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November 13, 2012

Nord could be out again; Tuesday notes





LISTEN: Danny Hope on Tuesday

Purdue likely will be without offensive coordinator Gary Nord for a second consecutive game, Coach Danny Hope said Tuesday.

Nord was hospitalized last week after suffering a back injury and didn't make the trip for the Iowa game.

"My gut feeling is (no)," Hope said of Nord traveling with the Boilermakers to Illinois this weekend.

"He's not able to go to practice or able to come to work. If that doesn't change pretty soon, I don't know if he'll be in position to travel or not. I don't know. We'll know toward the end of the week."

If Nord isn't available, receivers coach Patrick Higgins will again handle the play-calling responsibilities.

Hope said the offensive staff typically gets together to develop a game plan early in the week.

Last week, Robert Marve said Higgins was ready to go as soon as he learned he'd be calling the plays.

"He's a very organized person. When he came in X, Y and Z was on the table for me and all the quarterbacks and this is what we're going to do and these are the plays we like in this situation," Marve said Tuesday. "He was very vocal and very clear about it. Even the first time he came out, that day, he was ready for us.

"He's organized. He knows the system better than anyone. He did a great job of keeping me patient the whole game but at the same time enough where he was putting me in situations to make plays."

The operation was smooth last week with Higgins calling plays from the press box, coaches and players said. Higgins relayed a play on the head set, and it was signaled in by graduate assistant coaches. After each offensive series, Marve got on the headset to talk to Higgins.

There's a bit of a change during the week, though.

Without Nord as a quarterbacks coach, his players combined their daily meetings with Higgins' receivers.

"It's been interesting," Marve said. "But it's also helped us a lot from the point of I can look at O.J. (Ross) and be like, 'O.J., I need you to do this or I can't get you the ball.' When he hears it for the first time like that, O.J. is going to get to that spot and make something happen. So it's kind of helped us get on the same page."

It's been difficult for Nord not to be involved, Hope said. Though Nord has kept in touch with players by texting and visited with some - he was back at the football office on Sunday briefly - it's not the same as being at work every day.

"When you coach as long as he has, he's coached for 30-something years, Thursday was the first practice he'd missed ever, so that sets a guy back a bit," Hope said. "When you're not there, it's tough to deal with. You feel guilty you're not able to be there and help pull the rope.

"He really had some struggles with it."

Still thinking of bowling
Purdue's season hasn't turned out the way its hoped, but there's still a possibility - better now than a week ago - of the Boilermakers qualifying for postseason play.

And Hope hasn't been shy about expressing that as a goal now for Purdue.

"Any time you have a winning season and you get into postseason play and have a chance to win in postseason play, that's a successful season," the fourth-year coach said. "We have a lot of guys who put a hell of a lot of effort into this season. They've spent years working for this season. … Postseason play is a great reward for our football team, absolutely."

It'd certainly be so for Marve, Kawann Short, Ralph Bolden and Akeem Shavers[/db] - each of whom played key roles in Saturday's win at Iowa - and the rest of Purdue's senior class. Marve says the prospect of ending the season in a warm locale for a bowl game is motivation this week at Illinois and next vs. IU.

"It's a huge deal and I feel like our team feels like it's a huge deal," the sixth-year QB said. "We can still have a successful, not exactly the season that we had in mind, but a season that at the end of the year that people can look back and be proud of how we bounced back."

Marve says he could sense a change in the Boilermakers in Iowa City on Saturday. They communicated better on the sidelines, with players from both sides of the ball providing encouragement through the good times and bad.

"It was pretty passionate on the sidelines with the whole team, understanding we can't lose another game," Marve said. "We've got to get ready for this Saturday coming up. The Iowa game is over. We're happy we won, but we understand that was last Saturday, so we've got to get ready for this Saturday and we have to win this Saturday.

"There's a time that a team has to say 'We're going to be good or we're just going to be OK with losing,' and I think we're starting to turn it around."

Sticking with the same
Though Kevin Pamphile had four penalties in the second half last week against Iowa, it sounds as though he'll stay in the starting lineup.

Trevor Foy is still "in the mix" as a tackle, Hope said, but Foy has worked at right tackle this season mostly and lost his job to Justin Kitchens three weeks ago.

Hope says the "light has come on" for Pamphile, who has started five consecutive games, over the last several weeks.

"You see him doing more of the little things in practice that indicate he's become a more polished technician at his position and it's going to allow him to play more aggressive," Hope said. "He's done better in the games. … If you took the holding penalties out of the ballgame, he really did a lot of good things. He gets more good plays now than he was at the beginning of the year."

Who's hurting?
Marve said he came out of the game Saturday far better than he had a week before against Penn State.

"I woke up the next day fine, not swollen at all," he said. "The knee feels normal and really I didn't take any hard hits the Iowa game; they kept me protected very well I thought."

The Nittany Lions, on the other hand, had forced Marve from the game on Nov. 3, hitting him double-digit times.

A couple others, however, aren't doing as well. Backup defensive tackle Brandon Taylor is doubtful after missing the last two weeks with an ankle injury; the same can be said for safety E.J. Johnson, who's missed time due to a lower extremity injury.

Hope all but ruled Taylor out for Saturday but said Johnson might have a slight chance to return - if he tests well Tuesday - as a special teamer.

"Maybe he could be in position to help some," Hope said. "I don't see him being a major factor, however, in the secondary."

Kick returner Raheem Mostert is 50-50 to play, Hope said. The sophomore has missed the last four weeks with a knee injury. He'll practice Tuesday, then be evaluated on Wednesday to see how he's feeling.

"We haven't seen him do anything," Hope said. "But the time table is coming up where he could become available."

Tight end Gabe Holmes missed the second half of the Iowa game due to a rib injury, but Hope called him probable for Illinois.

"We'll see how he does (this week)," he said. "He got hit in the side."

Sky high
After the struggles freshman Paul Griggs has been through this season - losing his job, winning his job, losing his job, etc. - it's understandable if his game-winning 46-yard kick gives him a boost of needed confidence.

"I saw him go by on a cloud earlier," Hope joked, "but we haven't practiced much. He'll shank a couple in practice and we'll get him back to earth pretty quick."

The confidence couldn't hurt. Griggs lost his job to walk-on Sam McCartney during training camp, only to reclaim it three games into the season. But three misses vs. Ohio State in Game 7, including two that were blocked, dropped him down the depth chart again.

The make will do him good, Hope says.

"It can be a huge career-builder in some ways," Hope said.

Feeling good
Hope says the Iowa win was good for Purdue's soul.

"We just had a blast, we really did," he said. "We let it all hang out and played well in all three phases. Our guys were into it for all 60 minutes and just had an absolute blast. Winning is living, and we got to live some on Saturday."




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