October 15, 2012
Every week, Purdue's coordinators talk about the game the day before, in this case a 38-14 loss to Wisconsin.
Read what Gary Nord and Tim Tibesar had to say a day after the win right here.
Offensive coordinator Gary Nord
Gold and Black: What kinds of things did you feel like you didn't do to be able to compete to win?
Nord: "We did a lot of things wrong. The list is very long, and when you don't run the ball very well it puts additional pressure on your passing game, and when you're not executing your passing game, you have no where to turn. It got ugly quick on the offensive side of the ball.
"The first half, you look at it and we had 32 plays. And of the 32 plays, we had 20 'plus' plays, but the second half we really played poorly. We really played poor. We went about 12 straight plays without a plus, so we've got to do a lot better in every phase of the game: running, throwing, catching, route discipline, everywhere."
Gold and Black: To be halfway through the season and feel that way, are you perplexed or what that at least there's not something for the offense to hang its hat on?
Nord: "Well, I think we can hang our hat on a lot of things. I didn't like the way we handled the elements in the throwing and catching department. We had way too many bad throws and way too many drops to sustain a drive. We've got to get mentally tough. It doesn't matter what it does; when it gets like that, teams are going to load the box up and take your running game away from you. If you're not able to run it, you've got to be able to throw it. And we weren't able to pitch it and catch it, but we know we can run it and can throw it, but the last couple weeks have been a little disappointing."
Gold and Black: It appeared as though you wanted to get the deep pass more involved in the offense, using it on the first play and attempting it other times. Was that something you saw of Wisconsin, or did you just want it to be part of the plan?
Nord: "We've done very little of it. To get your three-step passing game and the underneath stuff going, you've got to keep them off of you. We felt like it was a need in our offense and we felt like we weren't taking advantage of some big plays that were out there. We've got to capitalize on those; when we have them open, we've got to connect on them and be able to stretch the defense vertically better."
Gold and Black: How do you evaluate the play of your quarterbacks? I'd imagine that if one was playing good enough, we wouldn't have seen three on Saturday.
Nord: "The third was a situation where we wanted to make sure we get Rob Henry some work; we've got to get him involved.
"They played very average, very average. I thought we missed some throws that we normally throw, and then we weren't very disciplined in some coverages we saw that they hadn't shown. We didn't make very good adjustments on the outside and we dropped a bunch of balls. It was a very average day for the quarterbacks."
Gold and Black: You had a chance to get within a score at the end of the half, but then Robert Marve took back-to-back sacks to drop you out of field goal range. You just can't have that, right?
Nord: "Obviously, if you get yourself within one score and score just before the half, it's a chance to build some momentum. But we didn't do a good job of executing the offense from the quarterback spot, because we took four sacks as a group that were coverage sacks. We should have either tucked the ball away and gotten what we could get, or thrown the ball away. We got 41 yards of offense taken away from us by taking sacks. Plus, we put ourselves in a situation where our third down efficiency, it was impossible to convert the 55-percent that our goal is. We had eight third downs that were over 10 yards and that was a direct result of sacks and not managing the game well from the quarterback spot. We've got to do a much better job of managing the game from the quarterback spot."
Gold and Black: You're coming off a game like this - and really the last two weeks - where do you start trying to fix things this week?
Nord: "Well, you can look at the matchups all across the country and today's football is a lot different than it used to be. You've got the No. 5 in the country, West Virginia, gets beat by 40-something points by a team that's not even ranked. You've got Oklahoma, a team that lost last week, and then scored 63 points on Texas. You can't go from one week to the next at all. You can throw everything out the window because it's all about individual and team matchups.
"The way the game is played now, it's not about how has the best offensive line and best defensive line, the way it used to be, and the way Alabama plays the game - that's a different football team - it's now about the different matchups you can get a team in. It's become a dang fast-paced basketball on grass, so you can't go one week to the next; it's week-to-week on how you match up with each team."
Gold and Black: Do you still feel like Caleb TerBush is the guy to primarily get it done for you?
Nord: "Yes, I do. I think that the first quarter-and-a-half that he was in there, we didn't give him a chance on some poorly run routes, and then we didn't give him a chance with some drops. I felt like if we just would have made some catches at critical times, that he could have kept himself out of the mess that we got in."
Gold and Black: You had a couple pre-snap penalties, which combined with everything else wasn't good to see. Ralph Bolden had one, which might be excusable given his rust. What happened with those?
Nord: "Yeah, we had gone three straight games without a pre-snap penalty. The other pre-snap penalty was when their defensive lineman jumped and didn't quite cross into the neutral zone, and our guard moved. That's difficult for a guard to sit in there, when a guy jumps at him not to move. That was a little bit difficult, with the encroachment rule that very seldom gets called, and is a difficult call for the official. If they don't break the neutral zone, it's not a foul, but the guard sees him coming.
"The one that was on Ralph it really was a delayed snap. We gave that to the center because he doubled-flinched it, and when you're out at receiver, you're watching the ball. And he moved the ball, so Ralph kind of moved. Ralph didn't get a minus on that; they called it on him, but we gave it to the center."
Gold and Black: How did Ralph look to you?
Nord: "He did all right. He did very good in the protection part of it. He's still a little out of game shape and we were real careful on the number of reps that he got and we wanted to keep him under 15 to 18 snaps. It's a little sore on him, but we feel like he can increase his numbers a few each week."
Offensive coordinator Gary Nord
Gold and Black: What do you say after a game like that?
