With the full gear having come out and the first two-a-day practices in the books, the most interesting work of training camp has begun for Purdue.
Following Thursday evening's practice, Coach Danny Hope gave his assessment of Wednesday's practice - the first full-contact, full-gear session - and Thursday's two sessions.
The Boilermakers' young offense has fared well in scrimmages thus far, Hope said.
Wednesday, the offense won a "first-down scrimmage" 19-18.
Thursday morning, Purdue had "the best practice we've had probably since I've been here," Hope said. The fairly brief morning session, a cool-down of sorts between full-contact practices, was conducted in shells (i.e. just shoulder pads with limited contact).
Then, the Thursday afternoon practice was a "long, hot, salty one," Hope said, capped by another scrimmage.
"The offense got the better of the defense," Hope said, "they really got after them and scored a lot of points and did very well. It was a second-and-seven scrimmage and they did very well. They're doing a great job keeping the defense off balance right now. We've got some guys injured on the defensive side. They're not bad injuries, but they're a little bit thin and they ran out of gas."
Hope did not specify which defensive players were kept out of practice, but subsequent comments suggested the secondary was short-handed.
"They're all little things, precautionary things," Hope said. "A guy might have a sore hamstring, so rather than having them trying to cover our best receivers, we held them out of the scrimmages.
"They're a little bit thin over there and the offense got the better of them. There's no question about that."
Obviously, with a week of camp not even having passed yet, Hope sees his team as a work in progress still.
"We're not there yet," Hope said. "Obviously, we're inconsistent. From a speed standpoint, we don't play fast all the time. When we're fresh and we feel good and the light's real big at the end of the tunnel, we do very well. But we have to keep pushing ourselves when things are tough. That's what two-a-days are all about."
Purdue will scrimmage again Saturday afternoon.
More from Hope
Elaborating on his comment that the offense is keeping the defense off-balance, Hope credited new offensive coordinator Gary Nord.
"I give a lot of credit to Coach Nord and his play-calling," Hope said. "I think our fans will be excited about his style of play-calling. It's fun to watch."
Hope on redshirt freshman Monroe Brooks' Wednesday move from defensive tackle to offensive tackle.
"He can really help us over there, but he has to learn what to do," Hope said. "He's very talented and he has a lot of want-to. He can be a big-time offensive lineman."
Hope talked again about his seven freshman defensive linemen - some of whom will move to offense - and said Purdue "hit the jackpot" with them.
Hope said freshman wide receiver Gary Bush has begun "catching the ball with a lot more confidence."
"He's going to be a good player for us this year," Hope said, "and the same with Antavian Edison and Keith Carlos. (Carlos) needs to be more consistent, but he's a talent."
Hope spoke highly of sophomore Nickcaro Golding following Thursday's evening practice.
"He's come a long way," Hope said of the defensive end, who played linebacker last season. "He's always had a good motor, but he's a lot more productive than he used to be and he's very positive right now. He has a lot of energy and he's grown up a lot. He's going to be a good football player. He's busted his butt in the special teams part of it."
Jaycen Taylor has done "really well" in practice, Hope said, as the senior running back rebounds from a year on the sideline.
"I'm very, very happy for Jaycen," Hope said. "Obviously he still has a lot of work to do, but, man, he's a good football player. He's running hard, making people miss, catching the ball and doing all the things Jaycen's known for.
"We put the pads on and he got even better. That's a good thing, man, good news for the Boilermaker Nation."
Hope said wide receiver Cortez Smith has been impressive in recent practices.
Freshman wide receiver Eric Williams, one of Purdue's higher-profile signees at the position, has been slowed by a hamstring problem.
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