PURDUE COACH DARRELL HAZELL
August 27, 2013INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
COACH HAZELL: Well, it's finally here, and our guys are very excited. You could just tell on Sunday when we came back and had a team meeting that these guys are ready to go. They had a great workout on Sunday night running around and lifting. We did a couple walkthrough things.
But, you know, it's a warm week, so we've got to be really careful this week. It's 89° today, 90 tomorrow, so we've got to be smart about not leaving our guys on the field. So we'll cut it back to 20 periods today, 19 tomorrow, and probably around 16 or 17 on Thursday, and those will be our last three practices, and then we'll take the road on Friday morning and get ready to play a great football game.
Q. What challenges does Cincinnati present?
COACH HAZELL: Cincinnati's a good football team. They've won 10?plus or more games five out of the last six seasons. So they know how to win. Obviously, any time you go into someone else's stadium, it's going to be a hostile environment and a sold?out crowd. But they play with a lot of passion. Just watching them play Virginia Tech on film yesterday, they play with a lot of passion and lot of energy, and we've got to be able to exceed that energy and be able to overcome some of the adverse things that are going to happen throughout the course of the game.
Q. Since it's a little unclear who is going to be the quarterback, how do you guys prepare in terms of defensive preparation?
COACH HAZELL: Well, Rob Henry will be our quarterback.
Q. I know you knew that. I thought, did I ask that a stupid way?
COACH HAZELL: No, we're going to play our defense, and we'll play our base defense and get into some of our blitz packages. But we're not going to prepare for both. But we understand that if we're in our right gaps and we stay over top the deepest receiver, we'll be in good shape.
Q. Given that this is your Purdue debut, is there a sense of nervousness on your part or are you very calm, relaxed and it's just another game?
COACH HAZELL: I feel pretty good right now, but it's only Tuesday. There is still a lot of preparation that we need to do. We need to have three great practices this week. But I'm very relaxed because I think we have a good football team. I think we have a lot of good football players in our locker room, and I think they're looking and seeing things the same way. I look forward to what our execution level is going to be about on Saturday.
Q. Can you give us an injury update on a couple of the guys, mainly Joe Gilliam and Devin Smith?
COACH HAZELL: Yeah, Joe's going to be back. They're going to put a club on it and leave him with a couple of fingers so he can tackle, but he's ready to go. I know he's very anxious and excited to get back out there, so he'll be back.
Devin Smith at our left guard, we'll practice him today. He feels good. He hasn't practiced, so he's got to get back in the practice mode. But we think on Saturday, if it progresses the way we think it's going to progress, that they'll probably split the reps 50?50 between him and Jason.
I'm not sure who else is banged up right now. I think that's about it that could be available for this week's game.
Q. I think we saw Ryan Isaac leave practice early the other night. But is he fine?
COACH HAZELL: Yeah, Ryan's fine. He got a little scared. He got a contusion on his shoulder. He had surgery on that shoulder, so it worried him a little bit, but he's perfectly okay.
Q. Do you think Joe will be able to go 80% of the time or 100% of the time?
COACH HAZELL: It's all going to be based on how good of shape he's in. He's been running the last couple of weeks, but football shape is a completely different shape. We're going to have to spell a lot of people. That's what we talked about at this morning's staff meeting is playing a lot of guys to make sure our guys are fresh in the fourth quarter.
Q. You mentioned King earlier, what have you liked about what he's brought to that left guard spot while Devin has been out?
COACH HAZELL: I think the biggest thing that he brings is he's been very physical for us. Some of our power plays and zone plays, he's come off the ball with a good pad level and created some good double teams for us.
Q. Is he a pretty promising youngster?
COACH HAZELL: Oh, absolutely. I think he's going to be a real good player. I think one of his deficiencies right now may be a little bit of pass pro, but he's getting better day by day with the pass pro as well.
Q. I asked you this early on in camp and you didn't want to answer. You have an 85th scholarship, do you have any plans to do anything with that?
COACH HAZELL: Not right now.
Q. You guys had this offense working through it in camp, have you seen everything progress as you hoped to with getting these guys plugged into starting roles and progressing through this first game?
COACH HAZELL: It's a very unique offense. With all the shifting and trading and motioning, I think it creates issues. I think our guys are really starting to figure it out how complicated it could be for defenses if we do the things that we're capable of doing. I really like where we are. We need to be really good this week, Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday on assignments. If we can do a good job?? you know, we've slimmed the package way down. So we don't want to make any mistakes.
You're going to make mistakes in the first game, but we want to try to minimize those mistakes. If we can do that, I think we'll be in a good football game.
Q. One more for your two returning receivers from last year, Dolapo and Gary Bush are in second team roles, Shane Mikesky and B.J. Knauf beat them out. Does that say more about what Shane and B.J. did or what Dolapo and Gary needed to do?
