Duranko’s Digest: What Did We See Against Purdue?

Tarean Folston - Notre Dame v. Purdue
Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Tarean Folston (25) runs with the ball against the Purdue Boilermakers at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)

Rallying from the season’s first deficit, the Irish tightened the screws defensively and scored the Shamrock Classic’s games last 20 points to beat Purdue 30-14, moving to 3-0 before the very welcomed Saturday off.

Purdue led Notre Dame for only 2:47, as Everett Golson led the Irish to their third consecutive half-ending touchdown drive, as he had done against Rice and Michigan.

Ben Franklin was a liar. Well, at least he was incomplete. He said “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” Ben, love your glasses, your wit and your kite, but it ought have concluded “except death, taxes and the letdown after a big emotional win.” Ask USC, out-rushed by 432 yards in the game at BC. Ask Central Michigan, which upset Purdue on Sept. 6th, and lost to Syracuse in a 40-3 squeaker in Mount Pleasant. We resent the letdown, we despise the letdown, but it follows as night the day.

You don’t get as sky high as we did against Michigan and have such a long, euphoric afterglow without consequences. It’s the way the world works.


In the first two games, the Fighting Irish had done the first thing that great teams do: Don’t beat yourself. ZERO turnovers, only five penalties, three of which were 5 yard procedure penalties. Then the brain cramp, which began with the first quarter waning:

(1) Greg Bryant’s “darn!, do you think they noticed” false start
(2) Max Redfield disqualified for targeting
(3) Shumate’s personal foul penalty
(4) Elmer’s false start
(5) Fuller lines up in neutral zone, the emperor of all knucklehead penalties
(6) Koyack fumbles and Purdue recovers at ND 26

It was about 12 minutes, but the Irish discipline seemed to vaporize (later returning).

There were other gems outside of the brain cramp period

(1) Brindza’s missed field goal (Kyle, we love ya! it’s only surprising when you miss!)
(2) Jaylon Smith lined up in neutral zone
(3) Miscommunication between Golson and the receivers
(4) Golson and Kelly reading from different hymnals.
(5) Four sacks allowed, after only 2 against Rice and Michigan.

The injury to Amir Carlisle exposed the current lack of depth for the Irish receiving corps. With Torii Hunter recovering from the groin injury and Davaris Daniels still in limbo, with Corey Robinson wearing a cast for the broken thumb, there are fewer options. And we await Chris Brown to show the form he did all Spring and pre-Fall. Don’t be surprised if he “arrives.” Ben Koyack did about this time last year.

Safety was worse. Redfield was disqualified, Baratti was injured, Collinsworth watched from the sidelines and Hardy is in limbo too.

Special shout outs to CJ Prosise and Drue Tranquill. They fulfilled the “next man in” role. Prosise has great speed, but has to work at his craft. And he was ready to fill the Carlislian gap. But it’s 3-0. This is the first time Notre Dame has won the first three games by 16 or more points since 1987. Kelly has started 3-0 twice. Of his three previous predecessors, only Willingham achieved a 3-0 start, in 2002.


Brian Van Gorder, without Andrew Trumbetti and Redfield, showed there is no shame in his game. Purdue scored on the short possession after the Koyack fumble with 3 minutes left in the first half. After that, the Boilers had 7 drives using 38 plays to gain 146 yards and no points. Four of those 7 drives were 3-and-out. We saw VanGorder’s fire last week in the post- Kolin Hill fist pump. He is both fire and ice. Yesterday, he was as cold as ice, not willing to sacrifice, not giving an inch and working his plan. He is a willful man and his defense will become more willful with time.


What’s nice about the offense is that we were so spoiled by its excellence the first couple of games that we are disappointed when we score a mere 30. We’ll talk more about the running game, but the Irish unveiled the passing attack to the running backs, absent all of last year. Bryant and Folston combined for four catches for 60 yards. And they’ve just begun. Big plays will soon arrive from passes to the running backs.

Golson compensated, or overcompensated, for the rushing woes by carrying 14 times for 56 yards. He needs to be under 10 carries a game, but this is the exception that proves the rule. He is there to run when we need him. We head into the offweek with much to do.


So you’re worried about the running game? Well, think back to 2012. In the three games against Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State, we aggregated 268 rushing yards, or a paltry 89 per game. Then Harry got to work getting his linemen in sync. In the next four games against Miami, and the tough rushing defenses of Stanford, BYU and Oklahoma we averaged 250 yards a game. Except for Martin, none of the four OL is playing the same position where they started last year. Zach Martin and Chris Watt were not just very good, but they were used to working next to each other. Stanley and Hanratty on the left, Elmer and Hegarty/Lombard on the right are young couples. They are still getting used to each other.

Let history and Harry Hiestand be your friends. The running game will improve greatly. This is not Hiestand’s first rodeo.


We say goodbye to Purdue for now. Lucas Oil was a nice venue. The windows up behind the end-zones were very Hoosier, evocative of Hinkle Fieldhouse, the site of the Milan Miracle in ’54. Purdue does reappear on the schedule in 2020, when even Shaun Crawford, Miles Boykin, Tristen Hoge and C.J. Sanders will be gone. We had played them every year since 1946. Time to move on…..

Notre Dame is now unbeaten in the Shamrock Series. The other 127 teams in D-1 (we decline the abhorrent FBS nomenclature) have won NONE. So, we have that going for us.

This schedule has tough opponents. But the spacing of the games and the weeks off is either brilliant or fortuitouos. The youth of the defense will make it still eager to learn in the time off.


Drue Tranquill- was a third stringer before Collinsworth, Hardy, Redfield and Baratti had issues. But the kid can play, either at safety or at linebacker. Bright future.

