PURDUE COACH DARRELL HAZEL
September 24, 2013INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
COACH HAZELL: Let me get a quick summary of last Saturday's game. Anytime you play a good football team like Wisconsin, you guys do a good job in the fundamentals. Our fundamentals of tackling and blocking were to be desired on Saturday. So we've got to do a better job of coaching those, and do a better job of making sure that we're doing a better job of tackling and blocking, and that's where it all starts.
They have two good running backs, obviously, and they've attributed to some of those missed tackles, but we've got to do a better job of taking shots when we have a shot to take to get those guys on the ground.
As you look at Northern Illinois, another good football team coming in here. They have an outstanding quarterback in Jordan Lynch, and he's the heart of that football team, and he's a warrior. Everything runs off of him. He's a special guy and had a chance to play him last year in the championship game, and he's still that same type of player, just what makes him so special is his heart. He's got a huge heart and he's tough. So it's going to be a good challenge for the Boilermakers on Saturday at 12:00 or 12:30, whatever game time is. 12:01.
Q. Coach, first of all, you talked about the fundamentals of blocking and tackling. Could you talk a little bit about how you sort of go back to the drawing board after a game like you had on Saturday?
COACH HAZELL: Well, it's all about working to get better at those things. We emphasize that all the time. But we've got to go out there today and make sure we go through taking your body to the tackle. Lot of times we were stopping two or three yards before the runner, and then he puts a move on us and then he freezes us and then he goes. But we've got to talk about closing the distance between that ball carrier and our defenders, so we're able to get those guys. Because a lot of those plays that they came out for big yardage, we had guys unblocked in the back field. Could have been a one?yard loss or a two?yard loss, and those came out for big games. We've got to make sure we get those corrected.
Offensively, in terms of fundamentals of blocking, we've got to make sure?? I think starts with our up?front guys, but it's everybody on the offensive side. But we've got to make sure on our double teams that we don't cut guys loose. We'll make yards if we block the down linemen. But we were cutting some defensive linemen loose, and, again, that's fundamental football.
Q. Last week you told us you thought you were a foot off. Were you more of a foot off then this week or was it the same sort of thing that you've been seeing?
COACH HAZELL: No, I felt honestly we took a little bit of a step back this past Saturday, and it's a process. We're going to continue to work hard through the process. That's the only way you get out of where we are right now. We have good players, but we still have to get a lot better on all the little things that we need to do to become a good football team.
Q. How has Jordan Lynch changed, if at all, since you last saw him in the championship game?
COACH HAZELL: He's throwing it a little bit more, and I think he's throwing it better. Anytime he has a receiver that has single coverage with no underneath coverage, he's going to take that out cut. It's in his package. You can tell he's checked into it all the time. But he's just so tough when he runs. He's going to run the ball 20 times, 25 times on Saturday. We're going to have to do a good job of tackling him, because he's a very strong guy and he breaks a lot of tackles.
You saw it in the Orange Bowl game against Florida State, and you saw it all year last year long as well as this year.
Q. Lastly for me, can you just talk about how the Northern Illinois team has changed? Is it a better team? Is it the same team that you saw last year?
COACH HAZELL: I think the offense hasn't missed a beat. Now, defensively, I think they have two returning starters from last year's team, but they have good players on defense. Their free safety, No. 15 makes plays all over the field. They have a pretty good three technique/nose. He plays them both. They do a good job schematically of mixing you up, because they're not going to sit in one front. They're going to bounce from front to front and play some different coverages in the back end.
Q. Just talking about Lynch, based on the things and the way you guys have played so far, what are you going to have to do better than you have so far defensively?
COACH HAZELL: Well, I think they run so much power with him. They're just pulling the back side guard and giving them options of the bubble on one side and out cut on the other side. You've got to take away those quick threes, but we have to get that extra hat into the box so we can tackle him. He's a good runner. He's a fullback with the ball in his hands, so we have to get him stopped up front with our up front people, but also getting those linebackers and safeties down in the box.
Q. Does it also become even more crucial to find that offensive spark just to keep him off the field?
COACH HAZELL: Yeah, that's critical for us to maintain possession of the football so that he is not. Last week they ran 90 plays, which is unheard of. They ran 90 plays. I think 89 of them, other than the kneel-down, but that is a lot of plays. There were a lot of opportunities to make plays.