COACH HAZELL: I think we're going to end up playing six receivers. Based on who starts and who doesn't start, it really doesn't matter to us. But there are guys that have stepped up for sure. You talked about Yancey has stepped up; you'll see a lot of him on Saturday. You'll see a lot of B.J. You'll see a lot of Gary Bush, he's going to have to spell. Some of those guys, Dolapo is going to have to get in and play well for us, so you'll probably see six receivers on the field on Saturday.
Q. Do you have any unanswered questions about your team going into this week? Anything that you need to figure out?
COACH HAZELL: Always in the first game who are you going to be? Are we going to be the team that you think you're going to be or are you going to have to make tweaks during the first part of the game?
I think when you go into these types of football games where there are a lot of unknowns. I mean, their staff, our staff, how we're going to react in the games, all of those things that are unknowns. You're going to have to do a good job the first quarter, the first half of adjusting. You've got to adjust in the first half and try to win it in the second. So there are a lot of unknowns.
Q. Does the coaching match?up then become a wash a little bit because both staffs both have new systems and still trying to figure out personnel on each team?
COACH HAZELL: What I told our team the other night, we don't know for certain what we're going to get scheme?wise, offensively, defensively, (No microphone) but the play comes down to execution. It's about our execution at the end of the play regardless to what we call and regardless to what they lineup in. It's about what we do execution?wise.
Q. How much research did you do on Tuberville, and what he essentially brings to Cincinnati? How far back do you go trying to guess or trying to figure out what you may see on Saturday?
COACH HAZELL: We've done a lot of research on Coach Tuberville, and he's done an unbelievable job wherever he's been. So that's going to be the presentation to the team tomorrow. Some of the things that he's done in his past that could show up on Saturday. That's very important that you do that type of homework.
Q. On your depth chart, you have Paul Griggs listed as the number 1 kicker. Is he the guy you go to all the time or are you still looking at two?
COACH HAZELL: I think right now he's the guy. He's definitely done it in camp for us in terms of the numbers, so we'll go with him on Saturday for sure.
Q. Do you like preparing for a game like this? You talk about the chess match and everything, but you really don't know what to expect. So is this kind of nice for you or would you rather have it be the fifth game into the year and know exactly what they're going to do?
COACH HAZELL: Football is about probability, offensively, defensively and special teams. It's about probability. You study coverages in fronts and formations offensively, and then you say, okay, we think that they're going to be in this a certain amount of time on this down. So all of that is out the window, a lot of it for this particular game. So you get what you get, and then you have to go.
Q. In terms of Cincinnati schematically, you're expecting a four?three base, and then what on offense, a pro?style offense?
COACH HAZELL: Yeah, they're going to be different than what they've been in the past. They're going to be more like us. More two back, run?oriented offenses, and the play?action passes is what we think. Just listening to some of their Cincinnati show from last week, they're more like us than they were the past year.
Q. Their offensive line was supposed to be pretty good. Is that going to be an interesting match?up for you to see when you've talked about how you think the defensive line can be the strength of this team?
COACH HAZELL: Yeah, they'll be a battle in the trenches for sure because they're an older group offensively, and I think we have a very good group up front defensively. So that will be where the battle is won.
Q. At the luncheon or banquet you called this game critical; why?
COACH HAZELL: I think any time you can validate the things that you're doing as a new staff, that's good. That's good for your program; that's good for your players. So I think validation in this football game would be huge.
Q. Do you know who you're traveling with yet? Is that a determination that you've made already or is that something that you can add to this week?
COACH HAZELL: We're at 72 right now. There is still half of a guy out there that we might take. I'd like to get to an even number just for room purposes. But we're at 72, and I think we're going to be right at the 72 mark.
Q. Will you take Etling?
COACH HAZELL: Absolutely.
Q. In terms of a linebacker position, we've talked a lot about it, obviously, but in the depth chart that was Garcia and now he's behind Sean, and I know you've mixed them around some too. So I guess why switch back with Garcia, and what is it about Armstead Williams that you like?
COACH HAZELL: Well, actually, we're going to move Garcia behind Armstead, so he'll be playing in the Sam. We'll put Will Lucas back at the Will linebacker, so that's where they're going to be. But all six of those guys will have to play for us on Saturday, and we're going to need them all throughout the course of the year.
Q. I think you've talked about kind of giving some of your systems unique responsibilities each game week. Can you speak to that?
COACH HAZELL: Yeah, this week it's my game. But in the weeks to come, each coach will be a head coach of that particular team where he'll do all the research and present the plan on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of that particular week.
Q. You were going to wear black, I guess, for this game. Cincinnati wanted to wear white. Did you care about that? When they came to you and said can we wear white, was it an issue?
COACH HAZELL: Not an issue at all. We'll be black over gold, and they'll be white over white, so we'll go play the game.
Q. They've got a couple of Honor candidates on their offensive line. Can you talk about how much of a challenge getting through their line will be on Saturday?
COACH HAZELL: Yeah, it's a very veteran group. They're big, they're physical, they move well just watching them yesterday. So it's going to be a challenge for our defense. But I like where we are up front. We're going to roll eight guys up there and try to keep them as fresh as we can. It will be a battle between those two groups.