Grant Blankenship-3 games in and contributing, especially in Trumbetti’s (and Williams’) absence. We are not far away from a nice depth chart at DE.


Romeo Okwara-remember that he is still young on the calendar. He may just have arrived.


If, indeed, Notre Dame is about educating the person emotionally as well as intellectually, then Notre Dame should help people confront, analyze and then overcome adversity. Farley, right from the Navy game in Dublin, showed promise as a redshirt frosh in 2012. But he had a tough year in 2013 (Was he injured?)

and was involved in a number of bad plays. Through three games he has outperformed the promise he showed in 2012 and it is mind-boggling, yet uplifting, to see how he has buried the performance of 2013. Shakespeare was right: “Sweet are the uses of adversity.” Cool beans, Matthias! And this will have a forty year impact in your young life, far beyond the gridiron. Football, they say, reveals character more than it builds it.

And your character is bright and shining.

We have most probably played two (along with Northwestern and Syracuse) of the four weakest teams on our schedule. Our schedule soon toughens. But 3-0 is 3-0.


Once, again, it is three full weeks until the Cardinal of Stanford shows up. The young lions on defense will get closer to being ready to stand their ground, so they won’t back down, against Stanford. Every unit on the offense should improve. Luatua and Smythe must be able to play more. Hunter will work in to the rotation,

and perhaps one who is in limbo may return. Robinson may shed his cast.

The running back troika should be more in sync and will reap the benefits of improved OL play. Golson will be more comfy with his receivers after the break. He has rung the gong on the two minute drill. Is he becoming one of those guys whose performance heightens under pressure?


Consider this: Isn’t it nice to, once again, EXPECT and ASSUME victory and be annoyed with the glitches of the third straight double digit win? It was just yesterday that we were losing to Syracuse, Navy and Connecticut within 12 months at home. We are averaging over 36 points a game. And our offense, just like 2012, will get better. We are allowing just over 10 points a game. And our defense, more so than 2012, will get a LOT better

Freshmen often wander about aimlessly in September, but figure it out a bit when the calendar turns to October.

The Kelly administration at Notre Dame has been noteworthy for player development. Players improve during their career, and players improve and units improve during the year. Do you hear that sound? It’s the quiet hum of coaches and players at work, improving. The team that takes the field against Stanford will be much different from the one that played yesterday.


(1) The Irish’s second appearance this season in a modern NFL venue. The Syracuse game will be at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands, the home of the New York Football Giants. The Giants have won two Super Bowls in the past decade, taking home the Lombardi trophy and shattering the myth of invincibility of the Patriot franchise. Too bad!. Incidentally, the Irish will play in two former NFL venues this season in Sun Devil Stadium (The Arizona Bidwill Cardinals)and the Los Angeles Coliseum (the Los Angeles Rams and Raiders).  That is a statistical nuance, if not a record.

(2) A Riddle: So if Syracuse is a basketball school, how come they have beaten Notre Dame’s football team in both the Carrier Dome (38-12 in 2003) and hallowed Notre Dame Stadium, with AD’s kid Kamerion Dantley leading the Orange to a 24-23 victory in 2008?.

(3) A christening of sorts. Syracuse is the first ACC opponent we will have played as part of our formal agreement with the ACC. A new day dawns.

(4) a former national football champion, with a truly great squad in ’59, led by Ben Schwartzwalder and Ernie Davis. Davis followed Jim Brown, often followed, never imitated, and Davis preceded bandy-legged open field wraith Floyd Little, Jim Nance and bulldozing Larry Csonka.

(5) an opponent and venue that will appear again. We play the Orange at Metlife Stadium again in ’16.

(6) It will be interesting to see the next phase of development of the young lions on the defense. This is their last chance before Stanford comes in to test their mettle.

(7) an improving ND team. Be not fooled by yesterday’s snapshot. A team is a living, organic, dynamic entity. No man sets his foot in the same river twice. And no team plays the same game twice.

Go Irish!

Let the Sons of Erin conquer the Orangemen!

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  1. I completely agree with your comments on Farley. This kid deserves some serious praise as it seems like he has been in perfect position all season long and I haven’t seen him miss one tackle yet. However, where the heck was he for a lot of the game against Purdue? I kept asking throughout the game why Farley wasn’t on the field, thinking he was hurt or something. And then every so often I would see him out there. That absolutely made no sense to me considering the production from him this year.

  2. I really liked this article and concur with it 100%.

    I think we really need to get the suspended 5 guys back. Our schedule is brutal and the season is a war of attrition. Injuries add up and we need all the quality depth possible. Also, our offense really needs Daniels. He is a beast of a receiver.

    I really hope the suspension is lifted immediately. Enough is enough.

    I agree with the other comments on this post, as well.

    Let’s go IRISH!


  3. Duranko,

    I like your optimism, but I like results and seeing results. I will give you this that the Irish safety’s corrected their issues from Rice to Michigan. I think the staff is more than capable of doing the same thing with the line, but I’m still see 3 losses in their future. Time will show the first 3 opponents were not a measuring stick nor should they be. I would like to see the team and how it responds after the by week.

    Also, I think that the ND administration should get it together and finalize this academic issue this week. This would be the perfect time to deal with the distraction and move on. Very disappointed in the administration that it takes 3 weeks after the investigation is finalized to render a hearing and decision. If I was one of those students I would like to know my fate rather than twisting in the wind.

    1. It seems that each glaring mistake gets corrected with this team. As an entire team, these guys seem to love playing, playing for each other,Coach Kelly and Notre Dame. That helps!

      As for the academic issues, my theory is they aren’t getting tossed for the semester or it would have been quick and immediate. Would not surprise me if it happens this week or next.

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