Hope Press Conference Transcript


The Boiling Point: Danny Hope held his weekly press conference to talk about Saturday’s game against Iowa.

Excerpts from Danny Hope’s weekly meeting with the media, held this morning. Follow the jump for the entire transcript.

"Q. (No microphone. Question about bowl game and moving on from OSU win)COACH HOPE: In the meeting on Sunday, we have a list of things we go over with the football team. I always reflect on where we’re at, what we have to get done. It seems like they already had the same checklist in mind and we had to move on. I told them it would be great if we could celebrate this win for a week. I’d love to because I’m behind in regards to celebrations. But we have to move on and start getting ready for Iowa. This is an important game. We have a chance to be 6-1, I believe, in this stadium. It will be important for our team and football program, an opportunity to have a winning season, an opportunity for post-season play.I think we’ve moved on pretty quick, start getting ready to play Iowa. That’s a good sign."

"Q. I know you haven’t practiced yet. As you go into the week, Caleb still your starter?COACH HOPE: Caleb is number one. Obviously Robert played very well. He’ll be ready to compete in the practice and in the game on Saturday. We’ll play them both. Either one of those guys we believe we can win with.I don’t see any reason to change things. Caleb played very well and so did Robert."

Q. Danny, with facing an Iowa team, you’re going against a quarterback who has been very accurate and very efficient, especially with his touchdown/interception ratio. What makes him so impressive?
COACH HOPE: There’s a great balance offensively, Iowa does. Starts with their offensive line. Quick with their stance, great technicians. They have a very strong running game, excellent runningback, a thousand-yard rusher a guy that can take over a game in a lot of ways. They have an outstanding receiver, leading receiver in the history of their school, one of the great receivers in the country. His numbers will speak for themselves.
The quarterback is efficient, with all the balance he has around him, the quality of execution around the quarterback really heightens his performance in a lot of ways. He’s very accurate with his passes. They very seldom turn the ball over. He’s thrown maybe 20 touchdowns, has had only maybe half a dozen picks. I think his numbers speak for themselves.
He manages their offense superbly. He’s a heck of a football player. They’ll be a huge challenge for our defense because they’re balanced their attack.

Q. With McNutt, the receiver who is averaging 17 yards a catch, is he doing that because of his speed ability or his ability to get yards off the catch?
COACH HOPE: He has it all. He has really good size, really good speed. We think he’s one of the best receivers we have faced all season long, certainly one of the best receivers we faced all season long. He makes great catches, sure-handed. Makes people miss in space. He can be a physical runner with the ball if he needs to. I think he has it all, a total package as a receiver.

Q. Short gets a lot of credit on the defensive line. Gaston, the way he played with that blocked extra point, can you talk about him.
COACH HOPE: Bruce is gaining some momentum in his game. The last year he started for us as a true freshman, he made great progress throughout the course of the season. Came into the 2011 season, possibly the best pair of defensive tackles in the league with he and Short in the lineup.
Bruce injured his back early in camp in our two-a-days, struggled with lower back issues in the early part of the season. That negated some of the reps he got in practice at a very important time of the year where you really have to push yourself in practice, practice yourself into game shape in the 100 degree weather of camp.
Thought he started the season off slow. Took us longer to get him into game shape. I think he has a lot of personal pride about him and wanted to step his game up and finish strong the last half of the season.
The last couple games he’s made real progress. The last game I think was the best he played all year long.

Q. Coach, you were able to get five sacks against Ohio State. What was the key to be able to do that?
COACH HOPE: We felt coming into the game we had a real chance to hit the quarterback. I think our defensive front has improved the last couple weeks. Looking at some of the other opponents that Ohio State had played throughout the course of the season, there were some times where they had good protection and the quarterback would hold off the ball. He’s a freshman quarterback, he’s new. He is an outstanding player, has a tremendous upside, will be one of the great quarterbacks in our league in time. He’s still a freshman quarterback. There were a lot of times on film where they had protection, they manufactured sacks.
We felt the same would be there for us. Blocked us, held off the ball, if we worked hard, get off the block late, we could manage some pressure and sacks. We did that. We also did a good job up front at time winning some one-on-one battles with the offensive lineman.
We did a good job, even though we spread ourselves thin in the secondary, there were many times they were throwing the football and we were matched up in the secondary, which creates opportunities for your defensive front.
We put on some pressure, which we thought was important, to get out of sync some. I think the sacks were important, execution-wise, effort-wise with our defensive front, and also the fact that he was a young quarterback and at times in the early parts of their career they could become a liability.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOPE: I would like for him to be back in the program next season. We have a plan that he needs to follow through with. But there’s still a long way between now and next season. He has struggled with consistency in a lot of areas.
I’d like to have him part of the program next season and play. I think he’s a good player. He’s a lot of fun to be around. I don’t have any problems getting Kenny on the practice field, but he has a lot of work to do, a lot to prove.

