PURDUE: Four Days and Counting

Despite a disappointing 3-8 season this fall, Coach Joe Tilller's team still has a handful of players who will create problems for the Hoosiers on both sides of the ball. Today HoosierNation.com looks at four of those players as we continue our day-by-day preview of this weekend's match-up with "Four Names to Know"…

Kory Sheets, RB - Sheets' big numbers (219 carries, 1,070 yards, 13 TDs) is perhaps exceeded by the disharmony he's created in West Lafayette this season. Last month he ripped quarterback Curtis Painter for "forgetting I'm out there" on passing routes, and he pointed his finger at just about everyone else on the team for the struggles. "I need some help," Sheets said before the Michigan State game. "I can't do it all by myself." Sheets' spiel prompted Coach Joe Tiller to not only make his running back off limits to the media for the remainder of the season, but to also throw his own haymaker. "As I said to our own coaches, that he has grown physiologically but not intellectually in the last four years," Tiller said. "So if you know him, that's not a surprise." While Sheets has been a major source of drama, he's also been a load for the Boilermakers' foes. He's the third-leading rusher in school history, and he's already become the school's career record holder in touchdowns. Six of his 51 career TDs have come against IU, and he's scored at least one touchdown in each of the past three years. But after going for 137 yards against IU as a freshman in 2005, the Hoosiers have limited him to 54.5 yards/game in the last two meetings.

Ryan Kerrigan, DE - the sophomore defensive end leads the Boilermakers in both sacks (7) and tackles for loss (10), but he's probably an even bigger concern than those numbers might suggest. The 6-4, 255-pounder from Muncie suffered a knee injury in fall camp and had to wear a knee brace for the first month and a half of the season. But since removing the brace before the Oct. 11 match-up against Ohio State, Kerrigan has been on a tear. He started off with two sacks against the Buckeyes, and added three more sacks against Michigan Nov. 1. He added another sack of Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi last weekend, giving him six sacks in his last five games. He's also had 32 tackles and nine tackles for loss during that time span compared to 21 tackles, one sack and one tackle for loss in Purdue's first five games.

Desmond Tardy, WR - Fellow wideout Greg Orton might be the team leader with 65 receptions, but it's Tardy who enters the game on a roll. The fifth-year senior is coming off a 13-catch, 131-yard, one-touchdown effort in Saturday's 22-17 loss to Iowa, and he also had a 10-catch, 175-yard, one-touchdown performance earlier this season against Notre Dame. Tardy enters the game with 58 receptions for 782 yards and four touchdowns and is finally living up to some of the hype that he had after winning Indiana Mr. Football honors in 2004 as the quarterback at Indianapolis' state champion Warren Central H.S. squad. Tardy had only 17 career receptions entering his final season, but has finally emerged as a top target for Boilermaker quarterback Curtis Painter. Tardy is also a threat in the return game, where he's averaging a team-best 27.4 yards/ kick return and is the team's primary punt returner as well.

Anthony Heygood, LB - it hasn't necessarily been a good season for the Purdue defense, but Heygood can't be the one to blame. Heygood is among the conference leaders with 107 tackles in 11 games, and he's had at least nine tackles in five of the last six games. His tackles for loss have dipped from 15 in 2007 to only six this season, but he's been the most consistent performer on that side of the ball for Joe Tiller's squad. The 6-2, 230-pounder is also someone to keep an eye on when it comes to special teams. Heygood is the up man on Purdue's punt team, and he broke free for a 61-yard run on a fake punt against Michigan. It should come as no surprise that Heygood is a capable performer with the ball in his hands, since he was the nation's 20th-ranked running back as a high school senior at Cardinal O'Hara H.S. in Chester, Penn.

What's coming up:
On Monday - Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday Four Names to Know
On Wednesday – Three Key Match-Ups
On Thursday – Two Big Concerns
On Friday – One Bold Prediction


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