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August 9, 2011

Pass offense needs time; Day 4 practice report

Listen: Coach Danny Hope after practice

Purdue may string five solid plays together in the passing game, but then struggle with the next two.

That lack of consistency has irked Coach Danny Hope and offensive coordinator Gary Nord so far in camp.

And it's not only the quarterbacks who are off to slow starts early in camp.

"Sometimes we don't protect as well as we need to," Hope said after Tuesday's practice. "I think we can, but we're not there yet. Sometimes we don't throw it as well as we need to. We can, but we're not there yet. Sometimes we don't get open and catch the ball as well as we need to. But I think we can get there. We're behind in the passing game from where we want to be."

Nord said the passing offense is behind where the coaches want it to be but still ahead of where it was at this point last season.

"We've got a ways to go," Nord said. "We've got to get our protections solid and we've got to get a lot better running routes and we've got to get better throwing the football.

"I think that's probably always the last thing to come around, the throwing and the catching part of it. You've got three quarterbacks that had three starts in there and a lot of receivers that didn't get to play with each other very much. So it has a little to do with it. But we've got to get on the same page real quick here."

Though the passing game may be a slow-starter, Hope said he's encouraged by the running game with Ralph Bolden, Akeem Shavers, Reggie Pegram and Jared Crank. Pegram likely will play fullback because Bolden and Shavers have been so impressive, Hope said.

"We have some physical running backs that can make you miss in space (and) that have speed, and that's exciting," Hope said.

Johnson's foot "issue" sparked Harris move
Normondo Harris moved from receiver to cornerback because Hope is uncertain about the health of Josh Johnson.

Johnson has a foot injury that needs to be "managed," Hope said.

"If it sneaks up on you and it gets worse and he has to miss some games or some playing time somewhere, that would be a concern to us," Hope said. "So that's why we took Normondo Harris because we're not exactly sure what Josh's status will be from week to week. So far, he's been very good. But foot injuries are funny."

Harris was the No. 4 receiver coming out of the spring, but Nord said he understood the move to defense.

"We felt like it'd give us a little bit more depth at the corner spot and give us a chance to make sure we had people over there. It's hard to hide those corners," Nord said. "You can hide the receivers a little better than you can hide the corners."

Gearing up for full pads
Purdue will practice for the first time this spring in full pads Wednesday.

The team will scrimmage, with only quarterbacks off-limits from tackling, Hope said.

"It's hard to finish blocks and runs and some of your execution is tough to finish when you're in shorts and shells, so it gives us a chance tomorrow to demonstrate the ability to finish," Hope said. "Finish runs, finish plays, to tackle, to see if we can really tackle. I think it'll make a difference in the tempo of some things. The defense will be able to swarm with a purpose, run to the ball with a purpose. So there's a lot to look forward to tomorrow. It also gives us a chance to working on cut blocking and playing the cut block. That's going to be really important to us on both sides of the ball."

Marve sits
Quarterback Robert Marve didn't practice Tuesday because of swelling in his knee, Hope said.

Marve's absence meant No. 3 quarterback Caleb TerBush got more reps. Hope said TerBush "is passing the ball the best out of all of them right now."


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