Questions from the other side: Lafayette Journal & Courier’s Mike Carmin

Carmin gives insight to this week’s Minnesota vs. Purdue matchup.

A Gophers football player watches from the sidelines during a game on Sept. 16, 2017.

Jack Rodgers, Daily File Photo

A Gophers football player watches from the sidelines during a game on Sept. 16, 2017.

Paul Hodowanic

For this weekly column, the Daily interviews a journalist with knowledge on the Gophers’ next opponent. We interviewed Lafayette Journal & Courier’s Mike Carmin to gain insight on this week’s game against Purdue. Carmin is a football beat reporter for the Journal & Courier. 

What are the big storylines going into the Minnesota game?

“[The Boilermakers] beat Ohio State a couple weeks ago and then lost at Michigan State and now they’re coming off another game where they beat a ranked team … how do they respond? Can they keep up their same level of play? There’s a lot riding on the line for Purdue in this game. Number one is bowl eligibility. They can qualify for a bowl, and … they [can] stay in the hunt for the Big Ten West depending on what Northwestern does.” 

What has Purdue done to get back on track after their early season struggles?

“They only had four starters returning on defense. They had a lot of guys putting their hand [on] the ground for the first time, and it showed up in those first three games where they made mistakes that an experienced defense wouldn’t make. They didn’t tackle very well, they didn’t pursue very well. … There is still room for improvement, but they are doing a lot of those things better now than they did the first three games. Offensively, they just push the ball downfield a lot more than they did the first two weeks, and it’s paid off. They have a playmaker in freshman Rondale Moore that they’re trying to get the ball to a lot. … Quarterback David Blough has played really well since he became the full-time starter in the Missouri game. A combination of all those things have pushed Purdue to a point where they are 5-4 and on the cusp of doing something a lot of people didn’t think they would do when they started 0-3.”

The last two seasons, David Blough was entrenched in a quarterback battle. What put him over the top this year and what has he done to be so successful?

“I think it’s a combination of his experience, Jeff Brohm’s [play calling] and his and Brohm’s desire to be more aggressive. … And it doesn’t hurt to have Rondale Moore on your team to create some big plays. He didn’t win the battle coming out of camp; Elijah Sindelar was the starting quarterback against Northwestern the first game. Going into the Missouri game, Sindelar was going to start the game, but suffered an injury. David took over from there and hasn’t relinquished the job since. … He’s a big reason why Purdue is in the position it’s in.”

What does Purdue need to do to beat Minnesota?

“Number one, they have to continue to score a lot, they’ve done well the past few weeks when they’ve gotten off to a good start. … Defensively, they have to shut down Minnesota, they can’t let them put up the points they’re capable of putting up.”

Purdue’s defense ranks 12th in the Big Ten in total defense. What have they struggled with this season?

“The main thing they’ve struggled with is defending the pass. They’ve struggled to get pressure from their front four on the quarterback. … Their cornerbacks played better last week — they were a little bit more aggressive, a little bit closer to the line of scrimmage than they were against Michigan State, but it’s not the overall strength of the defense. They are a defense that does give up some points and does give up some yards, but for the most part they make those one or two stops during the game that gives the ball back over to the offense.”

Best player on offense?

Rondale Moore

Best player on defense?

Markus Bailey

Most “under-the-radar” player?

Terry Wright

Score Prediction?

Purdue 43 – Minnesota 25