Behind Enemy Lines: Purdue

It’s week six of the college football season and the Terps are off to a strong 4-1 start. Coming off a victory over Michigan State, the Terps  shift their attention to the Purdue Boilermakers from the west side of the Big Ten. The Boilermakers are 3-2 to start the season with two of its two losses are both in close games to Penn State and Syracuse who are both in the top 25. To learn more, we talked to Mike Carmin of the Journal and Courier who covers the Purdue team to get additional insight into Maryland’s next opponent.

John Gugs: With the Boilermakers being 3-2 after five weeks with those two losses very possibly ending in wins instead, what do the Boilermakers need to do to make sure they don’t lose another close game against the Terps?

Mike Carmin: Eliminate penalties and missed tackles. Penalties prevented Purdue from beating Syracuse and numerous missed tackles played a role in the loss to Penn State. The Boilermakers missed a couple of tackles at the end of the first half that helped PSU take a 21-10 lead. Purdue had 25 yards in penalties after taking the lead at Syracuse with under one minute left and was forced to kick off from its own 10. And the Boilermakers had two defensive penalties on the game-winning drive. They’re cut out some of the penalties but big ones are still hurting them.

JG: The Purdue offense is clearly a pass first offense with over 1,400 passing yards already through four weeks. Do you expect the Purdue offense to stick to the passing game as much as usual even with the Terps secondary being solid the last two weeks?

MC: Purdue has found balance in the last two games. The running attack has picked up with a pair of 100-yard rushers by walk-on running backs – Dylan Downing and Devin Mockobee – against Florida Atlantic and Minnesota. But Jeff Brohm is a pass-first coach and Aidan O’Connell is good for at least 40 attempts each game. The Boilermakers will try to do both but the strength is the passing game.

JG: Other than Charlie Jones who leads the team in every passing stat, who is a target that Terps fans should look out for on Saturday and why?

MC: Tight end Payne Durham. He’s the second-best option in the passing game. He works the middle of the field and is sure-handed. He’s usually featured in the red zone and normally delivers. He’s one of the top tight ends in the league.

JG: On defense, how do you expect Purdue to defend the Terps high powered balanced offense and why?

MC: Not sure how Purdue will go about it since Maryland is a different opponent than Minnesota. The defense will try to take away the Terrapins’ run but that’s a tall task with the talented in the backfield and the experienced offensive line. The Boilermakers haven’t defended well in space – missing tackles – and that’s led to big plays. If linebacker/safety Jalen Graham (tibia) returns that would help the defense.

JG: What two players on defense do you expect to have the biggest impact Saturday and why?

MC: If Graham plays, he’s in the mix. Cornerback Cory Trice is coming off his best game of the season. He had a pick-six the last time Purdue and Maryland played. Branson Deen can get after the quarterback from his defensive tackle spot. He’ll need a big game.

JG:How do you predict the game to go and why?

MC: You have to lean to Maryland based on the consistency it’s produced on offense this season. Lots of weapons on the perimeter and in the backfield. A big challenge for any defense. If Purdue’s offense can keep up, it’s a shoot-out down the wire. Turnovers will likely determine the winner. 38-32 Terps.

The Terps will be looking to be 5-1 for the first time sine 2013, and start 2-1 in conference play this season. It’s family weekend so expect a larger crowd then there has been this season. The game kicks off at noon and is airing on the Big Ten Network.

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