Each week, a reporter covering the Gophers’ opponent will be my guest to break down his or her team. This week, it’s Mike Carmin of the Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier, who breaks down the Boilermakers.
Q: How have Purdue fans reacted to Jeff Brohm as coach? Do they see him as the man to return the Boilermakers to Big Ten contention?
A: From the beginning, Brohm appeared to be the right fit for the program. He’s a former college and NFL quarterback and Purdue is the Cradle of Quarterbacks, making it a near-perfect marriage on paper. His offensive style and laid back -- but demanding -- demeanor has meshed well with the fanbase, which is pleased so far with the team’s 2-2 start after four years of going nowhere. The team has played hard and with effort every game, and it’s hard to see that changing right now.
Q: What should Gophers followers expect to see out of how Purdue uses its two quarterbacks on Saturday?
A: 2-David Blough and Elijah Sindelar are two different quarterbacks. Blough is more mobile but relies on the short passing game and quick deliveries to generate production. He’s been the more accurate passer of the two, but Sindelar has been a victim of drops through the first four games. Sindelar has the stronger arm, giving the offense a chance to stretch the field, an area that needs to improve the rest of the season. Each one has started two games and both should play again this week.
Q: How big a loss will it be for Purdue with Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jacob Thieneman missing the first half because of the targeting penalties vs. Michigan?
A: It can be huge since Minnesota is going to run the ball and Bentley and Thieneman are two of the better defenders against the run. Purdue can’t afford to lose any frontline starters because it doesn’t have the depth on the roster to overcome those absences. Bentley has played well this season, leading the team in tackles and crushing hits. Thieneman gives the Boilermakers more physical play from the safety position.
Q: What can we expect emotionally at Ross-Ade Stadium for the first game since Joe Tiller’s passing?
A: Since Tiller’s first Purdue team is scheduled to be honored, it’s should be an emotional day at Ross-Ade Stadium. The 1997 team lost its first game at Toledo but upset Notre Dame at home the next week, and Tiller’s tenure was off and running, leading to 10 bowl games in 12 years. He’s a beloved figure around campus and this community, and I would expect the players to feed off the crowd’s emotion, especially early.
Q: What will the final score be Saturday afternoon, and how will the teams arrive there?
A: It probably comes down to which team can control the line of scrimmage. Purdue’s defensive line has played well this season and will look to bottle up the Gophers’ running game but will miss Bentley and Thieneman in the first half. Meanwhile, the Boilermakers offense had a lot of trouble moving the ball against Michigan’s defense, which isn’t a surprise. Purdue needs to find a running game but also give its quarterbacks time to execute in the passing game. I think playing Michigan’s defense two weeks ago gives the Boilermakers a slight edge. Purdue 25, Minnesota 19