WEST LAFAYETTE – The Purdue staff didnt want its preseason camp opener to feel like a first practice.
They wanted it to seem like the 16th.
I thought they worked pretty hard, first-year coach Darrell Hazell said after the workout Saturday. Obviously, the execution needs to rise a lot, but not a bad start.
Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach John Shoop said he was impressed.
It was a typical first day – there were some good things, some bad things, but I thought the energy was really good, Shoop said. I thought our attention was good, you know? You say its the first day, but what we talked about really before coming out here was that this is practice 16, not practice No. 1.
There was some good retention, and it made me feel like these guys worked their tails off this summer, which was a real good feeling.
One of Shoops quarterbacks, senior Rob Henry, didnt feel the same way. It was a terrible day for the three starting candidates: him, freshman Danny Etling and redshirt freshman Austin Appleby.
Despite that sloppiness, there was progress.
They want to challenge us, and they want to make sure when games come that were ready, and we will be, Henry said. There was definitely retention there. We worked all summer, and I think the main difference is the speed. Thats something that its hard to replicate just running player-run drills in the summer.
The Boilermakers are adjusting to that speed, courtesy of the staff yelling Tempo! during almost every rep of every drill.
With the opener Aug. 31 at Cincinnati, theres time to make a jump. Not too much time, though.
We werent moving as fast as we were in the springtime, Hazell said. There needs to be a sense of urgency. We play four weeks from today, actually. We just have to have more suddenness about everything we do.
The players noticed that as well, but the Boilermakers showed signs of life, especially on defense.
Purdues defensive backs and defensive line are considered a strength, and they showed that Saturday.
The strength right now is in numbers and how they came in today, defensive coordinator Greg Hudson said. We want our big men running and nobody standing around and just holding a gap. We want to secure our gap and get to the football. And the turnovers come, a lot of times, with the pursuit.
The defense got a lot of those, off tipped balls at the line of scrimmage, interceptions and pass deflections in space. Over the course of its preparation for the fall, the offense should step up its play as well.
At least, for Purdue, thats the hope.
What we did well for the first day is get behind each others backs, running back Akeem Hunt said. If somebody makes a mistake, we pick them up, make morale on the team. We did good calling out blitzes, picking up blitzes – less missed assignments. We did well for the first day.