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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 6

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Page 47 of 91

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 6 48 focusing less on the actual positions they're play- ing but more on the fact that it gives them a bigger front. "The problem is we play Wisconsin, we play Michigan State, we play Northwestern," Holt said, "and these guys run the ball and they run the ball really well. You need guys who can tackle. I don't care whether we're nickel, or base (4-3), we need to stop the run and go from there." Secondary Last season, Purdue's secondary was secondary to the front seven. It might be flipped now. The Boilermakers' primary strength lies in the back half of the defense, particularly because of Thieneman and Mosley but also due to the presence of young cornerbacks who might be able to make an impact right now. No Boilermakers enjoyed better springs than cor- nerbacks Major and Mackey, who went from sec- ond-teamers on Day 1 to the first team by the fifth practice. And although veteran Tim Cason had earned a No. 1 spot back by the spring game, jumping ahead of Mackey, that said more of the veteran than of the rookie. After struggling with maturity at points in his tenure, as he admitted in the second half of last season, Cason was more dialed in than ever before. "He had a solid spring," Mosley said. "… I like his approach. He watched film, made sure to take care of his body. He's practicing his tech- niques. He matured a lot throughout this spring." But if Cason should suffer anoth- er setback — a former seven-game starter, he was unavailable at the be- ginning of last season after not tak- ing care of an academic issue, then was slow to work back in — Purdue has other talented, albeit inexperi- enced, options. Major and Mackey have prototypi- cal looks for corners, at 6-foot, 190 pounds and 5-11, 185, respectively. Major's a bit more physical, and he showed that during the spring game, locking up with receivers down the field and knocking a cou- ple sideline passes away. Mackey has a little more speed, and perhaps because of it seems to be more of a ball-hawking playmaker. He returned an inter- ception for a touchdown in the spring game, jump- ing a short hook in the flat for the pick six. He'd shown similar closing speed throughout practices before the game, as well. "We feel good about those two guys," Holt said. "They're two good prospects, and they want to be good. They're good in the weight room. We expect good things from them." Cornerback might be the only position defensively that the Boilermakers have even a bit of depth. Ca- son, Major and Mackey are probably the top options as potential starters in the fall, but Purdue has se- niors Antonio Blackmon and Kamal Hardy, as well. The former has played in 22 games in his career, both as a cornerback and as a nickel, so his versa- 765.447.4165 | My Community. My Choice. Robert J. Hagen, MD Peter J. Torok, MD Daniel J. Daluga, MD Michael E. Highhouse, MD John T. Bauman, MD Mark C. Page, MD Michael D. Krauss, MD Joel A. Virkler, DO THE AREA'S PREMIER ORTHOPAEDIC AND SPORTSMEDICINE CENTER

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