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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 6

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Page 15 of 91

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 6 16 remember you've still got to practice hard, because the moment you stop is when the glory can end." The team's leaders will need to be instrumental in never wavering from that type of mindset. Two offensive captains return from a year ago in quar- terback David Blough and center Barron, but there are seniors in key roles all over on that unit from backs Knox and Jones to tight end Herdman to receivers Isaac Zico and Terry Wright. The defense will need players to rise into those roles — Bailey and Thieneman are obvious choices, and Mosley is a talker. It'd behoove them to take a similar approach to last season's leadership group, one that stressed selfless- ness and helped bring the team closer. "One thing I was really proud of the team was we never pointed fingers. Defense never pointed at offense, even though sometimes they probably should have," said Eli- jah Sindelar, who will be a fourth-year junior. "So we're a team that's a team all the way through, not just you have two separate teams. Usually some teams have just a defense, just an offense, they don't intermingle, don't talk to each other. But that's not what we have here. Be- cause of that, I think we're going to be successful, and that's how we're going to bring the guys along because it's not a divided house. Even offensive guys can help the defensive guys and defensive guys can help the of- fensive guys." Unity could help to handle expectations. Because though Brohm stresses the importance of being internally motivated, some players certainly will be fueled by outward factors. They certainly seem to be when people doubt — which has been very much the case in recent years. They certainly seem to be when people question a certain group's readiness — let's say the front seven this season, very much like the second- ary last year on defense. But will they do the same now, when people actually expect success? "Success" certainly being defined in dif- ferent ways — Barron scoffed at the notion Purdue had it last season with a 7-6 record, saying other coaching staffs get fired for being merely average. Few are expecting "average" now, though. "I know that the regular fan wants us to now go win the championship and go to the Rose Bowl and stuff like that," Holt said. "Hopefully that will come with the growth of our program. We're not there yet, not even close. But we're building the blocks, building the foundation from last year, this year, and the following years. We're getting the tradition back and laying the foundation for having a great, great football program. Obviously the normal fan expectation is, 'Oh, now we're going to be a great foot- ball team.' I don't see that. We're still very much in the early stages of our program. We've come a long way, and we have a long way to go. "Now, it's about getting better players, getting recruit- ing going, getting the players that we want, filling out our roster and getting the guys that are our type of guys. It's coming but, as far as the high expectations, that's what fans want to see. We're still a young, young, pro- gram." But it's not just the fanbase who is believing for big things. Players who graduated from last year's team have talk- ed publicly about Purdue being better record-wise this season. Players who still are on the team have been vocal about the heights they're aiming to achieve. Players say coaches, too, are expecting improvement, though maybe the staff hasn't been as record-specific on those strides. Still … the anticipation of something more, potential- ly something special is there. And expecting to be met. "I think the expectations of our coaches are higher be- cause they see what we can do. I think the expectations of the players are higher. I think the expectations of the community have risen because of what we did accom- plish when it might not have been expected so much. So I think now you have to sustain and grow with those expectations," Blough said. "The encouraging thing to me is I see room for growth. I see a two-point loss to Rutgers. I see a one-point loss to Nebraska. I see a eight- point game at Wisconsin. A seven-point game against Louisville. I'm like, 'We could have won 10 games.' So the expectation is, yeah, we 'turned it around,' but we can do more. "That's even with a hard schedule with a tough home slate. If we play well, then I think we can meet new ex- pectations and take Purdue and its fanbase and the team where it wants to go, coming back to prominence in the Big Ten and then at a national level." j

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