1. Is it harder to win on the road in the Big Ten than in the past and if so why?
Joe doesn't know. Obviously, they've been beaten on the road a lot recently, but they played some good teams. Whether it was Penn State not being good enough or being beaten by a better team, Joe doesn't think about it. If you're good and you're prepared and you have your head on straight, you will win. If not, you won't.
2. How is Jordan Norwood's hamstring?
Joe thinks he'll be ok, but don't hold him to that. They just worked in shells yesterday and didn't work that hard because it was such a physical football game on Saturday. Hopefully, there are some people who can do things, maybe not as well as Jordan, but they'll play the same way with or without Jordan.
3. Are you surprised at how well Evan Royster is running?
Joe is a little surprised, but you have to give Evan and the offensive line credit. Also, the defense has to be careful because Daryll Clark can run as well. Joe always thought Evan was a good back. He's very bright, a very coachable kid. He's obviously a great athlete. He was the top lacrosse player in Virginia in high school. He comes from an athletic family. His brother played football at Stanford.
Evan probably has done a little better than Joe thought he would but it only took a couple of games last year for Joe to see that Royster was going to become a great tailback.
4. When you see that Purdue's run defense has struggled, do you alter your game plan to emphasize the run?
Joe is not looking at it that way. They have to go in there with a balanced attack because Purdue might decide to put 8 men in the box to take away the run and you need to be able to adjust to those things. Penn State will do what they always try to do and that's have a balanced mix of run and pass plays in the game plan.
5. Were you pleased with AJ Wallace's play on Saturday?
He did all right. Joe doesn't know that he did anything particularly outstanding, but he was good. They needed to get Wallace some more work so that's why they took out Lydell Sargeant. Joe doesn't know if Wallace is better than Sargeant, but both will play.
6. How has your offensive line done as a whole so far?
They're doing well. They've performed well as a unit. They're not the biggest line, but they come off the ball well and know what they're doing. Dick Anderson and Bill Kenney do a great job of preparing the kids to play. Joe would have to say the line has done a good job.
7. Evaluate the play of Josh Hull and Tyrell Sales and how far ahead of young players like Nate Stupar and Mike Mauti they are.
Both Hull and Sales have played well. Sales comes out when they go into the nickel package. Bowman has played very well also. How much they are ahead of Stupar and the other younger kids? Not much athletically, but in experience, they are well ahead. Those young kids are getting better each week though. Gbadyu is in the same boat. They have to play and see things in order to gain that experience.
8. Is it harder now to not blur the line between being serious and having fun with the team at the same time?
You have to be yourself and do what you have to do. If works, great. There come times on the practice field or even in games where you feel like you should horse around because it seems appropriate for the moment. Joe doesn't have any premeditated ideas about that. These kids are mature enough and have enough respect for the coaching staff that you can horse around with them and they can handle it.
9. How far has Mark Rubin come at safety?
That was the best game Joe has seen him play. Mark has gotten a lot more aggressive in making plays. That comes with being comfortable out there. Rubin's at that stage where he's comfortable out there and can let it all hang out.
10. Is there an advantage to playing earlier or later in the day on the road?
Joe only thinks about things that he can control. You try to evaluate the football team you're going to play. You try to put together a travel schedule that will let the players be able to play as well as they can. Sure you'd like to have it where every game starts at the same time and you get into a routine, but that's not how it works now. There are plusses to having games start at later times. The crowd seems to be more into it in those games.
11. Is Josh Gaines underappreciated as a player and a leader?
That's a good point. He has not gotten the credit he deserves. He plays defensive end and defensive tackle. They only played three ends last week and when they needed a tackle, they moved Gaines inside. He does a heck of a job. He's quiet, sure and very confident. His attitude rubs off on others. He doesn't get as much credit as some of the outside kids who can freelance more.
12. Do you agree that there's a noticeable difference in leadership and confidence from last year?
The team went to bowl games and won the last two years. They've had three good football teams in a row. The last two years they have won bowl games against tough opponents. If the kids feel that way, that's good because this is their team, but Joe doesn't like to get into that stuff.
13. What kind of impact have the captains had?
You need to talk to the players. The captains have been solid. Gaines is one of the stronger leaders on the team. There's good leadership overall on this team.
14. What will you miss about coaching against Joe Tiller?
Joe is a heck of a coach and has gotten as much out of his squad as anyone over the last 15 years. He and his wife are good friends with Joe and Sue. Competing against him is not something you particularly enjoy because he's such a tough competitor. Joe will miss being around him.
15. Do you think that the criticism of Josh Hull's play is fair?
No, the criticism is not fair. He's a good football player. Joe didn't even know Hull was being criticized.
16. How do you handle the hoopla with the team?
You just get the players to focus on Purdue. If you don't look at what's right in front of you, then none of the really good things that could happen down the road will happen. All you have to do is point to the teams that were supposedly invincible that lost recently. Joe thinks his players have their heads on pretty well.
17. What can be done to accelerate the healing process for Jordan Norwood?
They have the best medical staff in the country. He gets treatment every day and it just has to heal up. He might be ready to go today, it might be tomorrow, but they won't push Jordan because that's not fair to him or the team. They have a lot of games left.
18. How is Mickey Shuler's health?
Mickey should be fine for Saturday.
19. What kind of problems does Purdue's quick passing game present?
Everyone uses the quick passing game. It just depends on how well you run it. The problem with 5-yard passes is making sure you tackle the receiver so that a short pass doesn't turn into a long gain.
20. What has been done to address the fumbling problem?
They talk about it all the time and have ball-carrying drills every day. They're aware of the problem. Green fumbled on Saturday. He's a redshirt freshman and they talked to him about getting a little careless with the ball. You're still going to have fumbles even with the drills.
Sometimes you have to give the other guy credit. Illinois has done a good job the last two years causing fumbles and they stressed that to the kids last week. Sometimes, you're fighting for an extra yard and the ball gets exposed.
21. What has Graham Zug done to earn extra playing time?
He's earned it with the way he's practiced and played. He's a good wideout. He doesn't have the speed of the kids he's behind but he's earned the right to play.
22. How's your leg?
It's not great, but Joe should be ok. There's a difference between being hurt and being injured. If you're injured, you can't play. If you're hurt, you can. Joe is hurt.
23. What is your opinion of John Thomas and Jeremy Scott's strength and conditioning work with the players ?
Joe tries not to interfere too much with what they are doing. Sometimes, he comes down to the weight room and horses around with the players, but those guys are very capable people and do a great job of getting the players to maximize their physical abilities.