Q. Coach, can you say a really quick thing about each of the captains and why you see them as being captain material?
COACH HAZELL: Yeah, I thought our team did a great job of selecting those captains. Bruce is a guy that speaks out and he comes to work every single practice and works extremely hard. Ricardo Allen has consistently done it on the field, game field, practice field, and young guys can look to him and really follow his lead.
Then you talk about Rob Henry. I don't know if there is any better guy than Rob Henry to lead a football team in terms of all the things that he presents. Just the maturity level, the calmness, so those are three excellent choices that I thought our team did by picking those guys.
Q. Going through camp, can you say maybe one or two guys who you would say improved the most?
COACH HAZELL: You know, you probably won't think this, but I thought Trevor Foy moving from left tackle to right guard was a different person, a completely different person. To his credit, he's worked extremely hard to put himself in that position, because we weren't sure who that right guard was going to be. He's done a nice job for us these last two weeks, so I'm happy for him.
Q. The last thing for me, you've got a couple of guys at quarterback for Cincinnati who have run the ball quite a bit. You have a guy who can run. Has it gotten to the point where if you want to be recruited as a college quarterback, you've got to be able to run with the football?
COACH HAZELL: It all depends on the style of offense that you're playing. Any time you can run zone read where the quarterback has the option of giving it to the tailback and pulling it out, I think that creates another dimension and it creates a little bit of havoc on defenses. So that gives you another element. But it all depends on the style of offense that you're playing.
Q. Cinci is a different caliber opponent than many of the (No microphone)?
COACH HAZELL: I've never been here in the past, so I can't speak on that. But I tell you what, every single football team that you play is hard. The very unique thing about our sport, football is that you only get 12 guaranteed opportunities. It's not like the other sports where you get 25, 30 games all those things. So you better be good each one of those Saturdays, and I don't care who you're playing.
Q. You play your style of defense regardless of who is playing quarterback. Can you talk about the two guys and what their strengths are watching them on film?
COACH HAZELL: One guy say pure pocket passer, drops back, he's got a big arm, sees the field extremely well. Where the other guy can pull it down and make you miss. All of those zone read games I was just talking about, I watched a clip of him on film last night in their highlight tape where he's pulling it down and running around the outside. Everyone else is running this way, and he's running that way. So it's a little bit scary.
Q. Sounds like they have pretty good linebackers?
COACH HAZELL: They have very good linebackers, especially the guy up the middle. He's a big player. He's big. I don't know what he's weighing right now. They list him anywhere from 240 to 265, but he's a big guy, but he also can move. He's very physical. He is the heart of their defense.
Now they also have two, a nose tackle and three technique that's also physical, so they're really strong up the middle and we've got to do a good job of kind of neutralizing those three guys.
Q. You started out saying you feel pretty good at this point in the week. How do you expect that to be as the week goes on?
COACH HAZELL: I'll be fine, probably until Saturday. Typically, you know, it's all about what do we need to do? And that probably takes away a little bit of that anxiety. But on Saturday, I'm sure there will be a little bit in all of us, players, coaches, we'll have a little bit of butterflies in our stomach on Saturday as we get ready to kick it off.
Q. Is when you look at this week, does it feel anything like it did two years ago at Penn State?
COACH HAZELL: When we went down to play Alabama?
Q. No, no, just the first game as a head coach.
COACH HAZELL: I feel much more relaxed, probably, by doing it for the first time two years ago. It probably help med relax a little bit more. But I feel like we've pretty much dotted all of our I's, and crossed all of our T's, and by the end of the week, we will have. So I know a little bit more of what to expect now if that answers your question.
Q. Have you noticed any kind of a difference in Rob Henry's steps since you named him the starter?
COACH HAZELL: Not yet. Hopefully today he's walking out there with a swagger. I think Coach Shoop's language in the plays are so long that sometimes you get tongue tied, and I think that slows some guys down. But they're really starting to get it, and it's great. It's great language. Just all the shifts and motions and how long the play calls are. I think that's kind of the uniqueness of the offense.
Q. Probably find this in your bio, but have you ever coached in that stadium before?
COACH HAZELL: I've never been there. I was asking the staff this morning, what is the locker room like, what is the surface like? All those things you want to know. And we're not going to the stadium. Typically we'll go to the stadium on a Friday, but there was something going on and we couldn't get in there in the right time. So we'll just go to the hotel and do some walkthroughs, so it will be my first time in the stadium.
Q. Friday will be an exciting day being downtown in Indianapolis. Just talk about being downtown with all the Purdue fans and what that will be like for you before you go to Cinci?
COACH HAZELL: That will be a great trip for us to stop down in the circle and visit with all the great Purdue people. We're going to get off the bus and have our captains talk for a couple of minutes and I'll say a couple of words.
But how about that? Those fans coming out to support us, that's huge, and we really appreciate those people coming out and seeing the Boilermakers.