Coach Danny Hope and players Joey Elliott, Torri Williams and Jaycen Taylor spoke at Purdue's weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon as the Boilermakers come off their win at Michigan to face Michigan State on Senior Day in Ross-Ade Stadium.
Torri Williams' name might be the answer to an obscure piece of Purdue football trivia one day.
Saturday, the sixth-year senior safety will go through his second Senior Day at Purdue, believed to be the first player in Boilermaker history to do so.
"I went out and hugged Coach (Joe) Tiller, gave my mom the rose and everything," Williams said.
He'll do it all again prior to this weekend's Michigan State game, only with Hope standing where Tiller was just under 12 months ago.
After playing out last season as a fifth-year senior who'd lost almost two full seasons to severe injuries, Williams applied to the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility, which was granted, allowing him this unprecedented - at least at Purdue - opportunity.
"My mom's happy," Williams joked, "because she gets two Senior Day jerseys."
It's there when he needs it
After following up his worst game of the season with his best, by far, Elliott talked Tuesday about a constant piece of motivation for him in recent weeks: the end of the Northwestern loss, at which time Purdue had a fourth-and-five snap from the Wildcat 5 to win the game in the final seconds. Elliott rolled out, but missed an open Aaron Valentin in the end zone.
"Any time I need motivation," said Elliott, who was 28-of-39 passes for 367 yards and two scores while running for another at Michigan, "I flip on the end of that game."
True to his modest, often self-deprecating nature, Elliott, when introduced Tuesday as the Big Ten Offensive Player-of-the-Week, looked over both shoulders and joked, "Where?"
Taylor's big play
Taylor had a hand in sealing the win at Michigan by recovering the Wolverines' on-side kick in the final minutes.
The kick was "targeted" at Taylor, Hope said, and was a play Purdue had practiced coming into the game.
But it was eventful. The ball initially hit Taylor, who then had to reach out to reclaim it.
"We'd practiced how they would do their on-side kick," Taylor said, "and they didn't do anything like the way they were supposed to kick the ball. So the ball is rolling toward me and in my mind I'm saying, 'What do I do? We didn't practice this.'
"At the last moment, I said, 'OK, jump on it,' so I jumped on it, but then when I hit it, I said, 'OK, I just lost the game for us.' But then I grabbed it again and when I grabbed it, I said, 'Oh, thank you, Lord.' My teammates came and jumped on me and said, 'You've got it!' and I said, 'Do I? You sure I've got it?' ... I just got up and handed it to the ref, because I didn't want any ifs, ands or buts about it."
Adams likely returning
After missing the past five games with a knee injury sustained against Northwestern, Royce Adams might return to the field in time for Senior Day, Hope said Tuesday.
"He's not done a lot full-speed (in practice) but he's done more things closer to full speed and looks like he's going to be OK," Hope said. "We could have him available for receiver play and special teams play. The special teams play is probably the most important (phase of the game) he could help us with right now. Speed on special teams could help us."
Adams made the trip to Michigan and dressed, but did not play. He might against the Spartans, with Hope particularly eager to get him out there in the kicking game. He'll be evaluated this week both in coverage and as a return man, Hope said.
It's also of benefit to have Adams back in the mix at wide receiver now that starter Keith Carlos is expected to miss at least one more game with an apparent ankle injury, Hope said. Carlos is not listed on Purdue's public depth chart this week.
Classmate Cortez Smith filled in as the starter at Michigan and is listed as such heading into Michigan State.
"I was really pleased with what Cortez Smith got done the other day," Hope said of Smith, who caught a 54-yard touchdown. "That was a big lift for our team and our season for him to step up and play like he played. We knew he was capable of doing that."
Adams, in his first year at receiver after spending his first three at cornerback, has played offense, defense and special teams this season and before getting hurt was listed on the two-deeps in all three phases of the game.
Filing in at tackle
As with Carlos, Purdue appears likely to be without second-team defensive tackle Nick Mondek, who was injured at Michigan and propped up on crutches on the sideline in the second half. Mondek, who's seen starter-like playing time off the bench, is not listed on Purdue's public depth chart.
Or it could mean second-teamer Adam Brockman, a sophomore converted defensive end who transferred in from Eastern Michigan last year, could get a chance, as he briefly did in Ann Arbor. Brockman has been a member of the Boilermakers' punt team all year.
It could also mean Purdue toys around with its personnel to mask the vacancy. Earlier in the season, star defensive end Ryan Kerrigan saw some snaps inside in obvious pass-rushing situations.
Hope said Purdue has the option of mixing up its fronts, maybe even showing a 3-4.
But the coach is not averse to moving Kerrigan, the Big Ten's leader with 11 sacks, to other spots on the field.
"Ryan is a special player and I would like to be able to move him around some more anyway," Hope said, "so this might provide some opportunity just like you do a great receiver at times, when you get the ball to him, move him around and maybe he can help manufacture some plays. So I am not opposed to some of the ideas that we've had."
Redshirt freshman LaSalle Cooks is listed as a backup on Purdue's public depth chart, but he has not set foot on the field this season.
Hope mentioned the possibility of pulling a rookie out of redshirt - Kevin Pamphile was listed in the two-deeps to start the season, but never played - but with only two regular season games left to play, the likelihood of that happening remains to be seen.
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