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Purdue notebook: Boilers change kickers

WEST LAFAYETTE - Turns out one Purdue player did lose his starting job Saturday.

And it wasn't the quarterback.

Coach Joe Tiller said junior Chris Summers will no longer handle kicking duties.

Summers missed two field goals and an extra point in a 20-6 loss to No. 6 Penn State.

Entering the game, Summers was 5 of 8 on field goals this season.

Freshman Carson Wiggs, who already handled kickoffs, will take over for Summers.

"I'm not going to stand here and watch that," Tiller said of Summers' kicks. "We've got a strong-legged guy (in Wiggs). Let's give him a chance. Let's go."

Special teams coach Mark Hagen said he decided at halftime that Wiggs would attempt any second-half field goals.

Summers will continue to be the team's punter, a role he acquired this season. But it sounds like there's little chance he'll regain his kicking duties.

"He's hitting the ball the same today as he has in the past, although he's had more misses in practice, too," Tiller said. "What you want a guy to do is kick his way out of that. Nothing succeeds like success. You'd like him to have success and go from there. Kicking the football is as much about mental as it is physical.

"I haven't talked with him about that because he's an upperclassmen. He's been through that freshman slump, and he had a good sophomore year. It's not like we're talking about a freshman kicker here."

As a freshman, Summers made only 8 of 20 field goals. Last season, he drilled 18 of 22.

Making changes

Purdue coaches hinted they'd change the defense this week to try to stop Penn State's running game.

That came in the form of a 4-3 defense.

The Boilermakers had used mostly five defensive backs this season to compensate for a lack of experience and depth at linebacker.

But after allowing nearly 200 yards rushing per game, Purdue went with three linebackers almost exclusively against the Nittany Lions.

Redshirt freshman Nickcaro Golding got his first career start, lining up alongside Joe Holland and Anthony Heygood at linebacker. True freshman Chris Carlino also got snaps, playing middle linebacker and pushing Heygood outside.

When Holland left the game briefly in the second half with an elbow injury, redshirt freshman DeVarro Greaves played.

The team used the nickel package sparingly, and a bit surprising, it was mostly in red zone situations.

Purdue had hoped to play mostly 4-3 this season, but an injury to projected starter Jason Werner curbed those plans.

"We look forward to the day we have Jason Werner back," Tiller said. "He was working out this week and was in the weight room working.

"We want to play the 4-3. Some of these young guys are starting to get better. So we have a chance to get better as we go through the schedule."

Getting a chance

Freshman running back Ralph Bolden seemed to be on his way to a redshirt year.

Tiller said that was the plan, depending on "how the other backs do." Apparently, the other backs are not doing good enough.

Bolden, who is coming off a knee injury from high school, played for the first time this season Saturday. He gained 2 yards on three carries.

He lined up mostly alongside Kory Sheets in the backfield.

Tiller said he expects to continue to get Bolden time.

"He's a guy who can make you miss in the hole," Tiller said. "I think he was a little tentative (Saturday), but it's because it's his first time playing college football. He played against the No. 6 team, so that's a good way to break in. I think Ralph will get a lot better as he moves along."

sclardie@jg.net

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