November 5, 2012
Every week, Purdue's coordinators talk about the game the day before, in this case a 34-9 loss to Penn State.
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 are preventing you from moving the ball? Is it a combination of things?
Nord: "I think probably the single biggest ingredient missing - it's kind of like any kind of success in life - is the confidence. When you lack confidence in any thing you do, your performance is not going to be up to par. I think we've got a little bit of that going on right now on our whole football team, especially on the offensive side of the ball. When you start dropping balls like we've been dropping them, with kids who haven't dropped them. Things started going a little bit south and the doubt creeps into people heads really easy."
Gold and Black: Robert Marve was sacked only once, but he was hit and under pressure a lot. Were there issues up front that caused you problems?
Nord: "Well, there was some breakdowns in protection. There were no mental breakdowns, but some physical breakdowns where we got beat on some twists and some movement and got him hit too many times. He got beat up too many times, and you kind of expected them to lay their ears back and come after a guy who has one ACL. You're going to get that. But we didn't pass off the twists very well and didn't block movement very well."
Gold and Black: You put in fullback Kurt Freytag to help block. Is there other things you could do to help the offensive line?
Nord: "After the first quarter-and-a-half, we settled down and didn't get him hit near as much. But we kept our tight end in and then we put Freytag in and then we full-slid (the blocking), so we didn't have to pass any twists off and that made it a little bit sounder for them and a little bit easier for them up front."
Gold and Black: You've used a lot of screen passes, and passes to the sideline, and some want to see you go up the field, or use the middle of the field, more often. Why have you not been able to do that?
Nord: "I'm not sure what anybody wants to see, but we called 60 passes and about half of them were five-step down passes, so I'm not sure what anybody is seeing on that. Probably ought to go back and watch the film again. We threw outs, we threw posts, we threw take-offs, we threw square-ins. We threw every combination route that I know to throw, in the middle of the field, we dropped some, but I'm not sure what they're looking at on that."
Gold and Black: Drops had not been a huge problem in the first half of the year, but it has been the last two weeks, especially vs. Penn State. Why?
Nord: "I think maybe concentration and confidence, a combination of it. Once they drop one and start trying a little bit too hard, that's what the crazy thing is; obviously you hear people chirping all the time around and the thing that bothers me the most is when people say they haven't been playing with heart. Watch the film and watch them, they are playing hard, they aren't playing smart. But man, they're getting after it and they're playing hard. They may block the wrong guy, but they're knocking the heck out of them. To question their effort is not the right thing to do. We haven't executed worth a darn, I'm the first to admit that and take full responsibility for that, but their effort has been very good."
Gold and Black: On one play, which might have summed up the whole day, was the throw-back left, in which there were three offensive linemen in front to block, against only one Nittany Lion defender. But Gerald Hodges slipped through to make the tackle. Is that an illustration of everything going wrong?
Nord: "Yeah, you've got three guys to block one and you don't take care of it, and that's discouraging. And you had the whole side of the field after you got them to bite on the misdirection. We miss a guy in space, that was probably the thing we did the poorest job of (Saturday) of blocking people in space. We did a horrible job of making a collision with a guy in space. A lot of times, over-aggressiveness hurts you there, because you have to be under control and you have to shorten your strides down. It doesn't need to be a kill shot, it needs to be a position block."
Gold and Black: How did Marve perform?
Nord: "I thought he did some good things. He hasn't played a lot for a little while, but I was definitely pleased with the way he sat in the pocket and continued to take the hits that he took and threw the ball down the field. With the 10 drops that we had, seven of them were going to be first downs. You get seven first downs, you're guaranteed at least another 28 plays. It's tough to evaluate a quarterback when he gets hit that much and he has that many drops, but I was very encouraged with his toughness and his pocket presence in there."
Gold and Black: What do you do this week? You're at the brink and need to find salutations soon. Are you're problems more mental, physical, both?
Nord: "You've got to do more mental at this point. It's all mental. Every breakdown we had was a mental breakdown - there were some physical things that happened up front - but the overall execution has been lacking and that totally is geared toward the lack of focus. They're great practice players and that's the thing that's discouraging and crazy and hard to understand, but we haven't been able to carry it from the practice field to the game field."
Defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar
Gold and Black: What is your feelings about Saturday?
Tibesar: "We just aren't making enough plays. The bottom line is this game comes down to individual matchups, where you get matched up from a guy lining up across from you, where it's a corner against a wide receiver, a linebacker on a tight end or a running back, or a D-lineman lined up against an offensive lineman and we've got to win more of those matchups when the play comes our way. That's the bottom line."
