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Purdue’s Parker Pre Penn State Presser

NCAA Football: Purdue at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Parker stepped to the mic today for his weekly press conference and continued to impress with the media in my opinion. The guy just comes off as fun, insightful, someone who cares about his players, and just an all around good guy. I don’t know if he’s the man for Purdue but I’m optimistic he will land a pretty good job after this whole transition process is over.

Opening Statement

Thank you. Good to see everyone again. Obviously we're heading into another big week. But looking back on last week, certainly a whirlwind for everybody. I can't start without thanking again the administration here top to bottom and how everybody handled this deal first class, and making sure I didn't miss anything, and prepping me to get through a very difficult week, and with a lot of appointments.

So thanks to the administration and everybody behind the scenes getting me to everything. As well as, thanks to our staff for handling a very tough situation and a tough week, as well, and for preparing for a No. 8 opponent.

And then lastly to our players, who went out last week, accepted a lot of change, a lot of permanent change, a lot of new change with how we did things; and went out on Saturday and had fun playing a kid's game. Ran around and competed their tails off, fought for four quarters and put something out there that we can be proud of both as a community and as an organization of football.

That being said, we fell short. We didn't finish it in the fourth quarter and kind of lost some steam and didn't find a way to finish the football game. So we've got to find a way to do that. We have five weeks left obviously to put our best foot forward in allowing this football team and these seniors to go out again with, like we said last week, something they will be very proud of.

So we're focusing this week all on taking the next step, find a way to get these guys to believe and know that they can win football games in this league and move forward, and we're going to do our best to do that.

We play a Penn State team that is getting to that point in their program right now. They have won three in a row. Obviously Coach Franklin, I don't know him personally but I've kept up with him from my days in recruiting the Nashville area. We know what he's done and what he's about, and they just had a program-changing win for themselves and feeling on top of the world, I'm sure, with a lot of momentum coming into our game.

We have got our hands full once again in a team that just beat the No. 2 team in the country, and to do that, we are going to have to do things a little bit faster and a little bit better and continue to execute a little bit better and improve our mental approach to this, as well, to get to a point where we know where we want to be.

What did you learn from your first game as a head coach?

There's so many lessons. I don't know if there was a big one. It didn't feel as weird as what I thought it would.

But it definitely takes you away from -- you're so used to being an assistant coach and dealing with my guys, I didn't realize how many things you have to be aware of during a game to manage a game for your whole organization.

So I couldn't say thanks enough honestly to the referees and to the officials out there and our staff, the way we communicated to get us through the game and have some help on some stuff I had never done before.

So I think probably the biggest lesson learned would be just managing the whole game and all that it entails and all that it takes to make the decisions during the game.

How do you play against a Penn State defense that sacked OSU 11 times?

They are very disruptive. They play on your line, on your side of the line of scrimmage. They are highly ranked in both tackles for loss and sacks, like you mentioned.

So how do you combat that? You have got to be sound in your protections. Your football has got to be prepared on offense to protect what they are going to bring at us. And we have got to get into attack mode and play on their line of scrimmage and find ways to get the ball and stay on the field and manage what they are going to try to do in their disruption.

So it's a huge, huge challenge for us. They have been great at it, and we have got to continue to manage it and be better at it.

And then on the flipside of that, our defense has also got to be disruptive and play on their line of scrimmage and see who does it better on Saturday.

How do you go against the balanced Penn State offense?

We certainly wouldn't get into X's and O's and tell you how we're going to do that. But we're going to have a great plan to put our guys in the best position possible to try to defend both.

But there's not doubt, just like we played Nebraska last week: You get a guy that's able throw it and get confidence the way he's throwing the ball down the field right now, and you're able to get him involved in the run game and get off the mark, you've got -- you've got yourself an issue.

So we've got our hands full and they are doing a heck of a job, and it is the reason they are in the position they are right now.

On the team’s new let-it-ride philosophy

How you respond on the football field in a very tough environment is exactly how you're going to respond as main in real life. Because life's tough, too, as we all know.

So we're just trying to put some true reality to this and who you are, what you put on film, says a lot about who you are going to be and who you are off the field, and that's a fact.

