PURDUE HEAD COACH
DANNY HOPE Q and A a Big Ten Media Day
DANNY HOPE: Thank goodness that
football season is almost here and we can bring
some sanity to our lives. We're very excited about
the upcoming season. I had the good fortune to be
on board at Purdue for a year under the direction
of Coach Tiller prior to taking over as the head
football coach, and that was a great opportunity for
our team and our program. We were able to come
up with some ideas that I think will enhance the
performance of our football team in 2009.
Our guys are excited. We had a lot of
players on campus this summer. Had about 90
guys on campus for the bulk of the summer, and
they've done a great job and we're excited about
the season getting here season soon. Contrary to
popular opinion of the experts and some of our
peers, I think we can field a very good football
team in 2009.
With that I'll open it up for questions.
Q. Some people have made the
comparison between your upcoming season
and Joe Tiller's first season in '97. Do you see
any comparisons there as far as not much was
expected from either team as far as personnel
or anything like that?
DANNY HOPE: Well, there are a few
comparisons. We have a great home schedule for
2009, and we did as well in 1997. From a
quarterback standpoint, I think there's some
similarities. We had Billy Dicken in 1997, and he's
a guy that had not played a whole lot and people
didn't know a whole lot about Billy Dicken. Same
thing with our quarterback this year in Joey Elliott.
He's a guy that the fans and the experts don't know
a whole lot about. So there are some similarities.
Q. I just wonder what it's been like for
you getting established and recruiting in Big
Ten country? What has it been like out there
on the trail getting to know kids?
DANNY HOPE: Well, recruiting is
recruiting. It's business as usual. I got on board
18, 19 months ago the first year as the associate
coach, and that was a great advantage in a lot of
ways. I had the opportunity to be on the road full
time just like an assistant coach to maximize every
recruiting opportunity, selling myself as their future
head coach, so that was a great opportunity for
myself and for our program.
Recruiting is going very well. One of the
areas of our program that I think we can step up in
some ways is to increase the pool size of
top-of-the-line players that can impact our program
in their first two years at Purdue that we have a
chance to get. We have a great pool of those guys
and feel like we've done very well recruiting last
year, this past February. Really excited about the
young guys coming in. A lot of the guys will come
in and compete to play in 2009.
We have an excellent group of guys we're
recruiting right now, and I think we're doing very
Q. It's never easy following a very
popular or successful coach in any sport. How
difficult will it be for you to follow in the
footsteps of Joe Tiller when you look at what
he meant to the game itself, personality-wise,
success-wise? How difficult is that going to be
DANNY HOPE: Well, you've got to be
your own man or else you'll never have the players
believe 100 percent in what you're doing. But this
is not the first time that I've been through a
situation like this. My first head coaching job was
at the University of Eastern Kentucky. That's my
alma mater. Right now, Eastern Kentucky has the
longest non-losing streak in all of Division I football.
They haven't had losing season in almost 40
years. I followed a legendary coach in Roy Kidd,
who's already been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. So it's similar ground in a
lot of ways.
I really love Joe Tiller. I worked for him
three times: One time at Wyoming and two times
at Purdue. I have a lot of respect for Coach Tiller.
A lot of the things we're going to do at Purdue in
the future will be done the Purdue way, or Joe
Tiller way, and then obviously we have some of our
But I don't see any problem with following
a great coach like Joe Tiller. We have our own
plan, and again, you have to be your own man.
Q. Can you talk about replacing the
very productive quarterback when he's kind of
an unknown player? What do you tell him?
How do you get him ready? And why do you
feel he's ready to be successful?
DANNY HOPE: He's been ready. He was
ready last year, and I was fortunate to be on board
last year for the 2008 season. I had a lot of
opportunity to watch Joey Elliott practice last year,
and I thought he was a heck of a quarterback and
ready to go last year. Before he got injured he
played very well.
We're outside of our comfort zone, if you
will, in some ways at Purdue. We're used to
having a guy that's thrown for 10 to 12 thousand
yards and is up for every award that a quarterback
can be up for. That's not the case in 2009. But I'm
a big Joey Elliott fan.
Looking back on last season, I thought he
was a heck of quarterback, and he competed with
our No. 1 quarterback, Curtis Painter, for his job.
