Coach Hazell spoke with the media today about Saturday's opener with Western Michigan. Here is what he had to say:
On WMU quarterback Zach Terrell and the receivers:
Those guys are good players. I think they've done a nice job last year even through their struggles of trying to find a way to get him the ball.
I think the quarterback does a good job of moving around. He's not a big run guy, but moves around, slides in the pocket, finds open guys.
He was pretty efficient I felt towards the back end of the season. You could watch his progress continually get better and better as the year went on last year.
They're going to come ready to compete, that's for sure.
ON the WMU Defense:
I think the thing they do defensively is they bring a lot of pressure. They're going to hang their hats on bringing five-man pressures, keep one guy in the middle of the field, try not to let it over the top of their heads.
They feel pretty good about their corners on the side. They like to play a lot of man-to-man coverage. Their front, they're always moving. Whether they're angling, slanting or stunting, they're always going to keep the front on the move.
On the growth of Purdue's offensive line:
I don't think (Robert) Kugler needs to do anything more than he's done for the last four or five weeks practicing. He's done an excellent job. He is the quarterback of our offensive line. He makes all the offensive line calls. He's playing so much more physical. He's put on 15 solid pounds. He's playing with greater balance.
I love the way he's playing right now. I really love his communication skills and his leadership skills.
On Gelen Robinson and Ja'Whaun Bentley
You take a look at Ja'Whaun Bentley, the production is on the film. You come in every night and evaluate players, how well they're adapting and adjusting to your defensive scheme. He's done an unbelievable job of learning for a young guy. Really studies the game. But he's also that physical presence that can add to that linebacker
The thing I like about Gelen, he is so strong. When he gets engaged with somebody, they go flying. He's not always on points yet because he's still learning the system. But he's a very, very physically strong guy when he knocks up with someone.
On the defense:
First of all, you're tired of talking about last year. This is a whole different football team. But we're a much better defense right now than we were at any particular time last year. I mean, I think Ryan Russell has done an unbelievable job of his leadership inside as a defensive lineman and across the defense.
But they're running to the ball better, they're more physical, more gap sound. You go right down the list, check off things. We're better in the back end. They're playing so hungry right now.
If they can continue to do that, we can put pressure on the quarterback, we'll be a very, very good defense this year.
On which true freshmen will play Saturday:
If I had to guess, I think you're probably going to see five guys. Gelen and Ja'Whaun on defense, I think you'll see Greg Phillips, Trae Hart and possibly our center, our backup center, Larry. Those three guys are probably the three guys you'll see, five total.
On Cameron Posey being suspended:
Violation of team policy. He will be out for the week.
On what the fans will think about this year:
I think the fans are going to fall in love with this football team. If they don't already love them right now, which so many do, we've had such great fans, we have such great fans, they're going to fall in love with this team because of the way they're going to play. The talent level has risen. They're going to play with more passion. They'll be more physical. What you expect, respect for the game. They're going to really enjoy watching us play this year.
On who will kick:
Well, not yet. Hopefully we can make that decision here in the next day or so. But it's a close race right now.