August 10, 2010
Several freshmen could play; Day 4 notebook
Coach Danny Hope reiterated how much he likes his freshman class Tuesday, and he better, considering at least a half dozen will play during their rookie seasons. Heat strikes again
After Tuesday's heat-drenched practice, which was pushed back an hour to try to take advantage of cooler evening temperatures, Hope said Bruce Gaston was making a push at defensive tackle, a place where Purdue is trying find a starter.
Gaston is competing with redshirt freshmen Justin Kitchens and Brandon Taylor to start, while Kevin Pamphile, who's expect to miss the first month or so of the season, sits out with a stress fracture.
"I've been really impressed with Bruce Gaston," Hope said. "He's got a good motor, he likes it. When he understands what to do, he can come off the ball and knock you backwards and he can help us. He'll be ready to play when we open the season."
When asked what other freshmen could see playing time this season, Hope talked up the youngsters in the secondary.
"It's a really talented group of guys," he said. "I like Antwon Lewis, he's a good football player. Ricardo Allen does some things right now that could help us win. He sticks to them like glue and is really aggressive and he runs really fast. I could see him getting on the field right away.
"E.J. Johnson is still trying to figure it out, but his athleticism is a no-brainer. He's smooth in and out of his cuts, he's long and rangy and is a big-time prospect."
"A lot of those young secondary guys could compete to play this year and I'll be surprised if Ricardo Allen's not in the mix here in a couple weeks competing to be a No. 1."
Of course, wide receiver [db]O.J. Ross and punting and kicking specialists Cody Webster and Jonathan Linkenheimer are also possibilities for early playing time.
Hope pushed back practice an hour Tuesday, hoping to lessen the stress of the heat on his players.
The Boilers walked off the field a little after 8 p.m. Tuesday, a day in which temperatures reached in the lower 90s, with a heat index above 100. Hope says they haven't been doing their conditioning work the last couple days, saying that the heat, plus normal practice, is sufficient.
"We've got out there with the idea that if we practice really hard in this really, really hot weather, that'd be good enough to get us in shape and give us a chance to have everybody back at practice tomorrow," he said.
"We're pushing them hard and I think we went harder and faster and a little more wide open today, but I still feel like we're holding back some. The heat is holding us back some, so we'll give them a chance tomorrow to extend themselves some more."
Hope says no one was lost today due to the heat. He'll make a decision on whether to push back practice again, after he gets a feel for Wednesday's temperature. It's expected to be warmer.
• Hope said Trevor Foy has made positive steps at tackle, after spending the off-season putting on needed strength.
"He's very, very athletic and tries really hard," Hope said. "He's got a great motor, but he's really become a lot more polished. So even though he's not quite as old and strong as some of the guys he's competing against, he might play the position better than some of those guys right now.
"So there's some real competition with Trevor Foy at his spot (at right tackle)."
• When asked about defensive tackles, Hope mentioned freshman Ryan Isaac, although he's probably a year away from significant contributions after moving from defensive end.
"He's a really good line prospect," Hope said. "
And it looks like he's going to be a hell of a defensive line prospect."
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