LISTEN: Danny Hope after practiceClick Here to view this Link.
Purdue has one final major tune-up before its opener Sept. 1.
Saturday, the Boilermakers will scrimmage in Ross-Ade Stadium, with its first-team offense going against a scout team simulating Eastern Kentucky's defense, and vice versa, without major contact.
Coach Danny Hope says Purdue will go about 45 minutes, then break for a halftime, then go another 45. He expects the units to get about 50 snaps each.
"It won't be quite as long as what we've done," he said after practice Thursday. "But we expect the tempo to be upbeat and sharp and crisp. That's really what we're looking for Saturday morning, really good game-ready execution."
Although many positions are set, particularly on the first unit, Hope says Purdue has several personnel groups its looking at closely.
The offensive line is one. Kevin Pamphile has been the starting left tackle for all of training camp, but is being pushed recently by Justin Kitchens, who started the first half of last season. Also, Devin Smith and Cody Davis are been battling at right guard, although Hope recently gave a slight edge to the former.
"Right now, if I had to rate our offensive linemen, I would say probably Rick Schmeig (center) and Trevor Foy (right tackle) are the top two," Hope said, "and those guys probably have their spots secured, at least as far as the first game is concerned. But there's still competition at the right guard and left tackle spot."
Place-kicker is up for grabs still, as well, where redshirt freshman Sam McCartney has had a slight edge on true freshman Paul Griggs.
"Some days, Sam has the lead and some days Paul has the lead," Hope said. "So we've got to get some kicks in Saturday to get a feel for those guys and make some decisions in the near future."
Purdue's looking at the 2s, too, particularly at linebacker. Hope says the Boilers are set with the starters: Will Lucas, Dwayne Beckford and Robert Maci.
"But we're still trying to get a feel for who the next guys are going to be at the linebacker positions," he said. "We'll get a lot of work with a half a dozen guys at the linebacker spots and try to get an assessment at where we're at at that position.
"And the same thing is true about the wide receiver position. We feel good about the guys who have played in the past and the guys that are earmarked as No. 1 on the depth chart. But there's still a handful of guys that you have to get sorted out to see who the next guys are that are going to be in the game.
"So Saturday is a big day for our football team."
The 'dark horse'?
Many preseason publications have Purdue as a sleeper pick in the Leaders Division of the Big Ten, likely because the Boilers appear to be surging after a bowl victory and offseason momentum.
Hope says he's indifferent, however.
"I don't really consider us a dark horse," the fourth-year coach said. "I think we consider ourselves legitimate contenders. It's good, I guess, but I couldn't really care less. We've got to play the games and win. That's what will matter."
Hope, however, does see it as a positive that national media have taken notice of the program, and its recent achievements.
"Certainly, it's a step," he said. "If all the experts recognize the progress that we've made, I think that's a good sign for our program. But we have awfully high expectations, our team does, of what our potential could be this season."
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