Notebook: Purdue up to Hope's expectations in preseason


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Wisconsin running back Montee Ball suffered his second concussion of the year on Sept. 22 and left the game in the second quarter against UTEP. But the running back isn’t expected to miss the Badgers’ showdown against Nebraska this weekend. 

Ball will “hopefully be cleared by Thursday or Friday,” Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said during a Big Ten teleconference on Tuesday.

Bielema said Ball will continue to condition and run with his teammates throughout the week, following the team’s “normal standard procedure” for head injuries.

The 2011 Heisman finalist suffered a concussion in August after being reportedly attacked in Madison, but neither Bielema nor the running back worry too much about the severity of the most recent concussion.

“I was told that Montee was going to be out, and I turned around, and he was standing right next to me cheering as loud as anybody,” Bielema said.  “He was pretty engaging.”

Ball has rushed for 360 yards on the season, even after managing only 40 yards and 1 touchdown against UTEP. Prior to the Sept. 22 game, Ball had accumulated more net rushing yards than the rest of the team combined, rushing for 368 rushing yards in three games.

Bielema said every concussion situation is unique, and as head coach, he isn’t involved in the process of clearing Ball for contact or competition. 

“I don’t make any medical decisions … we’re football coaches, we don’t belong in the training room, we don’t belong in the doctor’s office,” Bielema said. “We just go with what [the medical personnel] tells us to do … every concussion is a little bit different, every player is a little bit different, every situation is definitely different.”

Boilermakers making noise

Purdue sits near the top of the Leaders division, trailing only the undefeated but postseason-ineligible Ohio State and a Wisconsin squad that hasn’t performed up to standard. The Boilermakers have a 2-1 record — they had their bye-week on Sept. 22 — but Purdue’s only loss was by a mere 3 points to then-No. 22 Notre Dame.

With two Leaders teams ineligible for the Big Ten championship matchup, most observers picked Wisconsin to win the division. But after the Badgers nearly lost to Northern Iowa in week one, dropped a 10-7 game to Oregon State in week two, and won just 16-14 over Utah State, Purdue is starting to get more support.

Boilermaker head coach Danny Hope said his team knew all along that they were better than the public expected.

“We felt coming in to this season that we were going to be a good football team and that we were going to be contenders to win our division and compete for a Big Ten championship,” Hope said during a teleconference on Tuesday. “The performance of the other teams in our league right now has nothing to do with the goals that we set or the expectations that we have set for our football team.”

Hope pointed to his strong defensive line — consisting of tackle powerhouses such as Will Lucas, Josh Johnson, Ryan Russel and Kawaan Short, who have combined for 5 sacks and 51 yards for loss — and his star punter, Cody Webster, as reasons for the Boilermakers’ success.

Hope said he feels his team has “fared well” against its three nonconference opponents. Purdue won 48-6 and 54-16 blowouts against Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Michigan, respectively, and stayed close to the now-No. 10 Irish. The Gold and Black has racked up 1,411 yards of total offense while only allowing its opponents 879 yards.

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