Oregon running back Jeremiah Johnson says he's ready for Purdue, although he may wear a harness to protect his shoulder.
EUGENE — Oregon running back Jeremiah Johnson says he's ready for Purdue, although he may wear a harness to protect his shoulder.
Johnson was wearing the harness this week in practice as the No. 16 Ducks prepared to visit the Boilermakers on Saturday.
On Tuesday, nobody was allowed to hit him yet.
"It's preventative. I'll just be wearing it for the week, and maybe something a little smaller for the game," Johnson said. "It wasn't that hard to get used to. It's just a matter of knowing where my shoulder can go and the strength of my arm."
Johnson injured his shoulder on Oregon's first series of the 66-24 victory over Utah State last Saturday.
He said his shoulder simply popped out of joint. Once the trainers popped it back in, he thought he was headed back out. The trainers decided to keep him out of the game as a precaution.
As it turned out, junior college transfer LeGarrett Blount picked up the slack, with 18 carries for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
Still, Johnson did gain 37 yards on a single carry against the Aggies. In the opener against Washington, he ran for 124 yards, a career high.
Johnson joked that the harness prevented him from catching the ball. Kind of.
"It's all good. The harness won't let me go over my head, but I got a cool left hand that will help me leap up," he said laughing. "It's good."
How'd it happen?
The last and only time that Oregon met Purdue was back in 1979. That was a 13-7 Boilermakers' victory in West Lafayette, Ind.
So Purdue coach Joe Tiller explained how it came to be that the Ducks would revisit the Boilermakers.
Tiller had coached former Oregon athletic director Bill Moos and the two had become close friends. At one time, Moos suggested Oregon play Purdue, jokingly adding they could schedule so far out that neither of them would still be at the schools when the idea came to fruition.
The next year, Moos suggested the matchup again, and Tiller thought maybe it was a good idea.
"At that time they had lost I believe back-to-back road games at Michigan State and at Wisconsin, one one year and one the next year," Tiller said. "I thought, this is a good football program. If we can get them on the road, who knows?"
But that was before coach Mike Bellotti and the Ducks began to up their profile on the national scene, Tiller said.
So now, he's thinking — albeit jokingly — of a compromise.
"I think he should loan us at least four players. I think that should be the trade-off. Two on offense, two on defense," Tiller said. "He can even pick the two on either side he wanted to give us. It wouldn't matter."
Purdue has not defeated a ranked opponent since 2003, when the Boilermakers defeated then-No. 10 Iowa. ... The Boilermakers are coming off a 42-10 victory over Northern Colorado. ... The Ducks' defense has yet to intercept an opponent this season. ... The Seattle Seahawks earlier this week released former Oregon receiver Jordan Kent, then the next day signed former Oregon receiver Samie Parker.