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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 6

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 26, ISSUE 6 12 Big picture in play in 2016 BY STACY CLARDIE K irk Barron can't stop thinking about it. When he's working out, crushing records in Purdue's weight room. When he's on the practice field, dissecting defenses to make the right calls as a first-time starting center. When he's in his apartment talking with roommate and teammate Cole Herdman, mind wandering ahead to the 2016 season. He always comes back to one number. "The No. 6 is in the back of my head all the time," Barron said in mid-June. "It's not even a chip on our shoulder anymore. It's, like, the damn state. If you're not in here working, it's a shame because you obviously ha- ven't paid attention the last three years. We always think about it. "Everyone is coming in working hard, but it's just like a constant reminder." That "six" isn't for the amount of victories that would qualify Purdue for its first bowl game since 2012, Danny Hope's last season as head coach. It's the total Purdue has had since. The slow start to the Darrell Hazell Era has outsiders wondering if this is the last chance to respond, especial- ly considering athletic director Morgan Burke has an- nounced his pending retirement and a search is ongoing for a new AD. One of the primary directives for that new hire will be to get the football program untracked. That could put added pressure on the staff, on the players to perform. But Hazell wants to be clear: That's a pressure that never relents. He says there's no added level of intensity, of focus, of expectation because of the circumstances. He says he Tom Campbell "The key to next year is everyone playing up to their ability. If we get that going, we'll have a lot of players making plays and highlight reels," senior defensive tackle Jake Replogle said.

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