Hustle Belt: Last Saturday, you matched your 2013 season total in wins in your MACrifice game with Western Michigan. What stood out in your team's performance against the Broncos, both positively and negatively?
Travis Miller: Purdue actually won a football game. That is enough reason to shout right there. Not only did Purdue lose 10 games in a row to start last season, it often lost them while looking brutally ugly. For example: Purdue ran for only 805 total yards and six touchdowns in 12 games total. After just one game we're already over a quarter of the way to last season's rushing total and we're halfway to the rushing touchdown total.
That said, our run defense got gashed by something called a Jarvion Franklin. The true freshmen went for 160+ and three scores, with a long TD that was a cornucopia of suck from our run defense. We had poor gap discipline, poor pursuit angles, and missed multiple tackles all on a single play.
Also, Danny Etling was far from sharp. He overthrew several receivers and that is why we were never able to truly put Western away. He seemed to rush his throws and with DeAngelo Yancey, our top returning receiver, he seemed to think he was as tall as Yao Ming and as fast as Usain Bolt.
All in all, it was far from perfect, but it was so much better than anything we saw last year it has to be considered improvement.
HB: How do you anticipate the Boilermakers will match up with Central Michigan? Do you believe it will be similar or different than the matchup with Western?
TM: I figure it will be similar, but if Titus Davis is healthy he scares me. He is the type of receiver we routinely lose on third and long, leading to lengthy conversions. Also, Central has a more establishing rushing attack and Purdue was far from sound there. Many of these MAC over Big Ten upsets happen because the MAC team is able to control the clock with long, sustained drives. We are capable of hanging a couple of three-and-outs around two long TD drives and suddenly is something like 14-3 in the third quarter and Central has the ball, driving again.
HB: Which players should Central Michigan fans be looking out for in this game in terms of being "impact players"?
TM: Raheem Mostert - He had a career day rushing in his first career start at running back and is also the reigning Big Ten track champions in the 60, 100, and 200 meters. He also returns kicks and has two career returns for scores, so he is a threat to score if he gets the ball in any kind of space.
Cameron Posey - Posey has great hands and was a steady contributor all of last season. He was suspended last week, so this is his first game back. He also tore his ACL in the offseason, but is said to have fully recovered.
Frankie Williams - Williams had a big interception and long return to set up Mostert's touchdown last week and he also had two big punt returns. It was one of the best games of his career and he stepped up after Ricardo Allen was drafted by Atlanta.
HB: The last time these squads faced off in 2008, it was a barnburner. The Boilermakers ultimately won 35-28 after CMU took a late lead. This time around, the odds say you're favored by only 2.5 points. Will the odds be right? What's the score that you're predicting?
TM: I think it is going to be a close game and a good test for Purdue after a weaker Western team last week. It is the type of opponent we need to show some progress because Central is a better team, but still one we're at least capable of defeating. A lot of it depends on Davis. He can be a huge positive for Central if he plays. I think Purdue has a better chance if he doesn't and might be able to win by about 7-10. If he does play the Chips are more than capable of winning.
The Boilers are still a young, fragile football team. Last week was the first time in a long time they show some resiliency and came from behind to win in ages. They actually responded when Western took a brief lead and found an answer. The next step is to sustain some of that momentum going forward to a second game in a row.
If you want to see what questions T-Mill had about the Chips, check out this cool link.