Blough figured to be in a position battle with Austin Appleby going into this season, but Appleby, the graduate transfer, packed his things and headed to be a Florida Gator to round out his college football career. This made Blough the unquestioned starter as fall camp began. He played in 10 games last season and was solid, but wasn't great. He passed for 1,574 yards, 10 touchdowns, and eight interceptions in his freshman season.
So far this season, I would say he's taken a step forward in most aspects. He had started all five games for Purdue and thrown for 1,298 yards, 7 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. I'm sure head coach Darrell Hazell would like Blough to take better care of the football considering the nine interceptions.
He's been very inconsistent to start the season, but has had two games where he has put up solid numbers. Purdues latest win, which came on the road at Illinois, Blough completed 63% of his passes, tallied 220 yards through the air, and threw a touchdown pass. Blough faces a passing attack that has been solid for Iowa, especially last week against Minnesota, so he has his hands full.
Blough didn't see much time last season against Iowa. That was a game mainly dominated by Austin Appleby so this will be the Hawkeyes' first real look at the sophomore.
Lankford-Johnson, who is a true freshman, took the place of Markell Jones in the Illinois game after he suffered an injury. Jones' status is uncertain for the game on Saturday. However, Purdue fans should not worry. Lankford-Johnson went off last weekend against the Illini taking the ball 18 times for 127 yards and a touchdown. In the three games prior, he had 9 carries for 63 yards.
Purdue is on record saying they'd likely be cautious with Jones, so I'd expect to see the true freshman on Saturday. Jones may play, but Lankford-Johnson might receive the bulk of the carries.
This could be where he finally meets his match though. Last week against Minnesota, Iowa did a good job of bottling up both Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith, so Lankford-Johnson might be headed towards a similar fate.
Either way, he'll be one to watch on Saturday given the fact that he's averaging seven yards per carry on the season.
Oh, and he'll also return kicks for the Boilers.
After Purdue's win over Illinois last week, Yancey figured he'd have an expanded role for the rest of the season. The team's leading receiver, Domonqiue Young, was carted off the field and the Boilermakers expect him to miss significant time. Yancey, a senior, should be no stranger to having to step up.
He caught 48 passes for 700 yards and 5 touchdowns during his junior season and is off to a nice start to his senior season with 22 catches, 299 yards, and two touchdowns.
Young's absence likely means more targets for Yancey, who will be tasked with beating a secondary that is both talented and experienced.
Senior DT, Jake Replogle was arguable Purdue's greatest asset on defense last season. He led the team in tackles for a loss with 14 and came away with two sacks. He was a constant bother in the run game and getting pressure on the QB. He picked up right where he left off last season, although he is demanding more attention this year.
He's racked up 28 total tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, and 1.5 sacks through five games this season. He leads a defense that was bad last year and is bad again this year. They give up around 244 yards per game on the ground, so Iowa will likely try to exploit that come Saturday.
Replogle is a heck of a player, but it's hard to do it all by yourself sometimes. If an Iowa RB is being brought down at or behind the line of scrimmage, there is a good chance he's the suspect.
Another key member to a shaky defense this year and last. Clark led Purdue in tackles and interceptions last season with 88 and 2 from his safety position. He's the leader of a decent defensive backfield, which was a question mark coming into the season. The Boilers are giving up just 187 yards per game through the air over the course of the first five.
I don't know if the success is because teams realize it is much easier to run the ball down their throats or if this pass defense is improved from it's 10th place finish in the Big Ten last season.
Clark is third on the team with 30 tackles this season and has 1.5 tackles for a loss, an interception, and fumble recovery as well. Iowa has struggled through the air over the course of the past couple weeks so Clark and company could have a decent day against Iowa.