Notre Dame Football: 5 Irish Poised to Dominate Purdue
Notre Dame's top playmakers needn't search in too arduous a manner to remember the sterling individual performances from the Irish's last trip to West Lafayette, Ind., in October 2011.
There was former running back Cierre Wood slicing and dicing his way through the Purdue defense for 191 rushing yards, while his offensive cohort—former receiver Michael Floyd—overpowered the Boilermaker secondary en route to 137 receiving yards.
While those former leaders have since departed for the professional ranks, the Irish remain stocked with elite players, a select few poised for memorable outings at Ross-Ade Stadium Saturday evening.
Sheldon Day, DE
The preseason hype surrounding Irish defensive linemen Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt has been deafening, and rightfully so—WalterFootball.com projects Nix as a first-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft and Tuitt as a second-round pick.
Lost amidst the din of that rampant discussion has been sophomore defensive end Sheldon Day.
After a freshman season in which Day played primarily as a backup to Kapron Lewis-Moore, the 6'2", 290-pound end gained the admiration and praise of head coach Brian Kelly during the latter stages of fall camp, via Keith Arnold of NBCSports.com:
I mean, I know all the talk is about Nix and Tuitt, but I can tell you, Sheldon Day is...just watch the film. His first step quickness, he's an impressive football player. I wouldn't trade him for anybody on our football team right now. He's as impressive of a football player that we have on our defense.
Temple and Michigan didn't hold Day in the same regard as Kelly, focusing heavily on containing Nix and Tuitt.
Should the Purdue defense continue the same trend, Day could be in for an explosive outing.
Tommy Rees, QB
The last time Notre Dame visited Ross-Ade Stadium, Tommy Rees contributed 264 passing yards to a 551-yard output by the Irish offense during a 38-10 crushing of the Boilermakers.
Rees, then a sophomore, completed 60 percent of his passes in the 28-point victory but was aided by the rushing attack, as former running backs Wood and Jonas Gray combined for 258 of the Irish's 287 rushing yards.
If Kelly and Co. receive similar production from the trio of George Atkinson III, Amir Carlisle and Cam McDaniel Saturday evening, the passing game will be opened up, leading to another showcasing opportunity for Rees.
Amir Carlisle, RB
Notre Dame's pecking order at running back may not be settled, but through the season's first two games, it's become increasingly apparent that Carlisle may, in fact, be the Irish's unofficial No. 1 back.
During a season-opening victory against Temple and a disappointing loss at Michigan, Carlisle has been the offense's most consistent skill position player, leading the Irish in rushing in both contests.
The Santa Clara, Calif., running back has carried the ball 19 times for 132 yards, equating to a sizzling 6.9 yards per carry average.
Carlisle should be chomping at the bit to get on the field against Purdue, as the Boilermakers allowed 221 rushing yards to Cincinnati during their humbling 42-7 defeat at Nippert Stadium in Week 1.
A continuation of his role as the Irish's leading rusher seems to be in store.
Bennett Jackson, CB
Senior cornerback Bennett Jackson had a rough go of it against Michigan last week.
Covering Wolverine receiver Jeremy Gallon proved to be rather challenging for Jackson, as Gallon finished with career highs in both receptions (eight) and receiving yards (184).
But being a designated captain and leader of the defense, the 6'0", 195-pound defensive back should bounce back quickly, particularly with the opportunity awaiting him.
Jackson will be facing a group of inexperienced receivers, headlined by senior and Miami native Gary Bush.
Considered a late-round NFL Draft prospect, Jackson is tasked with proving his worth to scouts, and that begins with rebounding from his performance last week with a strong showing against a raw Purdue receiving corps.
DaVaris Daniels, WR
Any time an opposing secondary loses a key asset, taking advantage of the ensuing weakness is critical for an offense.
Notre Dame receiver DaVaris Daniels, who has proved through two games to be the Irish's deep threat, has to be ecstatic for his opportunity to go up against a depleted Purdue secondary.
Per Sean Morrison of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Purdue starting safety Landon Feichter is out between six and eight weeks with a broken leg.
What does this news mean for Daniels?
The 6'2", 200-pound receiver will be moved like a chess piece all across the Irish's offensive formations in an effort to get him matched up one-on-one with Feichter's replacement—a combination of sophomore Anthony Brown and redshirt freshman Evan Feichter, Landon's brother.
Brown and the younger Feichter should take a look at the tape of Notre Dame's 28-6 victory against Temple in Week 1, as Daniels hauled in a pair of 32-yard touchdown receptions in single coverage from quarterback Rees.