As he watched his players in Monday’s practice, defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar repeatedly pushed them to pursue and tackle with more purpose.
It’s all part of Tibesar’s plan to take a unit that has been consistently ranked in the bottom of the Big Ten in yards allowed and make it a strength of the team. “Almost every single day,” the Boilermakers take part in pursuit drills along with a focus on attacking from better angles.
The Drills that they run range from “Sideline,” which is a drill meant to get defensive stops and force players toward the outside to “Competitive Pursuits,” which places an emphasis on group tackling.
”Ad-Naseum, we do some kind of pursuit drills; these guys have understood at this point what our standard is,” Tibesar said.
As it was under previous defense coordinator Gary Emmanuel, Purdue will stay in the base 4-3 package. What has changed is that the Boilers will now run a 3-4 in certain packages along with it. Additionally, there is different terminology and expectations of assignments.
Senior defensive end Robert Maci said he enjoyed working in the system under a new coaching staff.
”He is a smart guy,” Maci said. “He does a great job of not only telling you what to do – he knows the ins and outs of the defense. He not only will tell you what you are doing and the total concepts, that’s why we meet as a whole defensive unit instead of individually so we know how our play effects defensive backs and how that affects everyone across the line.”
For Tibesar, his coaching stint in Canada taught him a lot about football. In the Canadian Football League, virtually every play is a pass and all the teams run some version of the spread offense. This was a huge part of head coach Danny Hope’s rationale for hiring Tibesar. Throughout the Big Ten, a transformation has occurred and a league that was once described by many to be “slow and boring,” is now full of teams which run the zone-read and spread offense.
Despite these changes, Tibesar said the journey from Montreal to West Lafayette had been relatively easy.
”It was a pretty easy adjustment,” Tibesar said. “ You have to remember I coached a majority of my career in the United States. We have a great coaching staff here headed up by Coach Hope and a really good group of guys to work with. A lot of the guys on the coaching staff you already know or someone you know knows them. The coaching fraternity is relatively small and so it is been easy transition.”
Purdue takes part in the Spring game 1 p.m. Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium. Tibesar said he is looking for the guys to “play hard, play fast and tackle well.”