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Interim coach Gerad Parker looking to salvage Purdue’s season

Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire

Purdue’s interim head coach Gerad Parker has a newborn at home. This week, he also feels like there’s one at work.

Parker took over for the fired Darrell Hazell on Sunday. He had been serving as the wide receiver coach.

He’s noticed the bump up in responsibilities in tangible ways.

“It’s been pretty interesting. It’s kind of been spotted sleep. It’s been pretty crazy. You wake up and stuff and you’ve got some cold sweats, and you’re trying to think about everything in the world that you want to try to do to help this staff be okay and the players,” Parker told reporters in West Lafayette on Tuesday.

The Boilermakers fell to Iowa, 49-35, in Saturday’s homecoming game. It was not as close as the final score would indicate, the Hawkeyes leading 35-7 at halftime.

Sunday, first-year athletic director Mike Bobinski pulled the plug on Hazell, who compiled a 9-33 overall record and a 3-24 mark in the Big Ten in three and a half seasons. That sparked local and national analysts to offer suggestions on who should take the reigns after this season.

For Parker, he can’t worry about that. He’s trying to salvage this season for the 3-3 Boilermakers.

“Mindset is going to be the number one approach. We have to get to our guys in a different way and get them away from what’s happened in some ways and to still honor Coach Hazell, too, and what they thought of him,” he said.

“It’s a two-way deal that’s a little bit complicated. But that will be the first thing is to attack us and how we prepare mentally. I think if you were able to see our practices, we’re going to change a little bit of what we do and how we do it.”

Parker said the schemes on both sides of the ball and special teams will remain largely the same when the team travels to No. 8 Nebraska (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

“I do want to at least put some ideas in and make sure those guys know they can think outside the box. They can do anything they want to do, change everything of our approach, anything they want to, let’s try stuff new. We have six weeks to have a little fun with this and put something out there we’re proud of,” he said.

Keeping the 2017 recruiting class intact also ranked high on Parker’s to-do list. He said he reached out to all of the commitments on Monday.

“For the 10 or 11 I did get a chance to talk with it went as positive as it could. I think all those guys were glad to hear and be around and just hear my voice, hear our voice, obviously guys on our staff touch base as well,” Parker said.

“So we had a bunch of guys hit them in different ways to tell them, hey, we wanted to touch base and be aware of the situation, we’re right here for you, and kind of move forward. But it felt positive and we’ll see where it goes in the next six weeks.”

The Boilermakers currently have 14 known pledges in ’17. The group is ranked 14th in the Big Ten, per 247.

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