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December 14, 2012
Patrick Higgins would seem to have plenty of reasons to be stressed.
The last month has been quite the whirlwind, first taking over for injured offensive coordinator Gary Nord during the season, then adding interim head coach to his ever-growing title when Danny Hope was fired and now trying to balance preparing Purdue for Oklahoma State with figuring out his professional future.
But, after wrapping the second week of bowl practices on Friday, Higgins said he's having a "blast."
It helps, he says, that he's always stayed prepared in case an opportunity arose. He keeps notebooks with observations of what he'd do if he was in a position to make decisions, things he likes, things he doesn't, things he would do differently. That way, there's a "reference point and you have sort of a knowledge back that you can go back to," he said.
"It's been a very enjoyable experience," he said. "The kids have been great. The coaches have been great. It's not as traumatic as everybody tries to make it out to be. 'Man, it must be difficult.' I'm all in. This is a good time."
Higgins said the most challenging aspect of being all-everything is to find appropriate time to "market" himself for other jobs.
He wouldn't share whether he's been in contact with anyone for open positions elsewhere but mentioned that Jan. 4 is looming.
"It's in the back of your mind," Higgins said. "It's very early in the process, and there's a lot of things to shake out. The last time I was looking for a job, I didn't get a job until the end of February. You get real antsy. You know you're going to land on your feet somewhere, you just don't know where and it's the uncertainty that kind of creeps up on you."
"I'm definitely satisfied - we're going to postseason play," he said. "That's what it was all about, just being able to make plays for the 100, the whole team."
Edison is right, too, he did evolve into a playmaker.
He led the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns, getting career highs in all categories with 57 catches, 625 yards and eight touchdowns.
"It's just a steady improvement," Edison said. "I was told when you're coming to college, you want to get better every year, so that's what I've been trying to do. That's how it worked out. I had more touchdowns every year, more yards every year. I'm just grateful that I'm this position right now."
But it wasn't just the production that increased.
Higgins, Edison's position coach for two seasons, said he noticed growth off the field in terms of dependability and accountability, too. That's translated on the field.
"I think his maturity off the field carries over to on the field because he's been a much more disciplined player on the field," Higgins said. "Before, he used to ad-lib a little too much and now he plays more much within the system and the results show."
Teammates are impressed with Edison's ability to seemingly always come up big on third downs, as well as his willingness in the slot position to go over the middle where he knows he'll get punished.
"If it's the one person, I want to be on the field with, it's either (Robert) Marve or Breeze," cornerback Josh Johnson said, using Edison's nickname. "Breeze works hard every day in trying to become a great player, and I feel like he's stepped up to the plate and done that."
Bolden, recovering from a hamstring injury suffered on Nov. 17, suffered a setback on the injury but returned to some limited practice work on Friday.
"If he's healthy enough to play and he's got the clearance from the trainers, then he's going to play," Higgins said. "We're going to do what's best for Ralph. If he can't play, he won't play. But if he wants to play, we'll do everything we can to get him to play."
Higgins said most of the game plan for Oklahoma State is in.
The team will practice four times next week, take off four days for Christmas, return to practice twice in West Lafayette before leaving for Dallas on Dec. 28.
"So you have eight more practices working your game plan, which is awesome," Higgins said.
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