Irish Throttle Purdue

Notre Dame rode a dominant second half to a convincing 38-21 win Saturday. The second half of this game was really the first time this season that the Irish displayed the type of sustained, versatile offense that fans have been hoping to see. What a welcome sight, though, as this followed a typically sloppy, frustrating first half that saw the Irish waste more trips into the red zone … leaving fans to wonder if this game was destined to be another embarrassing loss at home to a very beatable opponent.

The Good:
The Irish are now 3-1 heading into next week’s home tilt vs Stanford. The outstanding second half should generate momentum and confidence next week. Notre Dame’s offense broke through, primarily due to 6 skill players: Clausen (275 yds, 3 TD, 0 INT), Tate (64 yds, 1TD ), Grimes (65 yds, 1TD) Floyd (100 yds ), Rudolph (1 TD) and Armando Allen (134 yds rushing, 1TD). Kudos to the offensive line (finally!) for again giving Jimmy time to pass but also opening up some running room. Brandon Walker finally made a field goal. A key pick-six by Robert Blanton turned a

Blanton

Blanton

nightmarish first half into a competitive game. Clausen again exhibited leadership and fine game management. I continue to maintain that he has done better thus far in his career than BQ at this point.

The Bad:
Another wasted first quarter which saw ND come out tentative on offense and suffer poor field position … again resulting in a deficit and lack of momentum into the 2nd quarter. As usual, Brandon Walker missed another easy kick. The Irish also failed to pick up a 4th and one from Purdue’s 39 yard line. The defense allowed way too many big plays and inexplicably allowed Purdue to wiggle out of poor field position in a play or two. Again, no sacks of the Purdue QB, which helped yield 360 yards passing. ND also gave up an average of 6.1 yards per running play, and the tackling was not very good for stretches. I remember seeing one Purdue player block 3 ND defenders on a long sideline run. This cannot continue.

Next week is Stanford. The Cardinal are 3-2 and coming off a 35-28 victory over hapless Washington. They have beaten Oregon State and San Jose State, but have lost to Arizona State and TCU. As last year’s incredible upset at USC attests, they are capable of playing over their heads for 60 minutes. Still, ND should be favored to win, but we’ll need to focus and not rest on this week laurels. I look at this game similar to the Purdue game … ND has more talent and the advantage of playing at home … should be a Notre Dame win. However, ND fans are looking for week-to-week continuity of solid play; we’ll continue to be skeptical until we see the Irish play well for 3-5 consecutive halves. Still, today’s 2nd half gives us hope that the Irish are turning the corner.

Nice to see USC flounder this week. Florida, too. No team out there is unbeatable. If #9 Wisconsin can cough one up at Michigan, can the Irish be that far from a realistic Top 25 ranking at 3-1? Just have to keep winning … that’s all we ask 🙂

Wally

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10 Responses

  1. I watched the second half and it didn’t even look like a football game. ND displayed the ability to dominate an opponent. Their remaining schedule looks easy, except for a couple of games. But again, it’s proving to be a strange season and nothing is for certain.

    I like the different formations they show on offense. This is also why Alabama is finding success so easily in my opinion. Alabama probably has the best O-line in the nation and they use it. Too many teams waste a perfectly good offensive line and spread out and do not get enough time in an I-formation or something between the tackles. Their only use of such is near the goal line or on short downs. The trend in recent years is speed to the outside over front line dominance. ND does not have what looks like an outstanding offensive line, but they try to establish a game between the tackles. And with Clausen they can then throw a 4 receiver and/or wing formation and find much success.

    I don’t know about the top 25 yet, as there are many formidable teams with 1 or 2 losses who have beaten ranked opponents now.

  2. Heisman Watch:

    1. Chase Daniel MIZZ
    2. Sam Bradford OU
    3. Mark Sanchez USC
    4. Javon Ringer MICH ST.
    105. Knowshon Moreno UGA

  3. Helmet sticker!!!!!

  4. It was great watching the Irish offense display a balanced attack in the second half. Clausen distributed the ball to 6 receivers (ok so Purdue used 7 receivers), and the whole unit seemed to find rhythm.

    How about Allen and his kick returns? That was a missing element last year.

    Wally – you are right on with the inconsistent play on defense / tackling.

    Did anyone watch the 4th quarter of the ‘Bama / Georgia game? Did both squad’s agree to play their 2nd string defenses?

  5. Rey — You mentioned the remaining schedule for ND, here it is:

    O04 STANFORD 2:30pm NBC
    O11 @ North Carolina TBA
    O25 @ Washington 8pm ABC
    N01 PITTSBURGH 2:30pm NBC
    N08 @ Boston College TBA
    N15 @ Navy (Baltimore) Noon CBS
    N22 SYRACUSE 2:30pm NBC
    N29 @ Southern Cal 8pm ABC/ESPN

    Any road game for the Irish will be pretty challenging, except maybe Navy this year. (Hope these words don’t come back to haunt). I really expect ND to have a hard time beating North Carolina in Chapel Hill. That’s a program on the rise that just won at Miami. I’m not sure what to make of Boston College yet. Irish need to follow the old cliche … take ’em one at a time … cuz they’re not good enough to look past anyone. They need to focus on Stanford … that’s it.

  6. The polls are out. ND still not getting any respect, but that’s OK … need to keep ’em hungry. I’m here to tell you that the difference between the Irish and any team currently ranked 15-25 is essentially not much. (e.g. Wake Forest is now 3-1 after losing to Navy!! Oregon is 4-1; they beat Purdue in OT).

    To quote Al Davis, sort of, “Just keep winning, baby.”

  7. Well – I’d like to rescind my “easy” comment. Butch Davis has UNC playing like they can take the ACC, which they can. Pitt will be tough despite their woes. I think the ND optimism got a hold of me after this Purdue game.

    Going back to your preview, BC does not seem like it is a likely L at this point. ND can beat them or they can completely squander that game. But Stanford does appear to have changed to a coin flip. Washington might be a likely W now. So essentially, in my opinion, I can see a possible five L’s for ND. But again, USC is the only one ND fans can be certain on at this point, which is a great thing for the Irish faithful.

  8. Well … if the Irish keep improving gradually throughout the year, maybe they can beat a USC team that’s having a bad day or playing less than optimal ball. Isn’t that what happened Saturday? By the end of the season, our sophs will essentially be juniors and freshman will be sophs … maybe we’ll have a 30% chance of winning that one 🙂

  9. Wally – did I mention this is another great article. 🙂

  10. You just did. Thanks, Casey.

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