He legitimately competed with Curtis, and Curtis
was a record-setting quarterback at Purdue and a
draft pick by the Indianapolis Colts.
I'm a lot more comfortable with the
quarterback scenario with Joey Elliott than most
people would realize.
Q. I was wondering, despite the results
of last season as a whole you had a very good
game against Indiana University. What do you
expect from that rivalry this year, and how do
you see it playing out?
DANNY HOPE: It's a great rivalry. It's one
of the great rivalries in college football. I had a lot
of fun with that rivalry when I was here last time
coaching at Purdue. I don't expect it to change a
whole lot. Look forward to playing them again this
year. It'll be an exciting game. It always is.
Last year we played our very best football
at the beginning of the season and then towards
the end of the season. We had a lot of guys that
were injured and did not have the availability of
their services through the bulk of the season, but
we were probably the healthiest at the end of the
season. I think that was indicated in our game
But it was an exciting game, and can't wait
to play them again in 2009. Always look forward to
Q. Obviously over the years a lot was
made about Coach Tiller's offense and the
basketball on grass and what that did for the
Big Ten. How similar or how different do you
expect things to be with you in charge of the
offense that you guys are going to try to run
DANNY HOPE: There will be a lot of
similarities. We had great success with the spread
offense the first go around, and when I went to
Eastern Kentucky University as the head football
coach, we took the Joe Tiller or the Purdue offense
down to Eastern Kentucky University. They had
been a dive option football team for about 39
We had great success down there with the
spread offense. We'll be in the shotgun and we'll
spread the field with multiple formations and throw
the ball quite a bit.
One of the things that I had the opportunity
to do the last couple years that I was at Eastern
Kentucky as the head football coach was really to
research more of the shotgun run game. I think
that can be a real shot in the arm for our program
in 2009 if we can have a formal running attack
along with the great passing attack that we've had
in the past at Purdue.
Q. Can you talk about how possibly the
defense is going to have to be kind of the
leaders at the beginning of the season until you
think maybe the offense can gel out?
DANNY HOPE: Well, I don't think that any
one phase of our football team is going to have to
carry the rest of us. Our offense did very well in
the spring and competed very well against our
defense. We have a very good defense coming
back in 2009. Don't misunderstand what I'm
saying. But our offense did very well in the spring.
Throughout the bulk of the scrimmages
when it was all said and done, the offense had won
more of the scrimmages than the defense. I don't anticipate the defense having to carry the offense
or the special teams in 2009.
We have eight starters back on defense. I
really like our defensive line. I think we have the
defensive line that has the potential to disrupt an
offensive front. We have our starters back in the
secondary. We have some starters back at the
linebacker position that last year was their first time
playing college football and getting in the game.
So we're excited about our defense, but
our offense has great potential as well as our
special teams. I don't anticipate our defense
having to carry the rest of our football team at the
first part of the season.
Q. You may have kind of already
addressed this, but Joey is pretty much your
guy going forward. Do you anticipate
competition at quarterback? And also, talk
about the competition at other positions on
offense? I know at wide receiver you lose a
little bit, and then you had a lot of wide
receivers do stuff in the spring.
DANNY HOPE: There is a lot of
competition on the offensive side of the ball.
There's a lot of competition on our entire football
team. I think that's really important.
We ended the spring with the Joey Elliott
as the No. 1 quarterback, and I'm comfortable with
that. But he does have some competition from the
redshirt freshman, Caleb TurBush. Caleb is a heck
of a quarterback prospect. He had come to Coach
Tiller's quarterback camp, and Coach Tiller did a
great job of equal evaluating quarterbacks, and he
did a great job evaluating Caleb TerBush. He's
about 6-5 or 6-6, about 230 pounds and is an
excellent passer and a very good runner. He's a
guy that has some confidence.
I don't anticipate him sitting back and
waiting his turn. I think he'll compete. I'd be
surprised and disappointed if he didn't step it up
and try to compete for playing time this year. We'll
go into the season wanting to play more than one
quarterback, so you can anticipate seeing both
quarterbacks, Joey Elliott and Caleb TerBush if
they are still one and two when the season opens
But there is a lot of competition at the
offensive side of the ball, particularly at the running
back spot. Last year we lost the services of our
top running back, Jaycen Taylor, who's a heck of a
football player. Missed all of last season. Missed
all of the spring. So we're excited about getting
him back, but he has some competition.
