Kickoff: Notre Dame State at Purdue, 8 p.m., Saturday
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Can surgery keep Purdue safety Landon Feichter off the field for the rest of the season?
Coach Darrell Hazell said it likely will be six to eight weeks for Feichter to recover from Tuesday morning's surgery to fix a broken bone in his right leg.
That's for most people. Feichter, a former Bishop Dwenger standout, has spent his college career defying the odds, starting when he went from lightly regarded freshman walk-on to scholarship player who led the Big Ten in interceptions -- and Purdue in tackles -- last season.
Here's tough Feichter is. A photo surfaced during last Saturday's win over Indiana State. Feichter was on the sidelines celebrating a Boiler moment. The redshirt junior had casts on both hands from broken bones (yes, he played with them). His right leg was in a brace because of a broken fibula near his ankle suffered during the game. No matter. He was very much in the Gold and Black moment.
Now, he's sidelined, and it's going to hurt, especially with No. 21 Notre Dame (1-1) coming to Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday.
“It's unfortunate,” Hazell said. “The guy has had three broken bones in the last few months. You feel bad for the kid. He wants to be out there so bad, but, unfortunately, that's part of the game we play and love.”
Hazell wouldn't say Feichter was out for the season. Feichter could be back as early as the end of October, although mid-November might be more realistic.
“We'll have to play it by ear, so maybe he is a medical redshirt,” Hazell said.
In two games, Feichter had eight tackles.
“He's been fantastic back there for us, getting guys lined up,” Hazell said. “He has great range. He's a smart, heady player. We'll miss him.”
Sophomore Anthony Brown will replace Feichter in the starting lineup, although Feichter's younger brother, Evan, also is in the secondary mix. Brown has six tackles, including one for a loss. Evan Feichter has played in both games but hasn't recorded a tackle.
“Anthony Brown will step in as the other safety,” Hazell said. “He'll do a good job for us. He's played quite a bit the first two weeks. He's athletic. We need him to step up and fill that big void that Landon is leaving.
As far as Evan Feichter, a redshirt freshman, Hazell said, “He's another smart guy back there that can get guys lined up. He plays extremely hard, so we have to try to create as much depth as we can there in the back end.”
With Landon Feichter out, cornerback Frankie Williams said, “We all have to be the quarterback. We all have to communicate effectively and keep talking. We've got to stress that more and more every day in practice, keep communicating to help each other out.”
Communication is among the keys for Purdue (1-1) as it looks to beat Notre Dame for the first time since 2007. The Irish are three-touchdown favorites.
“Our communication was much better (against Indiana State),” Hazell said. “We only had four issues. The first week it was closer to 18. We won't be satisfied until we're at 100 percent with the communication. That's where it all starts.”
Saturday's game could impact recruiting. Purdue and Notre Dame have both offered Carroll standout Drue Tranquill. NCAA rules prohibit Hazell from speaking about an unsigned recruit, but he did say “There are probably four or five guys that we're both talking to right now.”
“This game is huge,” he said. “There are bragging rights.
“They're sending a blimp to see us, so it's going to be nice. It's going to be a great environment.”
As far as being a big underdog, Williams said, “That just puts more fuel on the fire, but it doesn't change anything that we do. We have to worry about us, get our communication down and work hard every day.”