NDN Features

Rock's House | Cartier Field | Back Room | Political | Career | The Pit | Alumni Events | McGraw's Bench | Jake's Field | Jackson's Rink | Olympic | Fantasy Sports | Chat

NDNation.com Staff: Scott Engler - Michael Cash - John Vannie - Mike Coffey - Kayo - Bacchus

Thursday, September 24, 2009


posted by John Vannie
Notre Dame will visit Purdue on Saturday for a night game against this traditional in-state rival. The Boilermakers are coached by Danny Hope, who took over for Joe Tiller this season after serving one year as associate head coach. Hope previously guided Eastern Kentucky to a 35-22 record from 2003 through 2007. This year, Purdue is 1-2 with an opening win against Toledo and narrow losses to Oregon and Northern Illinois. The 2-1 Irish hope to build on the momentum generated by their conquest of nemesis Michigan State last week.

Injuries are the primary topic of discussion in South Bend this week as the Irish prepare for battle. Michael Floyd is out for the regular season and James Aldridge is still not ready to return to the lineup. Jimmy Clausen (foot) and Armando Allen (ankle) are among the walking wounded who are expected to play. There are no significant injuries on the defensive side other than the Irish pride that has suffered in the wake of two consecutive shaky performances.

The Boilermakers are clearly rebuilding. The overall talent level on defense is down and the expected starter at quarterback, Justin Siller, was suspended for the season due to academics. Unheralded senior Joey Elliott leads the team this season, but the passing game has not clicked yet due to his own lack of game experience and wholesale turnover at wide receiver.

The Irish could use a comfortable win after two straight nail-biting contests. The game represents an opportunity for second teamers to see meaningful action, but Notre Dame must not let the Boilermakers back into the game if they are fortunate enough to build an early lead. While the offensive production did not deteriorate significantly after Floyd’s injury last week, the defense needs to start making plays to get off the field on third down or force a turnover.

Notre Dame’s Offense against Purdue’s Defense

Notre Dame ran for 200 yards against Purdue last season, and the Boiler’s defense is largely the same this year. The Irish offensive line has improved in front of Armando Allen, who has run for more than 100 yards in the first three outings. The running game will be a critical element in lifting the burden from Clausen, whose injury may prevent him from getting his usual zip on the ball and could even keep him on the sidelines. This contest and Allen’s tender ankle will also present an opportunity for Jonas Gray, Theo Riddick and Robert Hughes to get back into the mix and regain the confidence of the staff.

The Irish will also hold an audition for Floyd’s starting spot at wide receiver. Duval Kamara will get the first look while Deion Walker, Shaquelle Evans, Robbie Parris and John Goodman will see action. Evans, a mere freshman, may be the most likely to emerge from the pack by season’s end. Meanwhile, Golden Tate will attract plenty of attention from the Boilermakers as they try to eliminate Clausen’s primary target.

Cornerback David Pender is Purdue’s best cover man and may shadow Tate throughout the evening. On the other side, Brandon King returns from an injury to reclaim his starting job. The leader of the secondary is free safety Torri Williams, who is in his sixth year in the program. This group should not be able to slow down the Irish passing attack provided Floyd’s replacement performs well against coverage that is more focused on Tate.

The Purdue defensive front four has not had success against the run or in rushing the passer. Mike Neal is the veteran in the group and fellow tackle Kawaan Short is a promising newcomer to the starting group. The linebackers are Jason Werner, Chris Carlino and Joe Holland. Werner, a fifth year senior, leads the team in tackles. Holland, who started last year as a freshman, has excellent speed and is adept at blitzing the quarterback and defending the pass.

Purdue’s Offense against Notre Dame’s Defense

Elliott is not known as a running threat, but he rambled for a 58-yard touchdown last week. His lack of experience in reading coverages and the inability of his receivers to get open has caused him to pull the ball down and run with it on occasion, but Hope is working with Elliott to curb that tendency. Notre Dame will undoubtedly try to force Purdue into passing situations, both by stopping the run and building a lead on the scoreboard.

Ralph Bolden and Jaycen Taylor have become a productive pair of running backs for the Boilermakers. Bolden has a quick burst that enables him to explode into the secondary in the blink of an eye. The diminutive sophomore averages 6.8 yards per carry and already has a 78-yard score to his credit. Purdue’s offensive line has played well this season, but they will be without veteran guard Zach Reckman, who was suspended for one game by the Big Ten Conference after an on-field incident against Northern Illinois.

The passing game still needs improvement as Elliott works with the experienced Keith Smith and new starters Aaron Valentin and Keith Carlos. The Boilermakers have enjoyed some success to date, mainly because Bolden’s ability as a runner has been a pleasant surprise and made the entire offense more effective.

Notre Dame will load up against the run and gamble that Elliott can’t beat them with his arm. If Bolden can break through the line with regularity and make would-be tacklers miss, the Irish will find themselves in another high scoring shootout. Elliott has not thrown the deep ball effectively, and he tends to rely on Smith as his primary target or checks down to Bolden out of the backfield.

