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August 14, 2013
Over the past couple days, Purdue's defense has spent time installing more of its blitz package.
It showed up Wednesday morning, during the Boilermakers' 14th practice of training camp, when the defense, particularly up front and in the secondary, was as disruptive as it's been the last week-and-a-half.
During a red zone team drill, a lineman batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage, seeing it nearly picked off by Armstead Williams. Later Frankie Williams ripped a ball away, literally at the very last moment, keeping DeAngelo Yancey from control.
Antoine Lewis had an interception today, and the line, particularly Greg Latta and "Jack" Jules Williams, has created pressure.
"We have a very good defense," quarterback Austin Appleby said. "And Coach (Greg) Hudson is an unbelievable coach and getting them in a great position for them to make plays and get takeaways."
The defense has caused Purdue's offense numerous issues - pretty well documented over the last couple of days - with consistently making plays.
"Our defensive line, I think, is the tops in the league," Appleby said. "We see that day in and day out. If we have the ability to only bring four, or only bring three, and still get pressure, you can see what that does to us as an offense because you can drop guys back to cover the pass."
Hazell likes his defense, although he admits that linebacker, where Joe Gilliam is injured in an already thin group, is a "position of concern right now."
But the first-year coach has consistently liked what he's seen from the D-line, and the secondary is full of veterans, and seemingly deep, too, especially at cornerback.
"We're doing a good job at a lot of things," said Jimmy Herman, who is getting a majority of the snaps with the 1s at middle linebacker with Gilliam out. "But we have a lot to work on, too. Coach Hudson is definitely getting on us on a lot of things we have to work on, but I think we're taking steps in the right direction for sure.
"We're trying to be as disruptive as we can in all phases. When the blitz is on, we've got to get to the quarterback. We have guys in coverage who need us. We're working hard to get there at all cost."
Hazell has said he'd like to establish a group of Purdue's top-six receivers.
Now, with a half week left of training camp, that unit appears to be taking shape. The first grouping, as it's been all of camp, includes Dolapo Macarthy, B.J. Knauf, Danny Anthrop and Shane Mikesky.
But freshmen Dan Monteroso and Yancey, who got first-team reps Wednesday, are in the mix, as is veteran Gary Bush.
Those seven got a majority of the first-, second- and third-team reps the last couple days, although Cameron Posey has been mixed in, too.
Hazell was asked whether the top six are beginning to take shape.
"I think on Sunday when we really put together our two-deep we'll have a good feel for who our guys are," he said.
The Boilermakers visited the pool Tuesday night, taking a dip after the second of their two-a-day.
Several of them tried their hand at diving, some were simply awful, but all appeared to have fun.
None will leave football for the swimming and diving team.
"We had a couple guys who can't dive a lick," Hazell said. "There's no issues there."
Although he wasn't in red, signifying injury, Macarthy was absent from team drills on Wednesday morning.
The sophomore wideout had knee surgery during the summer but largely has faired well physically during camp.
"He's a little sore, knee is a little bit sore right now," Hazell said. "So hopefully we can give him some rest here in the next 24 hours and get him back."
But several others were in red pinnies: Bruce Gaston (hamstring), Ra'Zahn Howard (groin), Joe Gilliam (finger), Dezwan Polk-Campbell (lower-leg) and Devin Smith (knee). They were all inactive.
Armstead Williams donned red but also participated in team drills, running with the 1s at strongside linebacker.
Also, Ruben Ibarra is no longer in a boot but isn't yet active.
Again Wednesday, Purdue had two more bad center-to-quarterback exchanges.
They've mostly been with the second and third teams during camp, and Wednesday was no different, with both from Cody Davis to Appleby. The duo spent some time after practice working on it.
"We're going to clean it up," Appleby said. "It's no big deal. The quarterbacks just got to make sure he stays in there (under center) a little longer and make sure we get a clean exchange."
Thursday evening, Purdue will hold a practice - Hazell called it a scrimmage - inside Ross-Ade Stadium, then sign autographs afterward.
Practice starts at 6:15 p.m., then the "fan appreciation" autograph portion is from 8-8:40 p.m.
"I hope we get enough fans out there to cheer us on," Hazell said. "It's for those guys, for the fans."
Saturday's jersey scrimmage will be the last practice for fans to watch. During the season, practices will be closed to the public.
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