The Purdue defensive linemen should be grateful for the resource that strolled onto campus Feb. 28.
Rubin Carter, after all, is an unprecedented talent and teacher, coach Darrell Hazell said.
They know he played, but I dont think they know how good he was, Hazell said at the Purdue media day Aug. 11. He was a dominant player as a nose guard back when there werent a lot of rules for offensive linemen blocking on the nose guard.
To play in the NFL at that position for 12 years is unheard of.
Those credentials are just part of what makes landing Carter as defensive line coach a coup for Purdue.
The former All-American at Miami, circa 1974, played all 12 years of his career for Denver during its Orange Crush era. He has 26 years of coaching experience, with stops at the high school, college and NFL levels.
And during Carters most recent stop before West Lafayette – Towson – he helped turn a small-time program into the No. 13 defense in the nation and a top-20 team in sacks per game.
It all adds up to a lot of experience and a padded résumé, one that isnt lost on the Boilermakers.
Hes a genius as far as the defensive line and technique, defensive lineman Greg Latta said. Its truly a blessing. Its just unbelievable how much he knows and how much he can help us and has helped us. Theres nothing that can really be said.
It kind of leaves me speechless sometimes, just thinking how did we get such a great guy as our coach?
However they got him, the Boilermakers reaped benefits in the spring and throughout camp.
Carter led the implementation of a new plan along the defensive line, with an emphasis on aggression and pushing past the neutral zone. The defensive line isnt just plugging gaps, as it did in the Danny Hope era.
Carter wants his players to cause problems.
I had to convey the expectation and the standards for defensive line play, Carter said. Were talking about guys collisioning blockers and being very physical, working to knock guys back into the backfield and be disruptive.
I think thats really the key to playing defensive line – not just to be passive and play at the line of scrimmage, but playing on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage.
The priorities for the Boilermakers are simple, Carter said. The line has to control runs between the tackles, get its feet into the neutral zone and shut down teams on third down.
Getting Purdue to do those things on Saturdays is the complicated part.
If youve got good technique and youve got good players, youre going to be able to play good football, Carter said. So just making sure to try to refine those things so they know how to play the position. Not just what to do, but how to play. Become a student of the game.
And there are few better to do that than Carter.
He wants eight or nine players to be able to take his concepts and roll with them on game days. Purdue plans to rotate those players constantly to keep guys at 100 percent and let them lay everything into offensive linemen on each play.
Latta, and the rest of the Boilermakers, are excited about the new approach. Their coach has done it, and coached it, for most of his life.
One of the deepest and most talented units on the Purdue defense has one of the most notable defensive line gurus in the country to lead it. Theres no excuse for failure, Latta said.
Its up to us to perform, to learn, to get better, the senior defensive end said. Potential is a scary word, but I think were going to be pretty darn good.