Maryland football is on the road for the second consecutive week, this time to face Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana.
We talked with Travis Miller of Purdue’s SB Nation site Hammer and Rails to get some inside info on the team ahead of Saturday’s contest. We also answered a few of his questions too, and that will be up shortly on their site.
What are your biggest takeaways from Purdue’s season so far?
It was going to be more of a step back than originally thought. Jeff Brohm did some really good things in his first two seasons. 13-13 may not seem like much on the outside, but after four dreadful years under Darrell Hazell it felt incredible. This year some of the stopgap solutions like multiple graduate transfers on the offensive line ran out, however. The Boilermakers were going to be a much younger team at multiple positions even before all of the injuries. Now they’re even younger. The offensive line has not come together and they have been decimated by injuries to the few experienced players we entered with.
Purdue started the season with 20 players on scholarship that were juniors or seniors eligibility-wise. Six of them are currently out and a seventh, lineman Matt McCann, has missed time. That is significant.
Purdue has had a slow start to the season so far. What do you think has been the cause of that?
Injuries and inexperience. The team completely fell apart at Nevada and should have won that game. Things looked much better against Vanderbilt, but then injuries started to crop up. Since then the Boilermakers have lost their top LB, their top defensive lineman hasn’t played a snap yet, they lost our top QB, two senior RBs, and lately injuries have burned through five receivers including Moore. Combined with their offensive line, issues it has been rough.
Do you think Rondale Moore is going to play?
He is out this week and there is no timetable for him to return.
Who is a more unknown player Maryland fans should keep an eye on?
Freshman George Karlaftis is becoming a terror at defensive end. I am not using hyperbole when I say he would have been their best lineman DE last season, but he was still in high school. He leads the team in sacks, is second in tackles, and is still just a true freshman. He is going to be a star.
The numbers don’t reflect it but running back King Doerue has come on of late. After giving up 10 sacks last week our team rushing numbers were nill, but Doerue has played well in the last two games and he had more than 100 yards and 3 TDs from scrimmage against Minnesota.
What has the team stressed so far in practice this week?
The offensive line. Purdue changed up three starters this week after an awful performance against Penn State. Grant Hermanns has been fine at left tackle and McCann has a ton of experience, but we’re rolling with two new guards and a new center. It will be an adventure for sure.
What do you think of this week’s special jerseys? Are they the coolest the team has worn?
I love them. Purdue has mixed things up more often of late but this is great for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. The moon thing is a big deal for Purdue grads, so much so I formally excommunicated NASCAR drive Ryan Newman for denying the moon landing. This is a great tribute and a very cool look, even if UCF says they did it first.
Prediction time: Who wins this one and how? (plus a final score)
Well, I have been encouraged the last two weeks because there have been some positives. The defense did well in the last three quarters after a rough start at Penn State and the offense made a nice comeback behind Jack Plummer against Minnesota. I really think Purdue can put it together now. If it gets both aspects working, I think Purdue can win a shootout something like 38-35, but there are no guarantees. If the line is not drastically better its offense will go nowhere.
Thanks again to Travis for taking the time here. Be sure to check out Hammer and Rails for everything Purdue and follow the site on Twitter too.