With Big Ten play right around the corner, Purdue football still has six key players injured as of Wednesday afternoon.
After a rocky start to the season, the Boilermakers (1-2) are hopeful to return some of that talent for Saturday’s game against the University of Minnesota.
“As far as injuries at this point, we’re trying hard to get everybody back, and we’ll see towards the end of the week where we’re at,” head coach Jeff Brohm said in a press conference. “I think everyone has put in the time to get better, but it’s just going to be a matter of where we’re at come Thursday and Friday.”
“You hate to see the guys that make a huge impact go down,” said Jackson Anthrop, junior wide receiver and running back. “It takes away from what you’re trying to do.”
Most notable of those injured players are fifth-year linebacker Markus Bailey, and fifth-year quarterback Elijah Sindelar. Bailey is out for the year after a knee injury in practice two weeks ago, and Sindelar is still going through concussion protocol after taking a big hit against Vanderbilt on Sept. 7.
“We’re still doing exactly what the doctors say,” Brohm said on Sindelar’s recovery. “I think he’s making progress. We’ll see how this week goes. Really, last week we thought he was making progress Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. It wasn’t until Thursday where some things popped up again, and that’s where we had to start the process over.”
Both of those losses were felt heavily in the game against Texas Christian University. Purdue’s second-string quarterback, redshirt freshman Jack Plummer, threw two interceptions and went 13-for-29 passing. Defensively, the Boilermakers gave up 346 rushing yards.
While Sindelar’s appearance in Saturday’s game is still a day-to-day decision, Brohm has confidence in Plummer if he is needed to step up again.
“While (Sindelar) is our starter, at the same time you have to have more guys ready to compete, and you saw that really in (the third game),” Brohm said. “I think the game (Plummer) played was great experience for him. Things didn’t go our way, wasn’t a great contest. He hung in there and played to the end.”
Purdue’s run-game, which has struggled all year so far, took another blow in the loss of fifth-year offensive lineman Matt McCann.
“I think we’ve had some problems up front,” Brohm said. “The running backs need to run better, yes, but sometimes there’s not some big holes to run in.”
McCann, whose return is still questionable for Saturday’s game, would bring some much-needed experience back to the offensive line.
The Boilers are currently without two wide receivers: junior Jared Sparks and freshman David Bell. Neither player practiced during the bye week, and their appearances will be game-time decisions come Saturday.
“It’s next-man-up mentality,” said sophomore wide receiver Rondale Moore.
Moore, who is averaging more than 120 receiving yards per game, is expected to get even more targets if Bell and Sparks are not healthy by Saturday.
“I just think it’s time for guys to step up, and I think they will,” Moore said.
Senior defensive tackle Lorenzo Neal, who has been recovering from knee surgery, is expected to play as early as Week 5 against Penn State, but nothing has been confirmed.