Q. How much did that game plan that you had for the MAC title game that you'd be busting out for this one?
COACH HAZELL: It's different. There is a different challenge. Actually, we'll use more of the Florida State game plan that Coach Hudson had used defensively.
Q. You've mentioned Lynch, what he does. Just how much?? what does he bring to the table not only as a passer but a rusher? From the film that you've seen, how hard is it for other teams to stop him?
COACH HAZELL: You don't stop him. You slow him down. He's a great leader. You can see him directing all his guys around him. He's a fierce competitor. You talk about guys that you want in the foxhole with you, he's the guy you want in the foxhole. He's that type of guy you want on your football team.
Q. I don't know if it's changed in the last 24 hours, are you expecting Ricardo and some of those other guys to be out there?
COACH HAZELL: Yeah, Ricardo Allen is probable. Anthony Brown is probable. Jordan Roos is out as of right now, and Frankie is probable.
Q. I know you've talked in the past about segmenting seasons a little bit. With that said, how important are the next few weeks here with a couple of games at home, then the bye week in terms of trying to get going on the right track? Do you feel like this might determine a little bit which direction your season goes?
COACH HAZELL: I think this is a huge game, another huge game. You say that every week, but this is another huge game for us. Our team to make progress, I think we have to take steps forward. We can't afford to take steps back. There are a lot of things that you can attribute that to, but I think this game we need to come out, we need to play well. We need to hold the football, and we need to find a way to have some success. It's very important for the rest of the season.
Q. A lot of people when they look at your offense, they point at certain areas. In your opinion does it all start there at the offensive line? Is that the biggest issue?
COACH HAZELL: It's hard to run the ball if you're not all on the same page or we're not blocking guys. Obviously, you can't protect as well.
The other day, and you're going to see a lot of this, you're going to see a lot of man?to?man coverage because we didn't do a great job of beating one?on?one match?ups. So we've got to anticipate that in weeks to come, and we've got to do a good job of getting open late so the quarterback can give us the football.
Q. Third quarters have not been extremely kind to you especially with the score on their first drive. What do you think either you're not doing, or they're doing to take advantage of you early on in the third?
COACH HAZELL: That was a big thing coming off of last weekend's game where 10 to 14 at one point in time you're feeling pretty good. You feel like you should be really fired up. You crawl back into the game and make it a four?point game. Then we were a little bit flat, I thought, for that situation. Weren't as flat nearly as Cincinnati, but we weren't as high as Notre Dame. We need to be able to play with controlled emotion in those situations, but we've got to play better, you're right, in the third quarter.
Q. You've got some guys nicked up in the secondary. Normondo Harris is someone with some pretty good experience for you, and it seems like maybe he tackled better than some others. What does he bring to the table, and how confident are you in him if he does get more time this weekend?
COACH HAZELL: He's a veteran. He's been out there a lot. And he's also been nicked up. We weren't even sure he was going to be available to us on Saturday because he does have a knee problem. But he's a guy that's got to be very consistent for us back there. I think he plays very comfortable. If you're watching him in his pedal and you weren't watching him on his drives, he looks like he's doing what we're asking him to do.
But we need to get some of those other guys back, but he also has to step up. Also, you've got young players that we're starting to put on the field, Leroy Clark and some of those guys have to contribute for us.
Q. Staying with the secondary, I think at one point in the third quarter none of your starters were out there. It looks like you'll get them back, but just how important in this game and moving forward to keep your main guys on the field?
COACH HAZELL: Well, we're very thin back there in the back end which is always scary. But it's very important to keep those because those guys are good players. Frankie Williams is a great player. Roberto Allen is a great player. You lose Landon a couple weeks ago, so you're getting thin back there, but that's part of the game. We understand that. You have to have the guys step up and contribute when they can.
Q. I asked you about Normondo, but Antoine Lewis is he kind of a little bit of a safety blanket because of his experience and the way he's played this year?