Special Teams

The 47-yard field goal by Nicholas Tausch last week was a welcome sight for Notre Dame fans. There is still plenty of room for improvement in the punting game, and the return teams have generated little more than yawns from the Irish faithful.
Purdue’s kicking game is in good hands with Carson Wigg, who has hit a 59-yarder this season. Chris Summers is a capable punter with a 45-yard average coming into this game. Valentin has had an up and down run as the primary return man. He has scored on a 62-yard punt return but committed two costly fumbles last week in the loss.


The Irish defense can afford to concentrate on stopping Bolden, but they should not allow Elliott to dink and dunk them with short, conservative passes. The secondary can afford to be more aggressive, and interceptions or sacks will come if they can force Purdue into third and long situations. Coach Charlie Weis may be limited in the passing game by Clausen’s injury and Floyd’s absence, but the running game should be there to pick up the slack. It would be more advisable for Notre Dame to strive for ball control this week rather than quick scores. Purdue may try to come after Clausen if he is hobbled, and will be similarly aggressive if Weis has to go with Dayne Crist.

Here are a few key questions that will determine the outcome:

How effective will Clausen and Allen be after walking around with protective boots all week?

Will Bolden replicate his lofty 6.8 yards per carry and help Purdue approach its weekly average of 211 rushing yards?

Will Elliott surprise everyone with a breakout performance this week?

Can the Irish defense finally force a few turnovers?

Can Notre Dame’s running game dominate if Allen is not 100%?

Will the Irish special teams finally show some improvement?

Can the Irish close out the game in style or will they have to hang on for dear life?


The Irish have a distinct advantage up front on offense and must ride the running game to victory. This will require Weis to be patient, especially without a healthy quarterback and Floyd to divert Purdue’s attention away from Tate. The Boilermakers can’t beat Notre Dame unless the visitors self-destruct, but they can make it interesting if the Irish are flat and continue to miss tackles on defense. The matchup favors Notre Dame by a score similar to last year’s 38-21 margin, but I’ll downgrade that due to the concern regarding the health of Clausen and Allen.

Notre Dame 31 Purdue 21
| More


Anonymous NitPicker said...

Nitpick: Allen has had 100 yards in the past 2 games, not the past 3 games. He only had 72 vs Nevada before they went to the bench.

9/24/2009 04:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Gipper 78 said...

Purdue is only 1-5 under the lights at Ross-Ade. I think our D will have a statement game and really get it going. 34-17


9/24/2009 08:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a fellow "Elliott" who constantly gets his name spelled wrong, I'd like to point out that the quarterback for Purdue has 2 T's in his last name.

Not sure if he's as nit-picky about his last name, but I really am.

9/24/2009 09:59:00 PM  
Blogger bsoule said...

is this game going to have BIG 10 refs like the last 2 games?

9/24/2009 10:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ND 99 Purdue 98 in overtime.

9/25/2009 09:17:00 AM  
Anonymous pmoose said...

Fellow "Elliott", thanks for pointing that out. It probably drives you as crazy as it drives me when people call one of our former coach "Davies".

9/25/2009 10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

99-98 in only 1 OT??? yea right! ND 49 - Purdue 10. BIG blowout win for Charlie Wies & Co.

And nobody is talking about how Clussen is FINALLY being talked about for the Heisman! almost 1000 yards in 3 games and NO, i repeat NO, int's!!

9/25/2009 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Not to mention those who refer to the head coach as "Charlie Weiss"...

9/25/2009 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Lorenz said...

Didn't Clausen throw a pick at the end of the first half? The Hail Mary? Do those not count?

9/25/2009 03:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crist threw that pick at the end of the half. Clausen went to the locker room early.

9/25/2009 03:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stand by my ND 99 Purdue 98 pick. I love our offense but JEEZ-- our defense? Are you kidding me? We suck! We will only win by outscoring our opponents. PERIOD.

9/25/2009 10:48:00 PM  
Anonymous NDBRIAN said...

COME ON ND FANS~!!! Have some audacity!
This team is gonna come out and prove that all this BULL about injuries slowing down the offense and an inept D are Gar-Boge. Keep the faith and watch for Coach Weis to distribute to multiple people using quick throws. Irish should control the clock and be MUCH better on D...It can only go up from here. IRISH BY 3 scores!

9/26/2009 03:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe it's going to be a tight ball game and will likely go down to the wire. ND should win but not by much.

My hope is that Evans gets some playing time and shows his ability as a solid receiver.

Whatever happens, the Irish don't need more injuries in this game.

9/26/2009 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger jim / Redondo Beach said...

...ND was a 14 point pick over Mich. St....and a 7 point pick over Purdue...this football team is in trouble..they might lose 5-games in Charley's swan song...

9/26/2009 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Floyd, injured Clausen, injured Allen, bungling head coach, prime time television, emotional boilers crowd, me attending a party where I will be the only ND fan...I don't like how this is shaping up.

9/26/2009 03:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess we are about as good as Central Michigan and Indiana. Oh well, our personnel must be about equal to those two programs. Or does it have to do with coaching...

9/26/2009 03:44:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home