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November 9, 2013

Feichter returns in loss; more notes

Landon Feichter had long waited to be healthy enough to play again.

In the week leading up to his return, the junior safety would recite the day of his injury - Sept. 7 - at any opportunity, ticking off the days until he'd suit up. That day came Saturday, and while he was pleased to be on the field, he wasn't pleased with the outcome. Purdue lost 38-14 to Iowa, its seventh consecutive defeat.

"I felt pretty good," said Feichter, who had broken his lower leg against Indiana State in Week 2, sidelining him since. "Obviously there's some soreness in the ankle. What hurts the most is the loss. I can deal with a hurt ankle, a bum ankle, but a loss hurts more than that hurts."

Feichter had a couple tackles for the Boilermaker defense. But any contribution at all might have seemed unlikely now after his season's start. Prior to the broken leg, Feichter had suffered breaks to both of his hands in the season opener against Cincinnati. The almost unfathomable series of breaks left him with only one healthy limb, and benched one of Purdue's most productive players, not to mention an experienced leader.

But he rehabbed, and healed quickly, getting back for Game 9.

"It's a lot of will from him, first of all to even want to come back from all that," tight end Justin Sinz said earlier this week. "When you have two broken hands and a broken leg that has a pin put in it, a lot of guys might just say 'Well, I'm going to rehab the rest of the year and take the year to come back strong for my senior year.' It's just a testament to his will and want-to to get back on the field.

"He loves football and is one of our best players and best leaders. We obviously missed him these last seven weeks."

In his return, Feichter played not only his usual safety position, but was at nickel, too, perhaps to take advantage of his physical, aggressive nature.

"I felt comfortable," Feichter said of nickel. "The coaches prepared me well enough in the week to play nickel. It was pretty fun. It was fun to be closer to the line of scrimmage and be able to hit more. Whether they use me in the nickel spot in the future, I'm going to be ready, and it's going to be exciting."

Appleby makes debut

With Purdue down more than four touchdowns in the fourth quarter against Iowa, Coach Darrell Hazell made a change at quarterback, inserting Austin Appleby.

The decision represented a change of the norm for Hazell, who had left in his starters during blowouts during the first half of the season, most notably in the Cincinnati, Wisconsin and Ohio State games.

Hazell was asked about the alteration in philosophy.

"I wanted to give him a couple series out there," the first-year coach said of Appleby. "He's definitely earned it in practice to get out there and have a chance to play a little bit. That's why I made that decision."

Playing against Iowa backups in the fourth quarter, Appleby looked decisive, completing five of his six passes for 68 yards, including a 44-yarder to Danny Anthrop for a touchdown.

Running nowhere

Purdue's rushing game never got untracked against the Hawkeyes, gaining only 53 yards on 28 carries, less than two per attempt.

Four running backs had carries, including Brandon Cottom's 12 for 28 yards. Raheem Mostert might have had one of the nicest carries of the day, but his eight-yarder between the tackles ended in a critical third-quarter fumble.

"They had a very good front seven," Cottom said of the Hawkeyes, "and it basically comes down to making plays. Offensively, we didn't produce enough, make enough plays. Our goal is to go down and score every drive and we didn't do that."

Injury notes

Frankie Williams suffered what Hazell thought were shoulder and elbow injuries during a third-quarter tackle Saturday.

But after only a short time on the sideline, the junior cornerback returned to the field. He finished with six tackles.

Offensive lineman Devin Smith played vs. the Hawkeyes, a week after missing the Ohio State game due to mono.

He didn't start, but played both left and right guard. He was playing right guard for the first time this season, after he started there the first half of last year.

DT Ryan Watson (hamstring), Jack LB Jalani Phillips (shoulder) and CB Normondo Harris (ankle) did not play vs. Iowa.

Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2013. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing or using editorial or graphical content, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited. E-mail GoldandBlack.com/Boilers, Inc.

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