Knowing The Enemy: A Q&A With Marshall Thundering Blog

Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Each week T-Mill tries to sit down with an opponent blog and find out more about Purdue's opponents from its biggest fans. This week it is Marshal Thundering Blog

This post is the first test at keeping everything for a game week involved in one easy story stream. Going forward, you'll be able to find everything relating to that specific game week (and opponent when it comes to basketball) in one easy stream that than scattered about the site. I have read many reader's qualms about the site change and I am definitely aware of them. in fact, I e-mailed SB Nation some of them. Hopefully the story stream feature here is something that is well liked because I certainly find it easier.

This week's guest blog is Marshall Thundering Blog, who recently answered my questions about the Thundering Herd that is Marshall:

T-Mill: Rakeem Cato is the real deal. How good does he have to be on Saturday to pull off the upset?

MTB: Hopefully the game does not rest on Cato's right arm. I don't say that because he is not capable of carrying the Thundering Herd but, current Marshall and former Purdue offensive coordinator Bill Legg will try to strike a balance between the ground and air on Saturday. The yards will come for Cato, Marshall's offense can be slowed down but it has not been contained. What Cato and the rest of his teammates need to do is avoid turnovers. I can't see a Marshall victory if the Herd loses the turnover battle.

T-Mill: Obviously the offense is not a problem, but what is the biggest issue with the Marshall defense?

MTB: The defense is undersized but, to an extent that is by design. Conference USA defenders need to be fast and have the ability to play in space. When the Herd lines up in a 4-3 formation both outside linebackers, Devin Arrington and D.J Hunter, don't weigh over 215 pounds. Marshall also has a starting defensive end, Alex Bazzie, that tips the scales at just 225 pounds. That can work when you are playing a conference game but, Big Ten opponents are a different story.

Marshall's defense has also exhibited poor tackling in its first three games. It was a glaring weakness against Rice. The Owls had 10 plays of 20 or more yards, including touchdowns of 30, 31, 43, 43 and 50 yards.

T-Mill: Do you think this is the best defensive line that Cato will face this season?

MTB: Without a doubt, Purdue's defensive line will be Marshall's toughest test this season. Kawann Short is a potential first day draft pick and Bruce Gaston cannot be forgotten. The Herd's offensive line won't find a more difficult test the rest of this year.

T-Mill: Many Purdue fans are nervous about this game because of recent losses to non-BCS conference teams. Is that fear warranted or is the Marshall defense too much of an issue?

MTB: I think your concern is warranted. Marshall walked into Louisville last year and came away with a victory. This team has already played in a difficult road environment at WVU, they won't be intimidated.

Marshall's defense is a big concern, especially against a opponent that loves to run the ball. If Purdue can control the clock and time of possession the Herd will be in big trouble. If Marshall can avoid turnovers, make Purdue attempt more passes than runs, and strike a good balance on offense I think they have a chance.

T-Mill: Are there any other big names we should be concerned about?

MTB: Keep a lookout for the following players on offense, as you can probably tell the defense is still developing playmakers:

Aaron Dobson, WR - Dobson was a preseason all C-USA first team selection entering 2012. He has backed up those expectations, catching 29 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns. Also, Dobson made this ridiculous catch against ECU last year.

Tommy Shuler, WR - Shuler bust onto the scene against Ohio, leading the Herd with 13 receptions for 121. He backed up those numbers last week at Rice, hauling in eight passes for 88 yards.

Stewart Butler & Kevin Grooms, RB - Butler and Grooms split the majority of carries against Rice after than leading rusher Travon Vann was moved to defensive back. A onetime Arizona State commitment, Butler rushed for 166 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown against the Owls. Grooms signed a letter of intent with Miami but never enrolled. After sitting out a year he has made a big impact on Marshall's backfield, rushing for 188 yards on 29 attempts with three touchdowns.

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