Purdue Notebook: Senior Day, Bucket Game, Injury Updates
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A 45-25 loss to Wisconsin this past weekend ended Purdue’s hopes at a third consecutive bowl game under head coach Jeff Brohm.
The season isn’t over yet for Purdue, not by a long shot. There's one more game at Ross-Ade Stadium this fall, and it's Saturday (Noon ET; TV: ESPN2) against in-state rival Indiana. The two teams will play for the Old Oaken Bucket, which the Boilermakers have taken home the past two years.
Purdue returned to action on Monday with Brohm’s weekly press conference. Here are some notes from his news conference:
Senior class has 'been through a lot'
It will be Senior Day on Saturday for a Purdue class that has gone through a lot over the course of the past few years, especially this season. It’s a small class for Purdue, with just 11 seniors still left on the team, and most of those seniors were unable to play this season.
On offense, the seniors include quarterback Elijah Sindelar, running backs Tario Fuller and Richie Worship, offensive lineman Matt McCann, wide receiver Malcolm Dotson and tight end Brycen Hopkins. On defense, just linebackers Markus Bailey, graduate transfer Ben Holt, cornerback David Day, defensive tackle Lorenzo Neal, and safety Navon Mosley are seniors. Of that small class, just McCann, Holt, Hopkins and Mosley have seen regular playing time.
Sindelar came into the season as Purdue's starting quarterback and was leading the nation in passing after two games. But he suffered a broken clavicle in the third game against Minnesota and needed surgery. He hasn't been able to return.
Torn ACL's have kept Bailey and Neal off of the field this season as well.
Fuller and Worship have seen limited playing time because of injuries, Malcolm has seen playing time on special teams, and Day has yet to appear in a game. With the amount of injuries to this group, it remains to be seen who will participate in Senior Day festivities, and who will choose to return for another year. According to Brohm, whoever participates on Saturday isn't necessarily locked in to not returning for the 2020 season.
“Our seniors that have been here have been through a lot and they’ve overcome a lot,'' Brohm said. "A lot of these guys have seen the ups and downs that they could see and they’ve had a great attitude with it. I think they’ll be very productive football players and citizens when it’s all said and done.”
Moore, Neal injuries still an issue
The never-ending saga of when wide receiver Rondale Moore and defensive tackle Lorenzo Neal will return from injury continued on Monday. Neal has missed the entire season recovering from an ACL tear, and Moore has been out since the fourth game of the season with a leg injury.
Brohm has been unable to give an exact answer all season long on the pair’s status, and that continued on Monday. With just one game remaining, and Purdue eliminated from bowl eligibility, it would be assumed that neither would return against Indiana. But once again, Brohm failed to give an exact answer.
“Well, I wouldn’t say that fully,” Brohm said. “But you haven’t seen them to this point.”
Bucket game importance is still there
Brohm also discussed the Old Oaken Bucket game and the importance of keeping the historic trophy in West Lafayette.
The game against Indiana that typically closes out the regular season has been won by Purdue the past two seasons. Both years too, bowl eligibility was on the line, making the wins even more important. This year, that isn’t the case, with Purdue sitting at just four wins and Indiana already at seven.
Despite that, Brohm and the rest of the team know how important this game is to the university and fans. He expects that alone to be enough to motivate his team on Saturday.
“I know that the bucket game has a lot of history and tradition. It’s an important football game for the university, and bragging rights, and recruiting,” Brohm said. “We’re hopeful that we can do our part this year and come out and compete and try to find a way to get the victory.”