11/2/19 Nebraska, King Doerue

Then-freshman running back King Doerue looks for a hole to open during Purdue's 2019 game against Nebraska.

Purdue’s young running back corps has been focused on improving tenacity and production during the offseason.

Last season, Purdue relied heavily on running backs King Doerue and Zander Horvath. Doerue and Horvath, now a sophomore and junior respectively, did not have much experience before stepping into Fuller’s role.

Doerue started eight games as a true freshman that season, and Horvath started four. Consequently, the 2019 season was a “learn by the fire type of experience” for them, according to running backs coach Chris Barclay.

After last season, Barclay said he is using repetition to create as many scenarios as possible to expand Doerue’s intuition.

“I put it on myself to get better at those (repetition skills),” Doerue said.

Competing for the starting spot alongside Doerue and Horvath are four-star freshman recruit Tirek Murphy Jr. and redshirt freshman Da’Joun Hewitt. With this group of unmolded potential, Barclay wants to focus on developing the patience and instincts that come with the position.

“If you want to have a feast, you’ve got to let your mom prepare the feast,” Barclay said, involving one of the analogies he’s used with players. “They’ve got to prepare the table.”

Barclay said he likes to emphasize a “next-man-up mentality” among the players. While it seems that there is competition for the leadership role among the running backs, Barclay said he will not pick a player to lead the running back room.

“The best guy will play. I like to ride the hot hand,” Barclay said.

Doerue specifically spoke to the healthy competition hat has been building.

“Everybody in the room puts pressure on themselves every day to give it their very best,” Doerue said, “because we’ve got to get better as a unit.”

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