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August 20, 2014

Griggs, MacDougall still battling; Wednesday notebook

Paul Griggs typically doesn't lack for confidence.

In the spring, he said he was looking to "own" Purdue's top field goal kicker spot in the fall. Made sense, considering he was the starter in 2013 and also had seven attempts as a true freshman in 2012.

But so far over the team's first three weeks of practices, junior Griggs hasn't established a firm hold on the job, due in part to an upgrade in competition. Fifth-year transfer Ian MacDougall has been largely consistent since he arrived at Purdue in the fall, so much so that Coach Darrell Hazell said after Wednesday's kicking scrimmage he's not sure who will be the starter for Week 1.

On Wednesday, Griggs made 6-of-12 field goals, and MacDougall was 9-for-13. Among the misses for the kickers, eight were inside 40 yards.

"I think it's going to be difficult to decide, based on (Wednesday's) performance," Hazell said. "I thought they were OK in the first half, and we weren't as good as we need to be in the second half. We've got to hit those. They were all short field goals, and we need to be able to hit those short field goals.

"We'll take a long and close look at it and make a decision which guy is our guy."

Griggs' makes were from 30, 31, 34, 36, 35 and 42, but he missed from 32, 34, 34, 36, 37 and 46. One miss was off the left upright, another kick was blocked.

Griggs was working with Austin Appleby as a holder, and Jesse Schmitt as the snapper. Appleby had a nice save off a bad snap and got it down for Griggs to still kick it through. Griggs said punter Thomas Meadows will be the first-team holder during the season.

"I've done pretty well," Griggs said of his fall. "We sat down with Coach (Brian) Mason before camp and wrote some goals down, and I'm pretty close to my goals. (Wednesday), obviously, was not like the rest of the practices we've had. It was a little bit more kicking focused, so it was a bigger day for the specialists and we're going to go watch the film and see how it turned out. But I think I've been doing pretty well and building a lot of confidence for the season."

Griggs said he didn't know his field goal percentage during camp but said he and MacDougall have combined to make about 75 percent. The goal was 80 percent, he said.

In his career, Griggs has made 10-of-19 field goals (53 percent).

MacDougall's game experience is limited to Division III Wabash College, where he started kicking on the football team after making the switch from soccer after his freshman year. In three years, MacDougall made 26-of-38 field goals.

"The nice part is that translating from Division III to Division I, the uprights are still the same, the hash marks are still the same, you still kick off from the same spot," MacDougall said. "Granted, the guys here are a lot bigger and a lot faster. To me, kicking is kicking. For me, it's actually really therapeutic. I enjoy just hitting the snot out of the ball and watching it go through the uprights or go out the back of the end zone."

MacDougall said he'd "obviously" like to be Purdue's kicker for the season opener, but he also thinks his best characteristic is being a good teammate. Whoever the choice is, MacDougall said the goal is to be "the best specialist unit to go out in the Big Ten this year."

Griggs seems to have enjoyed the competition, too. And will continue to fight for the job.

"Ian and I are going out there every day and building each other up and getting better," Griggs said. "Your coaches get to make that decision, and we just go out there and do our thing and do it to the best of our ability." (SC)

Confidence in Meadows

Meadows hasn't had much competition for his No. 1 punting responsibilities.

But he's not needed it; the junior has punted well since taking over for Ray Guy finalist Cody Webster in the spring. Meadows seemed to have a consistent day punting Wednesday afternoon, especially with his sky kicks. He had punts downed at the 4 and the 7 and another was called for a fair catch at the 9.

"To me, that guy has been really, really special," Hazell said. "What makes him special is his consistency, he just continues to drive the ball and his location has been very precise for us.

"He's very mature. He's very calm. And he's worked at it."

It's helped Meadows to have only one kicking responsibility now. After kicking off his first two seasons, Meadows gave that up for this year - responsibility will fall to Griggs and MacDougall - and he's not kicking field goals, either.

"I think I feel more comfortable than I look," Meadows said. "I feel really comfortable back there. I know that if I get a good drop, I'm going to kill it, do a really good job. I feel like I have really good touch on the ball right now and can pin guys inside the 20 and inside the 10 when I can. I feel really confident, although there are still some things to work on."

More from Meadows Thursday. (KC)

More Mostert

Raheem Mostert's special teams highlights are generally reserved for kickoff return.

But Wednesday, he blocked a field goal, coming off the right edge to knock it down. He likely didn't win himself a job - Purdue probably doesn't want to overwork its No. 1 running back - but he could be an option.

"If there's one of those situations at the end of the game, he might be a guy you throw out there," Hazell said. (KC)

Coming up

Purdue will practice lightly for the next few days before gearing up next week for Western Michigan.

The Boilermakers will be in shells for a closed practice on Thursday, then will have a walk-thru - they'll rehearse as if playing a game - on Friday following the kickoff luncheon. Players are off Saturday, then go light on Sunday and off again on Monday, the first day of classes.

"Then, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we'll pair it way down and get ready to go," Hazell said. (KC)

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