Q. When you look at this offense you’re going to face Saturday, is it more like this Ohio State team?
COACH HOPE: A good analogy in some ways. Their offensive line isn’t as big, but they’re very sudden out of their stance. They run a physical style of play. It’s not quite as power oriented as Wisconsin’s offense. They’ll shift, trade, do some motions, which is similar to what Wisconsin does. They both have very strong running games, very efficient quarterbacks. On paper they’re similar, on video they’re similar. Wisconsin hangs their hat more on a power running game than what Iowa does. They have a strong running game, but they don’t necessarily feature the power-play over and over like Wisconsin does, play-action passes or additions off of the power-play. They have a great play-action pass package, very strong running game, different style of play than Wisconsin’s.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOPE: I don’t anticipate that this weekend and probably not next weekend. (Indiscernible) post-season play.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOPE: He did excellent the other day. I call him James. But Shep has been one of the hardest working on our football team, a developmental player. He’s become a lot stronger due to his work ethic. He has a lot of pride in our football team. He always gives you a great effort. Sometimes when you’re a senior, you’re old enough, mature enough, had enough reps, you can get out there and get after it. From a technique standpoint, he can be very successful.
He was our highest grader on the offensive line this past Saturday. That’s pretty good in your first start going against a quality opponent like Ohio State with an excellent defensive front. James Shepherd brought a lot of fight with him to the game, put some energy into the offensive line. I was very pleased with James Shepherd.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOPE: It will be an emotional game. We’re going to try to keep the Senior Day in perspective until after we play the game and win. Senior Day isn’t all that special of a day unless you win the ballgame. A lot of times the home team comes away with a loss. So Senior Day is a big day. We will honor or seniors, send them out right. The only way to send them out right is with a win.
We have a heck of a group with seniors. Last couple years hasn’t been easy, getting leadership from guys has been important to our team and program.
Saturday will be a special day for us. It will be our last home game for us, an opportunity to win a secure season, potential for post-season play, and an opportunity to send our seniors send them out right.
It’s going to be a fun day, an exciting day. Very proud of the senior class. Their work is not done yet.

Q. Speaking of your senior class, is there a word that comes to mind?
COACH HOPE: Resilient. I think they’re a resilient bunch. I think for the most part they’re a real class operation. Excellent young men that anybody would like to coach. Joe Holland, James Shepherd, all those guys are just outstanding teammates, great guys. I think they’ve been very resilient even though we’ve had some rough sledding the last couple years, our team has found a way to pull together and not give up and fight hard, believe we could win. I think a lot of it has to do with the leadership we’ve gotten from the senior class the last couple years.
This particular group I think has done an excellent job the last couple years of keeping our team grounded and focused.

Q. How have they stepped up this year for you? Have they kept things together after tough games?
COACH HOPE: When we come back on Sundays and practice after some of the tough losses, our seniors have done a good job with getting the team together, saying the right things, going out there and making sure everyone works hard. That’s usually the best remedy when things don’t go your way, is to get back to work, get back at it. There was some real effort in the sense of urgency. I’ve seen our team doing that over and over again. I think our seniors are a part of that.
As of late, when it’s gotten down to crunch time, things have not gone our way, the two games prior to the Ohio State game, it’s the time I think our seniors and leaders have stepped up the most. Really seen them step up and not just embrace but take control of the football team the last two weeks. They’re going to have to. If they don’t do it again this week, we won’t be as good this coming Saturday. I really see them asserting themselves with more of a sense of urgency the last part of the season, and this is the time when it counts the most. So good timing on their part.

Q. (Question regarding becoming bowl eligible and getting it done this week.)
COACH HOPE: I don’t know how important it will be, but it certainly teams the way to go. When you have a chance to assure yourself of a winning season, qualify for bowl eligibility, you have two shots left, you increase your odds if you can get it done with the next shot.
There will be a lot on the line this next weekend. It’s not our only chance, but it’s the one we need to do our very best to cash in on.

