Notre Dame squeaked out a win over unranked Purdue on Saturday with a last second 27 yard field goal. Here are some initial notes from the victory.
- Notre Dame’s offensive line got blown off the line of scrimmage like we haven’t seen in some time today by a talented Purdue defensive line. The interior of the line especially was really taken advantage of by the Purdue front and it would not surprise me much to see some competition at right guard this week. Mike Golic had his roughest outing as a starter today.
- Zack Martin had a day he will most likely want to forget. Martin had a needless personal foul and a false start and had an illegal hands to the face penalty declined – not the kind of production Brian Kelly and OL coach Harry Hiestand expect from their best lineman.
- Everett Golson played a pretty good game for his second career start. He was a little gun shy at times and it cost Notre Dame points, but that is something that will be corrected with time as he gets more comfortable in his role. He finished 21 of 31 for 289 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Golson had a really bad fumble inside his own 20 and took too many sacks this week though.
- I was expecting the worst when I saw Tommy Rees warming up, but the junior quarterback played valiantly off the bench and led Notre Dame on the game winning scoring drive with a couple clutch throws. Rees wasn’t perfect, but he was good enough to get Notre Dame into chip shot field goal range and that was all Notre Dame needed. Hats off to him for being able to come off the bench and do so.
- One of those clutch throws went to 5th year senior John Goodman whose only catch on the day was the 3rd down conversion from Rees on the game winning drive.
- Not sure why Robby Toma isn’t involved in the game plan more. Notre Dame is struggling to replace the production of Michael Floyd and all #9 does everytime he get the ball is make plays.
- Tyler Eifert is by far the best offensive player on this team and he showed why again. He was a beast before getting hurt and could have had better numbers if Golson was on point a few more times. Eifert apparently suffered a slight concussion after throwing a block for Golson though and had to sit out most of the 4th quarter.
- Troy Niklas meanwhile looks like he could be the next in line of tight ends after Eifert leaves for the NFL. Niklas has done nothing but get wide open the last two weeks and make plays when given the chance. He could have had an even bigger game if Golson were able to connect with him on an easy touchdown and if Rees would have thrown it to his proper shoulder on the last drive of the game.
- Davaris Daniels has the looks of the next #1 WR for Notre Dame, but he got banged up too. Luckily Kelly said after the game that it doesn’t look too series. Daniels has shown great hands and with his size he could be any quarterback’s best friend. He ended with 4 catches for 70 yards.
- Disappointed we didn’t see a deep play called for Chris Brown or any plays at all called for Davonte Neal. A lot was said about them during fall camp but neither has been worked into the game plan the last two weeks.
- Not surprised to see Notre Dame struggle to run as much as they did today knowing that Purdue was going to be looking to stuff the run. Expect to see a lot more of that until the passing game starts to click more.
- Stephon Tuitt is a beast. Not sure must else needs to be said here. He was a monster again this week and is going to be the first Notre Dame defensive lineman to have his name called in the first round of the NFL Draft since Renaldo Wynn.
- Louis Nix is a beast as well. Irish Chocolate was a disruptive force out there today blowing up plays and knocking down passes at the line. Nix is going to continue to get better and better and could find himself a very high draft pick as well if he continues his progression.
- Notre Dame’s linebackers are not strong tacklers in space other than Manti Te’o right now. Dan Fox and Carolo Calabrese both missed a couple of key tackles. Wouldn’t surprise me if there was some competition at both spots throughout the fall.
- The Irish secondary was actually much better this week. There were still some plays where the inexperience was on display, but coverage wise, the secondary looked much better this week. Tackling wise though, the secondary had a lot a of issues and will likely be running through a few tackling drills this week. Overall though Kei’Varae Russell and Elijah Shummate both showed some promise.
- Nice job by Bennett Jackson collected the first two interceptions of his career. Jackson got caught out of position on Purdue’s first touchdown of the game, but overall he played well. Jackson’s 2 picks allowed Notre Dame to finish +1 in turnover margin and they now sit at +4 on the season. At this time last year Notre Dame was -7.
- Really liked what I saw out of Sheldon Day. Looks like Notre Dame has another young, talented defensive lineman on their hands in Day. Not sure where Kona Schwenke was today, but was surprised not to hear his name called more.
- Prince Shembo played a really good game and showed the pass rush skills that we have been waiting to see since his freshman year. Shembo took some great angles that prevented himself for getting blocked and forced Purdue quarterbacks back into pressure. It might not show up in the stat sheet, but Shembo had a big impact on the game.
- Kyle Brindza had a rough start to the day, but rebounded nicely by connecting on field goals of 30 and 27 yards – that latter being the game winner.
- Hats off to Ben Turk. I’ve been critical of the Notre Dame punting game over the last few seasons, but Turk may have had his best day as a collegiate punter today with an average of 43.6 yards on 5 kicks with a long of 53 yards.
- Davonte Neal will most likely get a talking to from Mike Elston for some of his decisions, but it does look like it could just be a matter of time before he gets loose on a return.
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