PURDUE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 2, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 365
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started here. Welcome to week two of Purdue football. The Boilermakers will be taking on Central Michigan this Saturday at Ross?Ade Stadium. The kickoff is at 1:00. The game will be televised live at ESPN News. I don't believe we have any phone callers here on the line. So we'll go ahead and get started here in the room.
COACH HAZELL: Obviously a good start for us, and I thought our team did a great job in one area. I thought that was?? we talk about eliminating stress, and there was no stress on the sideline. I thought our coaches did a good job. I thought our players did a good job, especially when the game went back and forth when Western had scored. So I was real proud of that area of our football team.
The other area I thought did a great job was we were able to manufacture, directly or indirectly, over 19 points in our special teams, and if we can continue to do that, that's going to bode well for us down the line.
Really looking forward to getting back to game 2 here with Central Michigan, and all the preparation is underway, and our coaches have spent the last couple days getting ready for this contest on Saturday.
Q. Speaking of special teams, why did you think Frankie was effective in the punt return game on Saturday?
COACH HAZELL: We always talk about in special teams punt return, kick return, more specifically, punt return, get the ball started. If you can get the ball started up the field, then you got a chance, if you have a good returner, to make people miss. And I thought our guys at the line of scrimmage held their guys up. So the first return you had, there was one guy that was within seven yards of him, the next closest guy was within 15 yards of the returner. So that's a great picture for that returner.
Q. Purdue Athletics had posted a video after the game of you talking to the team after the game, and you had said, "we're building this, don't forget it." What areas do you need to see growth in from week one to week two?
COACH HAZELL: Every single area. I want to see more dominant play with our defensive front. I thought they did a good job, but I thought we needed to get to the quarterback a little bit more. And they're capable of doing that. We were off just a little bit, a couple of times where we had chances to potentially affect the quarterback's throwing motion.
I thought our pass lanes were probably a little bit too high up the field, so we'll correct those things. Obviously we need to tackle better. We missed some tackles on some of those big runs. So we need to tackle better.
Then offensively, we had two pre?snap penalties, one, a false start and then delay?of?game penalty. You gotta eliminate those, and there's some open guys that we gotta be able to hit those things.
But you know, all in all I thought they did a good job for the first game. We only had seven penalties and none significant.
Q. Is there any area that you feel comfortable with right now?
COACH HAZELL: I think comfortable in?? we're comfortable in what we're doing running game wise. We haven't added a whole lot of things. We're running the same plays with different formations, and I think our kids, because of that, feel very relaxed and understand when we make a call that they can block different looks because we're not doing so many different things.
Q. Every game is important. I get that. And that's probably what you're going to say to this question, but specifically in terms of your progression, just kind of based off what you had said that we are building kind of a foundation, this is a team you're favored to beat, even though last season is last season. Is this important in that sense to continue pushing forward and to start becoming a team that's going to beat who it's supposed to beat?
COACH HAZELL: I don't know who you're supposed to beat, who you're not supposed to beat. I think you take each game for what it is and you prepare as hard as you can.
You know, I think the thing that we gotta continue to do is build confidence, if that's the direction you're going in. We have to continue to build confidence as we play throughout the course of the year. So it's very important for us to do all the little things and get better at those things that we didn't do as well last week.
Q. Cameron Posey is going to be back this week, as you had said yesterday. How does he fit in?
COACH HAZELL: He'll be the starting H for us, and we'll figure out which Z we'll play. We'll play B.J. outside. We'll play Danny outside, but Danny will play both inside and outside. We really like Keenan winning the slot. He can really do, especially against this team because they play so much zone coverage inside. He does a great job of finding those zones and sitting down.
Q. When is the last time you saw Justin Sinz drop a pass?
COACH HAZELL: In practice. You know, I don't recollect him ever dropping a pass in a game. I don't remember that.
Q. What is his best quality? Is it kind of that reliability?
COACH HAZELL: He is a very smart football player, and he finds those open seeds. He sits down. He throws defenders?? that first pass he caught, the defender was sliding outside, he just kind of rocked back, slid the guy by him and just sat down in the zone, and Danny was able to fly him. He just has a very good knack of finding soft seeds in defenses.
Q. With Landon being back, obviously Austin Logan played all the snaps in the first half, is he still a factor now? Do you want to rotate him in. How do you think he played?
