Coach Danny Hope and players Joey Elliott and Chris Carlino spoke at Purdue's weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon as the Boilermakers prepare to host Illinois this weekend, coming off its upset of No. 7 Ohio State.
Kerrigan honored again
Defensive end Ryan Kerrigan continues to pile up honors after his three-sack, nine-tackle, two-forced-fumble performance against Ohio State.
After earning the Walter Camp National Player-of-the-Week award and Big Ten Defensive Player-of-the-Week honors this weekend, Kerrigan was named Tuesday as the winner of the Bronko Nagurski National Player-of-the-Week award for defense.
Carson Wiggs and Chris Summers will vie this week in practice to punt for the Boilermakers against Illinois Saturday, after Wiggs took the job over in-game Saturday following Summers' third shanked kick in as many weeks.
For one thing, Hope said he's "not a fan" of having one player handling both punts and place-kicking, but isn't totally opposed to it.
"We don't have to force it in that direction," he said.
Hope has repeatedly said that he will not give up on Summers, that the senior will have every chance to keep the job.
"We look at him in the same light we did as Aaron Valentin," Hope said of the receiver who fumbled three kicks, but has shaken it off to enjoy a fine season on offense and could soon return to returning punts.
Valentin has mostly been replaced on punt returns by Waynelle Gravesande, but was deep on at least one punt against Ohio State.
"I want him returning punts (again)," Hope said. "He's one of the best."
Taking off the shirt
Hope said that after pulling redshirts off freshmen Al-Terek McBurse and Chris Quinn Saturday, injuries will determine whether any other rookies will debut from here on out.
"It's like going to the doctor," Hope said. "It's based on need."
Last year, injuries on the offensive line compelled Purdue to play current starting offensive tackle Dennis Kelly late in the season, which Hope thinks benefited both player and team in the long run, a story the coach relays when talking to freshmen before they play.
"The analogy of Dennis Kelly tells the story of it, too," he said.
Quinn and McBurse played only on special teams Saturday - McBurse returned kickoffs and Quinn was on the kickoff team - but Hope wants to play both players from scrimmage to get them some experience, particularly McBurse.
"I don't want to take a 'shirt off a guy for six snaps a game," Hope said. "That's not the plan."
With four senior starters set to depart from the secondary, Hope would like to get rookies Quinn and Josh Johnson some experience heading into 2010.
Hope said Quinn is almost 100-percent healthy after coming to Purdue with a sore knee; the coach added that fellow freshman Ishmael Aristide has just about rounded into form after missing his senior season in high school with a knee injury.
Stay tuned for more on the freshman DBs tomorrow.
Back in touch
After receiving a pre-game text message from Drew Brees, Elliott heard from the New Orleans Saints quarterback following the Ohio State win.
"He just said, 'Congratulations, I'm proud of you and the team and what you've done,'" Elliott said.
Elliott joked that he responded to Brees hoping to "give him some luck" in advance of what turned out to be a spectacular performance in a rout of the New York Giants.
"Obviously, he didn't need (luck)," Elliott said, "because that's just what he does."
Speaking of Brees, Hope talked about the Purdue legend always prioritizing others.
Brees, a former NFL Man-of-the-Year winner, has continued to be consumed with service and acted as a national advocate for the city of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
"When I was (at Purdue) before, I was in charge of community service," Hope said, "and he couldn't say no to anybody. Now, he's had to hire someone to say no for him."
Hope said numerous NFL scouts have come through West Lafayette to check out senior defensive tackle Mike NealClick NotebookHere to view this Link., who pro football types believe can play either nose tackle (i.e. lining up over the center) or a "3 technique" (i.e. lining up in gaps) at the next level.
Hope said his team came out of the Ohio State game healthy,
The introduction of the two new freshmen to special teams was brought on in part by injuries to Jaycen TaylorClick "I don't see any difference from last week to this week," he said. "We're ready to go."Here to view this Link. and Adam WolfClick "I don't see any difference from last week to this week," he said. "We're ready to go."Here to view this Link., Hope said, though both those players remain on the field on game day.
Hope on Purdue being named National Team-of-the-Week: "We'll announce it to the team today and we'll clap and cheer for a couple seconds, then be on to Illinois."
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