COACH HAZELL: Yeah, he's done a good job for us. We've played him a lot on special teams. We'll have to probably diminish his special team’s role because of those other guys' injuries, and we talked about that this morning at 7:30 or so. But he needs to step up and be a good corner for us and cover some guys down.
Q. When you started this year, what was your expectation for this offense?
COACH HAZELL: Obviously, to give some guys some fits and we haven't done that yet. To be able to be a ball control, controlled passing, and obviously score lots of points and we haven't done many of those things as of yet. We'll get it rolling.
Q. What is holding this offense back at this point, other than who you've played in the first four games?
COACH HAZELL: Well, I think a lot has to do with our starts up front. It's hard to pass the ball when you can't protect. It's hard to run the ball when you don't have guys on the right guys and those types of things. We've got to get those things fixed up.
I talked to Devin at length yesterday, Devin Smith at length saying you should be in the huddle. It's 3rd and 1. Run behind me and Kevin, and that is the mindset we have to have with some of our guys.
Q. Is that hard to bring out of some of these guys? I think people look at Rob Henry as a leader, but does he need to be more of a leader, a vocal leader? Is there something that he needs to do to take that next step to help the offense?
COACH HAZELL: I think he needs to be more, but I think he's doing a good job. But I think we need to have more leaders by and large on our whole football team step up and be leaders and be more vocal, especially in those 10 to 14 situations. Be more calm, more relaxed.
Q. You are playing the nation's 115th ranked defense, your offense is No. 121, but from a confidence standpoint for your offense moving forward, how important is it to show something this week so you can build on it as you head into October?
COACH HAZELL: Any type of progress is huge for our football team right now. You come off of a loss like that and you're playing a good football team, but you still didn't play the way you're capable of playing. We need to have some success. We need to have some offensive success, defensive success pretty early in the football game. I think that's very important.
Q. I guess if you don't see the success that you want with the bye week coming up, do you reevaluate things after that?
COACH HAZELL: Absolutely. We'll do that anyway, but that's what those weeks are for. Personnel, scheme, all those things that you have a chance to sit back and say, okay, where do we need to go from here and we'll do that regardless.
Q. You talked about slimming down the offensive package a little bit. When you look at what Northern's defense has struggled with this year against Idaho, it was kind of zone read and last week they got the ball thrown all over them. So does that then maybe give you some options to do different things against this defense because they have struggled in different aspects?
COACH HAZELL: Well, we can't confuse ourselves. We can't put in plays that other people are running because we're not good yet at the things that we need to be great at: running the zone play, running the power play, showing our base concepts in the passing game. You've got to be careful. Everything looks good on film, but if it doesn't fit your personnel and what we're capable of doing, it's not going to help you. We've got to be really cautious about how much we put into the package this week.
Q. With the offensive line struggles, what can you do to help them? You already use double tight end packages; you have a fullback in the game quite a bit. Do you keep those guys in the back field maybe a little bit more or not?
COACH HAZELL: Keep which guys in?
Q. Keep the tight end, maybe one anchors the line to help block, or a fullback to stay in to help block?
COACH HAZELL: No, not necessarily. I think some of our problems that occurred last week playing offensive line, you try to create double teams as much as you can on the zone play and the power play. What happened a couple of times, two consecutive plays they have an odd front and our center and our guard are supposed to work the nose up to the linebacker. Well, they both cut the nose loose and you're never going to make yards that way. Those are the combination and fundamentals that we're talking about. Blocking the down guy and making sure we get up to the linebacker late so we'll make yards.
Q. Can you show them a film of Wisconsin to say see how they're doing this, or do you not show on upon the grounds footage to show what they're doing right?
COACH HAZELL: You can. We haven't. Maybe we should. We need to teach them how to go hit. They've done a good job, but we've got to keep reemphasizing how important it is for those guys to work together and not have their hitch this way, have their hitch this way so they're able to create movements and putting 600 pounds on a guy and knocking that guy off the ball.
Q. I didn't see Jason King on offense last week. Is that right?
COACH HAZELL: He did not play last week's offensive snap.
Q. You don't have a lot of depth on the line. Are you going to stick with these five and hopefully get them coached up enough that they can come through?
