game, and did much better this past weekend.
Minnesota I thought going into the ballgame was going to be tough to run against because they're freestyle across the front and do things from a pressure point that's a challenge for your offensive line.  And I think our offensive line did a good job from a run‑blocking standpoint.
I look back on it, and think about pass break‑ups, drops, a couple of penalties and a couple of sacks really leaves a bad taste in my mouth as far as our performance goes this past Saturday.

Q.  With Penn State's offense using a lot of tight ends, have you come across an offense like that in your tenure that uses so many tight ends at the same time?
COACH HOPE:  Well, they put the best players on the field.  They're not all considered a tight end when they're in the ballgame.  Somebody's the X, and somebody's the Y, and somebody's the Z.  They're not all tight ends in the ballgame.  We've got to defend them all, but that's who their best players are.
You look back at what New England has done.  They've really featured the tight ends and a huge part of their arsenal until the last season, so surprised to see Penn State following suit to with that style of offense.  But I think they're putting their best players on the field.  One at the tight end position, one at the H‑back position, one might be flex out there playing the A or the Z.
They're all tight ends, but they're lining up in formation and running plays that we recognize.  They just have the tight ends in there executing those plays.

Q.  Is it a different challenge defensively because they're lining up all over the field?  What kind of match‑up concerns do you have?
COACH HOPE:  That is the challenge to try to figure out which tight ends go with which packages, and what the ten den seize may be.  A lot of times teams will send in three, four wide receivers and you have an idea what they're going to do.  A team will have a couple of tight ends and running backs in the ballgame.  They have tendencies as far as what they might want to do.
You look at Penn State and they have tight ends in the ballgame all the time.  Hard to nail down the tendencies based on personnel, because they do everything they do with the tight ends that they have on the field.
So it's a little bit of a challenge from a defensive schematic standpoint for our coordinators to decide which of our personnel that we want on the field against theirs.

Q.  From a linebacking standpoint, you've touched on it throughout the year.  But where are you at in that area?  You've made some changes in the starting lineup, but do you still feel good about what they've done and what they potentially could do the last four weeks?
COACH HOPE:  I think Robert Maci has played well.  We went a little thin because he plays the Sam linebacker position and plays on special teams.  Often times he has his hand on the ground and he's playing the defensive end spot.  I think he's done very, very well.  But we spread him thin.  If all he did was play the Sam linebacker position, he may have it mastered to a whole other level.  But we'd be spreading thin.
But I've been pleased with his performance, his effort and leadership throughout the course of the season.  He's emerged as one of our stronger leaders and is leading by example.  I think Joe Gilliam has gotten better, and I think that Antwon Higgs has gotten better.
And at times he's a guy to have on the field particularly when the game starts getting physical and people are getting their butts in the air and coming off the ball, trying to establish the run game.  Higgs say physical player particularly in the box.
The competition at the Will spot between Will Lucas, no pun intended, obviously, and Sean Robinson, they've played and practiced, and right now Sean Robinson has been number one on the depth chart, and Will Lucas number two.  Some of that has been based on performances in the games and some of it is based on affectability on and off the field.
But I think Sean Robinson has improved.  This time last year he was a back‑up quarterback.  So I think he's done very well.  Still not where he needs to be, but awfully good for a guy just learning the position.

Q.  Penn State runs more big plays than any team in the Big Ten.  How do you deal with that?
COACH HOPE:  Well, I may be mistaken, they may come out and crank out a hundred plays throughout the course of the game on Saturday.  But I wouldn't consider them an up‑tempo offense.  To me they're similar to us in some ways, but they change their tempo throughout the course of the ballgame, and you don't know what tempo they're going to be in.  They can come out and run hyper speed offensively and crank plates out as fast as any.  They can come out and lineup in a hurry and get you to show your defense.  Then they have time to look over the sideline and get a play that's signalled in.  They can come out of the huddle and race up the line of scrimmage and snap the ball on the first sound or get in and out of the huddle with the normal rhythm of a huddle‑up offense.
So to me they're a tempo offense.  An offense that changes their tempo, and the up‑tempo part you've referenced is part of their tempo package for their offense.  They can crank the plays out when they want to.
We've had experience against that style of play against Marshall this season.  Our offense, we pride ourselves in being a tempo changing type offense, and we practice against ourselves quite a bit.  So there should be some acclamation and similarity from that standpoint.