Ralph Bolden did a great job in the spring.
He played sparingly last year. We had to take the
redshirt off of him. He's a guy that 10.5 hundred
meters. He's fast. He's physical.
We have a big running back named Frank
Halliburton that's played just a little bit of fullback
for us. He's trimmed down a little bit. He's doing a
great job of finishing his runs, and that's very
important when you're a 250-pound running back.
Dan Dierking from right here in
Chicagoland is a very complete player. We also
have the availability of the services of a really fine
fresh running back, Al-Terek McBurse who is on of
the top rated running backs in the country.
Rushed for 2,300 yards his senior year in high
school. He was dealing with some clearinghouse
issues in the spring and wasn't able to go through
the spring practices, but he's eligible and ready to
go. He's a heck of a player and a heck of a
So there will be a lot of competition at the
running back spot. There will be some competition
at the quarterback spot. Offensive line-wise we
have several players that played and played a lot
last year, and towards the end of the year they
were getting better and playing well. So I
anticipate some competition at the offensive line
positions, as well.
Probably the biggest question mark on our
football team is what will shake down at the wide
receiver spot. We only have two receivers coming
back for the 2009 season that played any at all last
year in 2008 with Aaron Valentin and Keith Smith.
They're both big receivers and good receivers.
We moved Royce Adams from corner. He
was our third corner back, and he's a fast guy.
He's a physical player. We moved him from corner
to receiver to give us a boost at the wide receiver
spot. So those are three senior or older veteran
players that we anticipate being on the field.
We signed a junior college transfer, Keith
Carlos, who was a great player in high school,
great player in the junior college ranks. He's well
over 200 pounds. Then we have three or four high
school receivers that are exceptional athletes that
we signed from the state of Florida who we
anticipate all competing for playing time in 2009.
So there will be a lot of competition for
playing time on the offensive side of the ball at
almost every position on the field.
Q. You told my coworker earlier about the big rivalry between Purdue and IU, and I
kind of wanted to lighten it up. I know there's a
lot of jokes that go around between IU and
Purdue, and I was just wondering what your
favorite joke is about the Purdue and IU rivalry.
DANNY HOPE: I'm not foolish enough to
say that today. (Laughter)
Q. Do you guys somewhat cherish the
role of being an underdog? And how confident
are you that your team can surprise this
DANNY HOPE: I'm very confident in what
we can get done in 2009 just based on the efforts
of our staff and our football team. Our guys are
excited. We've made a lot of progress as a football
And don't misunderstand me, we still have
a lot of work to do, but we anticipate having a
special season in 2009. A lot of people say, what
do you mean by that? Well, we didn't have a
winning season in 2008, so a winning season in
2009 would be one way to start off having a
special season in 2009.
Postseason play would be a great sign of
progress for us in 2009, and then the level of that
postseason play would indicate the amount of
success that we're having.
I'm confident in the guys just based on
their efforts and their attitudes. There are some
talented players at Purdue in spite of the
Preseason All-Big Ten selections. We have some
good football players at Purdue, and we have
some guys on our football team that can be the top
players in their position in our league if they play to
their very best, and tons of players on our football
team that can play winning football.
We're going to have to stay healthy, hit
hard, minimize our mistakes, and keep swinging
for 60 minutes and we'll have a very good season
Q. Now that Michael Neal is healthy,
will this be the year that he becomes the beast
everybody thought he would be on the
defensive side of the ball?
DANNY HOPE: I sure hope so, and he
was in the spring. I was an offensive line coach at
the Division I level for 20 something years, so I
spent the majority of my time looking at the big
butts of the offensive linemen in front of me and
the guys they were lined up against, and I think
Michael Neal can be a great player, not only at his
position, but in this league.
I think he'll be a premier defensive tackle if
he stays healthy and plays up to his potential,
maybe the best defensive tackle that's played at
Purdue since Jeff Zgonina a few years back. He
was from right here in Chicagoland. He's an
exceptional player. He's 6'3", about 305 pounds
and he benches well over 500 pounds. He's got a
good motor and he's usually in a bad mood, and
that's usually a good sign for the defensive tackle.
He was dominant in the spring, and he has a
chance to be dominant in 2009, no question about