COACH HAZELL: Austin played pretty well, but you know, Landon is our guy back there, and as long as Landon can go, we'll play with Landon.
Obviously you don't know what the weather situation is, hopefully nothing will happen. We feel comfortable to put Austin back in, if we need to, but Landon is our guy in the secondary.
Q. You had said yesterday that Ezechukwu was going to have a kind of a split role. So could you see him playing both rushing and week?side linebacker on Saturday?
COACH HAZELL: I think with Jimmy being down, we're going to have to play him more at the wheel backer, you know, behind Ja'Whaun and playing Gelen a little bit more at the rush end. So you should see Gelen quite a bit this Saturday. We didn't get him on the field at rush last week, but you should see him quite a bit as rush this week.
Q. How quickly is Gelen starting to pick things up now? Obviously it's a different game prep, it's a different week for you guys obviously. Have you seen something maybe click faster because you guys are practicing differently?
COACH HAZELL: I think where we saw something out of Gelen on Saturday is special teams. He made a huge impact in special teams. He really did a great job on the punt snapper and some of those other things that we were asking him to do. So his role will continue to increase, not only in special teams, but also because of what he did on Saturday in the defense as well.
Q. If you could break down Central Michigan's offense for us real quick. Seems like they're a pretty power?running game oriented group, kind of a Michigan State mold with their associations back to that program. Is that sort of what you expect to see?
COACH HAZELL: Very good assessment of their whole football team really. They try to pattern themselves after Michigan State, offensively, defensively and special teams. It's almost?? you know, you watch the film and you see the same structures.
But yeah, they are a power?running football team, and if you watch last week's game film, they really relied heavily in the second half on that running back from Michigan. Really was running power after power and tossed to him, and he did a nice job, has good balance. He's strong and plays with a lot of emotion.
Q. They're obviously going to be pretty physical in the run game. Where is your team right now in terms of being able to stack up to that sort of attack?
COACH HAZELL: I think we did a good job of holding the point last week. I think we gotta do a better job of filling those gaps with the backers and being able to make that one?on?one tackle in the hole. That's where we got hurt a little bit.
But obviously we're going to put our corners a little bit out there on an island and see how many guys we can get in the box and be able to stop the run.
Q. From what you saw of them last year in their first game, what's the difference in their offense with Titus Davis as opposed to their offense without Titus Davis?
COACH HAZELL: I'm not sure what quarter he got hurt last week, but you know, he was?? obviously he's a good player. He's probably their best skilled player offensively. But I'm not sure how much prior to that he was an impact in last week's game. And again, I can't remember what quarter he got hurt. But he's a good player.
Q. What do you expect to see from the defense? What kind of style are they going to run?
COACH HAZELL: Very similar to Michigan State. They're going to try to load the box. They don't play as much man?to?man on the outside as Michigan State does or as Western Michigan does last week, but they will try to put the two safeties down low in the box and probably pay off of the corners, but they're going to try to load the box up on you.
Q. Does that make it important to throw the ball up the field a little bit, take some shots, have some success that way?
COACH HAZELL: I think we do have to stretch the field probably a little bit more vertically this week, but you know, they're big inside. Their two tackles are very big guys, and so we gotta be able to get those guys a little tired before we can stretch the field.
Q. Just something I asked Shaun after the game. How important was it for this team to experience some success, and you know, he talked about maybe that snowballing. Do you see that a little in this team if they just get that first win under their belt, maybe that can build some momentum that they never really had an opportunity to get last year?
COACH HAZELL: Yeah, this is a confident football team right now. They really are. I think they've done a good job, and I think a lot of their confidence comes with their work, and they've put the work in, and they understand how important the next game is. And that's one of the things we talked about Sunday in our team meeting is we gotta move on after today and really set our focus on Central Michigan, not think about Western Michigan anymore. And I think that's how you continue to build your confidence as you go week to week.
Q. Coach, you talked a little bit about your stress levels during the game. How were you able to control that? Was that continuing to score throughout the game?
COACH HAZELL: Well, I think that's part of it, but I also think it's part of it where when things don't go right, that you don't panic, because that creates stress. And you figure out solutions as the problems are happening and from position to position, from coach?? all those things. You try to figure out solutions as opposed to being frantic on the sideline, and I think that calms everybody down. It allows those guys to perform at a high level.
