Prior to Sunday's practice, Coach Danny Hope chatted with local media, as he will each weekend, coming out of the Boilermakers' season-opening win over Toledo.
Here are some notes from what the first-year coach had to say.
A Little Over-Eager?
Missed tackles were a glaring sore spot for Purdue's veteran defense Saturday in the Boilermakers' emphatic 52-31 win over Toledo and part of the reason the Rockets racked up a robust 423 passing yards.
But upon reviewing the first half - Purdue's tackling got better in the second - on film Sunday afternoon, Hope saw a problem he believes to be correctable.
In fact, he praised his defense for the aggressiveness and physical nature he observed on tape.
"Guys were running to the ball," Hope said. "A lot of our missed tackles were guys coming in there and trying to throw a haymaker, getting a guy hemmed up and then (knocking) his helmet off. We missed a couple times.
"But that's a good place to start, with guys trying to play physical. We have to come and get balanced and get ourselves under control before we tackle and we won't miss as many. But it wasn't due to a lack of effort as it was guys trying to get a big hit. I felt a lot better after looking at the first half (on film) this morning as far as the missed tackles go."
Despite Toledo's ample offensive output, Hope came away with a good feeling about his defense.
"We can have an outstanding defense," he said. "We have to get a couple things squared away and keep them healthy, but I was very excited about what I saw."
On The Other Side Of The Ball ...
Conversely, it couldn't have been a much better showing, all things considered, for an offense breaking in first-year starters in the backfield - Hope praised the play of both QB Joey Elliott and running back Ralph Bolden (obviously) - and a slew of new receivers.
Purdue scored 52 points, ran for an astonishing 315 yards and racked up 535 total yards. There were only two penalties called on the offense, too.
"I think we executed excellently on offense," Hope said, "as well as you possibly could, in all phases of it, in the running game, protection, throwing and catching with a new quarterback and young receivers."
The offensive line, in particular, dominated.
"They played fast," Hope said. "They looked like they knew where they were going and they got there in a hurry. That was not the case last year. We had guys who tried hard, but they couldn't play fast, they weren't real sure of themselves, they were new to Purdue and college football.
"We looked much more like a veteran offensive line in the first game of the season than any game at any point in time last season."
Purdue ran for 315 yards and gave up only one sack, the result, according to Hope, of having its protection set the wrong way on the Boilermakers' second offensive snap.
Two Players Punished
Senior wide receiver/return man Aaron Valentin and freshman linebacker Dwayne Beckford were held out of the first quarter of the Toledo game for what Hope called, "inconsistent effort toward academics."
"We've known (that) was coming for a while, the team and both the players," Hope said. "We're very serious about our commitment to academics on our football team and those guys need a little bit of help."
Purdue came out of its season opener pretty healthy, it would appear at first glance.
"We have a couple guys banged up and we'll see what happens today in practice," Hope said. "You know how it is when you go out and play 80, 90, 100 snaps. They're all hurt the next day, then a couple days later you find out where it really is.
"We'll find out a lot more Tuesday, but I think we're going to be OK. I don't think we've lost anybody for this week's game against Oregon."
Hope did say that freshman linebacker Antwon Higgs, who has been ill, has been cleared to practice Tuesday and will be available in Eugene.
With Valentin out for the early portion of the game, it came as something of a surprise that sophomore Waynelle GravesandeClick Hope on Bolden's 234-yard, two-touchdown outburst in his first career start, in which he carried more times in one game (21) than he did all of last season (16): "He did the same thing he's been doing in practice. Running 'em over, running around 'em, out-running 'em, blocking hard, being physical. He's a very inspired player."Here to view this Link. was sent out to return punts in his absence.
Hope said Gravesande has been catching punts all along in preseason practice and a review of those practices showed that the wide receiver did not drop a single one.
Senior running back Frank HalliburtonClick "We wanted to put somebody back there we could trust," Hope said, "and we knew would catch the football."Here to view this Link. was sidelined Saturday by an ankle injury.
"I think he's OK now," Hope said, "but he hadn't practiced any up until game time."
Halliburton, said to be one of the Boilermakers' most improved players, is listed as a fullback, but Hope said that Purdue still would have played Jared Crank extensively had Halliburton been available.
Freshman cornerback Josh JohnsonClick "He did a great job," Hope said of Crank, "a great job."Here to view this Link. played only on special teams.
"He's a guy we need to get out there (on defense)," Hope said. "We need to get him out there and we need to get (quarterback) Caleb TerBush out there."
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