When it comes to intercepting passes, nobody in the Big Ten does it better than Purdue's Landon Feichter.
Could that be right? Could this walk-on safety from Bishop Dwenger really be leading the conference in interceptions, with four?
The numbers don't lie. Entering Saturday's game at Minnesota, the 6-foot, 189-pound Feichter has one more interception than teammate Josh Johnson, Ohio State's Travis Howard and Penn State's Michael Mauti. He also ranks among the Big Ten leaders with 41 tackles, including a career-high 12 against Wisconsin.
“He's doing everything right,” coach Danny Hope said. “If he was a couple of inches taller and 20 pounds heavier … his only down side is he's not the biggest safety. But he's very tough and courageous and fearless. He's very fast.
“When he was a younger player on the scout team, he really stood out. We'd watch film and say, who is this guy, this little guy running around making all kinds of plays, fighting for the ball, batting balls out of the air, ripping the ball out of a receiver's hands, fitting up, thudding up.
“He doesn't have any regard for his body whatsoever. He'll throw himself into the biggest ball carriers. He'll do all he can to get them to the ground.”
Such fearless play contributed to last year's shoulder injury. He played the season with it, then had winter surgery and missed spring practice. As a result, Feichter isn't reckless with his tackling approach.
“He uses good judgment against some of the bigger ball carriers,” Hope said. “He'll go down low rather than take them up high. But he plays the game the way it's supposed to be played.”
A big reason is he knows his assignment and follows it.
“He's very coachable because he has a lot of want to,” Hope said. “He's progressed with this football IQ.
“Some guys have certain things they hang their hats on, and it's hard to get them to add more to their arsenal. He's always been a wide-open guy who played fast and tackled hard, but didn't pay enough attention to the details. Now he does a good job with that.”
Hope's good-job comments included linebacker Sean Robinson, who continues to adjust to his switch from quarterback. He's played in seven games with 13 tackles. He started for the first time last Saturday at Ohio State.
“He's playing a lot of football for us,” Hope said. “We utilize Sean a lot on special teams. He's probably in our top three or four special teams performers production wise.
“He still has a lot of room for improvement, but the game is slowing down for him. He gives you great effort. He's smart and reliable and you can trust him.”
Purdue (3-4 overall, 0-3 in the Big Ten) looks to snap a three-game losing streak and get back into bowl consideration. It faces a Minnesota team that is also 0-3 in Big Ten play, 4-3 overall.
Tailback Donnell Kirkwood leads with 475 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The top receiver is A.J. Barker (25 catches, 442 yards, five TDs).
Whether at quarterback or receiver, Minnesota's MarQueis Gray remains an offensive threat. Because of injuries, he's been switched to full-time receiver, although he might play quarterback at times.
“Wherever he is,” Hope said, “he's very good. He's got great size, athleticism and speed.
“There's no telling where they'll line him at. You can tell he's not at full speed, but he's out there playing hard and trying hard. I assume he'll continue to get healthier and be a great player regardless of where they put him. He's a challenge wherever he is.”