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August 7, 2012Listen: Coach Danny Hope after practice
Purdue's trying to make things as official as possible during the early portion of its training camp, by bringing in more officials.
Danny Hope says Purdue has more days this camp with officials present than ever before. It's in an effort to make the Boilermakers a more disciplined football team. A year ago, the Boilers were frequently undone by penalties, some of them due to avoidable personal fouls.
"We were one of the most penalized teams in the league last year and we don't have that margin for error," Hope said after practice Tuesday. "If we want to compete to be the best, we have cut down on mistakes and that certainly includes penalties. We want to be a much more disciplined football team."
Tuesday marked at least the second day in a row that Purdue had officials in to watch a practice, and the Boilermakers haven't even been in full pads yet. Officials are slated to attend several more over the next three weeks.
"Maybe more than all the camps put together (before)," Hope said. "(It's designed) for (improving discipline). That falls on me; I've got to do a better job. It's very easy sometimes as a coach to be like a parent and next thing you know you become like an enabler in regards to discipline."
In years past, Hope says, Purdue was dealing with underclassmen playing critical positions, due to lack of depth or injury. Because of that, it was easy then to overlook some mistakes and make excuses.
"There's no excuses for this football team," he said. "It's a veteran football team, they've played and know better. So I can't be an enabler; we're going to be a more disciplined football team and that starts at the top and will roll all way down to the last guy on the totem poll."
Early in Tuesday's practice, quarterback Rob Henry received a few punts, as Purdue looks for a return man.
Hope said Henry, a junior signal-caller and former starter who is third on the depth chart, is "absolutely" in position to win the job.
"Rob Henry is an outstanding quarterback and we have two senior quarterbacks that have experience and are healthy," Hope said. "Rob is a quarterback and an outstanding quarterback; he's a great athlete with the ball in his hands at any position on the field and he fields punts very well, did it in high school.
"He volunteered for some active duty, and I like that. We want to win and everybody on this team wants to win."
Henry was one of several who received punts. Robert Gregory, who moved from QB to running back, cornerbacks Josh Johnson, Ricardo Allen and Frankie Williams and wide receiver Danny Anthrop also took turns.
Purdue has four returning from major knee injuries last season, each trying to come back this year.
Fullback Brandon Cottom and Henry appear to have few limitations right now, while defensive lineman Ryan Isaac and running back Ralph Bolden are in various stages of rehab.
Cottom isn't wearing a knee brace, and has looked good.
"He carried the ball some today in our third scrimmage," Hope said. "He was big and quick and agile like he was before he got hurt."
Hope says Henry, who injured his knee a year ago, is holding up well, as is Isaac, although the big defensive end/tackle wasn't part of the first three defensive units during an early practice pursuit drill; he stayed on the sideline.
The furthest behind, however, is Bolden, who was hurt in the last regular-season game.
"It's unfortunate Ralph isn't farther along right now," Hope said, "but he's had more of them (injuries) and I wasn't sure where he'd be at. He's not ready right now, but we'll see what happens."
After the graduation of Jared Crank last season, Purdue's looking for a new fullback.
Cottom is an option, as is walk-on Kurt Freytag and Derek Jackson.
"We have two or three guys that are working there," Hope said.
A tight end could be an option, as well. The Boilermakers have depth there, including three true freshmen. Rookie Jonathan Curry, in particular, might be an option to move into the backfield at times.
"We have good tight ends with big bodies, so we might try some of those guys back there some," Hope said. "We need to get the fullback involved in our offense more.
"We're trying some guys there and we need a fullback to come through for us. There will be great competition and a few will emerge."
Purdue is optimistic that wide receiver Ishmael Aristide's knee injury isn't a tear.
The junior was hurt on the first day of training camp Saturday.
"He has some things that potentially will have to clean up, but it doesn't look like anything major-type of surgery," Hope said. "That's how it looks now, but we're optimistic he'll be OK. Maybe it will be a month or so down the road."
Aristide, a former safety, suffered a major knee injury as a high school junior, and missed his senior season.
Freshman Jordan Shine's career is still in limbo, as he has not passed his team physical.
There was no update as of Tuesday.
"We're still waiting to hear more medical results back," Hope said.
Junior receiver O.J. Ross was back at practice Tuesday after an excused absence the day before.
"He handled his personal business and everything is fine," Hope said.
Purdue will go full pads for the first time on Wednesday.
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