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March 29, 2013

Griggs late hero in scrimmage; notes








This time, Paul Griggs wasn't lining up for a game-winning field goal to keep Purdue's bowl hopes alive.

All this 49-yard kick would do is give the black team a victory in a kick scrimmage on Day 7 of spring practice.

Not that anyone could tell from the reaction when Griggs' kick went over the crossbar after clanking off the right upright.

Members of the black team rushed off the sidelines, screaming, hands in the air and raced for Griggs.

Gerad Parker was one of the first people to reach Griggs and tackled him.

Parker is a coach.

"Any time you get a group of guys who have been working hard in this kind of competitive environment, guys who are this competitive and you put stakes behind it, you're going to get a reaction," Griggs said after his kick gave the black team a 21-20 victory. "I was glad to see guys were behind it and riling each other up a bit. It was good."

The kick was a conclusion to a practice mostly filled with special teams work. The Boilermakers were outside for the first time this spring, taking advantage of low-50 degree temperatures and partly sunny skies.

And being outside meant the punters and kickers didn't have to hold back.

Inside Mollenkopf, punts after clang off the beams in the ceiling, and field goals are kicked against a net with a black outline of uprights.

Cody Webster seemed pretty sharp, but Griggs and Sam McCartney had mixed results.

In the first field goal period of practice, Griggs made 2-of-5 kicks, missing from 34, 36 and 41. McCartney also was 2-for-5, missing from 32, 43 and 41.

In the second period, both kickers were 4-for-5.

Then in the back-and-forth of punts by both teams, Griggs' team was rewarded with more opportunities somehow. (Scoring and format was never explained.)

But Griggs missed a 51-yarder and a 45-yarder and Thomas Meadows missed a 52-yarder.

And then just when it looked like the scrimmage was done - head coach Darrell Hazell was blowing his whistle and starting to gather players in a huddle at the middle of the field - the black team got more chances.

Griggs said it was "completely legitimate" because the teams were trading "tight punts" and it was the black team's turn.

So Griggs then lined up for the 49-yarder with Meadows as his holder. The snap was low, but Meadows gathered it enough for Griggs to get the kick off.

"(Meadows has) been working real hard at that. He really puts an emphasis on his holding," Griggs said. "I really appreciate the effort behind that because if he doesn't get that down, the kick is not going through. I saw that snap coming in low and I didn't hesitate once because I knew he'd get it down."

Evaluating the O-line
Offensive line coach Jim Bridge didn't like naming names so much with his guys up front - he wouldn't specifically mention any of the five redshirt freshmen who could make an impact - but he didn't have issues speaking generally about how his group is faring so far this spring.

"I think there's some development," Bridge said. "The good news is we don't play Cincinnati til later on, and we've got plenty of time to keep improving. We're taking steps. We need to start getting into strides and getting into a full run. But we're moving in the direction we need to be moving."

Bridge has been rotating players frequently not only on each unit - Devin Smith and Cody Davis were the guards with the No. 1s again on Friday - but also at positions.

He wants to have versatile players, and that's meant moving some inside and out.

"They have to get used to each other. This is a combative game, and guys do get injured and guys will miss time," Bridge said. "We have to have a seamless transition if ever that were to happen.

"Some day we're going to need them to go win a Big Ten game, so we need to keep rotating and find the best five. After we find the best five and then find combinations that'll work off that."

Robert Kugler seems to be entrenched as starting center, but that may be the only solidified spot.

Kevin Pamphile and Justin Kitchens are working largely with the 1s at tackle, but J.J. Prince has moved into those spots when Pamphile and Kitchens have missed practice time, too.

Regardless of who is working where, Bridge treats all his players the same.

That's certainly evident in practices when he may be the team's most vocal assistant coach, yelling encouragement and praise but being demanding of players who make mistakes.

"I'm into it, just like they're into it," Bridge said. "I like to think I dive in 100 percent with them. I tell them I'm going to demand their best every single day, and in return, they should demand my best."

Getting a chance
Though Bridge wouldn't mention Jordan Roos specifically, the redshirt freshman appears to be working as one of the team's top guards.

Roos has gotten work with the No. 1 O-line at points in spring ball.

"It's nice being in there, but we've only had four practices. It's a long road," Roos said last week.

It's been that for Roos, too. He tore his ACL as a senior in high school, and the redshirt year allowed him another season to fully heal and get strength back in the knee.

He's hoping he can prove enough this spring with the opportunity presented to earn playing time in the fall.

"We're all Division I athletes and we're all playing football at this level because we stay hungry for making ourselves better. Everybody has that hunger. Nobody wants to sit behind and be second-best," he said. "I think everybody still has that same ambition to be better."

Roos has enjoyed being coached by Bridge, even though Roos has gotten an earful at points during spring ball. He said he'd rather a coach yell at him than ignore him.

But Roos also appreciates Bridge's approach.

"It's going and blocking and getting after it and pining your ears back and blocking people," he said. "You've got to be a nasty offensive line and drive your feet and get on people and block them. … It gets pretty intense over there. You can't be a softy on the offensive line and be successful in Division I football."




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