Q. Last four games you haven’t scored in the third quarter. As a coaching staff, what do you need after halftime to get that offense going?
COACH HOPE: Yeah, it must be my halftime speech. I must be really bad (laughter).
It’s really a tough call. We talked all season long about starting fast, finishing strong. At times we have started fast and haven’t finished strong. Maybe we need to start fast twice, once in the first half, once in the second half. Sometimes circumstances can change things. If you’re behind at the half significantly, you may go about different play-calling from a choices standpoint. We’ve been behind some. Trying to catch up in the third quarter. So times the play calling might be a little bit different.
I know in the Illinois game we had a significant lead, our defense was playing really well. If we kept playing like we were playing, just stayed the course, were conservative playing-calling-wise, we played in some tough environments. On the road at Michigan, a hungry Michigan team. Played on the road at Wisconsin versus a hungry Wisconsin team. Sometimes it’s hard to gain momentum in the second half just because of the quality of the opponent and competition. I think it’s a result of the a lot of different things.
Early in the season we had a brand-new quarterback that hadn’t played very often or much since high school, a few snaps in the last few years in collegiate football. We were still growing and developing our offense early in the season.
It’s a result of a lot of things. It’s something we need to try to address and do a better job of starting fast in the second half. We jeopardized our situation a couple times over the course of the season by not playing better in the second half on both sides of the ball. Go out there this past weekend, we got the lead, if we can manufacture a drive, eat up the clock, they’ll be hard pressed to catch up with us, three-and-out. If we really have this good lead, get the ball back, we’ll get it done on the next drive.
If they take the ball and take it down the field and score… It’s something we need to address. We need to take the second half with the same sense of urgency or maybe the same play calling philosophically in order to keep you on balance. Sometimes as the game progresses, they start catching onto your game plan some and make adjustments at halftime.
But we need to play better in the third quarter, no doubt about it, because we’ve jeopardized our fortunes by not playing well in the third quarter.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOPE: I don’t like halftime. Have never. I know it goes on, but I hate stopping the game, going inside for 20 something minutes, then having to get started again.
I don’t know if you notice, but we come out much earlier than a lot of our opponents do. I can’t stand being in that locker room at halftime. I think the guys have to go back outside, get in their stances, get warmed up again. You play a hard first half of a game, I don’t really halftime that much. They won’t let us skip it, no way.

Q. I know you haven’t practiced yet. As you go into the week, Caleb still your starter?
COACH HOPE: Caleb is number one. Obviously Robert played very well. He’ll be ready to compete in the practice and in the game on Saturday. We’ll play them both. Either one of those guys we believe we can win with.
I don’t see any reason to change things. Caleb played very well and so did Robert.

