The Boiling Point: Danny Hope held his last regularly-scheduled Tuesday press conference of the season today.
Selected quotes from Hope’s press conference today. To see the full transcript, follow the jump.
"Q. This is always a pretty heated game just because the rivalry goes back so far. But with everything that’s at stake for your team and the fact that they can spoil it, do you expect them to be particularly in a heated atmosphere?COACH HOPE: I think it’s the same as it’s always been. It sure is going to be exciting. Any time we get to play each other, it’s a great game regardless what our records are or where it’s at or what’s on the line. The game is the game. It’s a great rivalry game and a lot of fun to play in. I think they will be just as excited to play as we will regardless of what’s at stake.Obviously, it’s a very exciting game for us, a very exciting time for us because there’s a lot of great things that still could be had for our football team. It’s a very exciting game, a very exciting time for our football team. The fact that it’s against our archrival Indiana makes it even more exciting.It’s something for the kids to be fired up and focused on, and it’s just why you play. I think it’s a great rivalry game. And in a great rivalry game, you’re playing for postseason play, critical season, just all the reasons why you play. I think it’s very exciting personally. The fact that it’s against Indiana makes it even more exciting."
"Q. I guess I’ll follow up on the excitement of the game. I guess I should have done that earlier. A lot of programs judge seasons based on the postseason. Again, are you a person that does that? If you are, does that make this week even more pressure packed than perhaps a normal game week than you thought?COACH HOPE: Absolutely. That’s what we’re about. I think postseason play is really important to our football team and our season and our program. We were all about it this season. We wanted to get into not only postseason play but some level of championship play to compete at the championship level.We’ve been inconsistent throughout the season at times. We’ve had some good moments, and at times we’ve had a good football team. We want to end the season on a high note with a win and certainly get into postseason play. It’s very important for our football team and our football season. Absolutely. I don’t know if it adds pressure. I think it makes it more fun and more on the line, and this why you do it.It’s more a focus, a sense of urgency, and it really is something for the team to be excited and look forward to this week. It’s the week we’ve been waiting for‑‑ a chance to get into postseason play."
Q. Hello, Coach. Overall just want to get your impressions on the Hoosiers and what do you see from Indiana when you look at them.
COACH HOPE: They’re a good football team. They don’t have the most attractive record, but watching them on film, they’ve really come together the second half of the season and really play hard, play very, very hard on both sides of the ball.
Offensively they manufacture a lot of yardage. They’re pretty good at passing the ball. They average about 250 yards a game passing the ball, average about 150 yards a game rushing the ball, about 400 yards a game. They do very well offensively.
Defensively they make a lot of stops. There’s a lot of plays when you watch the film where they’re stopping the offense. They’ve given up some big plays throughout the course of the season, like we have as well. I see a tough, hard‑nosed football team that seems to be playing together and getting much, much better as the season progressed.
Q. From your team’s perspective, just how much does it help to have faced quarterbacks like Miller and Scheelhaase and Robinson when you’re preparing for someone like Tre Roberson?
COACH HOPE: We’ve played a lot of different quarterbacks throughout the course of the season, a lot of different styles of quarterbacks throughout the course of the season. Certainly, there’s some carryover. So it’s been helpful some.
Q. Danny, with the‑‑ I know it’s getting to the end of the season, but with the running of Bolden, how has he looked? Has he improved this year? What’s the keys for him?
COACH HOPE: More carries, more touches, I think, are key for Ralph. I think Ralph is really a good football player. He’s played very well. He’s only made a couple of mistakes throughout the course of this season.
I think he runs fast and runs hard, blocks really well. I think he’s certainly one of our best football players and a really good running back. We have done some things well offensively. We have spread the wealth around some. Probably good that Ralph didn’t have to come back and touch the football every down. I think that’s helped him come back from the knee surgery, and I think it’s helped with an easier adjustment for Ralph.
I think he’s a heck of a player, and I think he’s 100 percent and doing very well. We’d like to get him the ball more.
Q. Just with Antavian, obviously, he had a nice game the other day. What do you need from him?
COACH HOPE: Just to continue playing like he’s been playing. He shows up on game day. He shows up at practice. I think he’s done a good job stepping up the second half of the season from a leadership standpoint. I think he’s matured quite a bit. He certainly is a play maker. I think he’s become more physical on the perimeter as a blocker.
So just to continue playing well like he’s done. He’s been a very unselfish player. When we’ve called his number, he’s performed.
Q. Lastly, any update on Beckford’s status?
COACH HOPE: Yes.
