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Talking to the Enemy: Q&A with Hammer and Rails

Maize n Brew goes behind enemy lines to talk with Travis Miller of Hammer and Rails about the Purdue Boilermakers. Where are their strengths, and are they a threat to take the Big Ten?

Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Maize n Brew shared a few thoughts with Travis Miller of Hammer and Rails, the SB Purdue community, in order to learn a bit more about the Purdue Boilermakers and the challenge that they present to Michigan this Saturday.

Anthony: Do you have any QB fears of your own in regards to Caleb TerBush? He racked up solid numbers against Marshall but struggled against a more talented Irish team.

Travis: TerBush has not looked as sharp as he did last year and when Robert Marve has played, Marve has been better. So far, TerBush has had one atrocious interception per game. If Marve is indeed a possibility and can make it through a full game I would prefer him, but even if Marve does play I have my doubts he can stay on the field. Playing on a partially torn ACL is just too risky.

Danny Hope has raved about TerBush through fall camp, but we have yet to see it on the field. We're all confident that the Notre Dame game ends differently if Marve is on the field instead of TerBush. TerBush has been incredibly ineffective in the third quarter as well. For some reason this team has not come out of halftime well offensively, and terBush is a big reason for that.

Anthony: How do you expect Purdue to approach Denard Robinson defensively, and do you think they'll be effective in neutralizing him?

Travis: I think you'll see a lot of what we have done the last two years. We've been effective in that we've held him under 70 yards rushing each time. Fitzgerald Toussaint and Vincent smith have been the ones that have hurt us. Two years ago Ryan Kerrigan sacked Robinson four times and Robinson turned the ball over four times, but Purdue lost because our offense was dreadful against a really bad Michigan defense.

I look for Kawann Short and Ryan Russell to have a big day getting after Robinson if we're going to win. Short has played like an All-American in all four games this year, so him getting through the offensive line and being disruptive is critical.

Anthony: In what areas do you think Purdue has a clear advantage? Can Purdue take advantage of a Michigan defensive line that only has one legitimate performance to its name?

Travis: I think our defensive line is the biggest strength of the team. Everyone knows of Short and Russell is coming along, but guys like Bruce Gaston, Ryan Isaac, Brandon Taylor (son of NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor ), Jalani Phillips, and Robert Maci have given us a line that is both deep and rich in talent. They've been great against the run so far.

As far as offensively, I like our running game. We didn't try to run much against Marshall, but Akeem Hunt has been a big play waiting to happen. Akeem Shavers tends to get the hard yards between the tackles, but Hunt and Raheem Mostert are extremely fast on the edge. We want to get them the ball in space because they can make big plays happen.

Also, there is word that Ralph Bolden may play in this game too. I don't know how much we'll get out of a guy coming off of a third torn ACL, but he is an experienced back.

Anthony: How much hate does the Purdue fan base have for Roy Roundtree? Is it a joy to see that his production has fallen off greatly in the last two seasons, or is it a nonissue at this point?

Travis: I think a lot of Purdue fans have forgotten him by now. I know he's had big games against us in his career, so I am not counting him out. Our more recent hatred is getting spurned by Russell Bellomy, who did roughly the same thing as Roundtree. We have a couple of guys we like waiting in the wings at quarterback (Austin Appleby and 2013 Four-star Danny Etling), but Bellomy left some bad blood.

Anthony: Do the Boilermakers become one of the clear favorites to win the Big Ten if they defeat Michigan, or is it just proof of a weak year for a conference that has no clear leaders?

Travis: I think we become a favorite mostly because we can still win a very weakened division by beating Wisconsin next week. That is by far the bigger game given the state of the Leaders Division. Win that game and we can win the Division at 5-3 or maybe even 4-4.

I don't want to go to Indy on a technicality though. I want to finish ahead of OSU and PSU on our own merits. Beating Michigan gives us some respect that we probably would not get if we advance to Indy as a third place team at 4-4 in a tie with Wisconsin and behind OSU and PSU.

I for, for one, am tired of hearing about the brilliant genius that is Urban Meyer for having OSU at 5-0 when all they are is Braxton Miller running around doing Braxton Miller things. No offense, but they are no different than Michigan. At least you guys have played real teams. I want to beat Michigan because if gives us a leg up on finishing ahead of them and we don't have to hear about any potential championship having an asterisk because of their ineligibility. We've got a chance to win this thing outright, so I want it.

Make sure to check out Hammer and Rails to see what I had to say about Michigan and how the Wolverines plan to approach Purdue.