WEST LAFAYETTE -- Sometimes, if a man wants to find himself, if an offensive lineman wants to bond with those he goes smash mouth with, he's gotta heed the call of the wild.
In other words, canoe trip!
So Purdue right guard Trevor Foy and the rest of the Boiler offensive linemen took a summer canoe trip as a way to build chemistry, which is crucial in line play in general, vital in today's season opener at Cincinnati.
“That was an adventure,” Foy said. “It was definitely a challenge. For anybody looking for a great team bonding experience, that's the one.”
There was a problem. The canoe trip was supposed to last four hours. It lasted eight. The size of an average Purdue offensive lineman -- say 6-5 and 310 pounds -- meant just two to a canoe. The overall lack of white water experience added drama.
“It was fun,” said Foy, who is 6-7 and 300 pounds. “It was terrifying. We had to help each other out in rough currents.”
Now they have to help each other out against defensive fronts geared to disrupting them. They will face blitzes and stunts, bull rushes and overloaded fronts.
That comes with the job, only the challenge level has elevated because they're in a new system under offensive coordinator John Shoop. Foy takes it one step further. He's at a new position with little time to fully adjust. He'd previously been a right tackle, then had a brief try at left tackle at the start of camp. It wasn't a perfect fit. Two weeks ago he joined the right guard mix with Cody Davis and Jordan Roos.
Now, he's the right guard starter. Yes, he's surprised.
“It's hard to believe a few weeks ago I wasn't sure what would happen. Would I be left tackle? Would I be right tackle? Guard wasn't on my mind.
“It's gratifying to see the progress I've made, but I still have a lot of work to do.”
The fact Foy is a fifth-year senior with plenty of game experience accelerated the learning curve.
“It shows I'm ready for anything,” he said. “Hopefully the coaches have prepared me well so I can be prepared for anything in the future. I've got a lot of work to do, so I need to be ready for anything that comes.”
That readiness comes from the right side of the line is a good thing.
“I have a lot of experience from the right side,” he said. “I like being on the right side. I'm more familiar with reading the defense from there. I'm comfortable with the guys next to me. I trust them, so it's going well.”
Coach Darrell Hazell has noticed. He listed Foy as one of the most improved players during August camp.
“Trevor moving from left tackle to right guard, he was a completely different person,” Hazell said. “He's worked extremely hard to put himself in that position, because we weren't sure who that right guard was going to be. He's done a nice job.”
Added Foy: “I trust myself and my teammates more than usual. I'm less worried about messing up. That could be from being a senior.”
Wherever it comes from, it bodes well for Purdue's diverse offense.
“It's a very unique offense,” Hazell said. “With all the shifting and trading and motioning, it creates issues (with the defense). I think our guys are starting to figure out how complicated it could be for defenses if we do what we're capable of doing.”
Foy has figured out this much -- Purdue has had losing records in three of his first four seasons in West Lafayette.
He's had enough, and the Boilers' potentially imposing offensive line could put a stop to it.
“We've experienced what it's like to lose. We've been there. We're ready to be something else.”