Since I am on the list for general Big Ten updates I was able to get quote from both coach Hazell and coach Pelini in advance of this week's game. Here is what each coach had to say, starting with coach Pelini:
On if the team is fresher at this time of year
"Well yeah, I think we are. I think if you ask the players, they would tell you yes. I think it's been a good schedule. I wasn't sure going in how I was going to like it. And I like it for a lot of different reasons. But yeah, I think we are a little bit fresher."
On the importance of being fresh going into the remaining games of the season
"Well it gets to be a long year. It does. You know, what people forget is that these kids have full class schedules and whatever else going on. It can be not just a physical grind, but a mental grind. The fresher you can keep them, the better off you are. Sometimes it's as much a mental thing as it is a physical thing."
On if he expects his team to put together a clean fourth quarter game on Saturday
"I think that's everybody's goal throughout the country. There were a lot of good things on the tape. There were a lot of great individual efforts. Like I told the team yesterday, it's about doing it every play. If you play 60 snaps, it's about playing those 60 snaps without having a breakdown one way or the other. And it's not like it's one guy here or one guy in particular. It's when guys take their turn. There's a certain level of mental toughness it takes and focus and discipline to do it for four quarters. It takes what the score is, what the circumstances and situations are, whatever it may be. You play one way. That's all the time."
On how he evaluates his pass defense
"I think they've done some things that are very good. And like I said, I think it's been inconsistent at times in some breakdowns. And you know, I told our guys yesterday that I understand that we as coaching staff, in every phase, have high expectations and standards. And it's about the details. That's what carries you through about being able to play consistently. Play the way you're coached consistently. At times I think we've done that very well. There were times that we've had some walls and slipups and things that, in my mind, are inexcusable. That's where we have to keep growing as a team. Believe me, we're not alone. That's been this way as long as I've been coaching, which has been for a long time. That's why you have to keep going. Every week's a new challenge. Every day is a new challenge. You keep trying to get better. Keep upping your standards. It's not being satisfied with where you are, it's about what more there is. There isn't a guy on our team individually or as a football team that is even close to reaching potential yet. When you understand that, you understand that there's that much out there for you. Like I said, very seldom do you stay the same. You get better or you get worse. We have to work to get better every single week."
On what he thinks of Purdue
"I think they're a well-coached football team who has gotten better. You watch where they were a year ago compared to now and it's like night and day. Which doesn't surprise me. (Head Coach) Darrell Hazell is a heckuva coach and they have some really good coaches on that staff. (John) Shoop over there on offense who has been around for a long time is a really good coach. They do a good job defensively. It's a program that's on the rise. I think they're going to continue to get better. You see the good coaching, the kids play very hard. They're very sound in what they do."
On how Purdue uses their running backs to make plays
"I think they do a lot of different things to try and create space for those guys. Like I said, I think they have a good understanding of what people are trying to do against them. Game plan very well. They have their different wrinkles that they mix in there. You know, trying to do as many things as they can to try and get a couple of those guys they have, the playmakers, out in some space where they have some room to run."
On if they will do surprising things similar to last year
"I don't think there's any question that we'll see some things that are a little bit different. On both sides of the football, we always tend to see that on a weekly basis. So that's something that we're used to dealing with. They've hit their stride a little bit offensively, so I would expect that we're going to see some different things formation-wise and some things that we're going to have to make some quick adjustments to."
And now coach Hazell:
On how the team handled the bye:
We had a bye last week, took some time off, much needed. We have been going since August. I thought our guys needed a little bit of a break. We went out basically Wednesday and Thursday, cut back practices several periods, and went out Friday for a special situation practice, a little two minute, four minute from overtime situations. I gave them Saturday off. Came back on Sunday and had a 15 perfect practice plays for Saturday's practice. I thought they looked fresh. I thought they looked rejuvenated and ready to go and play a good Nebraska team on Saturday, this coming Saturday afternoon.
On facing Ameer Abdullah:
He's an incredible running back. Absolutely incredible. He's got unbelievable patience. He's quick through the hole. He's got great balance and he's strong. You watch him from quarter to quarter and he just gets better as the game goes on. He's just, in my opinion, he's a phenomenal running back.
On where the team is as a whole:
I absolutely see us getting better, but we have to make sure we continue that process. We've got to take the next step in all those close football games that we're getting closer each week. You've got to be able to take that next step and be able to finish those games.
On the focus of bye week practices:
It's always third down. We did a lot of third down emphasis on Thursday, I believe it was. But you can't get enough third. The other situation is two minutes. You see it come up so often, week in and week out, with so many different football teams. And the teams that can control that two minute situation is usually the team that comes out ahead.
On what the front of the defense needs to do:
Yeah, I think so. We're not getting as much pressure as we had early in the season, playing better people, that's one of the issues you're dealing with. But we have to beat one-on-one matchups. We've got big offensive line you're going against, and we have to be able to create a little bit of pressure, make the quarterback uncomfortable, make him slide in the pocket. So there's that fine line. Do you bring linebacker pressure? Do you bring secondary pressure, then you leave other guys. It's that balance you have to find.
On Purdue's offensive momentum:
I think the big thingabout the football team is your offensive line. They take on the characteristics of your offense line. Our offensive line continually gets better each week. You saw last week in the bye week, you watch them, even the two's level is getting better, their pop off the ball is much better. Our offensive line can continue to improve week in and week out. You'll like the progress that we make with the entire offensive.
On the recruiting plan:
We look at a roster right now, we have 17 seniors on scholarship and six open spots to get you to 23. You're always going to have some attrition. So we're thinking a You look across the board, we need some defensive linemen. We need some linebackers. Obviously. And those are probably the priority, but also we're young at the offensive line.
We've got two guys that will be seniors next year in Kugler and Hedelin, so the other guys are all young players. You can probably go a little bit lighter there in terms of numbers. But you have to get a stud wide receiver in this class. And obviously we need to take some backs, because you're losing all those backs that you're taking. And we need a little bit of everything, but there's certain positions that you need more of right now.