Q. (Question about the defense defending the run.)
COACH HOPE: I sure hope so. I think wave learned some things about ourselves the last couple weeks. Maybe certain aspects of the game plan that’s best suited for us against teams that are really efficient at both the run and the pass. That’s what we saw against Wisconsin. That’s what we’ll see again this weekend against Iowa. Surely we’ve grown and developed some in the last two or three weeks. We can fare much better against an offense that’s efficient at both.
You’re absolutely right. I think we’ve grown and developed some, believe that we can weather it much better now.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOPE: We already have Senior Day planned. What I like to do is make sure our seniors keep it in perspective a little bit. It’s an emotional day for them. It’s their last game as a boilermaker here at Purdue. Those are all great. But we got to win the ballgame. You have mom, dad, grandma, everybody that’s been important in their life. I want to make sure we recognize our seniors, honor them and their families, get back to business really quick. I want to get them to where they come out and give their mom and dad a high five, get back to the bench and ready to go.
Mentally we have to be in the game and not into the celebration of the pregame senior game part of it.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOPE: Well, I appreciate Albert addressing it like that. That’s one thing I like about Albert, he’s always direct, very brutally honest, doesn’t sugarcoat anything. I think he hit the nail right on the head.
I think we’ve accomplished some things to be in this position. I think our team showed great mental toughness after two losses. But in some ways he’s right, we can’t take anything for granted, that’s for sure. As soon as you relax a little bit, take something for granted, that’s when you jeopardize losing it.
There are no guarantees in life. He’s absolutely right. We have to be ready to play and show up ready to play Saturday. We’re playing against a very good football team. Iowa is a very good football team.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOPE: Well, they can fix it up a little bit. Normally they will employ a 4-3 defense that’s going to be strong towards the tight end side. They’re excellent technicians. They have great team takeoff on both sides of the ball. They have a senior defensive front, a lot of seniors on defense, a lot of seniors across the front. They’re a great conditioned football team. I think they are. When I look at them on film, they don’t have any (indiscernible) guys on their team. They’re all lean, big, strong, muscular. They do a great job of running to the football. The offensive and defensive lines run to the ball. They’re a physical football team, a disciplined football team on both sides of the ball.
Defensively they have an attacking defensive front, guys that line up happy, alignments on your tackles and guards, and they strike the line of scrimmage. They come up, penetrate, really strike, take on the offensive line. They’re very aggressive. I think they do as good a job as far as getting off blocks. You watch tape and you’ll see other opponents covering them up, in position to block them, they do a great job of using their hands. They’re a really good football team, a very good defensive football team.
I don’t know where they’re at stance-wise. I watch them play. They line up right. They never line up late. They’re very seldom out of position. The guys are always in the right spot. They get off blocks, run to the ball. They’re a really good football team.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOPE: Sometimes we can. One of the reasons we’re not an exclusive no-huddle offense, I’ve done that before, there’s some real merits to it, I like it. But there’s some real merit to huddling up, having the leader of your football team in the huddle, everyone making eye contact, regrouping some, establishing some rhythm coming out of the huddle.
The defense still has to line up based on how you break the huddle. We’re a huddle-first football team. From an offensive standpoint, we’d like to be able to control the tempo in some ways, changing up the snap count, not always be a huddle-up team, sometimes being a no-huddle team. I think it’s easy for us to be able to keep the defense off balance a little bit.
The snap count is something we have to our advantage on the offensive side of the ball. At times it can be the only advantage you have offensively. So to be not rhythmic in our approach we think keeps the defense all balance. We’ll huddle some throughout the course of the game.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOPE: I’ll check. We’re going to make sure he gets in the end zone early (laughter).
Having the ball more than the opponent is a big part of it. A couple of games, the latter part of the season, we didn’t control the clock and our defense was on the field too much. That negates opportunities for (indiscernible), Justin, all the great play-makers we have on our football team. We’d love to have Akeem on the field, a play-maker who is very physical. You watch him when he plays, he does a great job of throwing his body around, he really finishes his run. You very seldom see him get knocked backwards. Sometimes we’ll call a play and he’ll be the ball carrier on that play. He’ll drag them for a little more, fight his way through there. I like the physicality that he brings to our offense when he’s on the field.
He’s really improved significantly in the second half of the season as a blocker, particularly in the passing game. That was one of the areas of weakness in his game at the beginning of the season. It wasn’t an effort standpoint. He always gives you A plus, blue-collar effort. At the beginning of the season at times he was an average at best blocker. Second half of the season he’s developed to be a pretty good blocker.
Our best blocker is Rouse. Knowing how to do it, when to do it, carrying that velocity with you with confidence is a big part of it. We see a team that’s making great progress in that area.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOPE: He’s also an aggressive guy but you have to know what to do and how to do it in order to go out there and play physical, aggressive football. In drills and that type of stuff early in his career, you could see he had the motor, the temperament you wanted for the linebacker position. It’s taken him a couple years to learn how to play the position. He’s really just coming on. He’s made progress all along, but really made great progress now. The light is coming on for him. You watch players throughout their careers, you see them take big steps as players. I saw him take a big step at a certain point in the season. It happens everywhere on the field. I think he’s taken some big steps as a football player and a lot of that has to be with being more sure about his alignments, keys and his reads. He’s going to give you a great effort. He likes to hit, tackle, play rough. He’s an aggressive guy. He has a strong body. He runs well. So he knows what to do when he’s sure. He can be a really physical player. He’s more sure now. He brings an extra physicality to our game.
He is really going to be a good player in time. You haven’t seen the best of him yet.

