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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 5

Gold and Black is a multi-platform media company that covers Purdue athletics like no one else.

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 5 30 watching film on his phone all the time. He knew Bailey would watch when he got home as well, be- cause Bailey would often get to Freeman first with, "Coach, I know I messed up here" or, "I saw this on film …" then break down details of an area to attack. During the season, Bailey typically watches the upcoming opponent's previous three or four games throughout the week, trying to acquaint himself with the team's plays so he can, by the end of the week, anticipate plays based on formations. Obviously, the games he was watching wouldn't be against Purdue's defense, so Bailey visualized himself against the play he was viewing and subbed in what Purdue's call and his assignment would be. Bailey admits it's easiest for him to watch by him- self, mostly because he figures no one would want to put up with his constant rewinding, pausing and rewinding again, sometimes not even being able to articulate exactly what he's watching for. Until he sees it. "I don't have a rhyme or rhythm to it," Bailey said. "I just do it until I feel like I have it down." It's not common to have a player actually watch that much film on his own, coaches said. But it's clear Bailey does. Because it shows up on Saturdays. Being able to anticipate and sometimes predict plays helps Bailey play fast. And playing fast is very good, es- pecially for a player with Bailey's athleticism and natural instincts. And his willingness to take chances to make plays. Former Purdue captain and starting middle line- backer Sean Robinson, who works with the current group of linebackers as a graduate assistant coach, called Bailey an "eraser." Bailey oftentimes does his job but when he doesn't, it's almost always to go make a play. That could be an asset in Holt's system, just like it was last season, even if the schemes are different. That interception against Indiana last season was only one example of Bailey being in position to play eraser. There were many others. On a third down against Minnesota when Purdue was in its three-down-linemen dime package, the Boilermakers dropped into a Tampa 2. Being aware of down-and-distance, though, as soon as Bailey saw Minnesota's QB look toward a receiver in the middle of the field, Bailey broke on the ball. He wasn't sup- posed to — in that defense, his responsibility was the deep middle third — but he made the tackle to stop the receiver just short of the first down by going off script. The second interception against IU, only two se- ries after the first, may have been one of the most athletic plays of the season by a Purdue player. Bai- ley lined up about six yards off the line in the middle of the defense. On the snap, Bailey started his back- pedal for the zone drop — it was Tampa 2 again. But he was a bit late because he'd been caught watch- ing the running back go in motion. So Bailey quickly turned and ran, full speed, down the middle of the field. Indiana slot receiver Mitchell Paige had raced past a safety who was near the line and seemed to have a clear path down the seam. Bailey, though, erased that opportunity for a big play. With the ball nearly to Paige, Bailey twisted his body to turn to look for the ball, reached up and grabbed the pass near his facemask and secured the interception through contact. It was one of those he-shouldn't-be-able-to-do-that plays. "He's just a playmaker," Robinson said. "He's physical. I don't even think he weighs 230 right now, and he plays like he's 240. But that's just because he's fast. He triggers. He just has natural instincts, stuff you can't coach." But what's a linebacker, really, without a dose of toughness? Bailey's got that covered, too. After tearing the ACL in his left knee against Virginia Tech in September 2015 in the third game of the season, Bailey attacked rehab so diligent- ly, he was running only two months after surgery. He can't even remember which athletic trainer oversaw his rehab because, he said, he simply did what he was told and then rehabbed three times

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