Irish Keys to Victory – Purdue ’12

everett golson purdue
Emerald Isle Classic 2012 - Navy vs Notre Dame Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson #5 at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. (Photo - Ken Sutton/Colorsport/Icon SMI)

Here’s a look at what Notre Dame has to do this weekend in order to leave Notre Dame Stadium with a 2-0 record for the first time since 2008.

Go Deep Early

We all saw Notre Dame run the ball 46 times right at Navy with great success. Guess what? So did Purdue and while the Boilermakers aren’t going to bring in the ’85 Bears defense into South Bend, they are more stout up front defensively than the Midshipmen. Purdue is going to stack the line of scrimmage early – especially since Cierre Wood and the Irish ground game gashed them a year ago in West Lafayette.

In order to soften up the Boiler defense, Everett Golson is going to need to drop back and unleash his cannon of an arm – preferably off of a play action – and hopefully find one of his young receivers. If Golson can connect on a downfield pass or two early, Purdue will have to respect the Irish passing attack. If that happens, Notre Dame will be able to run the ball and run it well.

Run George Atkinson and Theo Riddick right at Purdue

Once Notre Dame softens up the Purdue defense, the Irish should go back to what worked against Navy – running right at the defense. Purdue didn’t have an answer for Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray last year and they won’t have one for Theo Riddick and George Atkinson this year if they force Purdue to respect the passing game. If Purdue can line 8 and 9 in the box though, well, then the Irish could have a tough time sledding in the running department.

Purdue was solid against the run last week, but hardly spectacular. Eastern Kentucky ran 31 times for 105 yards. Hardly impressive numbers but we are talking about Eastern Kentucky here. It’s not as though Purdue shut down a vaunted ground attack.

If Notre Dame runs for 200 yards again this week, the Irish should coast to an easy victory.

Get pressure on Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve

Robert Marve threw for just under 300 yards while tossing 3 touchdowns last week, but his performance was not without blemishes. Marve threw an interception against Eastern Kentucky after throwing 5 last year compared to just 4 touchdowns. His performance was not enough, however, for Purdue head coach Danny Hope to name him the starter again this weekend.  Instead, Hope has tapped Caleb TerBush, who was suspended last week, as his top signal caller when he brings the Boilermakers into South Bend.

According to our Purdue scouting report provided to us by Purdue blogger Travis Miller, it’s possible that Marve still sees time at quarterback as well this weekend, but regardless of who lines up behind center for the Boilers, it’s safe to assume Hope and the Purdue staff will use them to test the Irish secondary.

Navy was able to get receivers behind the Irish secondary despite Notre Dame playing soft coverage designed specifically to limit big plays. Some of Navy’s success could be attributed to Notre Dame preparing two first time starting corners to defend an unique offense that they won’t see again this year, but that explanation is only going to go so far.

Bottom line here is Notre Dame has to improve its pass defense here in order to have the same kind of success against Purdue that they’ve had the passed two years and the best way to do that is going to be put pressure on TerBush early and often. Notre Dame needs to unleash Ishaq Williams off the edge again this week and continue to rotate in defensive linemen so the line stays fresh throughout.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of Kona Schwenke at NT this week even though Louis Nix played so well against Navy because of the pass rush skills Schwenke displayed. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Stephon Tuiit slide inside more this week with Williams flanking him at defensive end at times as well so Bob Diaco can get Williams and Prince Shembo on the field at the same time.

Protect the football

This one goes without saying. You always need to protect the football in order to win football games, but given Notre Dame’s tendency to turn it over last year it bears repeating here.

Notre Dame was +3 in turnover margin last week but still did have one bad turnover when Golson threw late to Tyler Efiert inside the red-zone and got picked off. Purdue meanwhile was -1 while turning the ball over 5 times against Eastern Kentucky. If Purdue protects the ball that poorly this weekend, it might not matter if Golson and the Irish passing attack gets going or not, Notre Dame should win easily if Purdue turns it over that many times this weekend.

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  1. Well, we are not a top ten team, but I will cut them a little slack with the trip to Ireland, the possibility that they were looking ahead to MSU, Golsen is in his first action at home and will probably make quantum improvement over the course of the season. Their Kick return man was number one in the nation in average return yards last year so I will forgive that. However, notwithstanding that the have a top 15 draft pick on the D line, I was surprised we were so limited, even if they did stuff the box. BUT, this is the type of disaster we would lose in recent history, so I like them getting scared to be prepared for Sparty.

  2. jack,

    You’re right on. I think our O line is soft and over-rated. They beat up on Navy and people started to think they were a great line. They’re not. They’re soft. Then again I’ve always said this type of O is soft. It works well with the right players. It may one day work well at ND. But we’re a long way away from being a top 5 type team.

    I thik 8-5 is now realistic regardless of who the QB is.

    I hope this team man’s up, grows a pair, and proves you and me wrong, jack.

