Secondary takes another hit
One week after Torri Williams was lost for the season, his replacement in Purdue's five-defensive back packages is sidelined, too.
Sophomore Brandon Erwin injured his knee in the Iowa game's final minutes, at the end of a play on which he recovered a fumble and nearly scored before being cut down by QB Jake Christensen.
Tiller said Erwin was out for the Northwestern game but didn't know much more.
He said it was an injury to a knee ligament.
"It's not likely to (require surgery)," Tiller said.
Backup linebacker/special-teamer Kevin Green pulled a hamstring at the end of the game.
Williams was a key cog in the defense's nickel sets, a staple for the Boilermaker defense.
When he went down, Tiller said it was essential Erwin filled in capably.
Now, with Erwin out, Tiller's hoping Purdue doesn't have to change its strategy to accommodate its healthy personnel.
"We'd like to not have to change if we don't have to," Tiller said.
The coaching staff will give freshman Josh McKinley more substantive work on the practice field, to see whether he can fill in.
If he plays - he has not as of yet this season - he will not be able to redshirt.
The offensive line seems kind of fluid these days, as well.
Tiller said following the game that junior Cory Benton will see more and more action throughout the season in place of sophomore left guard Zach Reckman, in hopes of keeping Reckman healthy.
One of Tiller's favorite parts of his team's performance vs. Iowa was the way the offense drove the ball up and down the field against one of the Big Ten's highest-ranked defenses.
Three of Purdue's scoring possessions spanned 80 yards; the other went 77. TD drives took 12, nine, eight and 13 plays, respectively.
"We haven't had anything like that," Tiller said. "They showed the ability to sustain drives. They didn't need big plays, though we had some of those, too."
Let the speculation begin.
Of course, Tiller will want nothing to do with talk of what bowl Purdue may be invited to, now that the Boilermakers are eligible to be invited.
But he did say Sunday that it should be a wild next few weeks in determining who's going where.
As many as nine Big Ten teams could find themselves with the prerequisite .500-or-better record needed for a postseason invite.
"As of now, maybe the only things that's been determined is who's up there at the top (of the Big Ten)," Tiller said. "Illinois and Indiana are classic illustrations that this thing will go down to the wire on who's going to be involved in postseason play and who's going where, because they've won some games, and they're going to win some games still."
Five league teams already have six wins; four others already have five.
"I think you'll see some Big Ten teams in other bowls," Tiller said, noting that leagues with too many qualifiers can strike deals with conferences with too few. "… That stuff always works itself out."
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