football

Ezechukwu finds a fit; Tuesday notebook

ApairoffreshmenlinebackersmaybegettingsomepubforcomingtoPurdue'scampusphysicallyreadytoperformasrookies,butlastyear,itwasDannyEzechukwuwholookedthepartasafirst-yearplayer.
HestillredshirtedbutthenwasliningupasPurdue'sNo.1weaksidelinebackeronthefirstdayofspring.Ultimately,thecoachesthoughtthatwasn'tthebestfit,andEzechukwuslidtorushendduringcampbutquicklywasworkingwiththefirst-teamunitwhenJalaniPhillipswasnursingashoulderinjury.
Ezechukwufeelslikethenewpositionisagoodplaceforhimtoshowcasehisphysicality-anda250-pound,13-percentbodyfatframe.HispresencealsocouldhelpPurdue'spassrush,acrucialareaofneededimprovement.
"IfeellikeIgetofftheballprettyfast,"hesaidafterTuesday'spractice."IknowonethingI'mworkingonisnottakingfalsestepsandsteppingbackwardofftheball.(But)Ifeellike(rushingthepasseris)somethingIcanpossess,andIreallyfeellikeIusemyhandswell."
Ezechukwusaidthetransitionfromlinebackertorushendhasn'tbeenthatdifficultbecausethelatterisarolehedidsomeinhighschool,butit'salsohelpedhavinglinebackerexperiencein2013,hesaid.
Plus,he'sconstantlyapproachingPhillipsandRyanRussell,aseniordefensiveendwhoplayedsomeofthehybridpositionlastseason,foradviceandlearningmoreaboutthepositiondaily.Thecoacheshavehelped,too,especiallyRubinCarter'sdetail-orientedapproach.
"Ilookat(RyanRussell)andIlookatJalani(Phillips)onfilmandIaskthemquestionsabouthowtousetheirhandsandtheirbestmovesandtheirgo-tomoves,andCoachCarteralwayscoachesusuponhowtouseourinsidehand,ouroutsidehand,"Ezechukwusaid."SoI'mjusttryingtotakethatallinstrideanduseittothebestofmyability."
ThoughPhillipswasbackpracticingsomeTuesday,histrapeziusissuehasbeenalingeringone,soit'slikelyEzechukwuwillseethefieldinPurdue'sopeneronAug.30.
Andthecoachesseemconfidentwiththeredshirtfreshman'sabilitytomakeplays.
"Ithinkhe'sanaturalend,"DarrellHazellsaid."That'swhatwesawonhighschoolfilm,himjustbendinghisshouldersandcomingofftheedge.Ithinkifyoucancontainthefootballandrushthequarterbackatthatspot,youcanbeveryproductive,andhe'sdoneanicejob."
StillpushingThoughtrainingcampisdone,defensivecoordinatorGregHudsonsaidhe'skeepinghisgroupincampmentality,pushingittoworrymorethanjustaboutschemesforWesternMichigan.
"We'rereallyharpingonourfundamentalfootball.Stilldoingtacklingdrills,alignments,techniques,runningtothefootball,everythingyoufocusonschemetoomuchyouputoff,"Hudsonsaid."We'restillplayingjustlikeitwasDay1.Weknowwhatwewanttorunongameday,sowe'redoingthatinteamperiods,butwe'rereallystillbendingourkneesandrunningtothefootball."
Alwaysrunning.
It'scommontohearHudsonanddefensivecoachesyellingatplayerstoneverwalk.Atpointsduringpracticethisfall,ifsomeoneiscaughtnotrunningtothenextstation,Hudsonhasstoppedpracticeandmadeplayerspaywithconditioningdrills.
Becomingaswarmingdefenseandpersistentlypursuingballcarriershasbeenpreached,andthatcomeswithbetterconditioning,hencetheno-walkpolicy.Hudsonsaidhewantshisplayerstoplay"withoutbrakes."
"Ourpursuithasbeenalotbetterateveryposition,"Hudsonsaid."Wegradeit.Wewatchitonfilm,wepointitout,sothere'snowheretohide.
"Conditioningsupersedeseverything.Fatiguemakesusacoward.We'vegottobeingreatshape,eventhebigguys.You'vegottorun."
GettingbackDanMonterosohasn'tpracticedfullysinceinjuringhisleftkneeontheseconddayofcampwithwhatHazellcalleda"bruise."
ButMonterosowasrunningsomeroutesTuesday,catchingballsfromaGAandmovingwell.
"Weprobablycouldhaveputhiminsome(7-on-7)perimeter,butwewanttobecautiousrightnow,"Hazellsaid."Wemaygethimbackfornextweek,whichIwasn'tanticipatingthat.Butthere'sagoodchancethatwemight."
It'stoughtosaywhereMonterosowillfitwhenhereturnsfulltime.Hecanmovearoundsomeatthereceiverspots,buthe'slargelyplayedinthe"H"roleintheslot.That'saspotDannyAnthropandCameronPoseyseemedtohavelockeddown,thoughAnthropalsocanplaysomeinthe"Z"spotontheoutside.ButB.J.KnaufplaysattheZ,too,andTraeHartalsocouldfactorintothetwo-deep.
MonterosoandfellowreceiverBilalMarshall(shoulder)willhavetoworktogetbackintotherotation.
LastoneWednesday'skickscrimmageisthelastpracticeopentofansthisfall.
Hazellsaiditlikelywon'tbealongpractice,buthewantshisteamstogetcomfortablewithchangingfieldsinthekickinggame.It'sscheduledtostartat10:15inRoss-AdeStadium.
Oneoftheteam'sfinalremainingbattles-who'sthekicker,PaulGriggsorIanMacDougall?-then,though,Hazellsaid.ThoughGriggshasanedgeatthispoint,Hazellsaid,helikelywon'tmakeadecisionoffthescrimmage.
OnTuesday,Purduedidonlylast-secondfieldgoals,andGriggsmade2-of-3andMacDougallwas1-for-2.AustinApplebyappearstohavemovedintotheNo.1holderspot.ThomasMeadowswashandlingthosedutiesallofcamp.
Meadowsundoubtedlyistheteam'spunter.Hehasn'thadanyrealcompetitionwithfreshmanAustinMeGeheeleavingbeforecampstarted,butMeadowsalsohasbootedtheballsolidlyoverthelastthreeweeks.
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Quoteoftheday,HazellonJimmyHermanClick"Ithinkhe'sdoneaphenomenaljobsincethespringtime,"Hazellsaid.HeretoviewthisLink.:"He'skindoflikecarbonmonoxide,he'sthatsilentguy.He'sallovertheplace,andyoudon'tevenknowhe'sdoingit.Buthisproductivityhasbeenprettygoodthisfallcamp."
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