Last week was nice wasn't it? No Purdue football game to get your hopes up only to dash them on the jagged rocks below your greatest hopes and dreams. It was refreshing in a way. This week? Not so much. Purdue plays
Nebrask Braskyboy Braskypants Nebraska and that means a pre-game press conference from fearless leader Coach Hazell. Below are some highlights for you.
On the health of running back D.J. Knox
[W]e still don't know right now exactly. He ran a little bit yesterday in the pool. We will see today how much he can do and then make a determination later this week, whether he will be available or not for us.
What does coach think of the announced facility upgrades?
Can't tell you how excited I am about that new facility we're going to get, Pete, if it's approved by the Board in December. Much needed. We're behind, obviously, and it will help not only our current players but the future Boilermakers and help us win some championships, so I'm really excited and thankful to the president and to Morgan Burke for seeing the need of this new facility.
How the team and players are getting through this season, how the energy in the locker room is
I think we have a close-knit group of guys in our locker room, and they haven't wavered from this, and obviously when you're not as successful in the win/loss column, there are always guys that think they should be playing to help the team, and that's normal everywhere you go, but in terms of cohesion within the locker room and the players, and you are supporting each other and working at the high level that they continue to work at, it's still there.
There was a tremendous energy in the buildingon Sunday as we met for the first time after the break and had a little workout on Sunday, but the guys are ready to go and get back into game mode against Nebraska.
The importance of this game for both teams
I think it's a big opportunity for both programs, you know, Coach Riley in his first year there, and us in our third year here, and the programs are moving in directions, and I think this is a big game for both programs right now, because they're reeling a little bit and we obviously need to get a win, so I think it is a big weekend for both of us.
Was anything accomplished over the bye week?
I thought, you know, you need to get a rest and drop your shoulders a little bit, I think that's probably the biggest thing is just the decompressing a little bit, because everyone is working so hard, and you're so tight you're not getting the result that you want. I think you have to be able to step back, but obviously we worked on fundamentals last week, didn't have any scout teams. We did it all against each other, offense and defense, and we started really concentrating toward the back end of the week in terms of Nebraska.
What's the issue with this team?
I think there are some schemes that you can do a little bit better. I think sometimes, you know, you fall off on some technique assignments, so that's personnel. Then, you know, I think you've got to probably be a little bit more aggressive where we are right now, and in some of the things that we're doing. We've taken a long look at that.
How do you get success down the stretch?
Obviously you want to win, but I think -- if I think I hear what you're asking, I want to play good in all three phases of our football team. I think we have to put together a compete game with the offense, the defense, and the special teams and really hit on all cylinders. Obviously, you're not going to play a perfect game, but I want to see us hit all of our marks on all three of those phases.
I feel like we are making some strides. Like I said, I feel for the first time some of those third-year guys started showing up the way you thought they would show up, and sometimes they arrive a little bit later than what you hope, so I'm seeing that progress, even -- not only the defensive linemen but some of those secondary guys started playing at a high level, so some of those younger, secondary guys, but I just want to see us play a complete game, three phases.
A health update on Ja'Whaun Bentley
Ja'Whaun had surgery -- what's today? Yesterday morning. And he should be back on campus today, and his mom is up for the week, and she will take care of him, and we'll get him better.
On slimming down the playbook
I think my request for our guys was to find the seven or eight concepts that we do in the run and in the pass and get to that. That's what we need to do to operate at a high level. So to answer your question, yes.
Follow up question posted verbatim
Q. When you mentioned seven or eight concepts that you do and do well, shouldn't you know that by this point?
COACH HAZELL: Well, we've done a lot of concepts and I want to look at the numbers. I don't want to hear that okay I think we do this well and this well, I want to look at the numbers and say this is what we actually do well on game day, because there are certain things you do well in practice that don't always translate to Saturdays. I want to look at the numbers and say okay here are the things that we're effective and efficient at, and that's why you have a bye week, you go back and your self-scout, and look at all those things.
What was the message to David Blough on the bye week?
Well, I continued to stress the importance of playing the game and not the play. I think that's so critical for a young quarterback. We all -- we inserted David into the lineup, he's played for three or four weeks as a starter, and we have these high expectations, we all do, myself included, but we've got to remember that he's been in the lineup at a Big Ten major league college football for three weeks. So he has to learn how to play the game, not just the plays.
I think that's a huge part for a young quarterback. For example, we're in a two-down territory on the plus 37 yard line, it's third and 5, let's go get the first down. Let's not try to chunk it, get a big chunk deep on a go route. It's learning how to play the game and not just the play.
Presented without comment
Q. Completely off the wall question. Since you're playing on Halloween what was your favorite Halloween costume growing up?
COACH HAZELL: I will not reveal that at a press conference. (Chuckles.)
Q. I thought it was something like your mom's wig or something. Haven't we asked this before?
COACH HAZELL: Someone has asked that before, yes.
What coach wants from fans
I hope our fans come out, I certainly hope our students come out. This is Halloween weekend. Wear your best costumes and have some fun in the stadium. It's going to be a great environment. We're looking for a win, and we're looking forward to getting back out there and playing in Ross-Ade Stadium. Thanks for asking that question.