The Irish will look to build off their statement victory over Michigan when they battle in-state rival Purdue in the annual Shamrock Series game. The Irish showed what they can look like when they put it all together versus Michigan as the defense was dominant rushing the passer and creating turnovers, while the offense showed great balance and execution in the red zone. Purdue is coming off a three touchdown loss to Central Michigan but the Boilermakers are always a different team when they play the Irish. The following are this week’s edition of our key matchups the Irish must control versus the Boilermakers to move to 3-0 on the season:
Will Fuller versus Frankie Williams: Sophomore Will Fuller has done an excellent job filling in for DaVaris Daniels as Notre Dame’s number one receiver. This week the Pennsylvania native will find himself matched up with a very aggressive defensive back in Frankie Williams. Williams, a Florida native embodies the Boilermakers secondary which is a very aggressive unit. Williams already has an interception and two breakups this season to go along with nine tackles. The Boilermaker defensive back is small at 5’9’’ but is athletic with solid ball skills to make up for his height disadvantage.
Joe Schmidt versus Raheem Mostert: Former walk-on Joe Schmidt has turned himself into one of the leaders of the Notre Dame defense and will find himself responsible for helping to slow down Purdue running back Raheem Mostert. Schmidt is a very sound run defender always being in the right position to plug holes on runs both between and outside of the tackles. That skill will be needed this week as Purdue run the ball out of a variety of formations and Mostert is a track star at Purdue with great speed. Schmidt will also need to be aware of Mostert’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield as he is the Boilermakers third leading receiver.
Jaylon Smith versus Justin Sinz: All-American talent Jaylon Smith will almost always be critical to the Irish’s success on defense and this week he will have to slow down Purdue tight end Justin Sinz. Smith will likely run into Sinz often in the run game as the Boilermakers will use their leading receiver to block the Irish linebacker. Smith will also be in charge of Sinz in the passing game as the 6’4’’ tight end will look to get open on intermediate routes as he is a security blanket for both of Purdue’s young quarterbacks.
Nick Martin/Christian Lombard versus Ryan Watson: The duo of Nick Martin and Christian Lombard did an excellent job of slowing down Rice’s star defensive tackle Christian Covington and they will need a similar effort against Purdue’s Ryan Watson. The Boilermakers have a solid defensive front and Watson is the team leader in sacks so far this season with two. The junior defensive tackle isn’t particularly big for the position at 6’2’’ 291 pounds but will be looking to prove he belongs on the big stage so Martin and Lombard can’t afford to take him lightly.