Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Purdue using patchwork rushing attack
By ESPN.com staff
Purdue rushed for 203 yards in Saturday's win against Ball State, marking the first time the Boilers have recorded back-to-back 200-yard rushing games since the first two contests in 2005.
But that's not the amazing part.
Only 16 of those rushing yards came from a guy (Dan Dierking) who actually plays running back, although he's listed as a fullback on the team roster. The others came from two quarterbacks (Rob Henry and Robert Marve), a fullback (Jared Crank) and three receivers -- Antavian Edison, O.J. Ross and Justin Siller -- one of whom, Siller, used to play both quarterback and running back.
Such is life for the Big Ten's most banged-up program.
Purdue entered the season without its leading rusher from 2009, Ralph Bolden, who tore his ACL this spring and underwent surgery in May. Backup Al-Terek McBurse had a toe injury that kept him out against Ball State. Dierking has been battling sore ribs and, according to coach Danny Hope, didn't take a single practice rep last week. Keith Carlos, a receiver converted to running back, is dealing with a stress fracture in his foot.
Hope said after the game that Edison, Ross and Siller ran the ball "strictly out of necessity." And Purdue still moved the ball on the ground, as Henry led the way with 65 rushing yards on 10 carries, followed by Edison (8 carries, 55 yards).
Dierking is getting healthier, but McBurse and Carlos likely will be held out of practice again this week. There's an outside chance they could play Saturday against Toledo, but Purdue likely needs to get creative again.
"There's still no telling who we're going to have available at the running back spot," Hope said Tuesday. "To reach [200 yards] with a new offensive line and a bunch of guys, most of them weren't running backs on our roster, is real credit to our offensive coaches. It was a real testament to our recruiting efforts paying off."
Purdue did get some good news on the injury front as Marve will be fine after sustaining a bruised knee in the first half against Ball State. He returned to the field after halftime but left again as the swelling and soreness increased.
"He'll be a little bit limited early in practice this week," Hope said, "but we feel like he's going to be OK for the game."