Purdue bracing for Indiana State's aggressive defense
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) Indiana State is 0-14 all-time against the Big Ten. The Sycamores nonetheless have Purdue's undivided attention heading into its home opener Saturday.
Two years ago, Purdue struggled to hold on for a 20-14 victory against Indiana State in West Lafayette. These Sycamores are ranked 21st in the FCS coaches' poll and piled up 11 tackles for loss, including three sacks, in a 52-17 season-opening victory against Butler.
Purdue coach Darrell Hazell, whose team has lost seven in a row after the 41-31 setback last week at Marshall, is concerned about Indiana State's aggressive defense.
''Indiana State is going to come with every blitz known to man,'' Hazell said. ''They play an odd front, which you don't see a whole lot. They will change the coverage down by down. That is a little bit of a concern.''
With Purdue quarterback Austin Appleby having thrown four interceptions at Marshall, Hazell expects the Sycamores to pressure the Boilermakers' veteran offensive line.
''They play pretty much a completely different defense than the one we saw last week,'' Purdue senior center Robert Kugler said. ''They have a very good defense. They will be bringing stuff, so we have to pick it up. We are going to have our work cut out for us.''
To counter the Sycamores' scheme, Hazell points to Purdue playing well early in the game as a key.
''We want to come out of the gate fast and have a great start,'' Hazell said. ''But I don't think we have to verbalize that at all. Our guys understand and are very businesslike.''
The other facet upon which Purdue hopes to rely is the running of sophomore D.J. Knox and freshman Markell Jones, who combined for 34 carries and 174 rushing yards with two touchdowns in the loss at Marshall.
''Those two guys played well in really their first time out there,'' Hazell said. ''But our offensive line is what makes it go.''
Some other things to watch Saturday:
ANTHROP'S HEALTH: Danny Anthrop, Purdue's best receiver who caught five passes including a touchdown in the opener, underwent knee surgery during the offseason and is very sore after facing Marshall, so much so that he may not play against Indiana State. Hazell said Anthrop is considered day to day.
SOLID OPENER: If Anthrop is unable to play Saturday, junior DeAngelo Yancey likely will be Purdue's primary receiving threat after catching five passes for 78 yards at Marshall.
''I was really pleased with his performance,'' Hazell said. ''He did everything we asked him to do (at Marshall). He was physical in the run game, which is something people don't notice all the time. We need him to keep playing at that level.''
NOT AFRAID: Indiana State is 58-136-3 all-time against the FBS, including 24 victories against Ball State and one victory each against Louisville and Oklahoma State. The Sycamores are 0-4 against Purdue.
SYCAMORE STANDOUTS: Linebacker Jameer Thurman had two interceptions to go with four tackles last week against Butler, and running back LeMonte Booker rushed 11 times for 137 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Matt Adam was 9 of 16 for 164 yards and two touchdowns.
FAMILIAR SURROUNDINGS: Third-year Indiana State coach Mike Sanford returns to Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium, where he was an assistant to then-coach Fred Akers for three seasons, 1987 through 1989. Sanford played college football at Southern California, graduating in 1978. He is 10-17 in his third season at Indiana State.