Purdue got good news before the game Saturday when a trio of Boilermakers played despite being questionable due to injuries.
But it might have left the loss to Michigan with more severe concerns. Late in the game, starting quarterback David Blough was injured after falling hard on his right shoulder while being sacked. The junior had missed nearly two weeks during practice before the season after straining the shoulder during a training camp scrimmage.
After staying in for one more play after the injury Saturday, Blough was examined by trainers on the sideline, appearing to wince when going through a strength exercise.
“Time will tell,” Coach Jeff Brohm said, referring to the injury as a “nicked shoulder.” “I’m not sure yet the extent of it. Luckily we’ve been playing two quarterbacks and have some guys in case he’s out. But it’s too early. We’ll see. It’s unfortunate because we took some sacks late that you don’t want to have happen but it did.”
Blough finished the day only 5-of-13 for 32 yards, and he was sacked three times. Elijah Sindelar, who relieved in the second quarter, was 7-of-16 for 103 yards with a touchdown, and he was sacked twice.
Purdue didn’t have much of a running game — only 30 yards — perhaps partially due to the absence of Tario Fuller. The sophomore running back, Purdue’s leading rusher the last two weeks, was dressed only in street clothes with a boot on his left foot. Brohm said Fuller hadn’t practiced this week.
“I’m not sure how long he’ll be out,” Brohm said. “He’ll be out a little bit.”
Purdue did see linebackers T.J. McCollum (hamstring) and Ja’Whaun Bentley (apparent shoulder, although unconfirmed), along with left tackle Grant Hermanns. They played despite missing time during the week.
“I know those guys are really tough dudes and I admire that,” linebacker Markus Bailey said when asked about McCollum and Bentley, his position-mates. “We knew we had a bye week coming up, so we said we had to put it all on the line for this game. I’d admire those two guys trying to push through their injuries. It’s really good of them.”
Hermanns, who played every snap, said Michigan was a challenge.
“It was tough because I didn’t get to practice a whole lot this week, was a little banged up,” the redshirt freshman said. “But we have a bye week coming up, so get completely healthy and then have a good week of practice and go out and beat our next team.”
Bentley and safety Jacob Thieneman were ejected in separate plays in the second half, when officials called them for personal fouls with targeting.
The targets were upheld on review, meaning they had to head to the locker room and — perhaps more importantly — will miss the first half of the Minnesota game on Oct. 7, following the bye.
Thieneman was thrown out in the third quarter when he hit Nick Eubanks on an incomplete pass over the middle. On the play, it appeared he and Eubanks both went low, bringing their helmet levels to the same plane.
Bentley’s came a drive later in the fourth quarter, when he hit his helmet into quarterback John O’Korn on a blitz.
“They have a replay official, so I assume they were targeting hits,” Brohm said. “I think the first one, (Thieneman) didn’t mean to do it, but may have led with the shoulder, I guess, to the head area. The second one (on Bentley), it looked like on replay, probably was.
“We’ve got to be smarter. While we want to hit a certain way, I don’t think our tackling was quite as good at times. We missed some tackles high. We missed some sacks once again, not wrapping up and tackling lower. So we’ve got to go back and analyze that, make sure we’re teaching it the proper way and drilling it, make sure it’s coming through.
“We’re going to miss two key guys the first half of the next game.”
Love the crowd
Purdue had a sellout — officially 60,042 in Ross-Ade Stadium — for the first time since Nov. 22, 2008, Joe Tiller’s final home game.
“It was really fun,” Bailey said. “Coming out there for warmups and seeing all the students (early) and seeing the whole crowd there (for kickoff), it just gets you pumped. Our offense had a good play at first to get the momentum going. Our defense had some plays and could hear the crowd roar, it’s something we haven’t really hard. It’s nice. We have to keep getting better as a program and that’ll be something that’s the norm.”
Brohm thought the Boilermakers might have been over confident against the Wolverines, coming off their win at Missouri.
In particular, Purdue might have said too much in the media in the lead up to Saturday’s contest. It was a lesson to take from the 28-10 loss, Brohm said.
“I think we learned that we need to just keep our mouth shut and work hard and play football,” Brohm said. “It’s good to be confident and feel good about your self — I want that, not going to taper it down too much — but I have a feeling we were feeling a little too confident.
“We’ve got some tough football games coming up. We just have to get back to working hard, putting a smile on our face, sticking together and having some fun playing the game and just worrying about one team at a time. Focusing on that and doing everything we can to win.
“While I want guys to come confident into the game, it’s important to keep our lips closed and work at it. We’ve got to earn our stripes. We’ve got to fight our way up the ladder and take every step. Until we get there, we just need to do it the old fashion way. I think our guys will respond to that. To this point they’ve worked hard and maybe were feeling good about themselves, but the Big Ten schedule just started and it’s not going to get any easier.”
Sindelar said there’s a fine line.
“I think it’s our job to make sure we stay humble and let our heads get too big,” he said. “I don’t know if that was a factor or not. I know confidence is a good thing, but overconfidence can be bad at times.”
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