BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Injuries are a part of football, especially 13 weeks into a season. But when it comes to the final regular season game against your archrival, you always want to be as healthy as you can.
That's certainly the case for Indiana as it tries to wrest the Old Oaken Bucket back from Purdue this Saturday in West Lafayette. Both teams have dealt with injuries all year and, for instance, have gone through a combined five quarterbacks so far. So when it comes to Saturday, who can play and who can't might determine the outcome of the game.
Indiana coach Tom Allen had some good news on Monday. He said that Indiana wide receiver Whop Philyor "should be good'' and "we fully expect him to play,'' Allen said. "It's great to have him back.''
No kidding. Philyor, the junior receiver from Tampa, is probably Indiana's most valuable player so far this season. He took a big shot to the head in the Penn State game on Nov. 16 and didn't return, and then he missed last Saturday's home finale against Michigan. He has 61 catches for 865 yards on the season, and provides an energy and spark that travels well through Indiana's offense.
It looks like Indiana running back Stevie Scott and left tackle Matt Bedford are in wait-and-see scenarios for Saturday's game. Both were injured in the Michigan game and didn't return.
"We're still unsure of them. We'll know later in the week,'' Allen said. "There were lower leg injuries for both of those guys, but it's nothing longer term for those guys. We'll see if we can get them back (for the Purdue game). That would be the hope.''
Scott has been the workhorse in Indiana's backfield this season. After gaining 1,137 yards as a freshman, he has 845 yards on 178 carries so far this year. True freshman Sampson James (48 carries) and Ronnie Walker Jr. (17) have gotten some work, but most of that had come when the outcome of games has been determined.
Still, Allen has faith in both guys if Scott can't go.
"I have a very high confidence level in those guys, and it would be a great opportunity (for James and Walker),'' Allen said. "Obviously (the priority is on) Stevie getting ready, and want to see him out there. I think those guys are primed and ready to take off.''
Purdue has struggled to defend the run all year, so it would be nice to see Indiana running backs be able to take advantage of that, regardless of who starts or gets most of the work. Purdue ranks 100th in the country (out of 130 teams) in rush defense, allowing 193.2 yards per game. Only Rutgers is worse in the Big Ten.
Allen said quarterback Peyton Ramsey is fine, despite taking several big hits in the Michigan game.
"He's just a little sore. He worked out (Monday) and he was fine. He will be good to go,'' Allen said. "Other than that, made it out of it OK, just some bumps and bruises this late in the season. You're going to have guys that need to maximize the training room since we don't have classes this week.''