October 1, 2012

Coordinators Corner

Every week, Purdue's coordinators talk about the game the day before, in this case a 51-41 Boilermaker victory over Marshall.

Read what Tim Tibesar and Gary Nord had to say a day after the win right here.

Offensive coordinator Gary Nord

Gold and Black: How did the offense do on Saturday?
: "I thought we did a lot of good things. The first half we really looked like an outstanding football team on the offensive side of the ball. We scored every time we had the ball, except for the drive with the two major penalties and the one before the end of the half when we ran the clock out.

"I thought we did some good things in the second half. We didn't start out as well as I would like to in the third quarter coming out of halftime, but then I was really proud of them for matching the scores, when Marshall started scoring. We matched them and never gave them a chance to get it to a touchdown; we kept it at two-touchdown, or two-score, lead all the time."

Gold and Black: I'd imagine if you could pinpoint the issues in the third quarter, you'd have them solved. But can you determine anything about what the issues are?
: "Saturday, we got to third-and-1 and we've been outstanding on third downs conversations - we're third in the country and tops in the Big Ten - we came out and ran the ball two times. Then the third time we ran it, one particular guy missed a block and we didn't get it. We had to punt it away. I just think it was a single guy breaking down. He took an improper step; he stepped over himself and they got some penetration and stopped us.

"I see our football team showing signs, then some inconsistency. At the offensive line, we've got to get more consistent up there to become a big-time football team that we want to become."

Q: Speaking of third downs, why has Antavian Edison been so good for you then?
: "You can get him mismatched. We get him lined up on some linebackers and safeties and he's extremely quick. He has a great knack of getting separation. When he gets a chance to work, there's no one who is going to cover him in space. He's been a very good target for Caleb on third down because of the mismatches."

Gold and Black: Marshall had not been very stout against the run. Are you surprised you weren't able to make more ground yards, and why couldn't you?
: "The first half we ran the ball well. The second half, it's one of the hardest kinds of game to call as a coordinator that there is. At halftime, you're up 42-14 and you're thinking 'If you just don't screw this thing up, you're going to win it.' You want to keep the clock running and the only way to keep the clock running is to run the football on a consistent basis, so they started dialing up all sorts of pressures and blitzes that they didn't do in the first half and we're trying to manufacture running game against all these exotic blitzes.

"Looking back, I wish I would have just spread them out and just thrown the ball because I have tremendous amount of confidence in Caleb to do that, instead of trying to run the ball into all that, and trying to stick a square peg into a round hole. I wish I would have just spread them out and throw it a little bit more, but those games are tough because if you just don't screw it up, you're going to win it. If you don't throw a pick-six, or stop the clock on three straight downs; it's like you're danged if you do and danged if you don't."

Gold and Black: On the positive for the offense in the second half, you had two drives of more than five minutes when you were trying to eat the clock away. The one, which went about 6:30, ended in the touchdown to Gary Bush. That was big.
: "The biggest drive was when they cut it to 10. I think it was a 78-yard drive, 15 plays, and took six-and-a-half minutes off the clock. They had just cut it to 10, so we kept their offense off the field plus matched the points and got it back up to (16). It was a huge drive for our offense."

Gold and Black: How did you think Caleb TerBush performed?
: "Well, whenever you have a quarterback who throws for 73-percent for 300 yards, I'll take it. That's not easy to do. That's being very accurate and getting the ball out. Everybody is going to throw a couple bad balls here and there, but he was 73-percent, official stats, for about 300 yards. If you put the penalties in there, he'd have been 350 yards, but Raheem Mostert had a 57-yard play called back and Crosby Wright had a 30-yard pass play called back. So he would have been about 365 yards quarterback-stat wise and would have had two more completions. He would have been at 78-percent for about 350 yards and everyone would be talking about what an outstanding quarterback play we had. He played very well I thought."

Gold and Black: TerBush tried to find a tight end on that fake dive play, but threw a pick instead. He got pressured there, right?
: "He got nailed on the interception. We had a breakdown in protection and he got hit right as he threw it and it sailed. It was a protection pick, not a quarterback pick."

Gold and Black: Bush had a career day, after not being much of a factor recently.
: "It was great. He'd been hampered by a hamstring and really is just getting back to full speed and the bye week was good for him to rest up. He's been playing more physical each week and catching the ball more consistent and understanding coverage a lot better. There's nobody going to catch him from behind.

"We executed the screens a lot better and he saw the opening and took it."

Defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar

Gold and Black: Assess the play of the defense.
: "It was an up-and-down game for us. There were a lot of good plays, but some we certainly would like to have back again."

Gold and Black: You likely knew you were going to give up some yardage. In those cases, do you adjust your goals for the game?
: "Actually, we were talking about it and the funny thing is we actually met our goal from a pass-average standpoint. They averaged 6.6 yards per passing attempt and our goal was to hold them under 6.8 and when you factor in the two-point play, when we sacked and caused a fumble, they averaged 3.5 per rush and our goal was to hold them under 3.6. But when they have 98 plays that we grades for our players, you add those up and those percentages and they still had almost 450 yards of offense. That's why we do those percentages per play.

"There was a lot of good plays. You look at 98 plays, we had 75 that we graded out very well and did what we wanted to do and was about 23 of them where it wasn't quite the way we wanted it and could have executed better. It's probably always going to be about that percentage, but they just had way more plays than you normally see. We'll play a lot of games where 75 good plays will be way more plays than we need."