Q. How pleased were you with your offense and the amount of points you were able to score?
COACH HAZELL: I think I was pleased that they were able to respond the way they did after we got scored on. I think they just kept coming back, and again, you look in their eyes on the sideline and they got that little smile on their face and they say, okay, let's go, we need to go down and get this or get that or take time off the clock. It was such a relaxing environment down there on the sidelines. Probably not in the stands, but on the sidelines it definitely was.
Q. What do you expect to see this weekend that could cause some problems for your offense?
COACH HAZELL: For our offense? Like I said, those tackles inside, we have to be able to block those guys, be able to double team those guys.
But we also have to complete the ball outside. We need to be able to complete it. They want to keep the ball in front of them in their passing game, so they're going to play off a little bit. So we gotta be able to hit those intermediate zones and be able to break a tackle and try to make some big plays.
Q. I know you faced adversity in the first game, and that's something that last year you didn't feel like your team responded very well. You kind of hinted at it, but just how they responded when things got tough and it became a three?point game late in the game.
COACH HAZELL: Yeah. And last year I don't think we would have handled that situation nearly as well. I know we wouldn't have handled that situation nearly as well as we did on Saturday.
And again, I never felt panic out of the defense players, when I walked over to their side. The offensive players were upbeat the entire time of the game, and I thought that they felt like they could run just about anything and execute it well enough to be able to move the football.
Q. You touched on the punt return, but just overall special teams, how do you evaluate what happened in game one?
COACH HAZELL: I thought we played extremely well, outside of the punt out of the end zone which led the points for their team and the kick out of bounds. Other than those two plays, we had seven touchbacks; we had some big punt returns. We had a pooch return beyond the 40?yard line that led to points, and then we hit three field goals that were big momentum changes. Those were huge momentum plays, two of those field goals that we hit.
So I was very pleased with our special teams, and the thing that I'm seeing now is that guys want to be more and more involved in those special teams, and we have different things, you know, we have what we call a fastest guy down the field award that we're giving out for the kickoff team. And those guys want that award. They want to be involved in our special teams right now, which is huge.
Q. You're going to see tight coverage on the perimeter all year. The opposing teams are going to crowd your receivers. Will that make your tight ends a little bit more valuable in the middle of the field?
COACH HAZELL: Absolutely. I think it definitely helps our tight ends and our backs being able to come out and catch versus man?to?man coverage, but I also think we have to do a good job as a staff to be able to help those guys. If they're having trouble getting off of press coverage, you can reduce the splits; you can motion them to get them stacked, so guys can't just pressure off the line of scrimmage, so we can help them as a coaching staff. We want to see them beat man?to?man coverage, but at some point in time we have to beat man coverage, but we can also take some of the pressure off those guys.
Q. Yesterday you were not prepared to say who had winning performances. Are you prepared now to say?
COACH HAZELL: I am not. I don't tell the team until 2:15 today, so I can't tell you yet.
Q. We wouldn't tell anybody.
COACH HAZELL: No. Definitely not. (Laughs).
Q. Basic question, just where does Danny Etling need to take the next step from week one to week two?
COACH HAZELL: I thought he did a good job. If you ask any coach in the country if your quarterback throws for two, rushes for one, doesn't turn it over and doesn't take any sacks, how would you feel about the guy? I'd say we'd feel pretty good if he could do that for 12?plus games a year.
Obviously there was some passes I thought he left some yardage on the table. We missed probably five passes that probably should have been more accurate. But he understands that. He understands that, and he knows he needs to get better at that. But those other stats, not throwing any receptions, not taking sacks, that's pretty good. That'll win football games.
Q. Do you have a renewed confidence in Paul Griggs now?
COACH HAZELL: Oh, absolutely. I mean he went out there and he nailed those, and he did it with confidence, and he felt good about himself. The teammates felt good about him. So I'm happy for him. I really am, because he had struggled those couple weeks and in camp, and he came back and did a good job for us.
Q. What do you think happened in the off season to allow your guys to now be able to, at least in this game, better handle adversity?
COACH HAZELL: I think it comes with one year of experience of hearing language that's now hearing over and over and over again. But us as a staff being able to have solutions to some of those problems when they arise. I think that takes a lot of stress off of people, to be able to, hey, this is the way we're going to handle that. Don't worry about it.
