Questions from the Other Side: Purdue Exponent Staff Reporter Atreya Verma

Jack White

For this weekly column, the Minnesota Daily will interview someone knowledgeable about Minnesota’s next opponent. Atreya Verma, a staff reporter for Purdue’s student newspaper, the Exponent, was interviewed this week.

Verma is a sophomore at Purdue University.

[It’s been a] pretty up and down year for Purdue. What has the team done well and what do they need to improve on?

Up and down is one way to put it. I think they established a quarterback that they can go forward with, whoever the coach ends up being next year … I think [sophomore quarterback David Blough] has done a good job — he has shown that he has an arm that can compete in the Big Ten. [They can] improve on a lot of things. First off, run defense … I’m pretty sure they’re near the bottom of the league in run defense … Pretty much every running back has a career day against Purdue … Some of that has to do with injuries and lack of depth, but a lot of that is just missed tackles and coaching, so that’s probably something they need to focus on.

What do you see from Blough in terms of a skill set?

He’s got a really good arm. Depending on the play call, we’ve seen some different things from [interim head coach Gerad Parker] since he took over two games ago. We’ve seen a couple more trick plays. We know [Blough] can throw the deep ball pretty accurately … When he gets in a rhythm, he can string together a drive down the field. That’s usually what you get from Blough. In the running game, Markell Jones, their running back, has been dinged up this year [and] in and out of the lineup with a shoulder injury and a couple knickknack things, so the pressure has sort of been on Blough, and he’s done all right. He can make the passes when he needs to in tight spaces.

What do you make of the decision to fire Darrell Hazell after the sixth game of the season?

I think you could see it coming. There were rumblings after the Maryland game when they lost 50-7 — it was really embarrassing. It’s not like it was a huge shock. He had a terrible conference record … it’s not all Hazell — a lot of it has to do with talent issues [and] recruiting. There’s no depth on defense, so when they lose a cornerback or a linebacker … they just don’t have the talent to compete at this level. Even when Hazell was coaching he probably knew it was coming to an end as well.

Was it a surprise at all to see Parker hired with him only being a wide receivers coach before?

Yeah, a little bit. I think there [were] a couple people on the staff that have been here a bit longer. I think Parker has also been a recruiting coordinator here, so he knows a lot of the players and they like him a lot. From what we can tell, there’s a connection there. I doubt it was to give anyone who replaced Hazell an audition for the job. More of, how do we get the players to stay motivated to finish the season, and Parker is the right person to do that … You can tell when he speaks to just the media that he really cares about the kids. I think he was right for the job … I think he’s doing the best he can.

What would a new head coach have to bring to the table for Purdue to find success in the future?

I think it has to start with recruiting and talent. The lack of depth on the football team makes it almost impossible [for Purdue] to compete with a lot of the middle or top Big Ten schools after they get past the first-string players … They need someone who can play defense. Hazell could never win two games in a row, I believe, in his tenure here, so there has to be a change in mentality and a change in talent level and an upgrade in talent level — those would be the two things a coach would have to bring.

What would Purdue have to do to beat Minnesota?

I would say stop the run. They have to be able to get up and get off the field on third downs and not make stupid penalties … There were many times that penalties just extended drives — stupid pays, offside calls on third and four that are just kind of unacceptable on a disciplined team … The offense has shown it can pretty much keep up when it’s in a rhythm. I think they’ll have to play really, really good defense to have a chance to beat the Gophers.

Speed Round Questions

How many wins will Purdue get this year?

Four

David Blough as a quarterback on a scale from 1-10?

6 1/2

Purdue’s best offensive player?

DeAngelo Yancey.

Purdue’s best defensive player?

Ja’Whaun Bentley.

Blough throw for over/under 300 yards against Gophers?

Under.

Big Ten Championship winner?

Michigan.

Big Ten Player of the Year?

Jabrill Peppers.

Heisman winner?

Lamar Jackson.

National Championship winner?

Alabama.

Score prediction for the Purdue-Minnesota game?

45-24 Minnesota.