Q.  What are your thoughts on the mental toughness with people transferring, with their kicker transferring and their back‑up missing so many field goals in the beginning of the year?  But rallying and having such a season?
COACH HOPE:  I think it's outstanding.  Hats off to them.  They're embracing the us against the world attitude.  They simplify that in their level of play.

Q.  Just watching them on TV (Indiscernible), it seems like the team responds well (Indiscernible).  Matches up with him in terms of vibe.  What is it about him that draws people to him in that way?
COACH HOPE:  He's a wide open guy.  Then fearless in a lot of ways.  Those are very important to football.  The football team and his teammates are very important to him.  He's a very spirited guy, lot of energy and enthusiasm.  Those things can be contagious, and that is important to your football team.  I have a lot of respect for Robert Marve based on what he's been through.  I made the statement before.  I haven't been around many players throughout my 30 years of coaching or most of it college coaching that paid as big a price and received as little in return as what Robert Marve has.  He's paid an unbelievable price to be a great player.
But it's just been overshadowed by a lot of misfortunes.  Hat's off to him for his resilience to hang in there and once again emerge as our starting quarterback.
So a lot of those things are things that we can identify with.  It's difficult when you have a guy that's playing in front of you that started 13 ballgames and didn't throw an interception for 20 quarters and had a whole year to lead the football team to postseason play and a postseason win.  So that is a challenge for Robert.  Next thing you know when he gets it all together, he blows his knee out again.  I think the fact that he merged, he stepped into the huddle again, he certainly deserves the respect of his coaches and players and anyone that's ever put on a helmet or knows anything about the game of football.  So all those things I think he brings to the field.

Q.  Ralph Bolden, is he moving up the depth chart?  Are you going to use him the way you've used him?  What do you see from him in terms of that?
COACH HOPE:  I think you detailed it pretty good.  He's moving up the ladder.  We use him as we need him.  He's much better now than he was I believe Wisconsin was the first game he played in.  He looked fast, and quick, and sure in practice.  He didn't look quite the same against Wisconsin, and understandably so.  The next ballgame he looked better in.  He played better against Ohio State and had a couple of good runs.  Finished his runs, in practice.
So last couple weeks he's been able to accelerate some defenders, take them on, stop the charge, and really test out the anchors underneath him, if you will, and they've held up.  So I think he has a lot more confidence in his knee now.
I thought in the game this past Saturday he had physical runs and they were hanging on to his legs and his knees, and he was kicking out of there and playing well.  So I think he's improving as a player.  But I saw the same thing from him last year, except last year he was playing in the beginning of the season.
By the end of the season, he was a great player again, I thought before he blew his knee out again.  This season he's gaining momentum, and by the end of the season he'll be better than he is now.  So he's getting better and he can win.  He can help us win.  I think he's much more ready now.

Q.  A question about the NCAA.  Looks like they're about to pass some legislation on head coaches in regards to violations by their assistants.  Some of the penalties that they're talking about are possibly a year's suspension.  Does that make sense?
COACH HOPE:  It does in some ways as far as the head coach taking the responsibility to make sure that he's watching out for everything and everyone around him.  But it would be like someone telling all of you guys that you're responsible for any violation that any family member ever makes, as long as they're in your family.
So you're responsible for anything your brothers or sisters or cousins do outside of the family barbecue, and that's tough to accept that much responsibility, but the intention behind is good.  With you it seems a little bit extreme in some ways.  I can't control everything everyone does when they're not under my direct supervision and within my eyesight.  So it seems a bit extreme.  But I understand the intention.  It's good intentions, but it's a tough call.
Hey, if you want to pile it on somewhere, that is the place to pile it on, I assure you.

Q.  There have been times and you can look back at newspaper articles on who has broken the rules (Indiscernible).  I'm assuming you haven't, because we haven't had to talk to you about breaking the rules.
COACH HOPE:  Well, we don't.  I'm serious.

Q.  Is it frustrating at all when you have to deal with teams that are clearly breaking the rules?
COACH HOPE:  Not really.  It's what's best for the sport and the integrity of the sport.  In my mind it's the same thing as paying taxes.  You work hard and give a big chunk of it to those less fortunate and maybe not as ambitious as you.

