It has been a long time since TDG has done a Q&A with a blogger from an upcoming Gopher opponent, but my friend BoilerTMill from Hammer and Rails is always an excellent source of all things Purdue. Befpre the actual Q&A I'd like to encourage Gopher Nation to not injure Robbie Hummel this weekend. Purdue fans are concerned...
I don't think anyone thinks that beating Minnesota at home is impossible. In fact, I think more people are concerned about the health of Robbie Hummel. Remember, he had his first tear at Minnesota and second when the Gophers came to town last year. Therefore, the mission of the weekend is not to win a football game, but to protect from sabotage.
That statement is followed by some helpful tips to keep Hummel safe during this dangerous weekend. I see nothing to gain by injuring him again, I'd rather beat Purdue with a healthy Hummel (it will be better for our RPI).
On to the Q&A...
GN - How confident are you that this will be a win for Purdue? With the state of the Boilermaker program this has to be one of only a couple remaining games where you feel like you should win this game.
If we do what we should do I am fully confident we win. this team has shown it can run the ball when it wants to, we have avoided turnovers for the most part, and we've stopped the run against everyone not named Notre Dame. Unfortunately, we haven't runt he ball as much as we should. If we exert are will and run it down Rice's throat there is no doubt we win hat game by double digits. the same is true with MTSU. We ran against SEMO and dropped nearly 400 yards and seven TD's on the ground. Sure, it was a bad FCS team, but those are still good numbers.
So far this coaching staff has shown a flat out refusal to not only play to our strengths, but to challenge the weaknesses of another team. No offense to you guys at all, but I am only confident in a win because Minnesota hasn't shown it can get out of its own way yet.
GN - We are in year one of a rebuilding effort after a three and a half year era that was an epic fail. So the ugly season we are enduring is not completely unexpected. But Purdue is in year three of the Danny Hope era and continuing to struggle to gain traction in the Big Ten. How is Hope perceived within the fan base and is his seat starting to warm up a little?
The fans want him gone, but the administration has been silent on the matter. It's amazing too because his first year, when we were 5-7 and really only a handful of plays from nine wins, things were very promising. Most of it comes from questionable playcalling. the last five minutes of the Rice game, where we trailed by two, were handled about as badly as you can handle the final minutes of a game. We botched timeouts. We had a chance to pound the ball and score a touchdown, but leave time on the clock, but we decided to run the clock down, rush the field goal unit on the field, and it lead to poor protection and a blocked field goal.
The way Hope handled this week's issue with Robert Marve on Twitter (covered over at my site) was curious as well. the one thing he has done well is improve recruiting. We have probably our best class in about five years coming next season, but will Hope be here to coach them? I still hold out some hope for this year mainly because teams on our schedule like Minnesota, Penn State, Ohio State, and Indiana have looked so bad at times, but I question if we can plan for them.
GN - What are the primary weaknesses of Purdue? If Minnesota were to win, what are they exploiting to do so?
Throw over the middle on third and long. Your tight end will be roaming there wide open every single time. We have refused to adjust or cover it for years. In fact,t he more yards you have to gain the more open he will be. Also, we have zero pass rush for the first time in forever. We really, really miss Ryan Kerrigan as a one-man wrecking crew.
GN - Based on your preseason expectations and what you have seen through four games this year, what have been your biggest disappointments and surprises this year?
I've been severely disappointed in the way we fail to gameplan. We had two weeks to prepare for a night game on national TV and rolled over and died after one play. It's almost like Hope never took into account that we might have to play from behind at some point. We have only looked good during the SEMO game.
I have been surprised with Caleb TerBush though. I think Robert Marve is simply the better guy, but that is not to say TerBush is horrible. He's done a fine job in his first major career action and if we were running more and had a better defense he would be a very serviceable quarterback. He won't wow you with plays, but he doesn't make a ton of mistakes, either.
Be sure to check out Hammer and Rails to see how they are looking past us.