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March 26, 2012

TerBush still pushing; Monday practice notes

Listen: Danny Hope after practice

Caleb TerBush started every game last season in leading Purdue back to a bowl game for the first time since 2007.

He's hoping that will give him an edge for the starting spot for 2012, though he also knows by now that nothing is guaranteed.

"You never really know what's going to happen," TerBush said. "I've just got to take advantage of the time I get at being the one and do the best I can. Anything can happen. I experienced that a couple years ago. Rob (Henry) experienced it last year. Robert (Marve) experienced it the year before that. You just have to go in there with the mind-set you're going to do the best you can.

"That's what I feel all of us quarterbacks do really well is we go in there work hard, we help each other, we criticize each other to help each other out to get better."

TerBush completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,905 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. He threw only six interceptions in 13 games.

This spring, TerBush said he's targeting the little things.

"Just being a better student to the game and just looking at the little things I could have changed on my drops or my pre-snap reads or decisions after the snap," he said. "Just those things that you look at them on film and you can pick them out. It's a lot different when you're playing, but when you get to sit back and look and (it's), 'Oh, I should have done this.' Then you just go out and practice it and try to build on it."

TerBush and Marve are about splitting the reps in spring ball, TerBush said. Henry is getting some work, too, but he didn't participate in team portions of the scrimmage last Saturday.

A good start
New defensive line coach Kevin Wolthausen would prefer to use a rotation up front of seven or eight players.

He likes some of the options he's seeing so far in spring, his first introduction to his group.

Kawann Short, the All-Big Ten product in the unit, is the obvious choice for impressing in early practices. And Wolthausen has liked his effort and upside.

Wolthausen likes the potential in his top rotation of ends that includes Ryan Russell, Jalani Phillips and Robert Maci and thinks the team has some players who can be "difference-makers" as far as pass-rushers.

"Some are further along than others. What we have is we have some guys who have that innate ability to do it," he said.

"(Phillips) has some speed. He has some burst. He has to know when to use it. It's like anything, and I don't mean this negative, they're like pieces of clay you mold and get them in the right direction."

Inside, Wolthausen is happy to finally have some players back healthy this spring to where he can play them at their projected positions. Brandon Taylor had been nursing an injury, which allowed redshirt freshman Michael Rouse III to get more reps with the first team.

"I think a guy inside that has been really, I don't know that it's a surprise to anybody but it's pleasing to me to see, is Bruce Gaston and him feeling better," Wolthausen said. "He's more of an active player in there."

Getting out
After spending the first two practices of spring indoors at the Mollenkopf Athletic Facility, the Boilermakers have been outside the last four practices.

Hope would like that to continue.

"I think it is (good) because I want to go on the grass as much as we can," said Hope, whose team has FieldTurf and Bermuda grass field options at its outdoor complex. "From a safety standpoint, it's probably the best thing for our football team. It's unusually warm this spring, so that's allowed us to get outside some. Every chance we can get outside we will. If it gets real cold or wet, we'll go inside."

The weather was a bit chilly on Monday with winds at about 10 mph, but the sun was shining when the team practiced in the late afternoon. The team's performance in practice was a bit cooler, too.

"It wasn't as crisp as I would have liked it to have been and it wasn't as intense as I would have liked for it to have been, particularly early in practice," Hope said. "But they did finish strong, and that was a good sign."

On the mend
Linebacker Nnamdi Ezenwa has his left arm in a sling after injuring his hand, Patrick Bade is out with a broken left hand and Charles Torwudzo was walking around with a boot on his left foot.

And those are in addition to guys already slowed in the spring, pushing the number of players who didn't participate in Monday's practice to at least 15, Coach Danny Hope said.

"We're getting thin and that slows things down a bit," Hope said. "We finished practice strong and that was a good sign, but it took us awhile to get going. I think they were counting numbers and wondering how long they were going to be in there and (trying to) pace themselves a little bit. But we are down some injury-wise right now. It does allow some other guys to get great reps. Guys like Josh Davis and Cody Davis are running with the 1s and they're getting a lot better as a result of it. (Dwayne) Beckford is not out here this spring and (Antwon) Higgs was sick and we held him out of practice, so Sean Robinson got all the reps with the 1s today.

"So a lot of great opportunities for guys who need those opportunities."




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