Q.  When you look at Matt McGloin this year as opposed to last year, do you see a much improved player or a quarterback being put in a more quarterback friendly environment?
COACH HOPE:  I think he's a good player.  He reminds me a whole lot of Joey Elliott.  I felt that way a year ago about him.  Even though he may not be as flashy as a Drew Brees or some of the other heralded quarterbacks, I always thought he was an awfully good quarterback.  As he's gotten his opportunity to be a regular starter and gain confidence and he gained a lot of game experience, he's gotten better and better and better.
Joey Elliott's senior year at Purdue, I think he threw for 700 or 800 yards in the first half of the season.  By the end of the season, he had thrown for 3,000 yards.  I thought he was a legitimate all Big Ten candidate at the quarterback position based on his performance alone.  Even though he wasn't necessarily the fan favorite.  Wasn't quite as sexy, if you will, in regards to being a fan favorite coming into his senior year.  He was an outstanding player.
I think Matt McGloin is a lot like Joey Elliott.  He doesn't get nearly the credit he deserves for being the quality football player he is.  He manages their offense exceptionally.  He's got a good arm, makes few mistakes and his team believes in him because he's carried them throughout a great season so far.

Q.  You said Sunday you weren't quite sure yet who would be your number two quarterback?  How will you make that decision, and do you want Rob Henry all in at quarterback being that he's doing a lot of different things for you now?
COACH HOPE:  Where we're at from an injury standpoint right now with some of our fastest guys out.  We've had Mostert out and he's still out.  He's one of our better players.  He won't be available this week, I don't believe, but probably back next weekend the finally games or so.
We've had O.J. Ross out who was our leading receiver, one of the leading receivers in the Big Ten.  He's very fast, and he's been out.  We got Rouse nicked up in the ballgame this past Saturday.  So with Rob Henry serving at all the different skill positions.
This past week he threw for a touchdown, he blocked, caught a pass, rushed, ran the ball well from the tailback position.  He did it all this past weekend, and he's a good quarterback.  He's improved a lot with his passing skills.
So we like him behind center.  But he's serving us in so many different areas that it's hard for him to get all the reps that he needs at the quarterback position.

Q.  Can you talk about Danny Anthrop and his progression?  On Saturday, it seemed like a big play.  He steps on the end zone line when he's trying to down that punt.  It seems like a big play at the time.  A lot of youngsters may have put their head down there, but he kept plugging along.  Then maybe an injury to hunt, brought him in the game late and he catches that touchdown pass?
COACH HOPE:  He's very, very competitive and extremely loyal.  He's the type of guy who would cut his arm off for his teammates and his coaches.  It's not enough for those guys to go around for anybody's football team.  He's very, very valuable to our team and the future of our program and a great teammate.  It wasn't the fact that he stepped up beyond the goal line.  He could be all the way in the end zone, and the ball couldn't break the plain.  So he was in a good position.
I don't know if the ball broke the plain or not.  That was a call that the officials made.  There are different angles of the play, and they didn't have an angle that was from the sideline or the end zone that they could review in the box.  So one of the officials on the field made a call, and the call stood as it was made.
Danny was sure the ball didn't break the plain, and my coaches in the box that had an angle on the monitor were sure that the ball had not broken the plain, but it wasn't enough in the review box to overrule the call.  It wasn't the fact that he had broken the line with his feet.  He could be in the end zone.  Any part of the ball breaking the plain is what mandated the touchback.

Q.  With that, are you happy that he's staying in the game, the mindset of the game, and still trying to help in any way he can?
I think he's outstanding.  He's a real football player.  He's a real football player.  He could have played football 30 years ago.  He really is.  He gives you all he has.  He loves it, comes to practice very, very humble.  Teammates are first, coaches are first.  We're very fortunate to have him on our football team.

Q.  From a punt return standpoint, you didn't have Josh out there last week.  Where's that at heading into this week?
COACH HOPE:  I think we're going to look and see what Penn State does.  But we have four or five different guy that's we can put back there.  Antavian Edison we can put back there.  We can put Danny Anthrop back there.  We can put Ricardo Allen back there.  We have a lot of guys that have been catching punts for us.  We can put Akeem Hunt back there.  If Josh is fielding the ball good in practice and he can be okay with the thumb issues that he's had, we'll put him back there.
But we're okay as far as punt returners on our football team goes.  It's not like we don't have anybody else to put back there.  I like what we have to put back there and what our options are.
So either Josh will be back there or one or the other.  We'll be okay with that.  There are about half a dozen of them that I feel good about.

Q.  Just Marve from a health point of view, are you pretty confident that you can put him out there if he needs to play 60 minutes, he can hold up?
COACH HOPE:  We're going to find out.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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