Gold and Black: It's not only inexperienced players making mistakes, it's veterans, too.
Tibesar: "There's plenty of blame, or broken plays that guys don't execute from our veterans to our young players. There's really no excuses for it, guys know their assignments, they know what they're supposed to do, but at the same time the opponent has got an assignment they are trying to execute, which is contrary to your assignment. It's who wins that matchup. When you're supposed to secure the A gap or the B gap, and he's supposed to knock you out of that gap, who wins that matchup? When you're supposed to cover a guy man-to-man and he runs a route on you, who has better execution? That's ultimately what it comes down to, and right now the opponents are making more plays than we are."
Gold and Black: You missed tackles vs. Penn State, but it's missed assignments, too, right?
Tibesar: "Yeah, there's a handful of missed assignments. They got us not ready to go several times on their hurry-up, which we practiced all week long, but until you get in the game and do it. We tried to simplify it and have a base call to go to and we did, but a couple times we had a guy lined up wrong and wasn't ready to go and that cost us several times on some runs. On those, we just weren't ready to go when they went to their no-huddle call. It's unfortunate, because we've done it a lot in practice, against our own offense and seem to be able to execute it in practice, but on game day we weren't able to carry it over.
"And obviously some of the missed tackles. And it's not just the missed tackles, it was the yards after contact. They've got some big, strong running backs and we hit them at two yards or so and all the sudden he carries for another three or four yards and a run that should be a two- or three-yard gain ends up turning into five- and six-yard gains, and that makes all the difference when it comes to third down and being able to get off the field."
Gold and Black: At the beginning of the season, you wanted your strength to be in numbers up front, rotating guys on the defensive line to stay fresh. Are injuries keeping you from doing what you want to do?
Tibesar: "We're still rotating guys, and it's partly because of the injuries that we've had to rotate guys. Kawann Short was a warrior for us (Saturday) after he wasn't able to practice all week long. He went out and I'm sure he's disappointed he didn't make as many plays as he would like to with his performance, but he battled out there the best that he could, but he's not at full strength and we've had to rotate other guys in there. We've got numerous other guys (hurt) along the defensive line, so we're not a true two-deep any more, as far as it being a healthy, true two-deep, so we're still substituting, but sometimes it's more out of necessity than luxury."
Gold and Black: Antoine Lewis came in for one play, and got beat for a long touchdown. What happened?
Tibesar: "The play before, they call Josh (Johnson) for a holding call, which we were really spectacle (of), but when a guy commits a penalty or something like that, or isn't being disciplined, we pull them out and let them think about it, whatever it is. I don't know if they saw that and went right after him, but it was really something we had emphasized all week long: the wide receiver screen and the wide receiver screen-and-go, and he just didn't execute it the way we asked him to and unfortunately we gave up a touchdown."
Gold and Black: Are you perplexed that this is where you're at? Or early in the year, did you suspect that you had some issues that were being hidden?
Tibesar: "No. Early in the year, we were playing well and playing with confidence and in general when you don't play with confidence and don't have success, it becomes a vicious circle. We've certainly lost confidence and swagger, and we're not as healthy as we were in Weeks 3 and 4. But the biggest thing is the loss of confidence and when you lose confidence you don't execute as well, you don't make the plays that come your way. I think that's been the biggest thing. It's hard to give back players confidence. I think confidence comes from within and can't come from other people. It's easy to have confidence when things are going well and is harder to have confidence when things aren't going well, but the really good teams and the really good defenses, they have confidence regardless of the situation and scenario and they battle through the tough times with mental toughness.
"It's different now days, there's a lot of negativity around sports now with blogs and people and unfortunately our players read a lot more of that stuff than they should and let it affect them. It's one of those things that you wish they wouldn't read because if you're a human being and people are talking bad about you, it's hard not to have it affect you. But we've got a great opportunity and have these last three games against teams that are kind of going through the same things that we are, struggling to find a way to get on the winning track and we've got a chance to win three in a row here potentially and get to a bowl game and let these seniors go, at least finishing on a high note."
Gold and Black: You've got some veteran guys who seem to play with bravado, Ricardo Allen and others, do you lean on them to try to build confidence?
Tibesar: "You generate and build confidence by performance in practice, that's one of the things. We've actually practiced well, practiced hard and had good focus in our practices. You wouldn't know by the way we've practiced that we were going to have some of the performances we've had on game day. But you do have to rely on the seniors and veteran guys who are out on the field to try to instill that confidence. Even when a play goes back, it's 'Hey, guys, forget about it. We've got to move on and make the next play.' And you've got to have enough confidence in yourself and have your teammates respect to have that kind of influence out there."
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