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Purdue University

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Heady Feichter leads Boilermakers’ defense

– Fifth-year senior safety Landon Feichter proved once again Saturday why second-year Purdue football coach Darrell Hazell refers to the Bishop Dwenger graduate as the Boilermakers’ defensive quarterback.

Smart. Heady. Always communicating from the secondary, Feichter made seven tackles and broke up a two-point conversion play for the Black team in the Gold team’s 12-7 spring game victory in Ross-Ade Stadium.

Obviously, the Purdue defense struggled frequently in 2013 when it finished 1-11, but with another year of experience and a new and energetic secondary coach, Feichter likes the potential for great improvement.

“Coach (Taver) Johnson came in here, and his emphasis is on being very disciplined and having a very disciplined defensive unit,” Feichter said. “Collectively as a secondary, I think we have done that.”

Feichter helped the Black team limit returning starting quarterback Danny Etling and the Gold team to two Thomas Meadows field goals and redshirt freshman running back Keyante Green’s 4-yard, game-winning touchdown run with 2:48 remaining in the final quarter.

That gave the Gold a 12-7 lead, but Feichter made a perfect read to break up Etling’s two-point conversion pass attempt over the middle.

“He has to be the quarterback of our defense,” Hazell said. “He has to get guys lined up, and then he has to bring a physical presence and be able to stay on the field for 12 games for us. Landon is an excellent football player.

“He is smart and is a great communicator. We need to have him on the field making those calls for us and getting guys lined up so they can make plays on the ball.”

Including Saturday’s Gold and Black game, Feichter is excited about what might happen in the fall.

“I think we did pretty well,” Feichter said of spring practice. “There’s always things you are going to find when you look at film. I am very proud of this defense. Again, there always is room for improvement. As a secondary, one thing that we always try to do is put something on the film that you are proud of.

“I think we have done that as a defense as a whole so far this spring. I am very interested to see if that carries over into the (2014) season.”

So is Hazell, whose motto for the spring to this team has been, “Live it, learn it and love it.”

Led by Feichter and defensive end Ryan Russell, the defense was the dominant unit. In all, the defense had seven sacks of quarterbacks Etling, Austin Appleby and freshman David Blough. Etling completed 10 of 17 passes for 96 yards and was not intercepted.

Blough, who played a bit for each team, was a combined 13 of 20 for 147 yards, including the Black team’s only touchdown, a 41-yard strike to junior receiver Danny Anthrop on the third quarter’s final play.

Appleby struggled, completing 7 of 16 passes, for only 21 yards. He was intercepted twice and lost a fumble for the Black team.

Hazell said after the scrimmage that he is not prepared to name a starting quarterback.