Q. Why is Ja'Whaun Bentley so good?
COACH HAZELL: Oh, you're just seeing the tip of the iceberg right now with him. I just think he's so natural. It's a natural position for him, where he's very instinctive. He sees things. He covers the screen. I don't remember if you remember, there was a screen play they threw. He hugged the backs just like he was wanting to slipped. The lineman came out to block, he slipped the lineman and batted the ball down. That was natural instincts with him. But he's physical and he can run, and he's smart. So I think he's going to be a great player for us, a great player.
Q. I think you said on his radio show that he sort of idolizes Ray Lewis, and that's a pretty good guy to try and follow after, but does he sort of strive for pretty big things just in his personality and how he goes about his business a little?
COACH HAZELL: He's a very soft?spoken guy, and he doesn't share much with many, but you can tell his intensity level will take him to great heights. I really think that everything that he does is important to him.
He's very mature beyond his years. He's had some rough upbringing, so I think that's helped him grow up quickly. And you know, you want the best for the guy.
Q. What's his fight to bring you when he's out there? He brings some intensity, it seems like, but what do you see?
COACH HAZELL: Oh, he's so smart. He understands. He diagnoses plays before they happen. He sees the motion, and he's calling out the play. He sees the shift, and he's calling out the play. So that experience there's nothing like it.
And then obviously he's gifted enough to get to those locations that he needs to get to to make the plays on the ball. Guy comes in, he's the leading tackle on our football team, and he plays 30 minutes. So there's nothing like doing something a second time or third time or many times after. There's nothing like experience.
Q. You had a couple of drives you really picked up the pace offensively. Did you like what you saw in those two drives?
COACH HAZELL: I think that really helped us. I thought that got us in the rhythm. I also thought that put a lot of pressure on the defense. And you know, at one point in time you could see the defensive line really just barely getting out of their stance and not being able to run side to side, and I think that could be a big weapon for us, at certain times. You can't do it all the time, but at certain times throughout the course of the year you gotta change the tempo and really put some stress on people.
Q. Still same time table for Jimmy Herman?
COACH HAZELL: Yeah. He's at the doctor right now, and we'll know a little bit more this afternoon in terms of how long he'll be out. But we're thinking somewhere eight to ten?? eight to ten days.
THE MODERATOR: Let's check in and see if anybody called in late. Do we have any callers on the phone line?
Q. I just wanted to ask you about the Yancey in terms of his receiving and what you need to get from him the rest of the way here?
COACH HAZELL: I think we need lots more productivity out of DeAngelo, and he's gotta play stronger through the catch. He's gotta play stronger and faster through his routes for him to be able to beat man?to?man coverage. And especially as the X receiver, which shall line up probably 75 percent of the time to that short side of the field where there's a lot more constriction, he's gotta be able to beat man?to?man defenses, and that's one area that he needs to improve upon.
Q. And then just the connection with Danny and being able to hit the deep pass, is that just repetition, repetition in practice, doing it in games to get that timing down?
COACH HAZELL: Yeah. I think those two that he threw out of bounds obviously were not good angles of the throw, obviously. They landed out of bounds. But it's repetition, and you know, the more a guy is open, the more comfortable you feel throwing that ball as well. So it's kind of a double?edged sword there.
Q. And then lastly, just are there a couple of keys that you really want to see this week in order to beat Central Michigan, to show the progress that you want to be making?
COACH HAZELL: I think the biggest thing for us as a football team, and it starts today, I'll tell our team today at 2:15 is that we have to do a great be job of improving today; not tomorrow, not Thursday. Today, on Tuesday, because typically, on Tuesday practice you're installing a new game plan, the guys are still a little bit beat up, bruised. But we gotta be sharp today. We gotta come out there with 21 periods and we gotta execute at a high level to make sure we're making huge strides today.
Q. You kind of touched on this already, but just, I mean, you're happy with how fall camp went and everything. You went through growing pains last year. Just how important was it to kind of get like the tangible results Saturday, and just going forward, like to build that confidence, and what else you can do to become a confident football team?
COACH HAZELL: I think the validation is good for the players, because they need to know what they're doing is the right thing, because the coaches you know that ?? you really feel like you're doing the right thing, but for the players, until they get that validation, it's hard for them to understand. So it was good for the players to get the validation that we needed to get on Saturday, and to get it the way we got it will only help us in the long run.