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Marshall football: Purdue's Short is a handful

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short looks like he'll be a very popular man once the 2013 NFL Draft comes around.

He doesn't pay attention to the draft boards, but family and friends like to mention what experts think of him - Mel Kiper, Jr. rates him the 16th-best overall prospect, while Scouts, Inc. the 17th-best overall.

But does he know about both ratings mentioning his lack of consistency? Kiper posed the question on his first Big Board of the year and Scouts, Inc. rated his motor average.

It turns out he didn't have to look at the questions. He already was working on them.

Short knows that for his Boilermakers to succeed and for him to maintain his status as an elite defensive lineman, he must become a more consistent player.

He'll try to continue that progress when Purdue (2-1) hosts Marshall (2-2) at 3:15 p.m. Saturday in a game broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

Offseason film sessions with Purdue Coach Danny Hope made Short realize consistency is key.

A standout defensive tackle like him could fall back on his laurels. He was a first-team all-Big Ten selection last year by the media and a second-team pick by the coaches. Shouldn't that mean his effort was good enough? Not after watching his 2011 film.

"Watching some of last year's tapes with Coach Hope, I noticed I was a sometimes guy," Short said. "I wasn't consistent, play in and play out, when I was in the game. That was one of my biggest things, being consistent through the summer and transitioning it to the field.

"The coaches sat me down and said this is one of the things that's keeping your draft stock down and keeping you from where you want to be at the next level," he added. "I knew I had to do that, so I tried to take initiative."

Hope said Short has made his greatest strides since last season, and Duane Carlisle, Purdue's director of sports performance, has much to do with that. Carlisle is an advocate of promoting lean muscle mass, so Short is carrying his 315 pounds better on his 6-foot-3 frame than he has in the past.  

"When Kawann is playing his best, he is the best," Hope said. "That's a key for him this season and a key for our team this season: to get Kawann Short to play his best on every snap. He's much more consistent this season, but he's significantly better than a year ago."

Short's statistics in 2012 aren't jumping off the page, but part of that is opposing offenses avoiding the heart of the defensive line. Yet, with just six tackles, four of them are for a loss and he has three sacks and two blocked kicks in three games.

"Last week, we played against Eastern Michigan, it was frustrating that those guys were bouncing outside," Short said. "But I really can't control those things. I just have to make the plays that do come my way and try to get the ones that might be impossible to get."

Short knows the Boilermakers have their work cut out for them Saturday with Marshall's offense. The Thundering Herd not only leads the country in plays run, it also leads in plays that gain 10 yards or more. And if the last two games are any indication, defenses won't be sure what they'll face - a 432-yard passing day like Marshall's game against Ohio or a 334-yard rushing day like the Herd's game against Rice.

Considering Purdue has the 17th-ranked total defense in the FBS, allowing just 294.67 yards per game, Short said his crew is up for the challenge.

"From the jump, we knew they were a pretty good team and we knew they were going to come out and battle," Short said. "We need to prepare for both. We know they're pretty good in pass game. And we know they can be good in the run game. As far as the defense, we need have to stay focused on what we have to do and execute the calls the coaches call."

 Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.


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