Big Ten Conference Football Media Days

Monday July 25, 2016

Darrell Hazell


THE MODERATOR: Next up is Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell.

COACH HAZELL: Good afternoon, it's great to be here. And first let me extend my condolences to Nebraska and Michigan State for their tragic losses. It's a sad day for those families there.

In terms of Purdue University it's been three and a half years in the making for us to get to this point. We're at a great place right now.

I used to drive up I-65 northbound side used to be a billboard that sat on the side of the road and the first year I saw it I said: It's okay. The second and third year I said: You know what, it's starting to bother me a little bit.

And the sign said the train is coming. And the back of my mind I said at some point in time the train has to get here. It has to arrive. That sign's no longer there.

I think you're going to like what steps off the train this year. Those three guys that we brought here with us to Chicago are great representation of what we have in our locker rooms. Ja'Whaun Bentley, Jake Replogle and DeAngelo Yancey won't just be the best players in the Big Ten but best players in the country we're looking forward to those guys.

They represent who we are the hard work and the sweat it's taken to get to this point. We're excited about this season.

We open up camp August the 3rd and then we open up our season against Eastern Kentucky on September the 3rd. And we're excited about the football team that's in our locker room.


Q. Could you talk a little bit about what you need to see from the offensive line and what has to happen in order for you to have that kind of success?
COACH HAZELL: Absolutely. I think that's where it starts on the offensive side is those guys playing in unison. In the springtime we only had nine bodies in that room. Right now we have 19.

So we're going to have to have to create some depth with those younger guys. You've got two experienced guards that played a lot of football for us. That's the one thing about our football team: We've had to play a lot of young players. Those guys have a lot of experience. We have a brand new center. We think he's a pretty talented guy. Very explosive, very strong and very intelligent.

And then our tackle, our left tackle, Martesse Patterson, is a phenomenal player, great feet, 337 pounds. We've got to figure out that right tackle spot. We have a couple of candidates we like. But those guys have to play in unison. That's the big question and big goal for those guys to play. Protect the quarterback is the number one thing. We've got to make sure our quarterback can throw the football because they're more than capable of being successful if they have time.

Q. When will you announce David Blough as your starting quarterback?
COACH HAZELL: That's a loaded question. We'll go through the first weeks of camp. Dave's obviously got an edge coming out of spring football. Both of those guys, David and Elijah, are more than capable of winning a lot of football games.

What I've like about those guys is they've slowed the game down, they've shown tremendous leadership, they're throwing it with accuracy and playing with some confidence. It will be a few weeks before we make that decision.

Q. As you look back on it now how deplete was the roster from the standpoint of, I don't know, viable Division I-A players when you took the job at Purdue and do you feel that you're there now, is that what you are talking about about stepping off the train?
COACH HAZELL: I'm not going to comment where the roster was at that point in time. I'll just say this. We've been able to get to this position by doing a good job of recruiting good players.

We played a lot of young guys that are ready to play. You take a look at Jake Replogle. He's 6'5", 290 pounds. We played him as a true freshman at 6'4 1/2" and 242 pounds. That's not fair to him. That's not fair to the program, but that's something we had to do.

He's a good player. He'll play at any place. So we're excited to have him ready to go.

Q. Given what the last few years have been and given the morale of your base, what can you point to specifically to give them more hope and uplift for the upcoming season?
COACH HAZELL: I'll tell you the most important people where the morale counts is in the locker room. Our morale is off the chart. We're ready to go. That will stimulate the morale of the rest of the Boilermaker Nation. That's why we're excited to get this team started.

Q. Jones is coming off a big year. What do you expect from him in his sophomore season?
COACH HAZELL: Markell is one of those young players that we played as a true freshman. Hit the ground running, scored a lot of touchdowns, 12 touchdowns I believe. And the thing I saw the other day, I didn't realize, he caught 34 balls coming out of the backfield, so he's kind of a dual-threat weapon. The thing that you like about him is his maturity. He's a young guy. He's a pilot. He's very cool.

