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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 6

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Page 46 of 91

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 6 47 "We really need to build the defense around him," Holt said. At linebacker, that means putting Barnes in the middle. The 6-1, 240-pounder looks the part, and has at least a minimum of experience, having played sparingly on defense last season — but not always well — and on special teams. The spring was a big help, though, as the sopho- more took nearly every first-team snap. "With the reps, it gave me more knowledge about the game, raised my football IQ," he said. "I could look at film, go over the plays, and I think that's very critical for me. I have the strength and ability to play the game, but I know my first year I struggled to learn the playbook and that's what I'm getting back into, learning so that I can play quicker and faster." Barnes was in the middle on Day 1 of the spring and never let it go, even though Jones has the phys- ical makeup of an imposing linebacker. But Jones' motor, and want-to, waned at times, traits that Pur- due wants to see take an upturn during camp. But that's little compared to the issue at strong- side linebacker. After Purdue moved Bailey into the inside, Holt shifted former J.C. transfer T.J. Jallow from safety down to linebacker. It was a 15-practice experiment that turned into a failure, not because Jallow couldn't play — that question had yet to yield a clear answer — but be- cause he became a summer academ- ic casualty. Maybe Jallow wouldn't have worked out anyway, as he didn't the year before as a safety, but his ab- sence leaves an even bigger void. Now, Purdue is looking at Larry, and he's not a certainty. The 6-1, 220-pounder has to have a big offseason, learning the play- book while also gaining in weight and strength. And strong-side is an incredibly difficult position to play, with the nuanced decision-making between coverages, run support and pass rush. And Bailey was a master in open-field tackling a year ago. But if Larry can't do it to a high-enough level — and Alexander might get a shot, too — then what does Purdue do? Perhaps the answer is to play only Bailey and Barnes, then put an extra safety on the field, creat- ing a base nickel defense. "Linebacker is very, very thin," Holt said. "We might have to use some DBs at some of the line- backer positions in some of the packages and we'll see how that goes. "(Safety) Simeon Smiley is probably going to get a lot more reps now because of some issues at line- backer. He might have to come down, either him or Jake (Thieneman), and play some linebacker posi- tions for us." Purdue doesn't want to have to do that, and it might not be able to against more physical run-ori- ented teams. It's hard, for example, to play exclu- sively nickel vs. Wisconsin. Perhaps in those games, the Boilermakers put Bailey, Barnes and Jones (or Larry) on the field, K R A N N E R T L E A D E R S H I P S P E A K E R S S E R I E S A NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS October 11, 2018 • 6:30 p.m. • Indiana Roof Ballroom • Indianapolis F E A T U R I N G MIKE BOBINSKI ROBBIE HUMMEL MATT LIGHT UKARI FIGGS KRANNERT.PURDUE.EDU/EVENTS/LSS Net proceeds from the event will benefit Krannert scholarships. M O D E R A T O R Tim Newton Director of External Relations and Communications, Krannert School of Management EA/EOU Individual tickets available at $100 each. ($50 charitable contribution and $50 expenses)

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