Q. Can you share it?
COACH HOPE: Sure, okay. It’s going to be in our hands. We’ll make a decision what the punishment will be for Dwayne. He’ll miss some playing time. We’ll announce that later.
Q. Okay. Thank you.
Q. Just when you look at IU, obviously what jumps out statistically is they’re not very good defending the run. When you look at film, why is that? Is that something maybe, without giving away your game plan, you can really kind of emphasize?
COACH HOPE: I think you have to throw the numbers out when you look at where IU is at right now as a football team. At the start of the season, they were trying to find out things about themselves. They tried some different things defensively, kind of like we did in some ways, and then gravitated to where they’re at right now.
When you watch them play, they stop a lot of plays, they tackle good, they play very aggressive. They get close to you in man coverage. When you don’t look at the numbers and you just watch the film, I see a good football team, and I see a defensive football team that has really gotten better through the course of the season.
They played Ohio State tough. We watched them play some of the toughest competition in the league and matched up very well. We think they’re a very good opponent. They don’t have a very attractive record, and their numbers, I believe, are very misleading.
Q. Maybe if you could just kind of describe their offense. Does it compare to any of the offenses in terms of what the quarterback is capable of doing, what style of player he is?
COACH HOPE: There’s several different players that we’ve seen throughout the season. They do some things that Michigan does. They do some things that Middle Tennessee does. They do some things that Rice does. So I think they’re a combination of‑‑ from the different shotgun offenses that we’ve seen, but they’re primarily a shotgun offense that features a variety of runs.
They can run any one of the shotgun quarterback dome plays or read plays. They do a great job with the ball handling part of it. There’s some misdirection that’s involved with it. They’re a tough offense to defend.
Q. This is always a pretty heated game just because the rivalry goes back so far. But with everything that’s at stake for your team and the fact that they can spoil it, do you expect them to be particularly in a heated atmosphere?
COACH HOPE: I think it’s the same as it’s always been. It sure is going to be exciting. Any time we get to play each other, it’s a great game regardless what our records are or where it’s at or what’s on the line. The game is the game. It’s a great rivalry game and a lot of fun to play in. I think they will be just as excited to play as we will regardless of what’s at stake.
Obviously, it’s a very exciting game for us, a very exciting time for us because there’s a lot of great things that still could be had for our football team. It’s a very exciting game, a very exciting time for our football team. The fact that it’s against our archrival Indiana makes it even more exciting.
It’s something for the kids to be fired up and focused on, and it’s just why you play. I think it’s a great rivalry game. And in a great rivalry game, you’re playing for postseason play, critical season, just all the reasons why you play. I think it’s very exciting personally. The fact that it’s against Indiana makes it even more exciting.
Q. I don’t know how much more you can add that you didn’t say.
COACH HOPE: I’ve said it all. What else do you want me to say? Completely exciting.
Q. I was going to change direction.
COACH HOPE: There you go.
Q. We can keep talking about it if you want.
COACH HOPE: No. Go ahead.
Q. I don’t know what more you can add about injuries that you didn’t talk about on Sunday. Do you think Shavers will be fine on Saturday?
COACH HOPE: I think he’ll be fine by game time. He won’t go today. He won’t tackle today. We won’t play a whole lot of physical football today. It’s getting towards the end of the season. Guys are getting banged up.
I don’t think he’ll be asked to practice much today, but odds are he’ll be okay by the end of the week.
Q. It’s officially a knee?
COACH HOPE: Officially a knee. They haven’t done the MRI yet, but everything points to it being an ACL.
Q. And the quarterbacks, you’ve got both on Saturday?
COACH HOPE: They’re both good. At the point in time I wasn’t sure back where they were at health‑wise on the sidelines, we were rotating them some anyway. We were forced to rotate them some because they were getting banged up a bit. They’re both fine.
They were ready to go at practice yesterday, and they’ll be ready to go today.
Q. Beckford excused himself from the game, but Lucas got an unsportsmanlike at the end. Any further repercussions for him at the end of the week?
COACH HOPE: I think the officials did a good job getting things under control. Threw some flags and made sure things didn’t go any further. Now it’s in our hands.
Q. I guess I’ll follow up on the excitement of the game. I guess I should have done that earlier. A lot of programs judge seasons based on the postseason. Again, are you a person that does that? If you are, does that make this week even more pressure packed than perhaps a normal game week than you thought?
