Initial Impressions – Notre Dame 24, Purdue 21

Jimmy Clausen led the Irish offense on a game winning, 4th quarter drive for the second time in as many weeks Saturday in Notre Dame's 24-21 victory over Purdue.

Jimmy Clausen came off the bench to lead Notre Dame to its second fourth quarter comeback in as many weeks Saturday night with a 24-21 victory over the Boilermakers.  The Irish didn’t have the services of Armando Allen and had Clausen for a little less than half the game, but were able to make a clutch drive at the end to improve to 3-1 on the season.

Here are some notes and my initial impressions from Notre Dame’s latest heart stopping finish.

  • A win is a win.  I would have liked to see Notre Dame score a couple touchdowns in the third quarter to put the game away, but anytime you win on the road without the best wide receiver in college football and your starting running back and have a starting quarterback playing with a bad plant foot, you can’t complain too much.
  • Very gutty performance from Clausen.  He was obviously hurting and Weis didn’t plan on playing him in the second half, but he came in and lead the game winning drive for the second week in a row.  His stats weren’t as pretty as they were the past few weeks, but were still pretty good considering he only played two quarters.
  • I would have liked to see Charlie Weis let Dayne Crist throw the ball more.  Once Purdue realized that Crist was only going to pass if forced to, they loaded the box and shut down what was a really impressive running game in the first half.  If Crist is needed again next week, Weis is going to have to open up the offense a little more.
  • I also would have liked to see Kyle Rudolph be more involved in the game plan.  I can’t for the life of me figure out why he isn’t getting targeted more this season.  He’s a huge target and as he showed on his game winning touchdown, he is very tough for anyone to cover one on one.
  • That said, I thought the game plan to use the wildcat and Golden Tate in the backfield with Crist was pretty smart from Weis.  Tate’s a playmaker and he showed he can make some plays out of the backfield.
  • Crist looked pretty good considering this was his first playing time, but it’s clear that Weis isn’t comfortable letting him run the full playbook.  It would have been nice to see Crist connect with Golden Tate on the long bomb in the 4th quarter  for what it would have done to his confidence.
  • Defense missed a couple opportunities for big plays again.  Robert Blanton and Kyle McCarthy both had chances for pick sixes that they couldn’t come up with.  McCarthy’s was at the goal line when he did an excellent job of recognizing the route and jumping up.  He was just a shade late though and what could have been a pick six turned into a touchdown for Purdue.
  • Purdue ran the ball for just 74 yards on 26 attempts.  That’s a 2.8 yards per rush average.  That number is skewed a little by the 18 yards Purdue lost on sacks but that’s just 92 yards on 24.  Purdue was running the ball pretty well over the first three games so this is at least a little encouraging.
  • I didn’t understand why Weis went for it on 4th and 10 in the 4th quarter.  He was playing very conservatively up to that point and hardly let Crist throw before that.
  • The defense played better, but still not great.  A couple players that caught me while watching the game where Kapron Lewis-Moore, Darius Fleming, Manti Te’o, Gary Gray, and Ian Williams.
  • Fleming especially had a big game.  Three tackles for loss and a sack.
  • I’ll have to rewatch the game to see just how often the Irish blitzed, but it seemed like a very conservative game plan from the defense in terms of the volume of blitzes.  Sure enough, reducing the number of blitzes also seemed to make the blitzes Tenuta did send more effective.
  • I LOVED seeing Tenuta send a blitz on Purdue’s first play on their final drive.  I hate the prevent defense and liked seeing Notre Dame send pressure in that situation so Purdue’s receivers couldn’t get too far into their routes.
  • Tough game for Toryan Smith.  He collected only two tackles and was targeted on several passing plays by Purdue.  His lack of coverage skills are going to be noticed by opposing offenses.
  • Tackling in general wasn’t strong again this week.  After four weeks in a row of poor tackling, it might be safe to assume that it’s going to be an issue throughout the season.
  • Robby Parris picked a great time to make his first catch of the game with his 15 yarder on 3rd and 14 on the final drive of the game.  I wouldn’t mind seeing a little more of him.
  • Robert Hughes ran very hard and looked pretty fast.  This was easily his best game since the 2007 Stanford game.  Overall Notre Dame ran the ball pretty well.  Without the sack yardage, Notre Dame gained 188 yards on 39 attempts.
  • Also a tough game for Duval Kamara who dropped two passes and got flagged for two illegal formation penalties.
  • Nice returns from Theo Riddick once again.  Would have like to see him break his long return to the outside and not get tackled by the kicker, but I think it might only be a matter of time before he breaks one for a TD.  Riddick busted a 24 yard run and threw the critical block on Golden Tate’s touchdown run.  Very impressed with Riddick so far.
  • Nice to see Darrin Walls come up with his first pick of the season.  I know some might have liked him to just bat the ball away, but I’m glad he secured the ball and didn’t give Purdue any chances to come up with some sort of crazy catch off of a deflection.
  • Eric Maust struggled again this week.  Weis said they would make decisions by the bye week as to what they were doing with redshirts, so I think we’ll know soon enough if Ben Turk is going to get a look at punter this year.  Maust did have his best punt on his last attempt though.
  • Nick Tausch is getting better each week on kickoffs.  When was the last time Notre Dame had a kickoff reach the endzone at the start of a critical defensive drive?
  • Did Danny Hope really call time out with 36 seconds left?  I don’t know what shocked me more, the timeout or Notre Dame calling for a spike.  A spike with 36 seconds left???  Even if Notre Dame used the entire play clock in that situation they would have gotten the play off with 25 seconds left and had plenty of time to run the play and still get a 4th down play off.  I’m going to hope that they were going to run a fake spike play there and Weis just didn’t want to admit to it for future games.
  • Great game from the offensive line, but Sam Young had a couple critical mistakes in the 4th quarter again.  He let a Purdue blitzer get to Clausen untouched while double teaming a different pass rusher on 2nd and 7 and then committed a holding penalty on the next play that was declined.
  • I loved seeing Trevor Robinson get in the face of the Purdue defender that taunted Clausen after he was stopped on 3rd down in the first quarter.  That’s the kind of attitude the offensive line has been largely missing over the last few years.