    1. Steelfan,
      I think that Purdue wasn’t going to let the run beat them and had 8 in the box. Golson needs to continue to mature and beat defenses down the field. Also, saw no Neal, Carlisle, not enough Toma. Lets start playing spread football not spread with s little power eye. They need to Spread MSU out next week and make them play in space, ND per man is faster and it’s on turf. Also, they need to make MSU’S QB beat them not BELL. I liked some of the freshman corners and saw some improvement. Calabrese couldn’t cover my mom. Finally I think Atkinson was hurt which made the difference in the running game. I also think getting Wood back will make a difference, but a great defense wouldn’t have given up that TD after the fumble. Also, kick coverage sucked. They gave up a 42 yd return after the first TD which gave a short field. Atheletes are there to be ranked, thry just don’t play smart. Isaq losing containment on 4th down play which was luck by Marve

  3. They didn’t control theline of scrimmage and yet again another turnover that leads to a late TD. Some pozitive notes I like that Daniels and Niklaus played well, but line needs to step up. They play a better Defense next week. Kelly said Golson is starting, but I see an 8-5 year again and some shit bowl. They’ll lose their next two games but Miami, Pitt, BC, and Wake should be wins. BYU, Standford are toss ups, MSU, Mich, Oklahoma and USC are losses. I told you I would make my pick after the second game. Could be 6-6 if they don’t play better.

  4. Crap performance!

    Like I said I won’t make any bravado predictions about this team or put on my green-colored glasses until we look like Alabama consitently, season in, season out.

    Our O line is over-rated. I didn’t realize we were playing Alabama’s D.

  5. Here is the deal gentleman, CONTROL THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE! You can have my mother run the football behind a line blasting holes and if you only give the QB 2 seconds to throw the football you don’t need tight coverage. CONTROL THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE! I see Purdue being able to pass the ball on this defense, but I also see the QB for Purdue taking some shots. Also, no one is talking about the 5 turnovers they had last week against a week FCS team. ND should win this by two TD’s because if they don’t this season will be very long.

  6. I think finesse, much like trick plays, will always have a place in college football.

    But in terms of overall, season long success, especially with the likes of Michigan, Michigan St. USC, Oklahoma and Stanford looming,
    establishing ND as a “Physical” team is necessary for all future success.

    Purdue is the next step in that process.

    Want to air it out? Fine. Spread them out? Super. Run the option? Great. Blitz? Awesome.

    Don’t really care what approach ND decides to go with as long as they establish a physical dominance and don’t beat themselves.

    You want to play with the big boys, you better play mistake free, physical football.
    I think we finally have the team to do that.

    That’s what will win in the long term. That’s what will carry the day tomorrow.

  7. Not to jump ahead, but….

    Don’t look now folks …Pitt sucks.

    ND’s schedule is such that if they somehow get out of September 3-1 or better, the next four games are murder, just for being in a row. But after that they have not too much issue until USC. BC and Wake cannot be overlooked, but Perhaps you game plan the Pitt week for USC.

  8. Not real worried about the offense, but Frank’s observation about going deep early is totally on the mark. We were able to spread Navy with a good mix of run types, but we won’t be able to do that as much against Purdue. And it’s not about scoring 50 so much as scoring 30. Potentially we won’t have as many series to score.

    I think the linebackers might provide a defensive answer to pass coverage. Zone blitzes and fake LB blitzes could save the defense. The D-line will tire a bit in the second half and they’ll need just enough help from the LB’s to freeze the QB or make the QB think he’s going to get the ball on a quick slant or something to burn our corners and safeties.

    This will be an interesting view into Diaco’s world, and to know if the coaches can adjust during a game. Supposedly they should have enough of their system in place to do that.

  9. yeah, secondary better be a little more “shored” up for play because PU will pass the ball better than the Middies. The running game won’t be nothing if the OL doesn’t show up to play, no matter how many men PU puts in the box. Not only is EG going to have to pass more, they may need some designed plays for him to run the ball too to keep them further off balanced. Something they didn’t do last week, but, didn’t really need to either. WR/TE’s better hold on to the ball better too. This is indeed a game ND should win, but, they also seem to struggle at home here lately the last few years against teams they shouldn’t have struggled with-at least on paper (Tulsa comes to mind, SFU last year).

    Go Irishhhhhhhhhhh

  10. Amen Frank,

    A play should be developed now exclusively EG to demonstrate that cannon arm perferably to our big target TE’s. A two TE attack would be interesting against Purdue. I don’t see our ground attack getting less than 200 yards! Hopefully, we will get a punt or kickoff return to get things juiced-up along with another pick on defense!

    Here come the Irish!

    1. JC, if we don’t see a play early on with 2 TE’s where Golson play actions and rolls out and fakes underneath to the TE and then bombs it out deep, I will be disappointed.

      1. Frank,

        I don’t think you will be disappointed. BK has to test EG’s arm before Michigan St. in game conditions deep. EG looked very reserved against Navy as planned. So I hope your right and we see the deep ball; completed of course!

        One more thing, I am so impressed with who I call the GForceIII = the new rocket. George Atkinson is so talented we have only begun to see great things from George.

        I posted earlier by the time we get to Oklahoma and USC, GForceIII will be able to smoke their secondaries displaying his elite speed.

        Further, I was fortunate to attend the Michigan game where the rocket ran back two touch downs back to back. I witnessed the rocket’s thrilling speed therefore, this is why I am extremely excited about George’s gift of speed!

        Without question we have serious speed on this team this year. Look for George to work some more magic vs Purdue!

        Here come the Irish!

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