Gold and Black: We had talked before about improving the rush defense on the edge. Was it better vs. Marshall?
: "Absolutely, we were much better. They got us a couple times where the ball started inside and then bounced outside. But I thought we did much better on the perimeter runs in the run game in defending and shoring those things up. They certainly tried, they tried to run the ball to the edges quite a bit."

Gold and Black: Had you ever been part of a second quarter like that, with three interceptions, two returned for touchdowns?
: "Maybe not when we scored two defensive touchdowns in back-to-back drives, but football is a game of momentum and I've been part of teams where you get that momentum going and things start rolling your way. That's what you want to have, unfortunately we just didn't carry that over into the third quarter."

Gold and Black: Did you get enough pressure up front, considering you were facing the Herd's quick-passing offense?
: "For as fast as they were throwing the ball, I thought we did a great with our front four with getting pressure on the quarterback and hits. We had the two sacks, we had the other sack on the reserve pass on the two-point play, which would have been a third sack, and we also had 11 other hits on the quarterback. At times, we had guys unblocked going to him, but when they're in the gun and he takes four more steps back, he ends up at nine-and-a-half or 10 yards (deep) and then throwing the ball on time, it's like trying to block a punt. You can be on the block and still not get it if the snap and the kick are off in time. That's kind of what it was like rushing this guy; you couldn't get there fast enough before he was able to set his feet and throw the ball."

Gold and Black: It seemed to me that substituting wasn't an issue for the defense. You didn't have any penalties and had the right personnel on the field often. Thoughts?
: "Our guys did a great job and we played a lot of people. I think we had 22 players who logged over 10 snaps in the game. Our first and second D-lines were almost 50-50 as far as (snaps). That really, we felt, came into play in the fourth quarter, when our first-string guys were still fresh.

"In the 98th play, Kawann Short is able to come in there and cause a fumble and get a great pass rush. That doesn't happen if he has to play every single snap of the game; it just doesn't. So our rotation up front and our ability to do so really worked out the way we wanted throughout the course of the week."

Gold and Black: And you played 50-something defensive snaps in the first half.
: "Correct, we had 53 snaps in the first half, so they didn't slow down much. The funny thing is we still significantly won time-of-possession, but with the pace that they run, it's the number of plays you've got to deal with, not time of possession.

"It's great to get the interceptions and take them back to the house on defense - there's no question, we'll take that every time - but it does put you right back on the field defensively. And then those happen back-to-back, so it's literally three drives in a row in that second quarter where we were on defense the whole time despite Purdue scoring two touchdowns."

Gold and Black: How do you managed the substitutions? Is it pre-determined, such as this unit will be in on this series, or is it based more on game situation, or some of both?
"It's more based on number of plays in a series, especially the front seven guys. You don't want those front seven guys, if they're doing what you ask them to do, which is give everything they've got, after about five or six snaps, there's not enough in the tank. So we try to get them out of there to get fresh bodies in there, get a blow for three or four plays, then get them back in.

"In the secondary, you probably rotate them more by series, stuff like that, knowing that it's going to be a long game and we've got to keep these guys fresh for four quarters."

Gold and Black: The one big play Marshall had was the deep pass for a touchdown over freshman corner Anthony Brown in the second half. He looked to have OK coverage, but the pass was completed. What happened?
: "It was one of those things that No. 1, we've got to make the sack. We've got an unblocked guy. If you look at the video, we've got a zone blitz there and an unblocked guy who totally whiffs. The whole coverage is designed that the ball has to come out in a hurry, and when the ball doesn't come out in a hurry, now we're not in the best position we want to be.

"We had good coverage on the scramble drill and Anthony was right next to the guy. He let the guy kind of muscle him a little bit and jump up and got a little higher than he did. That's some athletic ability and some experience of knowing how to time those jumps up and do those things. But he really was in good position and he did want we wanted on the scramble drill; he stayed with his guy the whole way and was right there. It just comes down to one guy is going to make the play and one's not, and unfortunately that time their tight end made the play and we didn't."

Gold and Black: Discipline was a big topic of training camp, but you had two personal fouls on defense. The one on Short (on a QB hit) was questionable, I thought, but Taylor Richards was a late hit out-of-bounds.
: "We want to try to coach to a point where we take the officials judgment out of it and make good decisions because when you're on the edge and on the fringe, you allow those officials to make judgment calls that effect your success. So some of those things, we truly, when we can, we try to coach. The sideline penalties, we can coach those out of our players by (telling me) not to leave their feet when near the sideline, not try to hit the opponent on the sideline and knock them down. We'd rather wrap up and usher them out of bounds. That way, when we stay on our feet and they stay on their feet as we go out of bounds, even if it's a late hit just out of bounds, they never seem to call the penalty. When you launch your body and all the sudden you go down and he goes down, that's when they call the penalty. So we feel we can coach that up better and make sure our players understand it.

"And the late hit on the quarterback, those are judgment calls, but certainly if we can pull off we want to pull off. Every level of football they are trying to protect the quarterback more than ever and we don't want to get those penalties. That was a critical one because it was a fourt-and-10 and we got a stop and we're off the field. But it allowed them to continue the drive and allowed them to score another touchdown."

Gold and Black: The two-point conversion stop in the fourth-quarter might have been the defensive play-of-the-game, considering it kept the score at 10. Will Lucas stayed home on the Herd's fake attempt, right?
: "It was a good play by Will Lucas and actually Josh Johnson was back there too. That's why he had no where to go and actually panicked a little bit, looking around trying to scramble and Robert Maci came around and stripped the ball out and we were actually able to recover. It was just guys doing their job, and that's when our defense is going to be at its best, when the 11 guys out there trying to do their job. We got in more trouble the entire game of guys trying to do too much, more than their job."

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