Know Thy Opponent: Purdue

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Minnesota welcomes Purdue to TCF Bank Stadium for a Saturday afternoon game this weekend. We chatted with Mike Carmin who covers the Boilermakers for the Lafayette Journal and Courier to learn about Purdue. You can follow Mike on Twitter @carminjc.

GopherSports: Can you give us a brief scouting report on Purdue? They entered the season with a lot of hype, but have been handed some close defeats this year by Notre Dame and Ohio State. What is the team's mindset entering the game at Minnesota?

Mike Carmin: I think after last week's game at Ohio State it is changing a little bit. It is heading upward. That game went to overtime and was a game that they felt they should have won. But their performance was a lot better than against Michigan and Wisconsin where they were beaten soundly at home. So it was a step in the right direction. The key now for them is to continue to move forward. They are also getting into the part of the schedule that is not as difficult as it was the first three games, so they to take advantage of these last five games and get themselves in a situation where they can get back to another bowl game.

After the Ohio State game you would think things were coming around, but coming into this year there was a lot expected from Purdue. They thought with the situation in the Leaders Division that they had a shot to get to Indianapolis and play in the Big Ten title game. That does not look like it is going to be the case unless there is a monumental collapse by Wisconsin. And Purdue would have to win out. I feel like Minnesota and Purdue both have a similar approach in that they both feel like they can win this game. They both feel like they need to win this game to continue on the paths that they have set out

GS: Purdue like Minnesota has played three quarterbacks this season. Who can we expect to see on Saturday?

MC: Caleb TerBush is going to start and it should be similar to last week at Ohio State where he took 99.9 percent of the snaps. They did put Rob Henry back there a couple of times to take a couple of snaps in a pseudo-wildcat situation, but TerBush played almost the entire game. I expect him to take the majority of the snaps unless there is an injury or the game gets out of hand one way or another. Purdue had been rotating quarterbacks most of the year. Robert Marve got hurt against Notre Dame. He is playing on a torn ACL, which is his third one. He looked good one game and then did not look good one game, but I think they just decided to go with TerBush for now.

GS: Coach Kill talked this week about how good the Purdue defensive front is. Can you talk about them? Their plan has to be to try and rattle freshman quarterback Philip Nelson, right?

MC: I would be surprised if that is not their plan. If you watched Purdue's defensive front against Michigan and Wisconsin you would be like, "What is all the hype about?" because Purdue gave up 467 yards on the ground to Wisconsin. But they kind of redeemed themselves last week by keeping Braxton Miller in check. Carlos Hyde had a couple of big gains, but not like Montee Ball and Denard Robinson had in the two weeks before. They feel like that is their strength and they have not wavered from that. I believe that is the strength of their defense. They just need them to play better and maybe last week straightened that out. I would anticipate that they will do everything they can to get pressure on the freshman quarterback. Whether they can or not remains to be seen. The two defensive tackles are for real in Kawann Short and Bruce Gaston. They are solid, solid players. Ryan Russell at defensive end has come a long way and continues to get better so they have a pretty good defensive front.

GS: Who is an under-the-radar player Minnesota fans should pay attention to on Saturday?

MC: Safety Landon Feichter. I guess the bad news is that he has led the team in tackles the last two weeks and you never want your safeties to lead your team in tackles because you are not getting production from up front. He is a walk-on and still does not have a scholarship, but he has come up with some plays. He has four interceptions this year and returned one for a touchdown. He seems to be in the mix of things and is making plays on defense and disrupting things. They would like for him to not lead the team in tackles, but the plus side is that he is active and he is involved.

GS: What is the key to Purdue winning this game?

MC: I think they really need to establish a running game. If you look at the numbers Minnesota is one of the top pass defense teams in the country. You can look at that in two ways. Is their secondary strong and are they getting pressure on the quarterback and teams are not able to throw effectively? Or are teams choosing to run against them and having success running against them? But based on the numbers, Purdue is going to have to establish a running game to be successful against Minnesota.

Then they will also have to rattle the freshman quarterback. That has to be the plan. If you can get him out of rhythm, and I am not sure he has played long enough to know what his rhythm is yet. But if they can disrupt him a little bit, which will then disrupt their offense then I think Purdue should be in good shape.

GS: You talked about establishing the run. Can Gopher fans expect to see Akeem Shavers carrying the ball or who will get a lot of reps?

MC: I think Akeem Shavers will start. I think Ralph Bolden will also play. Bolden is coming off his third ACL surgery. He played two weeks ago against Wisconsin and he got more snaps last week. He was their leading rusher last year and was their leading rusher in 2009. I expect him to be more involved in the game plan during these last five games. Shavers will start, but I would expect to see Shavers and Bolden in the backfield a lot on Saturday.

GS: Mike, thanks for your time. We will see you on Saturday.

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