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83 comments

  1. Cliff 10 years ago

    Playing Crist is the absolute right call…he is our starter in less then 2 years, he needs the experience and he is a very talented QB (some say he has more gifts than JC- only time will tell). Crist will be a nightmare for other teams to scheme for because he can throw, he is smart…and boy can he run- he is over 220 and will lower his head! Also, he thew the ball well…however DK drop’d the ball….

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  2. palk21 10 years ago

    A person who “claims” to be a fan for 40 yrs but jumps at the word boo, never was a fan. Although there were some good points brought up about our lack of offense in the 2nd half this entire year. We dominate and look great in the first half and then we check out or something until we need to play again. We need to put points on the board in the 2nd half too, this year we just haven’t done it…Nevada- 7 pts; Mich- 14 pts; MSU- 17 pts.; Purdue- 7 pts. The only exception is the MSU game, but all the others we had a lead, we were moving the ball, and then we just play conservative football. I’m not a fan of beating a team by 50 pts when there’s no need, but other than Nevada, we needed to come out with some fire in the 2nd half of each of the other games and we flat out didn’t show up until we needed to. This shows me that we have the talent to play with better teams, but someone has to address our lack of 2nd half production. What’s funny though…the one time Ol’ Charlie should’ve been conservative was when we had a 3 pt lead on Michigan and we throw a 40 yd bomb down the sideline??? I will, for the life of me, NEVER understand the sequence of events that led to our loss. This is NOT 1988, but even in 1888 there were 2 halves of football and the Irish need to play hard in both of them and we could see a 10 or 11 win team very easily.

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  3. DocBinge79 10 years ago

    Charlie did right by playing Crist. 5 less yards on the pass to Golden Tate and everyone would be on the Dayne bandwagon instead of questioning his play. A lot of highlights on Theo’s block on the Golden touchdown run, but he doesn’t make the end zone without Dayne’s block. His size speed, speed and athleticism are very similar to another number 10 at Notre Dame. Joe Tiller was right in his assesment of the situation as well. 14 points in the 1st half with him at the helm can not be overlooked. The normal offense was not working – we needed to switch to the run.

