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Purdue safety Landon Feichter, a Bishop Dwenger graduate, led the Big Ten with four interceptions last season. Coaches expect to rely on the junior to make decisions on the field this year.

Purdue coaches high on Feichter

Dwenger grad brings hustle, leadership to secondary

Bishop Dwenger graduate and Purdue junior safety Landon Feichter led his team in tackles in 2012.

Unfortunately, most of those tackles were well downfield.

Feichter registered 80 total tackles for a team that gave up 31.2 points and 415.8 yards per game, good for 10th and 11th in the Big Ten.

The Boilermakers were in the bottom half of the conference in every defensive category except interceptions. Purdue tied for the top of the Big Ten with 14 of those in 2012.

“If he’s making (tackles) after a 2-yard gain, I’m fine with that,” coach Darrell Hazell said. “If he’s making them 12 yards down the field, I’m not fine with that.”

Purdue’s defensive scheme will give Feichter a chance to rack up tackles again this season – more of the short-gain kind than the long-yardage type, Hazell hopes.

“He’s a downhill player,” Hazell said. “He should make those kinds of plays.”

Feichter knows that.

He was the Defensive MVP after 13 starts for former coach Danny Hope last year, and the Fort Wayne native picked up honorable mention All-Big Ten honors from the media.

He led the conference with four interceptions as a sophomore as well.

“Honestly, I think we can be contenders for the best secondary in the Big Ten,” Feichter said after the second practice of the preseason Aug. 4 in West Lafayette.

“We’ve got three returning starters and obviously Frankie (Williams), who played a major role last year. It would be a disappointment if we weren’t. … The defense does put me in situations to make plays, and I’ve just got to live up to those plays.”

Defensive backs coach Jon Heacock sees a lot of potential in Feichter, as well as the rest of his secondary.

Feichter, junior safety Taylor Richards and senior cornerback Ricardo Allen will anchor the defensive backs this season.

“He’s a veteran back there, he and Taylor both,” Heacock said. “Those guys have had a lot of reps, and they got to be guys that they got to know what I’m thinking.

“As we get into this process, I’ll be in the box on a Saturday, and they’ve already got to be able to fix problems. That’s what I expect of those guys.”

Feichter has high expectations of himself as well and has been a hustle player throughout camp.

The 6-foot, 189-pound run stopper said Heacock has raised the expectations in the secondary, and Purdue’s defensive backs have responded.

“He talks to us in the film room a lot and teaches us the basic things and just the little things you wouldn’t even think of,” Feichter said.

“One thing we got to work on is communication. … Especially during individual drills, he gets on our case. If we do it in individual drills, it’s going to transpire into team period.”

Although the system is new and the standards are different, Feichter is one of the players who has to be ahead of the curve. For Heacock, Hazell and the Boilermakers, he seems to be.

“When you have two veterans out there, you don’t have time to draw it up on the chalkboard,” Heacock said. “They got to fix the problems on the field, and that’s what Landon Feichter can do, and that’s what Taylor can do.

“The veterans have to fix the problem when it happens – before it ever gets to me on the phone, on the sideline, because by then it’s too late.”

smorrison@jg.net

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