Hope speeds things up at Purdue's practice
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- There's a simple explanation for the changes new Purdue head coach Danny Hope has brought to training camp.
"More conditioning, more running," wide receiver Keith Smith said.
"You can tell in your legs," added cornerback Brandon King.
Every team in the country spends a lot of time on conditioning this time of year. Purdue experienced it with former coach Joe Tiller, perhaps not to this extent, but it remained a big part of camp.
Where Hope strives to be different is the type of conditioning he has the players do. Running for running's sake doesn't help players if they can't see how it applies to game situations. So before putting his team through hell, Hope explains his reasoning and creates simulations that mirror what takes place on Saturdays.
Consider this sequence from one of Wednesday's two workouts.
"We had a contact drill, a one-on-one, fire on out of there, knock 'em-out-of-there drill, then stopped and ran them in 10 or 12 short sprints, where they had to get off the ground first and sprint 20 yards across the line," Hope said. "It simulates a drive in football. And then we put the ball down, put our [first-team] offense and [first-team] defense out there, and scrimmaged live with the coaches grading the film, trying to find some excellence while [players] were still blowing hard.
"They understood why we were doing what we were doing. That's a lot different than just running long and hard after every practice."
King can see the difference, especially after a season where Purdue struggled at times down the stretch. No game shaped the Boilers' disappointing season more than a 32-26 overtime loss to No. 16 Oregon in Week 2.
Purdue dominated most of the game and led 20-6 at halftime before allowing the Ducks to rally with big plays.
"The Oregon game, if I had been in the shape I'm in now, I would have had a much better game," King said. "We all would have. We didn't finish. That's definitely another thing [Hope] emphasizes -- finishing."
Hope's primary objective in camp is to increase the tempo with every drill. So far, his plan seems to be working.
"You can go into survival mode in camp, where you're not practicing fast," Hope said. "We all do that in our professions, where sometimes you're working hard but you're not as focused as you need to be. By looking at the practice schedule every day and changing it around, that helps with focus.
"I'm really big on the speed of things in practice, trying to get it up as fast as we can so you're not caught off guard on game day."