COACH HOPE: Absolutely. That’s what we’re about. I think postseason play is really important to our football team and our season and our program. We were all about it this season. We wanted to get into not only postseason play but some level of championship play to compete at the championship level.
We’ve been inconsistent throughout the season at times. We’ve had some good moments, and at times we’ve had a good football team. We want to end the season on a high note with a win and certainly get into postseason play. It’s very important for our football team and our football season. Absolutely. I don’t know if it adds pressure. I think it makes it more fun and more on the line, and this why you do it.
It’s more a focus, a sense of urgency, and it really is something for the team to be excited and look forward to this week. It’s the week we’ve been waiting for‑‑ a chance to get into postseason play.
Q. With Antavian, where have you seen the most growth out of him?
COACH HOPE: Probably consistency from an effort standpoint. He practices very well. I think he practices like a champion. He shows up. He seems to be fresh all the time, or most of the time, when he runs his routes and the speed that he practices at. The physicality standpoint, he’s still not as big as some other football players. I think he’s a much more physical football player now than he was a couple of years ago.
He pitches the ball in the crowd. He’ll take a hit. He hangs onto the football and shows a lot of courage. He’s a physical runner. He carries the football. You can put him in the backfield some and use him as a halfback. Finish his runs. Much better blocking on the perimeter.
100 percent he’s way ahead from where he was at this time last year. And, again, from a leadership standpoint, he’s asserting himself more as a leader on you’re football team. He’s done a very good job the second half of the season.
I think he’s improved in every phase of this game. I really do. He’s a good football player. He’s got another year of eligibility. He’s going to get bigger and stronger and runs very fast, and I think he could have a future in football.
Q. You often talk, as you go into each week, watching guys with the ball. Has he been consistently one, two, three?
COACH HOPE: He’s always up there.
Q. Has there been a number he’s been consistently every week?
COACH HOPE: I’d have to get the records out, but he’s one of the best play makers on our football team. He and Ralph certainly would be our top play makers, I would think, just about every week.
Q. In regards to Saturday’s game, do you need a win to validate progress that you’ve said that you’ve made? That signal that progress is being made here?
COACH HOPE: It could be used as a signal. Does it work out the way we want to? We’ve still made the same amount of progress. Obviously, postseason play sends a signal as well. I think it sends a signal, absolutely. Not that it’s perceived as a signal, but I still believe the things we’ve gotten done the last three years from a program development standpoint, particularly in the basis of operations, I think will impact the program forever. I’m very pleased with that part of it.
Saturday getting us into postseason play certainly I think is the right signal to send.
Q. Even if you don’t get the win, do you feel good about the progress you’ve made?
COACH HOPE: Absolutely. But you never feel good when you don’t win. That’s a mixed question you have here. Obviously, I’m very proud of our efforts and what we’ve gotten done. Any time that you put your heart and soul in something, you should never have to look back and second guess the results. We’ve laid it on the line and done our very best. That’s always been my philosophy and our philosophy. That’s certainly the case in this situation. But I’m all about winning.
Q. If you don’t win, how do you sell progress?
COACH HOPE: I believe that of the signature wins we’ve had the last couple years, the games we’ve played and played well in‑‑ beat Ohio State two seasons ago, a ranked opponent. We beat them two times at Ross Stadium. First time in the history of the school that’s happened. We won at Michigan. We beat a ranked opponent on the road last year. That had not happened in several years.
We’ve weathered some difficult circumstances and still showed up to play in spite of the odds the last couple of years. I think there’s a lot of things that point to the program going in the right direction that we could identify. I’d rather do it with a win.
Q. What’s your first memory of the bucket? The first time as an assistant? Or even before that, did you know the bucket existed before you got to Purdue?
COACH HOPE: I knew a little bit about it, but you never realize how intense a rivalry is until you’re part of it. It catches the new players by surprise. That’s any rivalry, particularly this rivalry. Other rivalries I’ve been a part of, at Wyoming, I was really surprised when we played Colorado State. Really intense. And I had never really heard of that rivalry before.
It’s a very, very intense rivalry, and I think your first experience with it opens your eyes a little bit. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s certainly one of the biggest sporting events in the State of Indiana on an annual basis, one of the top two or three.
Q. What do you remember about your first winning of the bucket?
COACH HOPE: [ Inaudible ].
Q. I think you’re averaging about 45,000 fans at home. What do you feel about the crowd support this season?
COACH HOPE: Obviously, we’d like to have more fans in the stands. Really appreciate the 45,000 fans that come on a regular basis. That’s a great fan base, no doubt about it. We’ve had a reduction in ticket sales for several years. Not having winning seasons the last couple years probably hasn’t helped the cause, but we have great fans, no question about it.
