Balanced Attack Throttles Boilers

The Irish returned home to Notre Dame Stadium yesterday and improved to 3-1 on the season after a 38-21 win over Purdue.  It was a game highlighted by superior play in all three phases of football at different points throughout the game.  While the win was an important one, this young team still has plenty of work ahead of them to be able to sustain that level of play over four quarters.

The Irish had their most productive offensive quarter of the season in the third with touchdown scoring drives of 81, 78 and 55 yards respectively.  Notre Dame received career days from Jimmy Clausen, Armando Allen, Michael Floyd and Robert Blanton.  Clausen had a career-high 275 yards passing and three touchdowns.  Armando Allen had 250 all-purpose yards (134 rushing) and scored his first touchdown of the season.  Michael Floyd reached 100 yards receiving for the first time in his career. And Robert Blanton’s first career interception was returned 47 yards for a touchdown.

For the first time this season, Notre Dame had a steady mix of the run (40) and pass (35) and gained over 200 yards in each to amass a season high 476 yards on offense.  The majority of that offensive production came in the third quarter, but in all four quarters, the Irish impressively had drives of over 60 yards.  If Brandon Walker makes his first field goal attempt, the Irish would have had scoring drives of at least 60 yards in all four quarters.

It was after Walker’s miss, the day appeared to be turning into a long one for the Irish.  Purdue was already up 7-0 and took over at their 20.  They drove 17 yard over the next six plays aided by an Irish pass interference penalty, and were looking to go up by two scores in the second quarter.  Then Robert Blanton stepped in front of Curtis Painter’s third and seven pass and weaved his way into the endzone to tie the score.

Both teams scored once more in the second.  For the Irish, it was Clausen to Tate on a seven yard fade [surprise] route that would send the teams into the locker rooms tied for the final time Saturday.

Notre Dame came out in the third and drove 81 yards capped by three impressive runs by Allen for 8, 21 and then his 16 yard touchdown.  The final two runs appeared to take advantage of a halftime adjustment where the Irish noticed Purdue was slanting to the interior of the Irish line, leaving a chance for Notre Dame right tackle Sam Young to seal the defensive tackle and for tight end Kyle Rudolph to seal the linebacker which broke Allen for the long runs.

Speaking of Kyle Rudolph, he scored on the very next drive for the Irish as he hauled in five yard touchdown from Clausen which resembled the pass play that has become a staple of the Weis offense on the goal line since he arrived in South Bend.

David Grimes added a 30-yard touchdown reception on fourth down which was an impressive team effort by all eleven players on offense.  With the Irish needing seven yards for the first, Purdue decided to pressure the Irish offense, and were in cover zero, single man coverage.  The offensive line was outstanding as they picked up Purdue’s eight man blitz. The play was highlighted on the line by Sam Young who blocked his first man, and then was able to block enough of a linebacker who appeared to be coming free, to give Clausen time to launch a beautiful touch pass over the seam as Grimes sailed past his defender.

An important moment seemed to happen in the fourth quarter as Charlie Weis called on Brandon Walker to attempt a 41-yard field goal, and extend the Irish lead to three scores.  A struggling Walker had already missed a chip shot 31-yarder early in the game.  Walker had only made one attempt beyond 30-yards in his career when he readied himself for this attempt.  But Weis knowing he eventually needs to get the kicking game on course, showed the leadership to give Walker another chance.  For Walker, range on his kicks has never been a problem.  His problems have always resulted from accuracy.  But on this attempt, he was perfect, dead center, which would cap off the scoring for Notre Dame.

The Irish now have 14 touchdowns on the season.  All but two of them have been scored by underclassmen proving this is a very young team with loads of potential.  With a young team comes growing pains which is what the Irish faced in 2007.  As Notre Dame looks to put the pieces in place to turn the corner, they will continue to make mistakes young teams make mistakes as they come into their own.  The goal is to make fewer and fewer and put together efficient complete games throughout the rest of the season on their way to a bowl win.  But with a favorable schedule, the Irish would seem to be favored in all but two of their remaining regular season games (North Carolina, USC).

TD PRODUCTION
SDSU
UM
MSU
PU
CLASS TOTAL
FRESHMAN 4
Michael Floyd
1
1
Robert Blanton
1
Kyle Rudolph
1
SOPHOMORE 8
Golden Tate
1
1
1
Robert Hughes
2
Duval Kamara
1
Brian Smith
1
Armando Allen
1
JUNIOR
0
None
SENIOR
2
David Grimes
1
1
Note: Jimmy Clausen (soph) has thrown all 9 TDs

The win Saturday was the 301st by the Irish in Notre Dame Stadium history.

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