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March 21, 2013

Offense progressing; Shoop, Appleby video









Purdue's offense wasn't exactly as fluid as coordinator John Shoop would have liked on Day 1 of spring practice on Tuesday.

That just meant that his group was able to make big strides by Practice No. 2.

"I was really pleased with (Thursday)," Shoop said. "On Tuesday, it was kind of herky jerky and not real smooth and we called things wrong. We cut it in more than half (Thursday). As Coach (Darrell) Hazell says, if we can get 5 percent better, we'll be in good shape. I think from last practice to (Thursday), we got at least 5 percent better. That's a good start."

Shoop wasn't the only one who noticed.

Practice was about 30 minutes shorter because the offense was able to run more efficiently, quarterback Austin Appleby said.

He noticed that players had a better grasp of where to go, where to line up and had an idea of how practice was going to be run.

"It was much more smooth … because we all knew where to go, we were sharp and in and out of the huddle and running the plays and it was much more effective," he said. "We looked a lot better."

At least from a getting-lined-up and knowing-the-play perspective.

As expected, there still are some kinks.

After struggling with fumbled snaps on Day 1, the Boilermakers mostly had that element in check in Practice No. 2. Rob Henry had one early in practice with center Robert Kugler.

But with that largely in check, another issue flared Thursday. Receivers dropped five passes in early 7-on-7 work. There were more later in 11-on-11 drills.

"We had too many dropped passes (Thursday)," Shoop said. "We're going to talk about it. The only way to get better at catching the football is to catch the football. That's it. There's nothing else. You can go in the weight room and lift and you can run and do all that stuff, but nothing is a substitute for catching the ball.

"So we're going to come out and just throw them about 20 billion balls (Friday) when we're out on the field and help them get better."

No one was immune on Thursday: Raheem Mostert, Gary Bush, B.J. Knauf, Charles Torwudzo and Carlos Carvajal dropped passes in 7-on-7.

"There were a little too much. That goes back to working it out and doing some extra stuff on the field, like catching balls from the jug machine and just basically doing what wide receivers do," Mostert said.

Spots open
With two starters gone on the offensive line, there are spots to be won up front.

And some redshirt freshmen have a good chance to land them.

Before saying he was wary of saying specific names, Shoop declared guards Jason King and Jordan Roos as players the team is counting on to "step up big time."

With projected starting right tackle Justin Kitchens unable to participate fully in either of the first two practices because of class, J.J. Prince has worked with the No. 1 unit in his place.

But all of the youngsters, also including tackles Cameron Cermin and Joey Warburg, are getting plenty of work.

Most in the country?
Shoop has been impressed with the work ethic and competitiveness of the quarterbacks, who are fighting to become the team's starter after Robert Marve's eligibility expired last season.

It's not easy getting everyone work.

Not only is Henry in the mix, but so are three players who haven't taken a college snap in a game.

"I don't know if there's any other program in the country that has as many freshman quarterbacks as we do. There's three freshmen quarterbacks who are on scholarship," said Shoop, referencing Appleby, Bilal Marshall and Danny Etling. "If you've got a starter and he's been there for four years, I always still feel like, son of a gun, we don't have enough time to get this guy the reps he needs. Whenever you divide it even more like that, I'm a coach, I wish we had about 100 practices. But we don't and we're going to do the best we can and try to find ways to help them get better off the field, too.

"I've said all along that the players make decisions in who plays, not coaches. We're just going to try to give them all an opportunity to put the best foot forward. We'll see. Two practices in, all I can say is I thought we were a little bit better today. Every one of them was a little bit better today than they were the other day. So that's good."

One of the biggest challenges for the QBs is learning the new terminology for the offense.

There's a lot to say in the huddle - the formation, the protection and then the plays - and it will take time to feel comfortable.

"The terminology is definitely advanced. It's the NFL," Appleby said. "Once we get a chance to know that and make that transition, things are going to run smoothly."




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