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September 10, 2013
Purdue's lost its "quarterback" of the defense, after Landon Feichter broke his leg during the Boilermakers' win over Indiana State on Saturday.
The junior had surgery to reset his right fibula at 9:30 Tuesday morning.
"We all have to be the quarterback," cornerback Frankie Williams said, referring to Feichter's role as a leader of the secondary. "We all have to communicate effectively and keep talking. We've got to stress that more and more every day in practice, keep communicating to help each other out."
Anthony Brown is slated to start at a safety spot with Feichter out, although Purdue has other possibilities as well. Evan Feichter, whom Darrell Hazell says shares some similar characteristics as his hard-working older brother, is listed as the backup. But freshman Austin Logan could play, as well.
"We're going to have to create as much depth as we can in the back end," Hazell said during his Tuesday press conference.
The injury was the third in two weeks for Landon Feichter, who had also broken both of his hands during Purdue's loss at Cincinnati Aug. 31. The broken leg, near the ankle, will keep him out 6-to-8 weeks, leaving a window of possibility that he could return this season.
Hazell, though, says Purdue will likely seek a medical redshirt for Feichter. It's availability, though, is questionable. Feichter, a fourth-year junior, has already taken a non-injury redshirt, during his true freshman year as a walk-on in 2010.
"You feel bad for the kid, he wants to be out there so bad," Hazell said. "But unfortunately that's part of the game that we play and love."
Purdue and Notre Dame started their in-state rivalry in 1896.
And the teams have played every year since 1946, making Saturday's game the 68th consecutive without skipping a season.
It'll be Hazell's first for the Shillelagh Trophy.
"It's really fun, just to think how long this series has been going on, uninterrupted," Hazell said. "I'm excited about this game Saturday night. I know there's a lot of hype going on, but we've got to make sure as a staff and as a football team we put in the preparations we need to do to help our team to be successful. That's the bottom line."
The series, however, is in the midst of some question. With the changing landscape of college football, the rivalry might soon come to an end - or at least be altered - unless the two programs can come to an agreement for it to continue. Purdue and Notre Dame are contractually obligated to play Saturday and in 2014, and have a non-binding verbal agreement for years afterward.
But conflicts with Purdue's new nine-game Big Ten schedule, which starts in 2016, and Notre Dame's interests with the ACC and beyond are complicating the rivalry.
"I would love for this game to continue every single season," Hazell said. "Any time you have in-state rivalries, I think that makes for good spectating."
The game's been good for Purdue over the years, with regular sellouts of Ross-Ade Stadium, and occasional victories that have marked some of the biggest in program history. It also could affect recruiting; Hazell said Tuesday that the schools are after four or five of the same players in the '13 class.
Among those is Drue Tranquill, who Hazell can't speak about publicly, but who is committed to Purdue but also considering Notre Dame.
Hazell calls it a "huge" game.
"They're sending the blimp to see us, so it's going to be nice," the first-year coach said. "It's going to be a great venue, a sold-out crowd, with our great students there who did a phenomenal job last week with getting loud when they needed to get loud. It's going to be a great environment."
Purdue's a big underdog Saturday, with Notre Dame a three-touchdown favorite. But the Boilermakers pay only little attention to that, they say.
"That just puts more fuel on the fire," Williams said. "But it doesn't change anything that we do. We have to worry about us, get our communication down and work hard every day."
Rob Henry was better in Week 2 than Week 1.
But he'll need to be significantly better in Week 3.
"He definitely took steps forward," Hazell said. "Obviously, he needs to play better and he knows that. But he took steps forward in terms of the communication, in terms of taking care of the ball. We didn't have any turnovers. But we still need to get better at seeing the field. We had a couple slants on the backside, where he didn't see it but they were uncontested throws. We need to see those things."
In Purdue's win over Indiana State, Henry completed 15-of-24 passes for 150 yards without a turnover. He had thrown two interceptions the week before at Cincinnati.
Several Boilermakers got together Saturday night to watch the Fighting Irish play at Michigan, with the Wolverines winning 41-30 in prime time.
It was more for fun than business, offensive lineman Justin Kitchens said, but it was hard to ignore that Notre Dame was coming up next on the schedule.
"When we watch it together, with teammates, it's more of a fun thing. It's like watching the Super Bowl or something," he said. "You get together and have a good time. You enjoy football - because we play all the time, but we also love the game, too - so watching and being a fan is also fun. But you're also looking at their personnel, their different moves, their pass rushing techniques. You can't help but do it. You watch football all week and you know you're playing them next week. You can't help but look at what they have and see their talent level.
"But this week (of practice), in particular, it will be definitely more from a preparation standpoint, and less fun."
Purdue played only its three starting linebackers during the ISU game, not inserting the three listed on the second team.
It was a change from the week prior, when the Hazell and Co. rotated freely.
Tuesday, Hazell indicated it'd likely be only the small group once again.
"You get into those battles where all coaches get a little bit tight and they're a little leery to put that second guy in sometimes when you're in the heat of the battle," Hazell said. "So I always tell our guys, 'If you're going to rotate guys, make sure you have a plan going into the game.' It's a little bit different on the sideline as it is in the staff room."
Jules Williams and Collin Link also played for Purdue, but did so at its "Jack" position.
Purdue will have a better idea of whether Danny Anthrop can go after practices early this week.
But Hazell said Tuesday that it was already inserting him into special teams groupings, in anticipation of the sophomore wide receiver being given the green light.
Anthrop has been recovering from an MCL injury suffered two weeks before Purdue's opener.
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