Notre Dame Football: 10 Things We Learned in Irish's Win Against Purdue
Win or loss, plenty is left to learn after the outcome of any game.
For the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, the lessons learned during their 31-24 victory at Purdue will be critical moving forward through the season.
From the offense to defense to special teams, improvements are needed across the board for the Irish to live up to their typical, lofty preseason expectations.
The Offense Is the Team's Weakness
With Tommy Rees manning the controls for the offense, Notre Dame has learned early and often that points will come at a premium.
That was clear during Saturday evening's contest in which the Irish accumulated just 294 yards of offense.
Against a team with a bona fide defense, Notre Dame could be in trouble.
The Defense Has Regressed from 2012
Last season, Notre Dame's defense carried it to the BCS National Championship Game.
Unfortunately, that same group—despite returning eight starters—has consistently proven that it's, far and away, a worse unit than that of a season ago.
While the Irish allowed just 294 yards, the "bend but don't break" philosophy, employed by defensive coordinator Bob Diaco proved costly for the better part of three quarters.
Lofty Expectations Won't Be Met This Season
Despite having lost last week at Michigan, Notre Dame was still clinging slim national championship aspirations.
However, those hopes have been quite obviously crushed, as the Irish struggled to defeat a Purdue team that skated by FCS member Indiana State, 20-14, last week.
The Irish's 31-24 victory is another example of the program playing to the level of competition.
Cam McDaniel Is More Than Tough
Midway through the first half, McDaniel put his shoulder down and was popped hard enough to cause his helmet to fly off.
The hit caused McDaniel to bleed from behind his ear, though he received stitches and returned in the second half.
McDaniel finished with 16 carries for 56 yards and one touchdown.
Running Back Position Is Still Unsettled
Head coach Brian Kelly has been mum all season regarding naming a starter at the running back position.
George Atkinson III has been the de facto No. 1 back on the depth chart, though Amir Carlisle has all but unseated Aktinson III as the Irish's lead back.
But against Purdue, Carlisle disappointed, recording 11 carries for just 16 yards.
Tommy Rees Needs to Be More Consistent
During a first half that ended with Notre Dame trailing, 10-3, quarterback Tommy Rees had been frustratingly inconsistent.
But during a second half in which the Irish established themselves early and often, Rees proved his capability as a leader, leading the offense down the field to three scores in the final 30 minutes of action.
Notre Dame's Secondary Has Work to Do
Matthias Farley and KeiVarae Russell were frustrated all night.
The pair missed tackle after tackle and often struggled with miscommunications in coverage.
Despite Bennett Jackson's interception return for a touchdown, the secondary as a whole looked incredibly inept all evening.
Purdue Has Notre Dame's Number
Last season, Notre Dame struggled to put Purdue away after a 50-10 victory against Navy.
Once again this season, the Boilermakers gave the Irish fits, as Kelly and Co. clawed their way to a 31-24 victory in West Lafayette, Ind.
Why the Irish find such monumental struggles against Purdue seems like an unanswerable question.
A Trip to a BCS Game Seems Unlikley
Finding difficulty putting away a middling Big Ten Conference team is a bad omen for a team intent upon joining the BCS festivities.
Such is the case for Notre Dame, which remains eligible for the BCS with a record of 2-1.
But Saturday evening's showing proved the Irish are far from a legitimate contender.
Tommy Rees Is the Irish's Hope for a Quality Season
Whether you like it or not, Tommy Rees is the Irish's hope for a season that began with lofty expectations.
The senior finished having completed 20 of 33 passing attempts for 309 yards and two touchdowns.
It was the second game in a row in which the Lake Forest, Ill., native passed for at least 300 yards. When he plays well, the Irish typically experience success, but when he plays poorly, the results are awful.