Coming off a tough victory over Michigan State, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are traveling to West Lafayette to battle Purdue tonight under the lights. The Irish have a couple offensive weapons banged up and missing (Michael Floyd) and they are looking for their defense to step up its game as well.
Some think Notre Dame will roll tonight, while others think it will be another close in-state rivalry. Let’s go inside the huddle and pick up the action.
7:57PM-There’s two things I am looking for in this game besides the obvious win for the Irish. First, I’d like to see the defense play much better, blitz less, and disguise any subsequent blitzes much better. Also, I’ll be looking to see who fills the void for the injured Michael Floyd who is out for the remainder of the regular season with a broken collar bone.
8:02-The lovely Erin Andrews tells us that Armando Allen will be playing tonight but will not be starting. Who is going to start at running back for the Irish? Odds are that it will be Jonas Gray, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Robert Hughes as well. I really don’t want to see Hughes as the starting tailback. He’s a perpetual 3 yard runner.
8:06-I’m excited to see what Dayne Crist has to offer. It looks like there’s a good chance he’ll be getting a fair amount of playing time tonight. If the Irish can move the ball with him under center everything will be gravy.
8:08-If Vegas had odds on if the opening kickoff by Tausch goes into the end zone, what do you think the line is? He almost had it this time, kicking it to the one yard line!
8:10-Notre Dame would have liked a three and out by Purdue but the Boilermakers pick up the first down.
8:12-Bolden just ripped off a bug run that looked like there were no Notre Dame players on the field. Luckily, Fleming makes a big tackle in the back field to follow that up.
8:13-A quick slant route leads to a touchdown for Purde. That pretty much played out exactly how the Irish didn’t want the defense to play to start the game. What is wrong with the Irish coverage? It just can’t be this bad.
8:17-Riddick takes the ensuing kickoff and looks like he’s going to run for a touchdown but is tackled by the kicker. Clausen hands off to Gray, who gets the start at running back, and there’s an offsides call on Purdue.
8:19-A nice screen pass to Gray nets a big gain. Expect to see plenty of screen tonight.
8:21-On third and very long, lineman Sam Young false starts. Has there been a more disappointing lineman in Irish history with this much hype coming out of high school?
8:22-Clausen throws a dart to Kamara that comes up a yard short of the first down. Is there any doubt that Weis won’t be going for it? Clausen stays in shotgun, it’s pretty clear he won’t be taking many snaps under center if at all, and hands off to Gray who gets stuffed for a loss. That was way too predictable.
8:28-Purdue converts another third and long with an easy as can be pass across the middle. If I was playing against Notre Dame I wouldn’t even run the ball.
8:29-Another third and long for Purdue, can the Irish stop them? Interesting call by the Boilermakers as they run a QB draw that goes nowhere. Notre Dame is due for a punt return touchdown.
8:31-Clausen is getting good protection and fires a throw to Gray again out of the backfield. The Irish need for receivers to start getting involved. Yet another false start on Notre Dame.
8:34-On third down Clausen goes deep to Tate and picks up a pass interference call. I know Notre Dame is really good at the deep ball but I would really like to see more passes in the middle stretching the field that way.
8:36-Another third down and Clausen is forced to scramble and can’t pick up the first down. There was a flag thrown after the tackle, a taunting infraction, that gives the Irish a first down. Is that a make up call for the past two games of horrible officiating?
8:38-A touchdown pass is brought back after an illegal formation penalty. I swear Notre Dame is trying to set records for most penalties through four games. What is the record in Irish history anyway?
8:41-Facing a third and ten, Notre Dame calls a timeout. Has any other team called more first quarter timeouts over the last half decade than Notre Dame? It seems like on every second or third drive of the game the Irish call a timeout.
8:44-Clausen can’t hit tight end Kyle Rudolph on third down and Notre Dame settles for a field goal by Tausch. I am so glad that Tausch looks like a much more dependable kicker than Walker. He could pay huge dividends in the future. Is the kickoff going into the end zone? Nope, it bounced to the goal line and was scooped up.
8:48-After a couple nice gains by Purdue, Darius Fleming makes another big tackle in the back field setting up a third and long. It’s nice to see a Notre Dame defender show up for the game! The first quarter comes to an end before the ball could be snapped.
8:53-A pass breakup by Kyle McCarthy leads to a punt by Purdue. McCarthy just continues to play outstanding. That’s two players who have showed up on the defensive side of the ball. Quarterback Dayne Crist is now in for Clausen and takes a QB keeper for a long run.