I go to the games on Saturdays and see them cheer and see how much they want us to win, the students that are there, and how much they put into it. We just need more of them.
Q. You kind of answered this in your answer, but how do you energize that fan base? How do you get closer to the 62,500?
COACH HOPE: Winning will impact obviously. Again, winning on a consistent basis really makes a difference. We’ve won some. You’re coming off a big win against Ohio State and playing for postseason play. It still shows a drop in ticket sales in some ways. But winning on a consistent basis makes a difference. Beating top teams on the schedule creates excitement. So I think winning makes a difference.
Also going out amongst the fan base with our team as the head coach. We spent a lot of time doing that the last couple of years. The Boilermaker nation has gotten to know the head coach and what we’re about as a program, and our players have really embraced what we’re all about. The winning will change.
Q. Coach, the season’s been pretty successful at home, 0‑4 on the road. What can you say has been‑‑ one or two things you can point to, other than playing a couple of the teams, what has been the thing that’s made it most difficult on the road?
COACH HOPE: I think the competition is what’s made it so difficult. Most of our losses on the road were the latter part of the season, and we had some really tough competition at tough places. And facing teams coming off of a tough loss, having to win to stay at the top of the race in their place, I think that’s added to the challenge of the road schedule.
Didn’t start off as fast as we would like to at the beginning of the season with our Number 3 quarterback coming in. Probably couldn’t start the season off offensively as we’d like to. Even though Caleb did a great job in a lot of ways, not the same as having a veteran quarterback.
Defensively, I thought we started off a little bit slow. Thought maybe we tried some things, maybe add some things that as an end result weren’t the very best for us. We felt we needed to try and work at it. I think we started off a little slow at the end of the season and lost a game on the road. I think the latter part of the season, the competition has been tough.
Q. What do you say to a guy like Robert Marve after a game like he had? Here’s a guy who’s known to be a play maker, takes some chances, and obviously things didn’t go as planned.
COACH HOPE: I haven’t said anything to him. I love the way he plays, the passion that he plays with. The difference between the Iowa game and the Ohio State game is about six inches. Everybody down there on the goal line fighting and doing all that he could to get in and score and put us in position to be victorious. So I like everything about him.
I love the way he competes, and I think he’s overcome real adversities, several major adversities that most student‑athletes don’t have to overcome. So I have a lot of respect for Robert Marve. I didn’t feel I needed to say anything to him. I think he goes up, and he’s always ready to compete, really wants to win, great team player, a lot of energy on the field.
I like everything about him, and he loves to win. He really competes. I’m very pleased with him.
Q. We talked about benefits if you win this game. How much do you feel you need this game to elevate your status as the leader of this program?
COACH HOPE: Well, I’d rather focus on the importance of winning this game for our team and being in the postseason play and for all of us being rewarded for our efforts. That’s where the focus is at, and I don’t really tend to focus or address any other phase than that in this game coming up.
Q. Hi, Danny. What’s it like coaching Brandon Taylor?
COACH HOPE: I know him pretty well. I think he and I do pretty well together. We’re from the same hometown. I think I’m one of the reasons why he wanted to come to Purdue because we developed a good relationship. I have fun with Brandon. He’s kind of quiet in some ways. You can get to know him some, and then as you get to know him some, you can kind of imagine what he’s thinking at times that he’s being quiet.
He’s a tough guy, really a tough guy. He’s a good effort guy. I’m pleased with what he’s brought to the table as a football player the last couple of years.
When we recruited him, I really liked him as a player. He wasn’t as tall as the other line prospects, but he was a really good player on film. I wasn’t sure if he could get any bigger. He was already very well built. Already really strong. I think he weighed about 260 pounds, 265 pounds. The big decision we had to make looking at him was could he get up to 285, 290, 300 pounds. I really wasn’t sure if he could.
He was a really good player so we recruited him hard and offered him a scholarship, and he came. He worked hard in the weight room, and he’s extremely powerful. He’s gotten a lot bigger than he thought he would. I’m pleased with the effort he have put into it. I like him as a player, and he and I do really well together. I think he’s a lot of fun.
Q. He seems a little [ inaudible ].
COACH HOPE: He has a lighter side to him. You have to put up with the face he puts on sometimes to get to the lighter side.
Q. Thanks, Coach Hope.
COACH HOPE: Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving, you guys.