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As fall camp has progressed, so has freshman quarterback Curtis Painter.
Painter’s repetition time with the third-string offense, which as camp began two weeks ago saw redshirt freshman Scott Carroll taking the lion’s share of that unit’s snaps, has gradually increased.
And Coach Joe Tiller now thinks that Painter will conclude camp ahead of Carroll on the quarterback depth chart, "unless Carroll makes a big move."
"I would say if Curtis hasn’t (passed Carroll), he’s probably very close to getting that done," Tiller said. "Curtis has had a good camp, and he really throws a tighter ball than Scott does. Right now they’re splitting time, but it’s probably not going to continue that way."
Painter came to Purdue ranked the No. 5 player in Indiana, and the 21st-ranked pro-style quarterback prospect in the nation by Rivals.com from Vincennes, Ind.
Tiller Talks Two-Minute Drill
Wednesday morning’s practice, consisting of just shoulder pads and helmets, featured a simulated offense versus defense two-minute drill.
Following the exercise, Tiller said he saw some things he liked and some he didn’t — typical of a coach who wants to see both the offense and the defense perform well during the drill.
Tiller pointed out the obvious when stating both teams can’t always win when they’re facing each other on every down.
"I didn’t like the three turnovers after we drove the length of the field," Tiller said. "I guess that’s good from a defensive point of view — that they didn’t let them in the end zone. But when you have success moving the ball the length of the field, you like to cash in when you get down there."
One such example of frustration didn’t take long, as one episode Tiller was referring to was the first series of the drill, pitting the first-string offense against the first-string defense, when the offense began the drive in impressive and dominating fashion.
With quarterback Kyle Orton at the helm, the offense accumulated three first downs, using solid clock management. Orton and Co. marched down the field with relative ease. But with the Boilermakers on the 20-yard line, Orton dropped back on first down and delivered a slightly high pass over the middle for Taylor Stubblefield. The senior wideout, however, couldn’t corral the pass, as it bounced off his fingertips and into the hands of redshirt freshman linebacker Stanford Keglar, killing the drive.
The second-string offense didn’t have much more luck, as they were stopped at the 10-yard line and forced to kick a simulated field goal after driving the length of the field. The defensive stop negated back-to-back quality receptions from Brandon Kirsch to Jake Cunningham (one for a 25-yard gain).
The third-string defense had an opportunity to do the same, as cornerback Paul Dubler was in position to pick off a Painter overthrow, but he couldn’t come up with the interception. The failed turnover by the defense was costly, as the offense gained a first down two plays later. The defense, however, would prevail, forcing the offense to kick a field goal after defensive tackle Jamaal Jones registered a simulated sack of Painter on third down.
Other highlights from the two-minute drill ….
o Safety Kyle Smith, who plays with the first-string during passing situations as the team’s nickel back, made a drive-stopping interception on an Orton pass intended for wideout Kyle Ingraham in double coverage.
o Following a sack by defensive end Ray Edwards that set up a third-and-long situation for the offense, Orton scrambled out of the pocket to the right side, where he found Ray Williams camped out. The duo connected on a solid play to move the chains.
o Cunningham made several nice catches, including a diving grab on second-and-six for a big gain. He followed that up with a leaping sideline grab to give the second-string yet another first down.
Just when Tiller thought that linebacker Josh Ferguson was out of purple for good, the redshirt freshman showed up in the same non-participating color Wednesday morning.
Tiller wasn’t too happy about that.
"The biggest disappointment (of this morning's practice) was Ferguson," Tiller said. "I don’t know what we’re doing with him. I don’t know how we’re managing him. I’m told he doesn’t have a serious thing, but then I don’t see him practicing, so something’s not right there. He’s made a lot of progress in the short time he’s practiced, but not being able to practice (a lot) is going to handicap him. I actually thought that he’d give (George) Hall a run for his money for the starting position at middle linebacker, but apparently the trainers are not going to allow him to do that."
o Wide receiver Kevin Noel was still in purple Wednesday, though the junior participated in some light position drill work early in practice. Tiller, however, warns that might not indicate too much at this point.
"He’s coming back slowly, but I’ll tell you what; I think there are a couple of young guys who have made a move and I think when Kevin comes back he’s going to have to work extremely hard to even get back into the mix," Tiller said. "Maybe his contribution this year will be in the kicking game — I really don’t know."
o Defensive end Gene Bright was back in black after donning purple due to having his wisdom teeth pulled Tuesday.
o Sophomore offensive guard Uche Nwaneri donned purple Wednesday after an apparent shoulder injury near the end of Tuesday afternoon’s practice.
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