Aug. 2, 2010
COACH HOPE: Good afternoon. Thank God it's finally football season. The summer flew by. Probably the fastest summer that I've ever been a part of.
But we had almost 90 players on campus. So we got a lot done. Had some leaders emerge throughout the course of the summer, and it was really important. And had a lot of guys on the football team that were committed to leading by example.
We're excited about the upcoming season and very optimistic that we'll have a good team, that we'll have a chance to win on Saturdays. Have a lot of good players coming back, a lot of guys that can play winning football and a lot of guys on our football team that could be top players at their position in our league.
Obviously we open up with Notre Dame, and that's exciting. It created a great sense of urgency for our football team's preparation throughout the course of the summer. I think it's really expedited or advanced our development as a football team.
We ended the season last year with some momentum, excited about it, anticipating carrying that momentum into the 2010 season.
We've done very well in school. Closing in on our goal of a 3.0. Almost a 2.9 grade point average. Proud of our football team. Brought three players with us, three outstanding players. We brought our quarterback Robert Marve; our defensive end Ryan Kerrigan; and the Big Ten's leading receiver, Keith Smith.
I'll end with that and open it up for any questions you might have.
Q. What do you expect out of Ryan Kerrigan this year in a leadership role?
COACH HOPE: Well, Ryan does a great job, has always done a great job of leading by example. He's an extremely hard worker. He shows up and gives you his best every day. He does exceptionally well in the classroom. And his play speaks for itself on Saturdays.
This year, you know, he stepped up even more and being a vocal leader as well. He's a smart guy. He knows what's going on. We expect Ryan to continue leading by example on the practice fields and on the playing fields on Saturday, to even step up his role from the vocal standpoint as well.
Q. The slow start to last season, I know you guys were close in a lot of those games. Are there any areas that you focus on even more in preseason to make sure that doesn't happen again?
COACH HOPE: Obviously ball security. It was a nemesis to our football team particularly early in the season. If we had done a better job of taking care of the football from a ball security standpoint, we probably would have been one of the great success stories in college football.
It was a huge emphasis for our football team in the spring, ball security and ball disruption. I don't think that we tackled well early in the fall last year. The early games, we tackled poorly. And we certainly need to do a better job emphasizing the tackling in the two a day practices preparing for the season coming up.
So ball security on the offensive side. Ball disruption on the defensive side, and we need to tackle better, for sure.
Q. Marve's been getting a lot of publicity, hype before the season. What excites you about the possibility that he has as the quarterback at Purdue?
COACH HOPE: Everything about Robert Marve excites me. He's a great player. He's certainly one of the great quarterback prospects coming out of the country a couple of years ago.
He's, I think, the most talented quarterback I've been around from a total package. He's got outstanding arm strength. He has great arm strength. Very accurate. Has a lot of velocity on the ball. He's a great athlete.
He runs very fast, runs between a 4.5 and 4.6. He has the ability to beat you with his arm or beat you with his legs. He can make plays outside the system. If things break down around him, he can take off, get outside the pocket and make a big play.
Probably the thing that excites me most about Robert himself is his passion of the game. He loves to play football and he loves his teammates, and that's really important.
He's got excellent leadership ability. When he came to Purdue, it was as a transfer from Miami, and a lot of things written about him, a lot of controversy, if you will. He's done a great job fitting in. The team has embraced him. His teammates love him. Exceptional player and exceptional athlete and great teammate.
We like everything about Robert Marve, and we certainly think he has the potential and talent for us to win on Saturdays with.
Q. Can you talk about Ralph Bolden, give us an update on how he's doing? And then also (Al-Terek) McBurse, if he needs to step in as running back, and just your position there?
COACH HOPE: Ralph, we'll have to wait and see how it goes. But he's progressed well. It's a funny thing, because after he had the injury, the same day I never really saw him limp. Then he had the ACL surgery. And then after the surgery I never saw him limp.
I think he's going to be a fast healer. There's a possibility we can get him back this year. Only time will tell. We'll only know as we get out there to camp and as if season progresses whether or not he'll have a chance to help us this year.
Obviously some other guys have to step up. We do have some other talented running backs. Al Terek McBurse, who played a little bit last year as a true freshman. He was a young man from the Orlando area down in Florida, one of the leading running backs in the country. I think he rushed for 2,400 yards his season year. Had a ton of offers, was ranked very high by all the recruiting experts.