8:55-Crist fires a ball to Kamara that is dropped. If you’re counting on Kamara picking up the slack in Floyd’s absence, don’t hold your breath. On third down, Notre Dame puts Tate in the backfield and he runs for the first down.
8:57-Robert Hughes is now in at running back and breaks off two great runs. He’s trying to prove me wrong out there as I wasn’t crazy about having him run the ball too much. He’s getting great blocking and Notre Dame is about to score. And they do, as Hughes rumbles into the end zone. The Irish now have their first lead of the game.
9:01-What kind of talent is Dayne Crist going to turn out to be? He’s bigger than Clausen, seems to have a stronger arm, and as he’s shown in this game, he can move his feet and is very mobile. That bodes well for the future of Notre Dame football.
9:04-Purdue completes a pass on first down for about five yards. I’d say about half of all completions against Notre Dame this year have come with no Irish defender within five yards of the receiver. How does this happen?
9:07-Notre Dame is using better schemes tonight, rushing just four guys and sitting back in coverage more often. Purdue can’t move the ball and is set to punt as we go to commercial.
9:11-Notre Dame has run two straight wildcat plays on this new drive, before Crist comes back on the field and hands off to Hughes on first down. I’m pretty sure the Irish could just run the ball all night long and win this game.
9:14-Golden Tate lines up as the running back again and scampers for a first down. Man does he show some speed once the ball is in his hands. After Hughes runs for three, Tate takes a snap out of the wildcat and run for a touchdown. Golden Tate cannot be stopped when the ball is in his hands.
9:19-Purdue can’t get anything on third down and Fleming makes another strong tackle as the quarterback tries to scramble but gets nowhere. Tate takes the punt for about fifteen yards and is wrapped up near the sideline.
9:25-Clausen is back in trying to run the two minute offense before the half comes to a close. A third down is coming up after a couple of short completions, both to Kamara. As we go to commerical I’m wondering what the patch on the Notre Dame coaches sleeves means?
9:27-Clausen gets his pass tipped on third down and Notre Dame’s drive ends prematurely. After a heinous punt by Eric Maust, the Purdue return man took the ball on a bounce and brings it near midfield. Seriously, Maust has proved time and again to be a very inept punter and something has to be done about that.
9:31-Purdue completes a short pass and picks up a short run, but cannot complete a pass on third down. The broadcasters think Purdue should kick the field goal but Purdue goes for it and the pass is dropped…turnover on downs.
9:33-Clausen hits Rudolph on a screen pass that picks up some nice yardage as there’s now less than a minute left in the half. Notre Dame is now in Purdue territory. After a timeout Clausen hits Shaq Evans on a nice out route. Evans lost his shoe on the play but still made the catch. Well done.
9:36-Coming out of a timeout Clausen goes to deep into the end zone for Evans but the ball is intercepted. Jimmy Clausen’s streak of passes without an interception has come to an end. I would have liked to see some more conservative play calling in this situation an shot for a field goal instead of the home run ball.
9:40-Purdue’s short possession comes to naught and the half comes to an end with Notre Dame leading 17-7. All in all not a bad half for the Fighting Irish. After giving up a touchdown on Purdue’s first drive, Notre Dame kept the Boilermakers under wraps the rest of the way. The offense looks decent, although Clausen has not found a groove with limited playing time.
In the second half I think Notre Dame will continue to run the ball a ton and utilize the wildcat formation because it has been too successful this far tonight.
I have a feeling Clausen will play to start the half but if the Irish get up by more than two scores the ball will be given to Crist the rest of the way.
10:02-Crist comes out to take over for Clausen as the second half starts. I don’t have a big problem with this as long as Notre Dame continues to run the ball successfully. However, there most likely won’t be any chemistry developed with the receivers which was a goal I thought the Irish needed to achieve tonight.
10:07-Notre Dame continues to run the ball, but is stopped on third down as Tate can’t shake a defender after a handoff. Maust kicks another lack luster punt and the Purdue return man adeptly takes the ball and runs for fifteen yards.
10:12-A nice pass on a scramble by Purdue is followed up by a sack by Fleming and a near interception by cornerback Robert Blanton. The Boilermakers throw another incompletion and are forced to punt once more. It’s time for Notre Dame to march down the field and put this game away.
