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August 19, 2009

Two-a-days end, but still work to be done

Purdue's two-a-days came to an early conclusion today as severe weather moved into the West Lafayette area.

When the civil defense sirens sounded due to a tornado warning, the Boilermakers quickly headed for shelter as they left their outdoor complex facility just north of the Mollenkopf Athletic Center.

Hope said the plan was to end earlier than the normal 7 p.m. time anyway, so Mother Nature didn't alter the schedule much.

Now, Purdue will practice once Thursday and take Friday off as the team has its Kickoff Luncheon in the Memorial Union and will move into their dorms or apartments, have the usual afternoon meetings followed by a social function planned for the team.

"We brought our guys in (to camp) a day earlier so we don't have to do anything that day (Friday) from a practice standpoint," Hope said. "We're going to get moved in, go to the Kickoff Luncheon and celebrate with our fans and have a lot of fun with that."

The Boilermakers have to be glad two-a-days are over, but now isn't the time to put it on cruise control as Hope warns there's still much work to be done as game week is quickly approaching.

"We're done with two-a-days, but we're not done with camp," Hope said. "We've still got plenty of practice left.

"I feel really good with where we are. We came out yesterday and had a two-a-day, had Big Ten TV out here and I had the chance to watch the practice from last night and was really excited that we could play that fast at times this late in two-a-days. That was very encouraging."

The Boilermakers' morning practice today may have been their best of training camp.

"We came out this morning and had a great practice," Hope said. "I thought it was one of the best practices we've had all camp long. We were really fast, played up to game speed most of practice."

Hope thought the players got an additional adrenal rush since a number of pro scouts attended the morning session.

The Boilermakers still have another week-and-a-half or so of practice before they enter game week for their opener against Toledo Sept. 5.

"I'm pleased where we are," Hope said. "We still have a lot of work to do, but I see great signs."

Some of the signs Hope is referring to have to do with the team hitting the proverbial wall due to fatigue thanks to two-a-days, but not staying there long at all.

"I think we hit the wall and pushed through it and we're gaining momentum again," Hope said. "I'm glad because sometimes those are a lot of practice reps that you're not cashing in on. I think we're in position now to really cash in on the practice reps we have ahead."

More from Hope
On questions that still need answered - "When we get fresh and go faster I think that will help time things up.

"We still have to narrow our list down our list of guys who are getting reps for the game. I think that will make guys more sure about what they're doing, which will allow us to play more physical and make less mistakes and play even harder."

On freshmen and newcomers learning how to practice as camp has gone on - "I think everyone has learned how to practice in some ways. I want to practice fast. I think that's really important to try and get up to game speed as well as you can.

"Our practices haven't been quite as long as some other Division I practices, but I'm hoping we went faster and we were more intense in some ways.

"I think our freshmen have done outstanding. I couldn't be any prouder of a group of guys. They're so important to us."

On any injuries of note and getting some of the banged up guys back - "We had almost everybody back this morning for the most part. That's a good sign for this point in time in camp. A lot of our skill guys came back and it looks like we're going to get our legs back pretty quick, which is a good sign."

On linebacker Chris Carlino - "He's just getting the minimal amount of reps right now. He's going to be fine. All those guys are getting sprinkled back in so we're in pretty good shape.

"We've got a couple guys who are on the shelf and we'll see what's going to happen with them the next couple days, small injuries like ankles and hamstrings. Nothing that's real serious right now."

Boiler Bits
Offensive coordinator Gary Nord said defensive tackle Mike Neal and end Ryan Kerrigan have really caught his eye during fall camp and have been a handful to keep in check.

Nord also raved about the secondary.

Hope is going to take his team into the stadium a couple times over the next few weeks so the Boilermakers can practice on a natural grass surface. Nearly every practice to date has taken place on the outdoor FieldTurf surface.

"Our new (outdoor) grass fields are beautiful, but they're not rooted up the way they need to be before we can get on them," Hope said.

Offensive line coach Shawn Clark said that redshirt freshman guard Rick Schmeig is now practicing at center also and competing with classmate Andrew Brewer for the second-string job at the position.

Hope and Nord raved about Trevor Foy and how he looks at his new position of offensive tackle.

"We don't want to have to play him this year, but he could sneak into the two-deeps," Hope said. "He's a talent. He can run and he can hit. He has some real redeeming qualities about him."

Defensive coordinator Donn Landholm said defensive tackle Nick Mondek is currently running with the first team.

Mondek is battling with Kawann Short for the starting position next to Mike Neal.

Of course both will play plenty.

Nord said Jaycen Taylor and Ralph Bolden are neck-and-neck for the No. 1 running back position.

Nord believes the tight end position is the deepest on the offense.

Landholm said cornerback Josh Johnson may be the only first-year player that sees significant playing time this season.


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