He's fast. He has good speed, probably can run 4.5. A little over 200 pounds. A great receiver out of the back field. He can make you miss. He's an excellent ball carrier. So we like Al Terek McBurse. We think we can win with him. He's a talented player.
We had a young guy a year ago that we signed from a junior college, a kid by the name of Keith Carlos. Great numbers. Over 200 pounds. About six foot, six foot half inch, that we were excited about at the receiver position. And he did some good things for us last year as a receiver. But his natural position is running back. He was a running back in high school.
He was a running back the majority of his career at the junior college. So we moved Keith Carlos into the receiver position, also to the running back position after Ralph got hurt. And we're excited about him. He's six foot and some change and 200 pounds. He (was a) sprinter in high school. So we have too big, fast tailbacks we can put back there. Both of those guys you love to see them with the ball in their hands.
We're optimistic that we'll get Ralph back at some point in time maybe this season. If not, he has a redshirt year available. He can play for us for two more years, if he were redshirted this year.
But we have Al Terek McBurse and Keith Carlos, big, fast halfbacks. And a guy you don't hear a whole lot, one of the great players here in Chicagoland four years ago, was Dan Dierking, not quite as big as some of the other backs. But he's probably the most complete football player we have in the back field, and one of the more complete football players we have on our football team.
He's good carrying the ball. He catches the ball well. He's one of our most reliable blockers in the back field. So we still have some good players in the back field that we feel we can win, with Dan Dierking, Al Terek McBurse and Keith Carlos and some other guys as well.
Q. What is Justin Siller's status? Is he back in school, and if he's going to be on the team this year, what role do you see for him?
COACH HOPE: Yes, he's back in school. He's eligible. He's on the team. We're excited about having him back. We love Justin Siller. He's a great teammate. He's a fine person. Outstanding student. Obviously we missed his services last year.
Justin has good size. He's probably 6-4, 220 pounds. Right now he's listed on the depth chart as a wide receiver, but he can show up anywhere on the offensive side as a skill player.
He can play behind the center at the cornerback spot. Play in the back field as a running back. He can play at either one of the receiver positions. He's very smart. We can move him around at different spots on the field and him being aware of his assignments.
He's one of the better athletes on our football team, exceptionally athletic for his size. Has really good speed to be at 6-4 and 220 pounds. Hard to tackle. He can make you miss.
He's heck of a football player, heck of a guy. Huge shot in the arm for our football team to be getting Justin Siller back this year. Justin Siller could be a difference maker for our football team when it's all said and done, and I expect him to impact a lot of football games this year. He's really a good player.
Q. You guys knocked off Ohio State last year. Went on to win an outright championship. Just how close do you see the upper echelon at the top of this league going into this year? As (MSU coach Mark) Dantonio said, it's basically a couple of plays here and couple of plays there. How do you assess it?
COACH HOPE: I think it's that way in all of college football. I think there's certainly parity in all of college football. I think our league is the same. If you play hard, never give up, and take care of the football, you have a chance to win on any given Saturday.
I think our football team proved that last year. We weren't predicted to do so well last year. We were behind in a lot of areas, but the games we took care of the football we did well. We played hard and never gave up and found some big games to win.
So I think the upper echelon of the league, I think it's close. But I think it boils down to Saturdays, taking care of the football. The team that wins the turnover margin and plays hard is the team that probably has the best chance to win it in any league, anywhere, at any level.
Q. Sort of piggybacking off that. Did that game have any impact on the recruiting trail? Was that something you could point out to kids, say this is where the program's going to be; this is what we're building here?
COACH HOPE: Obviously a big win against Ohio State and a big win up at Michigan, we were fortunate to beat Illinois, which is our arch rival right next door in Indiana.
We had a strong finish. Created some momentum for our football team that will carry over to the 2010 season. But it's certainly got the attention of a lot of recruits.
The Ohio State game was a big game. We had a lot of recruits in for that game. To see us play well and win and see the fans charge out on the field, it was huge in the recruiting process. Those guys got a great feel.
I think it's an indication not only to the recruits but to all of the football world the direction of the program and the potential that we have at Purdue.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much for your time.