Tibesar: "It's embarrassing to watch, it's embarrassing to see, it's embarrassing to be a part of. Obviously as coaches, it's our job and responsibility to get the guys ready to play and have them go out and perform at a high level and we didn't do a good enough job to do that. It's disappointing to see, because it appears to me we've regressed a little bit defensively, where we had a nice faster starter. And we're not having the same guys who are put in position to make plays make plays that they made earlier in the year. There's no magic solution to it. It's just getting back to work and it's pushing the guys hard in practice and demanding out of them that they do all the little things right and do the fundamentals and keep drilling the fundamentals. And then when the players get an opportunity to make a play in the game, they've got to step forward and make a play too."
Gold and Black: What would cause the regression, mental, physical, a combination?
Tibesar: "It could be a little bit of wear and tear of the season. We were a little more nicked up than you have been, and when you're playing and healthy and can go full-go, you play at a certain level. Then, when you have a pulled hamstring or sore ankle and you aren't making the plays or are coming up a step short, some of those things. But every team has those right now, so it's not an excuse.
"Our job as coaches is to put them in position to make plays and teach them the skills they need to make plays when that opportunity comes up. And we've got to improve as coaches in both of those areas. We had guys who were in position to make plays and they didn't make the play. And we've got also to improve the skills, whether it's beating a block or making the tackle or getting on a fumble that's on the ground. We've got to keep putting guys in position to make plays."
Gold and Black: Your strength the first four games had been on the line. This last game, in particular, it seemed like you were not winning as often at the line of scrimmage, nearly as often as you had been.
Gold and Black: Is that surprising? Is it injury-related? Do you simply need to be better at the point of attack?
Tibesar: "Wisconsin, I give them a lot of credit from a game-plan standpoint, they started the game out running the ball to the edges. So then you get your big guys running east and west, wear them down a little bit. And then they're not a factor in the run game, when the ball is being run outside the tight ends, as much. And most of their plays were off-the-tackle plays, outside the tight ends, blocking down with the tight ends, kicking out with the fullback. Your D-line has to hold the point and make the gaps small, but at the end of the day, the tackling has to come from your linebackers and secondary guys.
"Now, when they run the ball inside, we do need the big guys up front. They really didn't come into the inside running game until the second half and later third and fourth quarters, unfortunately when we had been on the field too long because we couldn't get off the field. We had some wear-down and then those guys up front missing tackles."
Gold and Black: Danny Hope had said earlier that the defense missed 27 tackles
Tibesar: "We had 27 missed tackles, so that means 27 times we had guys in position to make a tackle and not make the tackle. That's still us as coaches. We've got to train the guys better to know how to make the approach and make the tackle. We've got to keep drilling those things. And it's not that we haven't, we haven't gone away from working on the fundamentals. Certainly this grabs your attention as a coach and certainly hopefully as players that they've got to have sharper focus in the drills when we are working on those things. But you're not going to play good defense if you miss 27 tackles.
"The golden rule is if you miss 10 percent of the number of plays they have, so if they have 80 plays you miss eight tackles, you have a chance. But when you have three times that many, it's giving good players too many chances. Unfortunately, the long touchdown run they had early in the third quarter, he makes three people miss. That's a really good player doing it, but we've still got to be able to make those tackles. You get a guy unblocked at the point of attack, he's got to be able to make that tackle, get him down, or at least force him into the next guy that we have coming and use his leverage to our advantage."
Gold and Black: Are your linebackers struggling to get off blocks to make plays?
Tibesar: "In the whole game, I don't think we got off blocks. We got engulfed and we took too many offensive linemen on down the middle and they just collapsed their arms on your outside shoulders, then you're not defending any gaps.
"We don't have any defenses where we're asking a guy to play both gaps on the side of a lineman, so they've got to maintain. We don't feel like we're asking them to do something they can't do. They've got to be able to strike and disengage to make tackles. Across the board, when you see a game like this and they have that many rushing yards, it either we're not striking hard enough and being able to disengage because we've shocked the blocker, and that was a problem in this game."
Gold and Black: Wisconsin ran the ball very well, and is a play-action team. On a couple occasions, guys got sucked in, Ryan Russell and Will Lucas in particular. How do you better defend that?
Tibesar: "It's one of those things, when they're able to run the ball, you start taking your eye off the man in coverage and trying to see where the tailback is. You've just got to be so disciplined with your eyes, especially when you're in man coverage, which really is the best coverage to be in against play-action because if you keep your eyes true, you've got a chance to cover them. If you're playing zone coverage, you lose all your underneath zone coverage because they're biting up on play-action anyway. So we did lose our man a couple times, and like you said, it's a product of them being able to run the ball. If you're stuffing the run, then you're not as worried about trying to cover for a teammate and are just focused on your key and doing your job. Ultimately when you're playing good on defense that's what you do; you just do your job and trust your teammates to do their job."
Gold and Black: Obviously, you have another big challenge coming up this weekend. Where do you start to try to reload in the process of getting back on the track you feel they can be on?
Tibesar: "We've got to get back to the fundaments of pursuit, block destruction, tackling, takeaways. Those were things that were absent Saturday. I thought our pursuit was good for the most part, because obviously if you had 27 missed tackles, you're in position to make 27 tackles that we didn't make, so our hustle never wavered, our effort never wavered, but we've got to beat blocks better, destroy the blockers better, got to be able to disengage and get off and make plays. It can't be enough to just take a guy on and trade yourself one-for-one. So we've got to engage blockers, disengage and go make plays. And we've got to tackle better, obviously, and we've got to still be able to create more takeaways. We really only created one takeaway and had the fourth-down stop, that's not enough in kinds of games. You've got to get at minimum of two or three takeaways to set your offense up in good field position."
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