With as much rebuilding, behind the scenes and in talent, as Danny Hope said he had to do when he took over at Purdue, he's not sure four seasons have been enough time to get the work done.
When asked that question - if he's had enough time to get the program to where he wants it - Hope said "no in some regards, but yes in some ways."
He's long talked about how much had to be done to get the program back to competing from a recruiting standpoint staffing-wise. He has since hired a recruiting coordinator and tried to devote more energy to that area.
He's long talked about his commitment to academics, having said the program was "grossly behind" in regards to retention.
He's long talked about the need to further develop his team's athletes from a physical standpoint, an area that he thinks has improved with Duane Carlisle and his strength staff's arrival.
All areas of progress made in his term, Hope has said.
But that's not enough, and he ultimately said Sunday he's "not really" had enough time to put everything in place.
"We really haven't had time to cash in on some of our efforts in some ways," he said Sunday before practice. "We're just now getting some things in place that will impact the program that I wish would have been in place several years ago. … Had a year in transition here and that helped us get caught up academically, so we haven't had the attrition from an academic standpoint and that's helped us from a retention standpoint. But coming in, we were a long ways away in just about every phase of the program, and we've made some progress but we're still a long way away in a lot of key areas.
"It's going to take more than three or four years to turn around several years of maybe going in the wrong direction."
Purdue plays its regular-season finale on Saturday against Indiana. A win and the Boilermakers are bowl eligible. A loss and they're not.
Hope would like to have more time to develop the program, regardless of that outcome.
No decision yetIf it was up to Ralph Bolden, a measly hamstring injury wouldn't keep him off the field for perhaps his final college game on Saturday.
He's been through much worse.
But on Sunday, Hope said it's too early for him to tell if Bolden will actually be on the field.
Bolden, who has returned from three ACL injuries to his right knee, said after Purdue's victory at Illinois that he heard a "pop" in his right hamstring on a 63-yard run.
"If you ask Ralph, he'll tell you he's going to be ready to go and I'll never count Ralph out. So I'm optimistic," Hope said. "I think he's questionable according to our sports medicine staff. But he's optimistic, so that makes me optimistic.
"He'll have to go out there and prove that he can get it done and safety not be a factor. Looking at it today, it's not as bad as what we thought, so that's encouraging. But any time you deal with a hamstring, and obviously he's had a lot of wear and tear on his wheels, we have our fingers crossed. It's unbelievable how well he's come back and played. He is one heck of a football player. So if he's healthy and can help us win and he's cleared, we'll have him out there."
A new wrinkleAgainst the Illini, Purdue unveiled a new personnel grouping up front: Using Justin Kitchens as a tight end.
Kitchens bumped outside one spot, and Trevor Foy slid into right tackle for two plays, unofficially.
Purdue first the grouping in the first quarter on a third-and-two with an I formation. But Akeem Shavers couldn't pick up the first down.
Later in the third quarter, Kitchens and Foy were on the field together when Robert Marve took the right and rolled to the right side only to throw the ball back to Akeem Hunt on the left. The play went for a 63-yard touchdown.
Hope said the Boilermakers added the package with Gabe Holmes (ribs) out and Crosby Wright nicked up some and not knowing how much the latter will be able to play. Justin Sinz is another option at tight end - and played a number of snaps in double tight-end sets - but Hope doesn't want to pull the redshirt off Carlos Carvajal, so Purdue needed another option.
"We took Justin Kitchens and taught him some of the tight end plays in the run game and the protection some," Hope said. "We're not going to change his jersey number, so we probably won't throw a whole lot of passes to him but we thought it was a good plan to give us some backup blocker at the tight end position. It also brings some size and physicality to the line of scrimmage, that grouping does. I think it can help us potentially and helped us some this past Saturday."
Walk-ons no moreStarting with the spring semester, Landon Feichter and Dolapo Macarthy will be on scholarship, Hope said.
Feichter has been a starter for the Boilermakers at safety and leads the team in tackles and interceptions, and Macarthy has played evolved into a big target at outside receiver of late.
"It's a no-brainer," Hope said. "(They're) two of our hardest workers and very good players."
When Mike Lee and Jordan Shine were not cleared to play this season because of health issues, two scholarships opened up. Hope said he would have liked to have awarded those scholarships sooner to current players but couldn't because of NCAA regulations.
Injury updateHope said Raheem Mostert (knee), Holmes, Brandon Taylor and Anthony Brown (foot) are questionable to play against Indiana.
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