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  4. Shazamrock 10 years ago

    I think it was a good win. Purdue got ND in a ESPN televised home night game.
    The home town fans were pretty whipped up by kick off time. ND’s top running back and wide reciever were both out. Claussen was limited in what he could do and only practiced a day and a half last week. They held one of the top rushing attacks in the country to 74 yards.
    If you can beat Purdue in West Lafyaette, in a televised night game, without your major play maker’s, in a last minute drive, with a come from behind win, that’s a big time statement!. If you can do that on the road, and hurt, just think what can be done when the team is 100%.

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  5. Paul 10 years ago

    Why is Crist even in the game when you have Evan Sharpley on the side lines? I have not seen Crist play until Saturday night and he may some day be a fine QB for the Irish but right now we need to win games. Put him in when the game is out of reach to gain some experience but not in this situation. Sharpley can run the same offense as Clausen so Weis would not have to have two different game plans.

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  6. Russell 10 years ago

    The thing though is that it was not a good win. if we can only beat purdue by 3 points, how can we compete with usc and others. i agree, this isnt 1988 teams are stronger than they once were, but Purdue and MSU are not those teams that fit into that category. I think if ND can come out and handly beat UDUb that would be a huge statement win for the players and the nation.

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  7. Ted 10 years ago

    I agree, if you are no longer an nd fan because of the coach or because they have been down for a couple years(decade(s)), then you were never a fan to begin with.
    this was a good w.
    i liked how our d actually looked decent when not blitzing EVERY down.
    our running game was solid.
    with a healthy jimmy and some play action, we would have won this game 41-14.
    but jc got injured and you have to roll with the punches. look to usc and ok for what happens when your starting q gets injured.
    i dont like to hate on college kids, but kamara’s confidence is done. unless there is another way to get him involved, he is not going to be productive as a receiver. at least he is getting a good education!
    i’m making an assumption that parris is not the fastest guy on the field, but he should be our slot, possession guy and one of the frosh needs to step up to play wide out
    i like what i see and hopt jc is healthy next week

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  8. Jonathan J. Springer 10 years ago

    Man, some of you guys/gals need to suck it up and stop bitching about CW. We are 3-1 right now … a win is a win, so roll with it. Gosh, some of you here complain worse than a bunch of girls on their periods. (No offense.)

    Just being honest.

    God bless,
    Jonathan

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  9. Russell 10 years ago

    all i know after a win like this is that a holtz team or rockne team would be sick after a win like this. i want a coach who gets angry after a win like this, not happy. ND plays down to worse teams levels and therefore almost lose to MSU and purdue. they have to talented of a team for squeaking out mediocre wins like this. USC will embarrass them if they ever play like this again. STOP CELEBRATING AND ASK WHY IS ND ONLY BEATING MSU AND PURDUE BY 3 POINTS EACH!
    GO IRISH!!!!

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    1. Brettb1234 10 years ago

      This isnt 1988, every team is competitive just ask most of the top 25 teams this weekend, did you see any of the upsets?

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  10. Russell 10 years ago

    All I know is that the holtz and Rockne teams would be embarrassed by this win. I want a coach who gets angry after a win like this. Not one who celebrates. Nd plays down to bad teams levels and need to blow out terrible teams like purdue.

    Go Irish

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  11. Jack 10 years ago

    If CW is such a horrible coach, who do you think can do better? How can someone who has been a fan of this team for 40yrs not like the team b/c of the guy coaching it. I don’t care who coaches ND, I am a fan and will always be a fan. If Jimmy Johnson coaced this team I would be disappointed at the pick, but I would still cheer for the Irish. Every team that plays ND brings their A game. Every player ever interviewed always talks about they grew up dreaming about playing in ND stadium. ND went on the road with three top playmakers out of the line up and won. Dayne Christ is a sophmore who has only taken practice snaps with the 2nd team. He is not going to set the world on fire in his first start. I think Pete Carroll started his back up last week and lost. Is he a bad coach who doesn’t prepare his players. USC has all five stars at every position, but yet they loose one game every year because of a lack of focus. Is that the coaches fault or the players on the field. I like this team. I see plenty of talent and a young defense who makes mistakes. I have seen improvement week to week in certain areas on the defensive side of the ball. We were getting gashed for runs up the middle which was a focus by the coaching staff and it has stopped. They are young on the line and you can see it. The light bulb will go off.

