Purdue coach Darrell Hazell announced some position switches and some health updates during his weekly press conference in West Lafayette on Tuesday.
One of them involved a key player for the Boilermakers, senior cornerback Ricardo Allen, who should be ready to play against Indiana State on Saturday after an injury during the Cincinnati game.
"Ricardo Allen is a probable for Saturday," Hazell said. "He's got a high ankle sprain, but it's not as bad as we thought it would be. And (Dwenger grad) Landon Feichter has a couple beat-up hands, but he should be ready to go by Saturday."
Purdue will also make some changes at linebacker and put offensive lineman Michael Rouse, who switched over to the position from defense during camp, back on the defensive line.
We're probably gonna start Will Lucas at the WILL linebacker, play Sean Robinson at the SAM and keep Joe (Gilliam) at the MIKE," Hazell said. "We're probably gonna start Ryan Watson at the nose, but we're still gonna have an eight-man rotation on our defensive line."
Lucas moves from backup middle linebacker to the weak side, which pushes Robinson to the strong side. Robinson got the nod over Armstead Williams, who started Week One for the Boilermakers as the strong side backer.
"I thought he did a good job of coming downhill on a couple plays and striking the guy, so we are going to give him an opportunity to prove to see if he's that guy for us," Hazell said of Lucas, a 5-foot-11, 236-pound senior. "He's been a little bit up-and-down, but you always knew that he had it in him. So if he can continually get better and be focused enough to make that his goal to help us consistently be that kind of a player, then he has a chance to be good for us."
Staff simplifies offensive playcalling
After the offense scrambled to the line time and time again during a 42-7 loss to the Bearcats on Saturday, Hazell and his staff convened Sunday with a goal in mind: get things going faster.
"We scaled it way back," Hazell said. "Our package is very thin, and I told coach (John) Shoop before I came over here, as we go through the week and we watch film and find things that we think will help us, I said you got to cut something else out of the game plan. There's no more adding. There's only reduction of the game plan going forward this week."
That should help the team get to the line quicker, Hazell said. He expects his offense to be out of the huddle within 15 seconds in case fifth-year senior quarterback Rob Henry, the offensive line or the wideouts need to make any adjustments.
What took so long Saturday, Hazell said, was getting the play out. Shoop and Hazell created a lengthy language for the offensive system, and Henry had some trouble getting the calls out at game speed and putting guys in the right positions.
"Never saw that problem coming in a million years, but we'll get it fixed," Hazell said. "Usually in the first game, you get one or two of those deals, but we had multiple, multiple communication issues. It was actually the verbage of our play calls a little bit for our quarterback."
So when the staff met Sunday, it focused on shortening up those calls, as well as the robust playbook, to make it easier on the Boilermakers as they prepare their first home game Saturday against Indiana State.
"That's the first thing we talked about," Hazell said. "How can we be able to help him verbalize what we need to have so everyone can be lined up and know exactly what they need to do for the play? So yes, we have helped (Henry) in a couple different ways."
Punter's performance impresses Hazell
Punter Cody Webster hit a huge 73-yard punt Saturday in an otherwise bleak game for the Boilermakers. It hit the Cincinnati return man, bounced another 10 yards and wound up in Purdue's hands.
That earned the senior some hefty compliments from Hazell on Tuesday.
"I tell you, he was splendid on Saturday," Hazellsaid. "He hit two great punts. One punt he hit over 75 yards, flipped the field and we were able to get a turnover, which allowed us to score points off of that punt."
Webster is on the watch list for the Ray Guy Award, which is given to the nation's top collegiate punter. With three kicks Saturday, he is averaging 56.5 yards per punt.
"He's been very consistent for us," Hazell said. "We need him to be consistent. And if he continues to punt the way he is, then he's got a chance to be that Ray Guy winner."
Freshman RB plays bigger than he is
Freshman running back Dalyn Dawkins also impressed Hazell with his performance Saturday.
Dawkins, a 5-foot-9, 175-pounder out of Louisville, Ky., led the team in all-purpose yards, rushing yards and receiving yards in the loss.
"He's got a bright future for us," Hazell said. "He's just got so much explosiveness between the tackles, and he runs hard. He runs like a 200-pound back. He's quick. He's starting to see things very well, and he was great in protection, so look to see a lot of him."
The same could be said for a few young players. Hazell played at least half a dozen freshmen against Cincinnati and isn't shy about mixing in those players if they help the team.
"We're gonna play a lot of those young guys that can help us, but we're gonna play a mixture of the vets as well as the freshmen," Hazell said. "Anybody that gives us a chance to be successful, we're gonna put them on the field."
No stickers for Purdue after loss
Purdue didn't give out any helmet stickers this week, but not for a lack of performance.
Hazell said he will not give out stickers if the Boilermakers don't come away with a win. However, several players would have received them if Purdue came away from Cincinnati with a victory, a point Hazell said he would explain to his squad.
"We'll go through all the things this week as to who would have gotten a sticker had we won the football game," he said. "For example, our punt unit would have gotten a sticker, probably would've got two stickers. On defense, (defensive end) Greg Latta would have got a sticker."
Offensively, Hazell said, left tackle Kevin Pamphile and tight end Justin Sinz would have earned stickers. The decisions are made based on performance by position.
"It's a grading out," Hazell said. "There's a certain percentage that you must meet. Each guy has a criteria that he must meet positionally."
'Muddle huddle' another wrinkle in Boilermakers' game plan
On its lone touchdown Saturday, Purdue brought out its extra point unit in a scheme usually called a swinging gate formation. All of the players except the snapper, holder and kicker start off far to the left, leaving the three players in their normal spots with no protection.
For the Boilermakers, Hazell said, it's called a muddle huddle. Offensive line coach Jim Bridge made the suggestion that Purdue use it.
"If they're not sound, they're not covering our kicker, our holder and our snapper, we've got a call," Hazell said. "If they don't have an overload to our line, we have a call and if they line up properly, we'll go back and kick it."
The formation seeks to isolate tight end Gabe Holmes first, Hazell said. If the opposition doesn't line up properly, it could be an easy two point conversion for the Boilermakers in the future.