Q. (Question regarding the run defense game.)
COACH HOPE: Well, I think we gained a lot of confidence back. Based on our performance and play this past Saturday, we did some things that allowed us to outnumber them in the box some, so we had some guys that were running. The thought our defensive front, defensive line, they played more aggressive, embraced their role. We were down in numbers on our defensive line. We had to have a half dozen big, bad, burly tough guys to show up on Saturday on the defensive line position, really get it on. I thought our defensive line did that this past Saturday. I thought that made a difference in the game.
When they play well, that means the guys right behind them, the linebackers, that they can play well. I thought our linebackers were much more clean and true to their keys and reads. That’s what makes you play well at linebacker, when you’re sure about your keys and reads.
I thought our front played significantly better this past Saturday than we have probably at any point in time throughout the course of this season simply based on the level of the competition that we saw against Ohio State because they had a very good offensive line and a very strong running attack.
Yes, we did regain some confidence. We upped our level of play this past Saturday against the run. We needed to do that.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOPE: That’s a tough question because there’s a lot of great backs in our league. He’s a physical back, he really is. He can make you miss. But he can drop shoulder and run you over, drag you. He’s an excellent football player. He is a physical back, Jerome Bettis type physical back in some ways that has some flash about him. He’s a good player, a very good player.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOPE: It’s not coaching talk. It’s the whole defense because everyone has a run fit, certain run plays. You take on the blocker, you either box the runner in, turn the runner back where there are other defenders, or you’re still the lead blocker and you force the lead blockers out. You can do a lot of things right across the front. You can have your defensive line take on the offensive line, knock them back, linebackers have to be true to their reads, other players on the defensive side of the ball.
You can play very well up front if you’ll take carry of business in the secondary. There’s gaps unaccounted for, the result will be long runs. That happened a couple times against Wisconsin. Always, in any football game, any type of game, it always starts with the front.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOPE: Well, I think it’s a good sign. They’re a football team that’s played with emotion, energy and heart. Coming off of two tough losses, I think it’s a good sign for our program how important winning is to our players. It can mean the whole world to me. It’s got to mean something to the guys that put the uniforms on. I think it’s a great sign for the direction of the program. I think it’s a good sign for what we’re all about from a substance standpoint. We’ve shown some resilience, some mental toughness to be in this position.
I’m excited about the opportunity. But we have to get ready to play. It’s all fun to talk about and to think about, but we got to play and play well. We’re playing against a quality opponent that’s going to come in here very driven wanting to win as well.

Q. (Question regarding Justin Siller.)
COACH HOPE: Really proud of Justin. He’s a really nice person. He’s an excellent guy to be around whether you’re on the football team or not. Justin Siller is good people. The fact he overcame some adversity in his career, some academic issues, some injury issues, had the year that he’s had, I think it speaks volumes about what he’s all about. He comes from a strong family, Christian values.
Justin is a smart guy, has a good work ethic. I think he’s been a good leader for us by example by overcoming some of the obstacles he’s had to overcome. I think he’s a good example for his teammates in a lot of ways.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOPE: He’s become a very good receiver. He’s become more consistent in regards to being a physical runner with the ball because he has good size. He catches the football. He’s had very good runs with it. But a guy his size, he needs to hang his hat more on being a good runner and finishing runs. He’s a heck of a receiver. He’s a lot more shorthanded now than he was a year and a half ago. He’s become acclimated to the position. He’s a better blocker on the perimeter. He’s made progress in every phase of his game.
He, like a lot of other players on our football team, he’s a senior with only a few games left, I don’t think he’s come close to tapping out on his potential. I think he has a much greater upside. He has an opportunity to continue playing football after college football.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOPE: In the meeting on Sunday, we have a list of things we go over with the football team. I always reflect on where we’re at, what we have to get done. It seems like they already had the same checklist in mind and we had to move on. I told them it would be great if we could celebrate this win for a week. I’d love to because I’m behind in regards to celebrations. But we have to move on and start getting ready for Iowa. This is an important game. We have a chance to be 6-1, I believe, in this stadium. It will be important for our team and football program, an opportunity to have a winning season, an opportunity for post-season play.
I think we’ve moved on pretty quick, start getting ready to play Iowa. That’s a good sign.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOPE: We’re going to have to execute and minimize our errors. If you look at every phase of their game, they do not make many mistakes. Very, very sound football team. Very well-coached. We have to be very careful about the size of the game plan that we put in against Iowa because they do not make many mistakes. If you have too big of a game plan on either size, football, it all looks good on the paper, on the board, makes sense, but if they can’t execute it to some degree of excellence, you’re subject to errors, minimizing your opportunity for big plays.
I think us reducing our play-calling package this week will be important so we can execute as well as we can, because Iowa does.