Coming off a huge win over then-ranked Illinois, you’d think Purdue (4-3) would be…well…boiling as they head to the Big House in Ann Arbor to face No. 18 Michigan (6-1).
And they are.
Sure, the Boilermakers and coach Danny Hope are facing a tough matchup against Denard Robinson and the Wolverines, but they’ve kept the game well within reach through 30 minutes.
After two quarters, here are four things Purdue must do to stay in the game on the road against Michigan:
1. Contain Denard Robinson
The Boilermakers defense has done a solid job of keeping Denard Robinson in check. Take away a 32-yard scamper late in the first half, and Shoelace had compiled just four yards on his first eight carries.
That would be considered a success for Purdue, but they have to keep him contained as a passer as well. Which means they need to...
2. Put Pressure on Robinson in the Pocket
The Purdue defense had just six sacks through its first six games, but it had four against Illinois in its huge win last week.
Hope’s crew already has one sack against Robinson and Michigan today, but they need to keep the pressure on to force Shoelace into mistakes, bad passes and potential interceptions.
3. Take Control of the Line of Scrimmage on Defense
Michigan’s rushing game, led by Fitz Toussaint’s 75 yards, has moved the ball mostly at will against the Boilermakers defense. To stay in the game in the second half and to have any hope of shutting down the Wolverines on offense, Purdue’s defensive line has to find the holes in Michigan’s blocking, contain their running game and put some pressure on Denard Robinson.
4. Quiet the Crowd
Many of the Boilermakers aren’t used to playing in front of 105,000-plus screaming fans. It’s loud.
And with Purdue’s no-huddle, speed offense, being able to communicate is key.
Purdue did well to take the Michigan fans out of the game with their quick first drive. But Michigan took control as the half went on, and the crowd has remained loud and in the game throughout.
Long drives in which they control the ball better will help Purdue’s offense stay on the field and will keep the fans removed and out of the game.