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  12. tmb 10 years ago

    Frank -I’d like to suggest an answer to why Kyle Rudolph is not getting the ball. It is because he is either 1. not going out for a pass at all or 2. delaying his route as he helps Young pass block. As you watch the game again, take a look at ND’s final third down play. Rudolph was not an option for Clausen because he had to help Young. Obviously, Rudolph was involved in the fourth down action. However, ND brought in Raggone to pass block on Young’s side. Unless something is done with Young, Rudolph will continue to see limited involvment on downs where the defense wants to get after Clausen. I still feel sorry for John Carlson!

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    1. Cliff 10 years ago

      tmb – very good point. have to protect JCs blind side. We sure do need to have another wide out to step up…looks like I will have to between shaq, goodie, or walker…

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  13. george 10 years ago

    ND is a very ordinary team coached poorly. If Purdue had better coaching, ND would have lost…calling timeout when ND is was down to two plays goes as a lose your job call for Purdue coaching staff. ND lack of talent is showing up against even poor teams.

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    1. Drew S 10 years ago

      George obviously has no idea what he’s talking about – so it would be best to just ignore him.

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    2. Irisheye62 10 years ago

      Again, coach calls time and that is his call and the teams undoing.
      ND –poor??
      George read my former post.
      Maybe you have some issues which can’t be addressed here.
      Leave some comments relating to the game, the rivalry, the institutions –but not your
      Mark May imitations.
      Obviously, as Drew S stated-you have some growing up to do–and we are not Dr. Phil.
      ND did NOT put Purdue away and had the capability to do so. Running game DESTROYED Purdue in one quarter.
      Purdue quarterback is below average and quite frankly–almost horrible.
      ND did not put the opponet away–and has yet to do so in big games. Ordinary?
      hmmm–“IF purdue” well—
      “IF” is the biggest little word in sports and life–just ask Coaches as they look back in time at mistakes and gambles from Joe Pa-to Lou to Woody Hayes ( and his fist and temper which got him fired) so–
      if “If ‘s and buts were candy and nuts we would all be fat and jolly!”
      And ND would be 4 and 0 “if” Charlie would have RUN the clock out–
      so George–
      deal with it
      congratulate the winner ( unless it is Miami of Florida of course LOL)
      and move on

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    3. Cuz 10 years ago

      Purdue timeout or not… It only took one play to win George! Sounds like your regurgitating what the announcer said, you may want to think for yourself next time. Great smack talk Irisheye62.

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  14. doneasafan 10 years ago

    Agreed to C-dogs comments. Last night’s game was another poor coaching performance by Charlie and Co. Minus the Nevada game(a real bad team) they are being outscored in the 2nd half. Why? no adjustments made at halftime. 2 plus minutes left in the first half of last night’s game, the line is pushing Purdue all over the field, they are averaging 6 yards a carry and what does he do? pass 3 plays and out. (same thing happened at Michigan, please don’t repeat the comments Charlie made, that was an excuse for him not knowing what to do) That is where the emotional turning point was for Purdue(an awful team, might be 2nd to last in one of the weakest conferences by year end, awful). Purdue went in and made adjustments and owned ND in the second half, ND did not as usual. No points for ND in the 3rd and had to desperately bring in an injured starter? again bad coaching, The great coaches have their talent loaded and ready, that is what separates the great from the mediocre, and Charlie is just 9 games above average. He is paid like a big time coach, but he is not. I’ll wait for some responses, there is allot more I could point out why he is an average college coach and why they will never win a national title with him as coach, NEVER. I have been a fan of ND football for 40 years, now???? not so much.

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  15. Cliff 10 years ago

    All-
    At und.com there is a clip “end of Game – Field view” its a great clip of the end of the game and how excited the boys were for this win. Also notice when JC threw the ball to KR it ZIPPPPPPPED…wow…that catch was harder then I originally thought…made my week! Love the Irish un-conditionally.

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