CHICAGO – Purdue coach Darrell Hazell plans to play a smash-mouth, tight-formation style of football.
He wants a four-man defensive front on most plays and an aggressive style of ball pursuit from all positions.
But he doesnt want people to think the Boilermakers will be trapped in a box because of their offensive and defensive styles.
Youll still see a version of the spread, but youll see a version of everything else, Hazell said Thursday at the Big Ten media days. Well be in the I-(formation) one snap. The next snap, well be in three tight ends. The next snap, we might be in four wideouts.
Were going to be changing personnel constantly.
Hazell said the offense will be multiple despite its formations. It will rely on tight ends and a strong run game, but Purdue has sets that will allow the Boilermakers to spread the field and open the defense up, as well.
Senior Gabe Holmes, who figures to benefit from Hazells system as the teams top tight end, loves the playbook.
Its great, Holmes said. I know I just have to work hard and do my best to get in condition, condition myself well so Im able to stay in the games that well.
Despite plenty of personnel changes during each series, Hazell will have his go-to players, cornerback Antonio Allen said.
Allen expects to remain in for much of the game, just as Holmes does. But during spring practice, he noticed the coaching staffs emphasis on grooming players further down the depth chart.
This coaching staff has done a great job of developing a two-deep, Allen said. We stood up against Ohio State, we stood up against Notre Dame – the two undefeated teams. But when our second team got in, they couldnt stick with them, and thats when things got bad.
Hazell said that should not be a problem this year. He and his staff have worked rotations into the system that should have the defense at full-go for an entire game.
The offense will also rotate personnel frequently.
We have some very good teachers, and we try to teach from the ground level up, try to implement it as slowly as we need to – or as fast as we need to, Hazell said. We have guys that are committed to learning the system, as well. Theyve been studying cut-ups.
Defensive tackle Bruce Gaston Jr. said the team quickly bought into Hazells system.
He had a plan and a system, a foundation, that he knew would help, Gaston said. That got our attention because thats what we want, especially the seniors. We want to make that jump right now because we only have right now to do it.
Gaston is another player likely to benefit from changes in philosophy. The Boilermakers will run a 4-3 but can switch to a three-man front should the situation call for it, Hazell said. If the Boilermakers can master their concepts quickly, the team could catch some opponents off guard.
Until they get all of the nuances of the new defense and offense, it wont be bang, bang, bang, but theyll pick it up pretty quickly, Hazell said. Theyve been excellent. I think its very important to them, and thats why they do it.