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Purdue struggling with loss of Keller

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Most preseason evaluations of Purdue's offense pointed to the loss of top wide receiver Dorien Bryant, who set a team record with 6,219 all-purpose yards and led the Big Ten in receptions per game in each of his final three seasons. Though Bryant's production shouldn't be understated, anyone who watched Purdue knew tight end Dustin Keller would be the bigger loss.

Keller was a 6-foot-3, 240-pound matchup problem who finished his Purdue career with 142 receptions for 1,882 yards (13.3-yard average) and 16 touchdowns. As one Big Ten head coach told me this spring, "He was one of the best tight ends in the country. You played him in man, who takes him, the safety or the linebacker? You put a safety on him, you've got a size mismatch. You put a linebacker on him, you've got a speed mismatch."

Looking at Purdue's offense entering Week 7, the absence of a capable tight end who can catch short crossing routes or beat defenses down the field really stings. Junior Kyle Adams, who took all of the snaps with the first-team offense in preseason camp, has been out with a knee injury, and Purdue hasn't gotten much from the reserves.

The (Lafayette, Ind.) Journal and Courier's Tom Kubat addressed Purdue's lack of production at tight end:

After the first five games, Purdue has completed 113 passes but only five have been caught by the tight ends. Senior Jerry Wasikowski has three receptions for 19 yards, and redshirt freshman Colton McKey has caught two passes for nine yards.

Quarterback Curtis Painter admits things are different from last year when Dustin Keller caught 68 passes as a senior.

"Kyle is a great player but I don't think we're changing the game plan. I think all of our tight ends are the same style. They're good blockers. Dustin was kind of a rare case. He was a very athletic guy who was more of a receiver."

Senior wideouts Greg Orton and Desmond Tardy have filled the void left by Bryant, combining for 55 receptions and 723 receiving yards. But Keller's absence has really hurt the Boilers.