football

Linebackers still improving; Day 11 notes

ConsideringSeanRobinsonandAndyJamesGarciahavegottenthemajorityofsnapswithPurdue'sfirst-teamdefenseattheoutsidelinebackerspots,it'dseemlogicalthey'dbeonthefieldfortheopeneratCincinnati.
Andit'dseem,withJoeGilliam'stimetabletighttoreturnfromfingersurgeryintime,thatmiddlelinebackerwouldbethebiggestquestionoverthenexttwoweeks.
LinebackerscoachMarcusFreeman,though,saidthat'snotnecessarilythecase.
AsallofPurdue'scoacheshavestressedthroughoutcamp-andinthespringwhentheyfirstarrived-allpositionsareincompetition,Freemansaid.Perhapsevenmoresowithhisgroup,onethatdoesn'thavemuchstartingexperienceordepth.
"We'reinexperienced,definitelyinexperienced,butwe'regettingbetter.That'sthebiggestthingistheguysareworkinghardeveryday,"FreemansaidafterPurdue's11thdayoftrainingcamp.
"Nobodyhasasolidspot.There'sguysyouexpecttobeoutthereonAug.31,butthereisnosolidifiedlinebackerspots.None.Notone.Everybodyknowsthatinthatroom,thatweareevaluatingeveryday,everypractice,everymeetingfortheguyswecancounton."
There'snodoubt,though,thatthemiddlepositionhasbeenthemostintriguingspotsinceGilliamwassidelined.Bymanyaccounts,Gilliamhadmadegreatstridesatthepositionandwasseemingtosettleinafterbeingafull-timestarterforthefirsttimelastyear.
Sincethatinjury,though,Purduehashadtoshuffle.
WillLucasandJimmyHermanhaveeachspenttimeworkingwiththefirstteam.LucashadspenthiscareerfortheBoilermakersasastarteratweaksidelinebackerbeforethecoachesswitchedallthoseweaksideguystothestrongsideforcamp.Now,he'sinsidethebox.
"Heseemsalotmorenaturalinside,"FreemansaidofLucas."IthinkusasastaffthinkyouputWillinside,andhekindofsticksoutalittlebit.That'swherehelikestobe,inthebox,beingphysicalandmakingplays.He'sdoneareallygoodjobofjuststeppinginthereandknowingwhattodoandmakingplays.But,justliketherestofus,hehasalongwaytogoinalittlebitoftime."
Lucasisn'ttheonlyonelearning,though.
Hermanmadetheswitchtothemiddlelastyear,andhe'sbeentryingtoadapt.HeseemstobeoneofthePurdue'smostactiveplayers,though,showingnicerangeandathleticism.HehadaleapinginterceptionofRobHenry'spassinthemorningpracticeTuesday.
Afterthatplay,Freemanwasexcitedlyyelling"Jimmy."That'sacommonrefrainfromFreeman,followingthateitherwithpraiseorinstruction.
"Wejokewe'regoingtostopcallinghimJimmy.Wedon'tknowhowmanygreatmiddlelinebackersarenamedJimmy,"Freemansaid."I'mtryingtogetusedtocallinghimJimorHermorsomethingelse.He'syoung,andifyou'renotcoachinghimonsomething,I'mnotdoingmyjob.IfI'mnotyelling,'Jimmy,dothisordothat,'I'mnotdoingmyjob.Buthe'sdoinganexcellentjobbeingyoungandneverbeinginthatpositionandwe'rejustcoachinghimup.Gettingbettereveryday,everyrep."
MakingmostofrepsAntoineLewismaybesittingbehindstartersRicardoAllenandFrankieWilliamsandnickelbackNormondoHarrisonPurdue'sdepthchartatcornerback,buthe'squicklyproventomakethemostofhisopportunities.
ThesamewasthecaselastseasonwhenLewishadtwointerceptionsdespitebeingbehindonthetwodeep,andhe'sshownupthiscampbybeingactiveandball-hawking.
Hesaysit'spartiallyaproductofbeingmoredisciplinedandlearningtheposition.
