Senior Andrew Rodriguez seems the mild-mannered type when he talks, quiet and introspective in discussions with reporters after practices.

But the offensive tackle also can apparently get loud. He got loud before the game against Illinois on Saturday.

Rodriguez sensed the team needed a jump-start. He gave it.

"I feel like I bring a lot of emotion when the time is right. The last four games, I felt like I haven't been doing that because I haven't been enthusiastic and shown that emotion," Rodriguez said. "During this game I just decided to get them up, jump around before the game in the locker room and give a little speech. I just felt like that was needed."

Rodriguez said there are times when just one speech can lift a team that seems a little flat.

As one of the veterans on this team, he knows there are times when he needs to step to the forefront. It just comes down to picking the right moment.

"I'm so focused sometimes I don't realize that I'm not contributing to the leadership in the locker room, and I should be," Rodriguez said. "I'm a big guy and I need to show that presence with my teammates and my leadership."

* TOUGH TOMMY: Tim Beck walked off the field after Tuesday's practice, his hand on Tommy Armstrong's shoulder pads as they shared a chat.

The offensive coordinator was passing on some encouraging words after a demanding practice.

The fact the redshirt freshman quarterback doesn't seem to flinch when he takes tough coaching is among the traits Beck admires in Armstrong.

"I coached him pretty hard today. I had to put my arm around him a little bit at the end of practice just knowing he's that kind of guy," Beck said. "He can't let things get to him, and stay poised and composed, and he'll need to do it on the road against a faster, more aggressive football team."

Armstrong still looks like the man of the moment.

Senior Taylor Martinez did not practice Tuesday, leaving the field in a walking boot.

Beck said Martinez has reacted to his situation "as good as he can."

"There's not a whole lot he can do," Beck said. "He watches, he listens. He's involved in all of our meetings and trying to mentally stay in the game and stay sharp, so when he gets his opportunity, he'll be ready to go again. It can't be easy for him to not be out there playing. He's doing everything out there he can do. There's just not a lot he can do right now."

* BETTER ON FILM: What Beck sees on film from Purdue's defense does not match the Boilermakers' lacking record or stats — 77th in total defense and 110th in scoring defense.

"I think defensively they're not a bad football team," Beck said. "It's hard to believe they're 1-4 or whatever they are. They don't look like that defensively. We got to come to play. They're going to be fast and they're going to play hard, and they're going to hit you."

* NOISE PREP: On the surface, it might not seem a hostile environment awaits the Huskers, with some tickets to the game going for less than $4 online.

But the Huskers are preparing for noise, pumping it into their practices. Of course, this is nothing new.

"We do that year-round and all the time so when we go to an away game and a place where the crowd is, we're kind of used to that and playing in that environment on an every-day basis," Beck said. "So it doesn't become as big a factor the week you play because you do it all the time."

* ANDERSON IMPROVING: Junior linebacker Zaire Anderson said he’s feeling better now after missing Saturday’s game because of a deep tissue bruise in his ankle.

“Way better than last week,” he said.

Anderson said he’s 100 percent, but then joked that he always says that. This coming from a guy who last year played a game on a torn ACL before an MRI the following week revealed the injury, forcing him to miss the rest of the season.

Anderson said he hardly practiced last week, estimating he took 10 reps the entire week, and knew he wouldn’t play against Illinois.

Still, he suited, knowing he could be called on in an emergency situation.

“I really wasn't looking forward to me playing,” Anderson said.

Anderson initially suffered the ankle injury during a Sunday practice.

“It’s getting better each and every day,” he said. “I just have to keep working on it. It hurts, but I can fight through it.”

* NOT PRACTICING: Besides Martinez, among the notable names who did not practice were tight end Jake Long and wide receiver Jamal Turner (hamstring).

Cornerback Josh Mitchell, helped off the field by two trainers at the end of the Illinois game, did practice.

— Brian Christopherson and Brian Rosenthal

Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. Follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.