WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- Purdue football coach Joe Tiller fired back at running back Kory Sheets on Tuesday for saying he couldn't do it all by himself after Saturday's 48-26 loss at Northwestern.
"We all know Kory pretty well and anything Kory says doesn't surprise any of us, players nor coaches. Kory is liable to say anything at any time," Tiller said during his weekly news conference.
"Am I happy with some of the comments? No," Tiller added. "But I know Kory."
Sheets, a senior, voiced his displeasure at Purdue's inability to perform up to its offensive potential following the Boilermakers' fourth straight defeat.
"I can't do it all by myself," he told reporters. "I need some help."
Tiller was highly critical of Sheets' choice of words Tuesday.
"If any person thinks they're going to carry the team, perhaps we should just hand him the ball and stand on the sideline and cheer," Tiller said. "I don't know what kind of a game plan that would be, but perhaps we can try."
Sheets, who finished with 168 yards rushing and two touchdowns against Northwestern, also appeared to take a shot at struggling quarterback Curtis Painter when asked if Painter was capable of leading Purdue to more victories this season.
"No comment," Sheets said.
Painter, who finished 26-of-41 passing for 273 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions against Northwestern, said he didn't know what Sheets had said and declined to comment.
Painter said he and Sheets spoke on Sunday.
"He mentioned something to me about what he said -- he thought it got taken out of context," Painter said. "I guess it was aimed toward me."
Sheets, who leads Purdue with 733 rushing yards and 10 TDs this season, wasn't available to the media on Tuesday. The Boilermakers (2-5, 0-3 Big Ten) host No. 25 Minnesota (6-1, 2-1) on Saturday.
Tiller tried to put Sheets' comments in as positive a light as he could.
"The other side of the coin is he's playing hard and I think his heart is in the right place," Tiller said. "I don't think from a deep-seated point of view that he's malicious or thinks anything really bad about his teammates. I think he's frustrated. The guy is a competitive guy and he wants to win."
Despite their four-game losing streak, the Boilermakers' longest since the 2005 season, Tiller doesn't believe his team is coming apart.
"The guys I'm talking to believe there is (still hope), but maybe I'm only talking to guys I want to talk to," he said. "I ask team leaders, 'What's the mental state of our team?' and everybody assures me we're ready to go play another football game and there's a lot of football to be played yet."
Painter agreed: "I don't think we're splintering," he said. "I think now, maybe more than ever, is really the time for guys to step up, to really bring it together. We've still got some opportunity ahead this year."