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One of SB Nation's original Big Ten bloggers talks Purdue-Michigan
Back when I brought Off the Tracks over to SB Nation Dave from maize N' Brew was one of the people I went to for advice. His site was one of the original blogs Big Ten blogs on SB Nation before the 2009 expansion and his advice was invaluable. We later shared a couple of beers in Chicago at Big Ten Media days and after the 2008 Purdue-Michigan game, so he and his crew are very good people.
Dave now has more of a Manager Emeritus role of MnB, but Anthony Mammel was free this week for the opponent blogger Q&A:
T-Mill: Fitzgerald Toussaint went off against Purdue last season, but so far he's been fairly limited even with the suspension. Does he need a big game on Saturday?
Anthony: Normally I would say that the entire offense relies on Denard Robinson and his offensive line, but after a game that included 5 Robinson turnovers the stress put on other skill players is raised by a few notches. I expect Michigan to attack Purdue with a simplified scheme that takes weight off of Robinson, meaning that the man standing beside him in the backfield needs to step it up.
T-Mill: Any fears about Robinson after his disastrous Notre Dame game, especially since he is facing a secondary that leads the Big Ten in Interception and pick-sixes?
Anthony: Michigan fans won't like hearing it, but that fear always lingers in the back of my mind regardless of the opponent. Robinson has flashed improved decision making and accuracy at times, but almost always falls back down to earth with a handful of poor plays that stem from rushed footwork. I expect Michigan to run the ball until the play-action becomes effective enough to take pressure off of Robinson in the passing game, which will hopefully lead to a significant decrease in turnovers.
T-Mill: Last year's game seemed to snowball in Michigan's favor after Purdue had early momentum. What is different this year?
Anthony: The difference this year is the momentum built by Purdue in the weeks leading up to the game. This time last year Purdue was a team that lost to Rice and got pummeled by Notre Dame. This time around the Boilermakers are 3-1 with a close loss to Notre Dame, which leads me to believe that they'll be much more confident heading into Saturday. Michigan is also weaker up front on defense and reeling on offense following a poor effort against the Irish, which could both play into Purdue's favor.
T-Mill: Are you encouraged by Marshall's day against Purdue or do you see it more as a really good offense that piled up yards while behind?
Anthony: It has to be encouraging to see Marshall put up over 500 yards of offense on the Purdue defense. At the same time it has to be taken with a serious grain of salt, as Michigan's offense will be more slanted toward the run game, and the Boilermakers will certainly be more motivated to play the Wolverines than they were to play the Herd.
T-Mill: Defensively what should we expect out of Michigan?
Anthony: Expect the Michigan defense to approach Purdue much like it approached Notre Dame. Greg Mattison is going to bring his normal package of zone blitzes and will bring a safety into the box if need be, especially if the defensive line doesn't arrive with the same attitude that it did against the Irish. I personally expect the defensive front to play at a similar level, allowing Mattison to hold onto blitz calls until he sees fit. If things go south up front Michigan will be forced to bring more pressure.