COACH HAZELL: We went into last week's schedule thinking that we're going to play Jason about 20% of the snaps at left guard. That didn't happen. Again, you get into a tight ballgame, those types of things happen.
Q. How is this team practicing right now? Some guys talked about that after the game, we need to practice better. Is that something you say we need to practice better or are they practicing well enough?
COACH HAZELL: Obviously, we're not practicing well enough. But I think it is something that guys sometimes say as a way of having a response. Obviously, we need to do?? I thought the other thing we addressed the team with was we have to do a better job of finishing, finishing plays. Where you see other teams right now are running down field, getting shot blocks and straining, and that's an area we need to improve upon.
Q. You hear your guys yell finish all the time.
COACH HAZELL: All the time. So we'll keep yelling it.
Q. Henry mentioned, and we asked Rob this too, but he said something about preparation. And you heard Ricardo saying we've played that game twice already. So do you feel your guys were prepared last week and just didn't do what they were supposed to do or did they not prepare enough?
COACH HAZELL: Oh, that makes sense, absolutely makes sense. I would hope?? I think our coaches do a phenomenal job. They give them tip sheets and tests and cut?ups and put them on their iPads. Then take another step. We have to find that next step so they maybe have one more nugget that could help them.
But one of the things we need to be able to do is relax a little bit. We get into those situations on a big stage in a close football game and all of a sudden we get locked up a little bit and we don't allow ourselves to perform the way we're able to perform.
Q. You already talked some about your stats background facing this particular opponent. Is that an advantage?
COACH HAZELL: Well, I think any time you can see the same type of offense with the same personnel it's an advantage. You know, they played each other in the Orange Bowl, and I thought they did a good job. I think they held them. I can't remember what the score was, maybe three points or something like that. But, yeah, it was a good football game.
Actually, it was a very good football game. I actually watched it yesterday and defensively they did a good job against Florida State, I thought, in the first half then it got away from them at the end.
Q. You talked a lot about relaxing. Does Rob need to relax a little bit when he's out there playing? And this week there might be even more pressure on him knowing that that bye week is coming up? And if he doesn't perform well is there a change there?
COACH HAZELL: Rob had some rest on last Saturday. I don't know if you saw all the guys running up the field. It's hard to relax when you have guys screaming up the field at you. But I think his composure on the sideline has been outstanding the last two weeks. I'm not worried about that. So some of the things I'm talking about relaxing and some of the other guys, just feel the tension sometimes when we're in those tight areas. That's when it's fun. That's when it's got to be fun for you is when you fight your way back into the football game. It's all of a sudden you quiet the crowd down a little bit and that's when you've got to go play.
Q. When you have the negative play on offense, it seems to snowball when you're off schedule and you're not able to get it back. Does that go along to your line of relaxing and moving on to the next play or is that something else you've seen there?
COACH HAZELL: Yeah, you press a little bit. You get hit in the back field for a two?yard loss and you come back with a pass play potentially and you throw an incomplete pass or you take a sack, and all of a sudden it's 3rd and 12, those are hard situations to make for any team, let alone a team that's struggling a little bit offensively.
Q. (Indiscernible) your coordinator was from FSU. Comparing this offense before, do you feel you have an advantage going up against Lynch and company, and have they changed anything schematic?wise?
COACH HAZELL: The only thing I see them dramatically doing different is they're allowing him to throw the ball more off of looks. So if he gets a look where it's favorable to him, you can see him check and he throws the ball outside and get it's out of his hands very fast. I think, again, what makes him so tough is it's hard to tackle him. He's a hard runner and he's a patient runner. So we're going to have to do a good job of wrapping him up and not shoulder tackling him.
Q. Through four weeks now, how has Rob Henry progressed in your eyes from the Notre Dame game to Wisconsin? Did he take a step back? How has he progressed?
COACH HAZELL: I don't feel Rob took a step back last week. He's gotten better, but it's hard to be in that position. There was a play I stopped for the staff on Sunday and said would you guys like to be a quarterback in that situation? You've got guys up the field pretty quickly. The receivers were all covered. He didn't have an uncovered guy. I said don't know what quarterback would like that situation right there. He needs a little bit of help, obviously. We all need to be better, not just Rob, but the whole football team right now.