"Ihavegoodspeed,butInoticedinthespringthatmyspeedwouldbeusedagainstme,"hesaid."Iwouldrunmyselfoutofpositiononpassplays,evenonrunplays.IwatchedmyselfandIwasjustlike,'Darn,thatjustdidn'tmakesensewhatIdidrightthere.'
"Sothegamehassloweddownformealot,andI'mtrustingmytechniquemorethanmyphysicalabilities.That'sthereasonwhyI'maroundplaysmorenow."
Lewissaiditalsohelpsplayingreceiverinhighschoolandhavingthatdesiretohavetheballinhishands.
"Asdefensiveback,IhavemytechniqueandIhavemyassignmentsbeforethesnap,butattheendoftheday,weallwanttheball,"hesaid."SoItrytodomycoverage,butwhenthereceiverthinkshe'sopenthat'swhenIusemyspeedandjusttrytocloseontheball."
NotevenahintDarrellHazelldidn'tofferanyglimpseintothequarterbackdepthchartonThursday,despiteHenrygettingalloftherepsonceagainwiththefirst-teamoffense.
"Wehavenotmadeadecisiononthequarterback,"Hazellsaid.
AskedifhestillhadthetargetdateofSaturday,twoweeksbeforetheseasonopener,toannouncewhowillstartagainstCincinnati,Hazellsaid"probablySunday."Andthenadded"MondayandSaturday"tothelistbeforesettlingon"theweekend."
AustinApplebyandDannyEtlinghavebeengettingrepswithboththesecond-andthird-teamoffenses.
InjuryupdateProjectedstartingleftguardDevinSmithcouldbeouttwoweekswitharightkneeinjury,Hazellsaid.
SmithwashurtduringMonday'spractice,andJasonKingslidintoworkwiththefirst-teamoffense.
BruceGastontweakedahamstringinthemorningpractice,butHazellsaidGastonwillbefine.
OffensivetackleJ.J.Princehasbeensidelinedthelasttwodays,too,butHazellsaidhe'sday-to-dayafter"takingashot"acoupledaysago.
RousemovesMichaelRouseIIIhasneverplayedoffense,hetoldPurdue'scoachingstaffwhentheyapproachedhimaboutswitchingfromthedefensiveline.Buthewasgametotrythemove,whichmayormaynotbepermanent.
HazellsaidhethinksRousehasachancetohelptheteamthisseasonifhecanpickupthepositionquickly.
"Ifhecanpickitup,hecanhelpus.He'sabigbody,canmove,"Hazellsaid."Rightnow,hedoesn'tknowathing.Therightguardistellinghimwhattodo,'Blockthatguy.'Idon'tknowhowsophisticatedthatisorhowlonghecangetawaywiththat."
AdecisioncouldbemadebythisweekendastowhetherRousewillstickwiththeoffenseormovebacktodefensivetackle.
NotweighinginHazell'sdecision:Howtherostershakesoutfor2014whenPurduewouldhaveonlythreescholarshiptackles.
"We'retryingtowinin2013.Weoweittotheseniors,"Hazellsaid.
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Aftercominginasacorner,thenplayingnickelbackandthengettingmovedtosafety,AnthonyBrownClickEtc.HeretoviewthisLink.finallyissettledin.He'sworkingwiththeNo.2defenseatsafety,thoughtheBoilermakersnolongerdefinethepositionsas"strong"and"free."
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CountBrownamongthegrowinglistofdefensivebackswhomentionfreshmanDanMonterosoClick"Ilikethisdefense.It'sverycreative,"Brownsaid."We'vegotalotofdifferentstuntsandblitzpackagesthatwehave.Ican'twaittoseehowitisongameday."HeretoviewthisLink.asareceiverwhohasstuckoutincamp."Hecameinreadytoplayrightoffthebat,"Brownsaid.
LewisoptedforleadingreturningreceiverGaryBushandbigmanShaneMikesky.
"(Bushis)aballerandashe'sgottenolder,he'sgottenstrongerandwiser.Sohe'satoughmatchup,"Lewissaid."AlotofthoseXsarethebigger-bodyguys,but(Mikesky)rantrack.Hehasthatdeceptivestridesohepullsawayfromguyslast-second,soit'sprettyhardtogaugehowfasthe'sreallyrunning."
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