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August 10, 2013

Black wins scrimmage behind Griggs, Knauf

B.J. Knauf's 53-yard punt return for a touchdown brought about the mercy rule on Saturday.

Sort of.

The sophomore iced a 30-18 win for the Black team in the kick scrimmage in Ross-Ade Stadium, ending the practice session a play early when the margin was too large for White to overcome.

"Special teams plays are huge," said Darrell Hazell, following an hour-long scrimmage that include live kickoffs, punts and field goals. "If we can get a couple of those (returns), that will be good for us."

The scrimmage followed a 45-minute period in which the Boilermakers worked in position drills, and did light team work, although hitting was limited. It was the second of Purdue's second two-a-day of training camp.

The kick scrimmage - a bit of an odd thing to watch, with teams divided into "fair" special teams vs. special teams, not offensive vs. defense - featured a normal scoring system. But field goals could only be scored after long punt returns and touchdown on returns or turnovers. But also trice, the Boilers broke into a series of field goals, with Paul Griggs (Black) facing Sam McCartney and Thomas Meadows (White).
Black got the first FG series, with Griggs hitting 4-of-5, making at 27-, 31-, 34- and 36-yards, but missing at 37.

White tried a fake on its first attempt, but Rob Henry - he's not the primary holder, perhaps tipping off the "defense" - threw long to Carlos Carvajal, who appeared to make the catch but a couple feet out of the end zone. McCartney then went on to hit from 31- and 34-yards but missed at 36 and 37. It was 12-6 Black.

The biggest hit of the day came on a fake punt when the White team snapped to shield man Greg Latta who darted right to easily break into the open. But Ricardo Allen came up to lay a hit, going low on Latta, who was inviting contact himself, and popping the ball loose. It was quite the collision between big man and little.

Knauf, however, came up short of a six-pointer, being brought down at the 10, setting up Griggs' 27-yarder. Black led 15-6.

White, though, countered, getting the first crack at the second FG series. McCartney hit from 32-35- and 39-yards, but missed at 44 and 45. The three three-pointers, however, tied the game at 15.

But Black, "batting" second, scored in the opposite fashion, with Griggs hitting the two longest, but missing the three inside the 40. Still, Black pulled back ahead 21-15.

The differences in the two kickers - McCartney hitting the short; Griggs the long - brought about thoughts of last season, when Purdue had a two-PK system.

Hazell would do it again, if needed.

"If two are ready, we'll use two," he said. "But we don't have to use two. If one's a guy and he's making them and the another guy's not, we'll only use one."

After a couple back-and-forth punts, Griggs hit a 49-yard kick, making it 24-15. Meadows, Purdue's kickoff specialist, got a couple of long opportunities for White, missing from 49 but hitting from 51, the longest of the afternoon. It ended White's scoring.

But not for Black. Meadows punt was field by Knauf at the 47, with him picking up a nice seal block by wide receiver Cameron Posey. Black sealed the win, 30-18.

But, in the long run, that's of little matter. The numbers might tell more of a story. Griggs finished the day 8-of-12, but his misses came from between 32 and 39 yards.

It something the sophomore's been working on.

"After the spring, definitely my deficiency was that shorter range, inside 40, inside 35," Griggs said. "That was something mentally, I had to get my mind right and think about those kicks the same way I thought about the longer kicks. Just swing and hit a good ball."

"Every kick is the same. You'd like to see the shorter ones go in, but sometimes that's just not the case and you've just got to get your mind right and move on to the next kick."

McCartney is working to up his percentage, and he had turned in a solid first week, knocking kicks in at an 80-percent rate in practice, he says. But Saturday, he was only 5-of-9, with two of the misses outside of 40.

"Today wasn't a great start (to the week)," said McCartney, who has a goal of 90-percent for the second week of training camp, "but there's always tomorrow."

Meadows was 1-2, with the miss of 49. In total, Purdue hit 14-of-22, and still looking for its primary PK.

"We'll go the distance here and try to figure out who the guy is, " Hazell said, "but we need to get better at position; that's for sure."

Mostert's move official

Raheem Mostert's move is official.

After being spotted with the running backs in the morning session, Darrell Hazell confirmed the former wide receiver will be taking handoffs. It'd been a speculated move, due largely to Mostert having seeming tremendous ability with very little offensive production his first two seasons. And, with him deep on the depth chart at wide receiver through the first week, he's shifted to the backfield.

"We've got to see how physical he is with the ball in his hands and how well he reads the defense; we'll find out in the next week" Hazell said. "He'll get some live reps and see if he can do it."

In his first two seasons, Mostert has 193 rushing yards on 32 carries, averaging six yards per attempt, with three touchdowns.

"He wanted to make the move for the team," Hazell said. "I commend him on that. He came in yesterday and felt like he could help us better at the running back position. He's a team guy and I respect him for that."

Webster making adjustments

Cody Webster has faced a few changes this season, with tweaks in the spread punt formation and a new football.

The former isn't much - he's expected to protect his blindside by rolling left on his punt - but the latter's taken a bit of adjusting. The new NCAA football is a little narrow, he says, than previous.

"I've been working on that, but overall I've been hitting the ball well," Webster said.

Saturday, Webster unofficially had eight punts, averaging 41.9 per boot. He says he's been trying to work on placement this offseason.

"One thing I really concentrated on was my sky kicks," he said. "I know I had a lot inside the 20 last year, but I think it was more that I was back farther and they came in."


Purdue's first two punt returners were Frankie Williams and Ricardo Allen. Williams appears to be the primary, at least through the first week, but he did drop and recover one attempt Saturday.

"Frankie is a guy, but we're looking at some others as well," he said. "But he's obviously a very good returner for us. We'll probably going to need three of those guys."

Knauf and Akeem Hunt also got return chances.

The primary kick return specialists were Mostert, Allen, Williams and Danny Anthrop.

Like in the morning, Trevor Foy was playing right tackle again, in this case frequently with the first team.

Cornerback Normondo Harris sat out the kick scrimmage, as a precaution, Hazell said, after experiencing knee problems a year ago.

Purdue's captains for the kick scrimmage:

Kurt Freytag and Allen for Black; and Latta, Gabe Holmes and Jesse Schmitt for White.

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