WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue starting running back Zander Horvath will miss between four and eight weeks after suffering a broken fibula in the team's 49-0 victory over UConn on Saturday.
Coach Jeff Brohm said Horvath is scheduled to undergo surgery on Tuesday, leaving junior King Doerue and redshirt freshman Dylan Downing to fill the starting role in the backfield.
Horvath, a redshirt senior, carried the ball 23 times for 89 yards and a touchdown in two games this season. In 2020, he was the team's leading rusher after finishing the year with 69 carries, 442 yards and two touchdowns during a shortened, six-game season.
"Well, it's next man up for us at the running back position," Brohm said. "King has played a lot of football for us, been a little injured here and there, but we want him to go out there and play his brand of football. Dylan Downing has come in and proven that he'll run the ball hard, and he understands what we're doing. He's a tremendous worker and gives us everything he has.
"Yes, we're going to have to have other options at running back, so whether it's a couple receivers, another young running back, there needs to be more than two. So we'll have those options up and ready. Right now, King and Dylan will be the top two."
Doerue and Downing combined for 26 carries, 146 yards and one touchdown against the Huskies on Saturday. The Boilermakers will also look for some playing time from freshman Ja'Quez Cross.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Cross, a former three-star recruit from Arkansas, adds an element of speed out of the backfield. However, his size will be a concern at this stage in his college career.
"We're going to get him ready. He's had a good camp," Brohm said of Cross. "Like every freshman at that position, physically he's got to continue to get strength and mass over the course of the next couple years, so he's a little behind there, but you know what, he's got good quickness and good speed. He's got to get ready to go."
Brohm also said that the Boilermakers have not received official word on whether Indiana transfer running back Sampson James will be available for the team this season. Should James be able to see the field, it would be a huge boost to a position group that is now running thin.
Purdue is scheduled to travel to South Bend, Indiana, to play Notre Dame on Saturday, Sept. 18. The game starts at 2:30 p.m. ET. As of Monday morning, Purdue is a 7.5-point underdog on the road, according to sports gambling website FanDuel.com. The over/under is 58.5 points.
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