He's a great finisher with the ball in his hands. He's got tremendous balance. He's become a team leader as a sophomore. So he's going to have a big year for us. We need him to have a big year. We've got to make sure as a coaching staff we don't beat him up in preseason camp because he's going to take a lot of shots throughout the course of the season.

So we've got to make sure we're smart and get into the games and he'll perform for us.

Q. What do you need to see from Bentley and how is he health-wise from the knee surgery?
COACH HAZELL: It's great to get Ja'Whaun Bentley back. When we lost Ja'Whaun Bentley last year with the knee, we lost a lot. We lost his productivity on the field. He's a very instinctive player, very physical player, but the biggest thing we probably lost is his leadership. He's a great leader. When he speaks to our football team, coaches sit up in the back of the room. That's how much leadership he has. It's great to have him back and he's 100 percent healthy right now.

Q. You mentioned how much you can depend on Markell this year. But obviously you lost DJ at the end of the spring. Where do things sit as far as finding who else is going to pick up the ball there and with the running game?
COACH HAZELL: We have some young backs in the room. Richard Worship is one of those guys. Tario Fuller is one of those guys. We just brought a guy in named Brian Lankford-Johnson who we timed in the 20. He's got the fastest 20 time on our football team. Only been there two weeks. He's really explosive. A guy that had a lot of numbers coming out of high school.

So one of those guys will step up, maybe two of them will step up and they'll be able to spell Markell when he needs it.

Q. Your second game, Cincinnati, would be a big game as you enter the conference season could you talk about that a little bit?
COACH HAZELL: I think for us to be ready for Cincinnati we've got to open up against Eastern Kentucky that's where our primary concern is. Obviously Cincinnati has done a great job over the years. That's going to be a big contest at our stadium, September is a huge month for the Boilermakers, open up against Cincinnati Kentucky and Nevada and start the Big Ten schedule after that against Maryland. But that's a big month for the Boilermakers.

Q. Losing Anthony Brown and Frankie Williams to the draft, how do you replace them this year?
COACH HAZELL: That's one of our early preseason things that we have to figure out, one of the solutions -- we've got to find out who is going to play on the edge for us. Da'Wan Hunte was one of the corners who really stepped up this springtime. And there's a lot of candidates in-house to figure out who that next guy is going to be on the other side of the field. But they have to step up and do it.

There's a lot of names that are very talented guys that can move and transition and break on the ball. They have to find some confidence early in camp. So we can settle in on one guy. But we did lose two good corners there.

Q. Purdue has been known as the cradle of quarterbacks but production of the position has kind of declined over the past couple of years. What do you attribute that to? Do you feel some of the athletes have come in? Do you feel it's a supporting cast and do you feel optimistic about the quarterback play getting back to that high standard again this year?
COACH HAZELL: There's a combination of things. Multiple things that may go into that. One of the things that we thought was very imperative in this offseason was the simplification. That's one of the things we did. We hired Terry Malone as offensive coordinator.

Our first conversation, even before offering him the job, how will we help the quarterbacks play better at Purdue University. That was the number one goal in the offseason, how do we get more productivity out of that position.

We talked about it extensively, and I think that's where we're going to make marked improvements where we were in the past few years.

They're going to play confident. They're going to know where to go with the football, pre and post-snap and they'll be very accurate with the ball.

Q. When you're in a three-year funk like this, what's the biggest thing that has to change in the program to get the big leap forward that you're looking forward this year?
COACH HAZELL: I guess I don't look at it as a three-year funk, I look at it as a growing process. A lot of times on the outside you can't see the things that are happening throughout the program where you're making progress.

That's the vision that I see. And then you get guys in position to be successful. And that's our whole goal for those first couple of years our goal is obviously to win, but putting people in position so they can succeed. And I know we're in a position right now to go out and win some football games.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rev #2 by #19 at 2016-07-25 18:15:00 GMT

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