Here are five factors which will likely determine the outcome of Saturday’s contest with Purdue.
- Kyle Rudolph over the middle. Purdue has allowed some big games from opposing tight ends – Ed Dixon (Oregon) had 7 catches for 93 yards and Ryan Chesla of Northern Colorado had 9 for 99 yards. Purdue also remembers what Golden Tate can do after his 3 catch 104 yard outburst against them last year. Look for Notre Dame to look Rudolph’s way over the middle early.
- The Notre Dame blitz vs. Curtis Painter. Notre Dame is certainly blitzing a lot more this year, but the increased pressure has yielded just one sack. With Purdue’s pass-happy spread offense, the Irish defense will get their chances this week. Curtis Painter has been sacked six times in the first three games. If the Irish blitz does not pressure Painter and at least force him to get rid of the ball before he’d like, Purdue will be able to move the ball through the air easier than we’d like. Remember, Painter put up nearly 400 yards on us last year.
- Kory Sheets vs. the Notre Dame Linebackers. Sheets might not have the fan fare of Javon Ringer, but he is a solid back who has lost just 6 yards all season on negative rushing plays. By comparison, Ringer lost 16 yards on such plays last week against the Irish alone. If the Irish can stop Sheets in the backfield as often as they did Ringer last week it will put the Boilermakers in obvious passing downs allowing the Irish to use the blitz.
- Michael Floyd. I think Purdue will pay a lot of attention to Golden Tate which will make Floyd a likely target for Jimmy Clausen early. If he can show that he deserves the same amount of attention early, it’ll create some opportunities for Tate as the game wears on.
- Armando Allen. Allen has not been much of a factor so far this year, but against a team like Purdue he might be able to. Purdue’s defense isn’t as physical as Michigan or Michigan State’s and I think Notre Dame might spread the field out since the run game has been ineffective. I would love to see us get the ball in Allen’s hands on quick passes like the ones to Robby Parris last week.