MADISON -- Gary Andersen addressed the media Thursday night before his squad heads to West Lafayette, Ind., to face the Purdue Boilermakers on Saturday. He stressed the importance of winning the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball, saying Purdue poses a big challenge up front on both offense and defense.
The biggest news of the week was the heartbreaking information that Derrick Tindal's mother died Tuesday night in Florida. The freshman cornerback from Fort Lauderdale missed last week's game after he went to see his mother as her condition deteriorated. Andersen did say Tindal is traveling with the team and is expected to play.
"He has practiced and he wants to play, which is a credit to him," Andersen said. "The kids on the team have been absolutely fantastic with him. I'm sure he is going to have his ups and downs as he goes through this process, but it's important to him to get on that airplane and we'll definitely allow him that opportunity."
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Andersen did say that he has concerns about Tindal's well-being off the field because of the situation. He said that their will be ups and downs throughout the process, but that the team and the coaching staff will be with him every step of the way.
"My No. 1 goal is to support him, just like I told his mom when we recruited him, we will be there to support him. And we will be," Andersen said. "He's a tough-minded, young kid whose battling right now and that battle is very tough."
The biggest injury news of the week was that sophomore tight end Eric Steffes suffered a major knee injury. Andersen said they do not have exact results or a timetable yet for Steffes, but that it "doesn't look good at this point."
Better injury news comes for linebacker Michael Trotter and wide receiver Alex Erickson being ready to play in the game on Saturday. Andersen said he has no worries about them being full participants this weekend.
Saturday's game will kickoff at 11 a.m. on ESPNU.
-- Andersen credited the linebacking group's play this season to their willingness to listen, learn and grow.
-- Andersen had high praise for defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and the rest of the coaching staff for retooling a defense that lost so many parts from last season.
-- Andersen said that it would be tough to just run the ball all game against Purdue. He said a key to success will be getting the passing game working.
-- Cornerback Darius Hillary earned high praise from Andersen for his ability to be more of a lock-down corner and have a better understanding of what offenses are doing.