10:18-Still more running of the ball by Notre Dame, although Crist did finally attempt a pass and complete it to Hughes out of the back field. After an illegal formation, Hughes runs the ball and Crist hits Rudolph on a play action for the first down. I’m very impressed with Crist’s footwork and general presence in the pocket.
10:24-Notre Dame is eating massive amounts of clock right now as third and ten approaches. A half back draw to Hughes gets about two feet and the Irish are left with a fourth and ten. After a timeout, Crist is unable to escape pressure and is sacked turning the ball over to Purdue. The Irish need to put Purdue away but continue to not be able to do so.
10:32-Purdue executes a big screen play and moves the ball into Notre Dame territory. They now have a big third down coming up and they pick it up with a short pass. The Boilermakers run the ball for no gain and the third quarter comes to an end. The score remains 17-7 Notre Dame.
10:38-On third down, Purdue completes one heck of a pass near the sideline and the receiver nearly scored a touchdown taking the ball down to the one yard line. The play is now under review, as it looked as if the receiver might have stepped out of bounds closer to the five yard line. It seems to me it was definitely a catch and that he did keep his foot in bounds before heading toward the goal line.
10:43-After two unsuccessful plays, Purdue completes a slant pattern for a touchdown. Crazy as it may be, Notre Dame’s lead is now down to three. Sergio Brown was beaten on the coverage for the touchdown. Am I the only one who thinks Brown should not be playing as much as he is?
10:50-On first down, Crist had Tate open on a deep ball but sailed it about five yards too long for the incompletion. Tate then takes a WR run for a loss and a screen pass is incomplete. Notre Dame punts and gives Purdue great field position after a penalty on Harrison Smith for kick catcher interference.
10:54-Third and ten for Purdue and they convert with a tough WR screen that nets about eleven yards. The Boilermakers are now into Notre Dame territory and looking to take the lead. Jimmy Clausen is now warming up on the sidelines as it looks like he’ll be coming back into the game on the next Irish drive.
11:00-Purdue has some momentum now, but shoots themselves in the foot with an illegal formation and delay of game. A pass over the middle gets close to the first down line, but a run on third down is stopped for a loss. Big fourth down coming up and Purdue is going for it. Lucky for the Irish the pass down the sideline is intercepted by Darrin Walls.
11:02-Clausen is back in the game and hands off to Hughes on first down. Will Notre Dame play less conservative with Clausen back in? Will Purdue respect the pass more as well? Clausen is pressured on second down and gets tackled and third down is no better with a screen pass that goes for a minimal gain. It didn’t matter as there was another holding call on Sam Young which Purdue declined.
11:06-There is under five minutes left to play and now Purdue has moved the ball to midfield on a nice run. That is followed up by another WR screen that goes for huge yards but is called back by a block in the back penalty. I don’t have a good feeling for the third straight week as the game is on the line with the Notre Dame defense on the field.
11:10-As it happens, Purdue scores easily on a pass to the running back who was left uncovered and trots into the end zone for the score. The Boilermakers now lead 21-17.
11:13-Clausen has the Irish moving with slightly over two minutes to play. He nails Tate for first down and then Rudolph for another big gain. Can Clausen engineer a fourth quarter comeback again? On second down Clausen gets sacked leaving a third and long . Notre Dame takes its last timeout of the game.
11:17-Clausen nails Parris on third down for the huge first down to keep hope alive. He then misses on a fade pass to Tate, but hits Golden once more for another first down. It’s now first and goal from the four. It’s surprising that Clausen passes the ball on first down and it is incomplete to Parris. Second down Hughes runs for about a yard. Purdue calls a timeout.
11:21-Clausen can’t find anyone open and throws the ball away on third down. It’s coming down to this last play now. Fourth and goal with 29 seconds left. This time Clausen is able to hit Rudolph for the touchdown. Tausch hits the point after and Notre Dame leads 24-21. Wow.
11:25-Tausch actually kicked the ball into the end zone and Purdue didn’t get much on the return. On first down, Irish linebacker Manti Te’o picks up a sack and Purdue is forced to take a timeout. On the next play, the Boilermakers run an end around and pitch the ball twice but the second ends up a fumble and Notre Dame recovers. Game over.
It certainly wasn’t pretty but give Notre Dame credit for holding on for the victory with key injuries at key positions. Another close game came down to the wire and the Fighting Irish pick up a victory for the second straight week.