August 11, 2009
Less is more
Right guard Ken Plue dropped an astounding 45 pounds in the off-season.
Not that the extreme weight loss made him all that less intimidating; the 6-foot-8 sophomore still tips the scales at about 325 pounds, but it's a much more reasonable weight given the rigors of his position.
"I feel a lot better," Plue said after practice Monday evening. "I move a lot better, quicker out of my stance. I feel a lot better technically."
All of which should go toward making Plue a much-improved player in what's expected to be his first full season as a starter. It was a year ago that the 370-pounder came to Purdue as a four-star Rivals.com recruit from prep school Milford Academy. After bouncing around as a backup guard and tackle, the true freshman settled in at right guard and started Purdue's final six games.
But his robust weight was a hindrance, as he was a bit slow getting out of his stance, which made pushing the pile, and most particularly taking on blitzing linebackers and the like, difficult tasks.
"I knew I needed to loose weight because I knew I needed to get faster, get out of my stance quicker," said Plue, a sophomore native of Rensselaer, N.Y. "It would help my game out a lot. I'm really happy the coaches helped me and got me through everything."
Following the season, Plue set off trying to lose weight on a plan designed by strength and conditioning coach Jim Lathrop. Mainly, Plue says, it was all focused on portion control.
"It was work, but I didn't loose it all at one time," he said. "I just did a little bit here and there. I really cut down on a lot of the bad things I was eating and did a little extra cardio on my own."
Plue says he can tell the difference now. He feels far more comfortable than a season ago, primarily in his ability to get out of his stance quickly and his stamina, due mostly to his more manageable weight, but also because his knowledge and his experience at his position.
At the beginning of last season, Plue started as a tackle, before moving to guard then into the starting lineup. Now, he knows he'll primarily be at right guard, and can develop some continuity with right tackle Zach Jones and center Jared Zwilling.
"It definitely helps out," he said, "because I can focus on the right guard position. But I'm also learning the others as well. The offensive line is interchangeable."
Others have taken notice of Plue's rapid improvement. Coach Danny Hope, Purdue's offensive line coach a season ago, says he looks like a different player.
"He's not the same guy as last year," Hope said. "He wasn't ready to play last year, but he had to. At the end of the season, he started to have some success, but at the beginning things just kind of went by him. He was out there just trying hard.
"But now he fits up on them and gets going in the right direction. He snaps out of his stance and he sees all the blitzes in front of him.
"It's just night and day to where Kenny Plue was at this time last year and really at the end of the season too."
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