So any time you can talk to them in reality and tell them, hey, who you are, what you put on film is what you are; not what you talk about you're doing, not who you think you are. What you put on film is what you are.

We have a tremendous responsibility as coaches and those players have a tremendous opportunity to whatever they put out there; it creates some changes to other people's lives, how they play and how they approach the game, how our staff, our administration, this school, our fans, feel about how we play, matters.

How we approach this game and how hard we play, matters, and it affects people. People want that. They need that. It inspires people on and off the field and we are going to continue to do that.

Could Jake, not from State Farm, come back this week?

Hopefully a really good chance.

Was the game plan more aggressive?

We have nothing to lose, everything to gain. We have to be extremely aggressive in our approach. I think you saw that from me and some of the decisions we made, and during the game and managed it, and that will not change.

Does playing at home mean something to this team?

Yes, it better, and it has to. I think we got to have an understanding of everyone's frustration from what's gone on to our own frustrations of what's gone on, and there's got to be a tremendous pride about us playing in Ross-Ade. And we sure hope, also, that we get a tremendous amount of support for our seniors and all those for the effort we give and we'll continue to give to be supported out there in Ross-Ade, too.

On discipline changes

[W]e are going to do some stuff to keep you accountable. Not going to turn a blind eye. Because it's not -- again, I just echoed to the guys, it isn't the right thing for to you do, regardless of what happens.

The right thing to do to prepare you for your next staff or for whatever happens to me, whatever, we have to prepare you for what's going to be. You're going to be held accountable, right, for everything you do.

So we're going to do the same thing here, but maybe the punishment isn't as hard and as tough as what it sometimes would normally be, but there's a reminder of it. And then as we continue to keep sampling that, it will get tougher and tougher if we get guys that turn away from us.

Presented without comment.

Q. Will Malik Kimbrough continue to return punts for you?COACH PARKER: Great question. (Laughter).

Q. Would you like to answer?COACH PARKER: I would not. But it's a good question.

Q. Are you still going to be doing the 211 session?COACH PARKER: We are not.

Q. Your speech before the game -- some cried and that was in the hotel before you got there. Why do you think it's important to be vulnerable, for lack of a better term? Why did you share your story with those guys?COACH PARKER: Yeah, you know what, because that's what's got me in front of you guys right now. I just think if you can be real and you be those guys, you do anything you put your mind to.

There is a bunch of people, and I didn't have it all. My parents worked their tails off, and I had everything we needed growing up. But there's a lot of people from when you're from where we were from that just, "Ah, you're not going to" -- every morning you wake up, when you hear that enough, you either decide, you know what, we'll see, you know what I mean.

I think that tell them that story, these guys have come from even worse situations and they want to feel that, and you want to make sure that's how they respond. I told them during that time we've got to spend together, we need more men in this world that people admire; that want to lead and step out.

I'm okay with telling you guys we need to play really, really hard on Saturday. I need to tell you that. We need to tell our team that. Everybody around this program needs to talk about that and not talk the other way and be negative. We need it talk about it and expect it.

And if I try to hide about how we need to play and how hard we need to play and how passionate we need to play, we're not going to get where we need to go. I think if you tell those guys that and they expect that, then you get a result you're going to be proud of.

On the feeling and the hunger he sees from fans

I'm still a fan, too, a fan of football and all those things. We have a human element to us. I think that the fans felt that and it was good they felt it.

I'm sure they are frustrated and it's been tough. It's been tough on all of us. Tough on them and we recognize that from both sides, and all we're doing is trying to put our guys in the best position possible to be proud of something, especially our seniors, at the end of all this, but also our fans.

You know, everybody around them that's connected to the program. We want to give you guys something that you're proud of; that we can step away from this and look back on over Christmas and say, you know what, I'll go to war with that.

I know this post has been a bit of a behemoth but I think all of this says a lot about the kind of guy coach Parker is and I really admire the way he’s handled this transition. As I said, I don’t know if he’s the man for Purdue’s future but there’s little doubt in my mind he’s going to land on his feet when this is all done.