Today the Big Ten Network’s tour bus stopped by Purdue’s fall practice as they continued on their visit of all 12 schools. Tom Dienhart penned a nice piece about BTN’s first visit under Darrell Hazell:
Purdue ran a spirited practice Monday that moved in a well-organized fashion. Darrell Hazell is strong presence who floated from group to group, but he tends to gravitate to the offense—his background.
There was more hitting in the Boilermakers’ camp this season than last under Danny Hope. I came away impressed with a lot for a program that seemingly has a bright future.
As you know, Hope was so afraid of injuries last year that tackling was often absent from practice. It often showed too, as Purdue got lit up during the first five weeks of Big Ten play and poor tackling was often a big reason why. In fact, against Wisconsin it often looked like Purdue’s defense didn’t even know what a tackle was.
At least Purdue is looking better to outsiders. The BTN Purdue preview will air on August 19 at 8 p.m. Here are some other keys from Day 10 of practice.
Rob Henry spent a good portion of the day with the No. 1 offense again. I think he is solidifying the spot because almost every practice update notes that Danny Etling has thrown at least one interception. I think Henry is separating from Etling while Austin Appleby is gaining on Etling. In fact, Deinhart’s piece has Appleby passing Etling.
In the long run this could be good for Etling. If he goes into the season as the No. 3 QB there is a very good chance that he redshirts, making next year a battle between Appleby (then a sophomore eligibility-wise) and both Etling and David Blough (who will both be freshmen in terms of eligibility.
Marcus Freeman Draws Praise:
If Purdue’s defense is to get better it has to have better play at linebacker. From a coaching perspective, it looks like we have had a huge upgrade. Greg Hudson had excellent linebackers last season at the LB coach at Florida State and there has been very high praise for Marcus Freeman as our LB coach now that Hudson is defensive coordinator.
BTN Camp Tour 2013 #Purdue It was a kick watching Marcus Freeman coach LB We've seen him grow from a LB @ OSU to 1 heck of a LB coach - cool— Gerry DiNardo (@gerrydinardo) August 12, 2013
I think this is music to my ears. I am tired of linebackers who can’t tackle, are no factor in the blitz, and leave the middle of the field wide open on third and 12 or longer. If we get play that is merely average it will be a vast improvement from "abysmal", as it has been called.
According to Dienhart, Purdue is looking for a top rotation of six receivers:
Darrell Hazell wants to play 6 WRs. Guys to watch: Macarthy, Bush, Anthrop, Mikesky, Knauf, Monteroso. I like Macarthy and Anthrop. #Purdue— Tom Dienhart (@BTNTomDienhart) August 12, 2013
Some of those spots appear pretty solid. Dolapo Macarthy, B.J. Knauf, and Danny Anthrop seem to have emerged as a top 3. Gary Bush has to be considered after catching seven touchdown passes in 2012. Dan Monteroso is almost assuredly going to play as a true freshman because everyone has had nothing but positive things to say about him.
So who does that leave? I am a big fan of Shane Mikesky, but Aloyis Gray and Bilal Marshall are also making noise. Charles Torwudzo and Cameron Posey are also in the running. We certainly have options.
Defensive Line The Strength:
It looks as if the defensive line will be the strength of Purdue’s defense, and given the experience and strength of the secondary that can only help the group of linebackers I seem to rake on every day. Ryan Watson seems to have emerged as a solid defensive tackle next to Bruce Gaston. Ryan Russell is solid on the end, while Greg Latta seems to have a big upside despite how raw he is.
Coach Hazell said that Frankie Williams and Knauf will likely rotate on punt return duties, while Ricardo Allen may get the occasional return. As long as we have more of a punt return game outside of a fair catch I am fine with that.
In the kicking game both Sam McCartney and Paul Griggs are struggling. Purdue was reportedly 14 of 22 in Saturday’s kick scrimmage, but McCartney has added some distance to his kicks with some makes beyond 40 yards.
Mostert to running back:
The biggest news is that Raheem Mostert is now a running back, meaning Purdue can get the ball in his hands a little more easily. He already has four rushing touchdowns and his move gives some more experienced depth behind Akeem Hunt. I think it also means some of the freshmen like Keyante Green and Dalyn Dawkins are taking redshirts.
Mostert still be very dangerous as a kickoff returner. Even if that was his sole role on the team it would have a major impact.