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As if Torri Williams' season-ending injury last week wasn't enough, Purdue's beleaguered secondary took another kick to the ribs against Miami (Ohio).
Starting cornerback Aaron Lane broke his shoulder — it's technically a cracked scapula, according to Coach Joe Tiller — and is now sidelined indefinitely.
Lane's out six to eight weeks, Tiller said, but it could be season-ending.
The injury occurred in the first half. Lane was on the sideline in the second with his shoulder in a brace and a towel over his head.
With Lane out, fellow corner Zach Logan is the lone survivor out of those DBs expected to start this season. Brandon King is academically ineligible and Williams is out for the year.
And Logan wasn't even a starter during the spring.
That's left Purdue playing almost exclusively new players in its first-team rotation.
Freshman Royce Adams will now start at corner, with fellow rookie Brandon Erwin and junior college transfer Justin Scott at the safeties.
"We're learning as we go, as is," Scott said, "and when someone new goes in, that's one more guy who needs to learn."
On one of Miami's long touchdown passes Saturday, all three newcomers were on the field, along with junior college transfer corner Jonte Lindsey, yet another first-year player.
Help On The Way?
Coach Joe Tiller seems to have squashed thoughts he may move running back Jaycen Taylor to the secondary for reinforcements.
In fact, it sounds like he believes he may have found help already in converted quarterback Keith Smith, who's been moved to safety.
Tiller said he and his staff conducted a scrimmage Thursday for the sole purpose of evaluating Smith.
"The other players didn't know that," Tiller said.
They liked what they saw. Smith "made a couple plays," including an interception, the coach said.
You might expect to see Smith in coming weeks.
"He's talented enough to play the position," Tiller said, "but he's just a little green. But he's not going to get any experience unless you put him out there."
Never before under Tiller's guidance has Purdue employed a 3-4 defensive front, but tradition was broken early and often against the RedHawks.
Bick and Josh Ferguson took the field together as inside linebackers, with Alex Magee or Jermaine Guynn playing the roles of space-eating nose tackles.
"We went to it thinking it was something (Miami) hadn't seen and that it could cause some problems," Tiller said. "It's something we want to feature the rest of the season, so we wanted to get it on (film).
Nice To See You
Senior linebacker George Hall — sidelined after undergoing surgery on his leg during camp — has returned to practice and nearly dressed for Saturday's game.
He didn't, but his presence on the sideline was appreciated.
"I think one thing that helped us a lot was that George Hall was on the sideline with us today," fellow linebacker Dan Bick said. "Every time we'd come off the field, he was there, pumping us up, talking to us about the offense and keeping us in the game, not letting us get down."
• Kory Sheets now has 17 career rushing scores. In just 13 games, he already ranks tied for ninth on the Purdue career list (also Otis Armstrong, 1970-72).
• Running back Dario Camacho has yet to see his first offensive snap, but he did play on the kickoff team against Miami (Ohio).
• Torri Williams watched the game from the press box, walking on crutches. He's scheduled for surgery Monday.
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