Welcome to the countdown to kickoff ahead of Saturday’s Purdue-Indiana matchup at Memorial Stadium:
What you need to know – and it’s not all game-related.
Jeff Brohm wasn’t available for an injury update on Thursday, but here it is:
Game time decision: Running back Devin Mockobee (concussion). I went to training on Wednesday and did some work.
Out of: Defensive tackle Branson Deen (leg), center Gus Hartwig (leg).
Defensive coach Mark Hagen has seen every side of the domestic rivalry.
He played in Indiana and scored a touchdown against the Boilermakers in 1989. Coached at Purdue on two separate stints, including the last two seasons. And trained with the Hoosiers.
“I’m 17-10,” Hagen said.
Charlie Jones and Purdue“It was the best move for me”
Before last week, Josh Kaltenberger was just another name on the list for most fans.
Now a sophomore, the redshirt becomes one of the key players in Saturday’s matchup and for the rest of the season. Kaltenberger moves into the starting center role, replacing Hartwig, who is out for the rest of the season after suffering a leg injury against Northwestern.
Hartwig is currently in a cast and will have surgery in a few weeks.
Kaltenberger played against the Wildcats and gained valuable gaming experience.
“So far, Josh has been up to the task,” said tackle Eric Miller. “I don’t know if he has left the building since Sunday. Every time I see him here, ‘Hey, let’s watch a movie. Let’s look at some IU stuff together.” He wants to do well, he wants to be successful and he puts in the time.”
Miller called the Pennsylvania native “very intellectual” and one of the strongest players in the weight room.
“He’s a smart kid who understands football and it’s about time he applied it and we’re all ready for him to do it,” Miller said.
Jeff Brohm said Kalterberger attended one of Purdue’s camps, where the coaching staff first noticed the 6-foot-5, 305-pounder. He was ranked the #8 center in the 2020 recruit class by ESPN and #29 by 247sports.com
“What you weren’t sure about was maybe how great an athlete he’s going to be and what his potential is, but he’s smart,” Brohm said. “He can snatch the football really effectively, which is very important. We want him to keep getting better at playing fast, making calls and reacting to moves in attack.
“He knows we need him. He has to do it for us. I think he will be proud of it.”
Prosecution of Purdue’s offenses:Dylan Downing and Kobe Lewis continue to storm
However, Hartwig will be absent. He’s a veteran, an offensive anchor with plenty of experience and a leader not just of the group but of the team. Last week was the 27thth launch in a row.
“He’s been really good this year,” said assistant offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brian Brohm. “He’s been really good in his career here. It’s a big center. He does a great job on the phone and he was good at blocking.
“His leadership, his steady hand, his forward leadership will be missed. He’s hard to replace. He’s one of the best players on the team.”
Hartwig also struggled through two broken hands this season and sat out training throughout the week.
“He’s the rock in our room,” Miller said. “He’s one of my best friends. It was hard to see him go down. He’s one of the toughest guys on our team. He’s struggled through more things than anyone ever knew and more than what coach (Jeff) Brohm said the other day.
Miller was one of nearly 25 seniors honored during Senior Day. Not all seniors can return for another season, but Miller is considering a return.
“I went through Senior Day just in case,” Miller said. “Having those conversations and making that decision. This place means a lot to me. I could absolutely see myself coming back here and coming back and playing again.”
When receiver Charlie Jones joined the program, one area where the Boilermakers thought the Iowa transfer would help was the punt returns.
It hasn’t fully materialized in 11 games as Jones averages 6.71 yards on 17 returns. There might be a big play on Saturday.
“It’s still an emphasis,” Jones said. “Hopefully I can do something in the second leg this week to help the team. Every week I come out with the same attitude and hopefully this is the week I break one.”
If not football
Jones has enough athletic ability to play any sport but stayed with football for most of his career. Another sport didn’t really cross his mind.
“I’m glad I don’t have to think about it now,” Jones said. “I played a little bit of baseball, but I wasn’t keen on it. It’s always been something I’ve enjoyed doing and I look forward to doing it every day.”
The first two months offered ideal conditions every Saturday, but November turned ugly with the weather for the Boilermakers and the rest of the Big Ten.
Wind, cold, rain and a few snow showers have been the order of the day for the past three weeks. Conditions have affected Purdue’s passing game, making it a challenge to call games.
“The wind, definitely the Iowa game, was the windiest, and Northwestern was right behind it, and then Illinois,” said Brian Brohm. “Three games where the wind was different miles per hour, different directions. In the last game (Northwest) it changed direction at halftime but yeah it makes it harder when you want to throw the ball.
The Boilermakers fell 17-0 behind Iowa in the second quarter and were forced to rely more on passing, but built an advantage against the Wildcats and showed more of a quick attack.
“Our strength lies in precise passing, and the wind makes that difficult,” he said. “You have to let the football and sometimes the wind run, you want these guys to be a little bit more open and have some room for error when throwing the ball down the field. There were three throws that Aidan usually makes, but he didn’t. Whether it’s the wind or not, I’m not sure.”
Aidan O’Connell has 63 touchdown passes and ranks fifth in program history with Kyle Orton. … Purdue has won seven games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2006 and 2007. … Payne Durham is second in program history with 20 career touchdowns. Dave Young is No. 1 at 27. …Mockobee is 126 rushing yards from setting the program record for a freshman. It is currently held by Markell Jones, who totaled 875 in 2015.
Mike Carmin reports on Purdue Sports for the Journal & Courier and the USA Today Sports Network. Email [email protected] and follow @carmin_jc on Twitter and Instagram
Purdue (7-4, 5-3) at Indiana (4-7, 2-6)
Time: 3:30 p.m
Radio: WATER (96.5)