Without a scholarship punter on campus, with kicker Carson Wiggs out most of the spring and with injuries riddling the entire roster, you'd think that there would have been only so much Purdue could have accomplished this spring with its special teams.
Not so, though, says Coach Danny Hope.
"We got a ton done on special teams," Hope said. "Most of the work we needed to get done was with the guys other than the kicker, the technical part of it. ... I think we're way ahead from a technical standpoint and a concepts standpoint in regards to special teams than we were last year. We're executing a lot better. I don't think the injuries slowed us down at all. In some ways, it picked it up, because some more guys got some reps."
In the off-season, following a season in which breakdowns in the kicking game of one kind or another were frequently costly, Hope talked of a desire to get more front-line players on special teams, saying he'd been too concerned by a lack of depth on offense and defense to play starters as specialists in 2009.
He hopes to change that this year, but came away from the spring game less than pleased in some cases with what he saw. Hope thought some of the starters who played special teams in the spring game "didn't exert themselves to the best."
"We met today and told them, for example, that if you're a starting wide receiver and you're on the kickoff team and not covering fast," Hope said, "then that means you're playing too much wide receiver, not too much special teams.
"The approach has to be different. We can't take our best players off special teams and not be as good as we need to be on special teams. I think they're getting the message."
We'll have much more on Purdue's special teams coming out of spring to come later in the week.
Two Purdue walk-ons have drawn high praise.
Hope called safety Logan Link "one of our better football players"; he tabbed T.J. Barbarette "the fastest guy on the football team."
Link started at safety in Saturday's spring game. Barbarette has frequently drawn mention both for his performances on offense and in the return game.
Monday made up the first of the two practices postponed because of injuries weeks ago.
It was a non-tackling practice.
"We're running out of ball-carriers to tackle," Hope joked after all of his scholarship running backs sat out Saturday's spring game.
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