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Thursday, August 20, 2009
Purdue players know where they stand with Hope

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Danny Hope doesn't let his Purdue players wonder about their chances to see the field this fall.

The first-year head coach spells it out for them as clearly as possible.

Each time the Boilermakers walk to the practice field, a depth chart is there to greet them. It isn't one of those post-spring or pre-camp deals that doesn't change until the week before the season opener.

Hope's depth chart gets a new draft almost every day.

"The next morning, it will change if [the coaches] feel somebody needs to be moved up or move down," wide receiver Keith Smith said. "It helps them battle and compete for a position."

Smith proudly says he hasn't moved off of the top line. Quarterback Joey Elliott hasn't checked the depth chart once, choosing to let things play out, though he doesn't have anything to worry about.

Yet as Purdue tries to build depth after losing 11 starters, seven on offense, the constant reminders of progress or regression have a positive effect.

"There's a lot of question marks with our team right now in the media, in the community and among ourselves," Elliott said. "We're wondering who's going to be at what spot, but coach Hope's big on posting the depth chart. ... After one big run, [the coaches] could change the tailback starter like that if they wanted to. That's going to make the other guys step up their knowledge of the game and their intensity from running the football. It is a unique situation."

Though the ever-changing depth chart intensifies competition, Elliott sees a positive effect on morale because players are forced to bring their best to every practice. Players can see their ups and downs and ask the coaches what they must do to improve.

There are also a lot fewer questions overall.

"The more you let somebody know where they're at, they know what they have to do," linebacker Jason Werner said. "Everybody's coming out, playing as hard as they can every day, but when you see that somebody's passed you on the depth or you're moving up, you know that's a position you need to work for.

"You work so hard because you want to know where you stand."