Some Thoughts: Purdue @ Notre Dame

I’ve been having a hard time finding pictures from the game online. Usually ESPN has a nice gallery of pictures from the game. Today I only found one: you know, your typical Jimmy Clausen picture, basking in pass protection glory, where he is about to throw the ball. I guess we’ll have to put it up.

jimmy

Notice the lack of luscious locks. I’m torn. But I have to admit, that buzz cut gets the job done.

And Clausen certainly got the job done this week against a challenging defense, going 20/35 for 275 yards and throwing 3 TDs. That’s over that crucial 50% mark we talked about in the preview, especially f the running game proved to be ineffective. Clausen’s success is also the offensive line’s success, surrendering only 1 sack, and giving Clausen plenty of time to throw.

As opposed to the Michigan State game, the o-line provided an effective and dominant running attack this week! Could the Purdue game be considered Armando Allen’s coming out party? The boys pounded 201 yards on the ground… the most since who knows when… and 134 of those belonging to Allen on 17 attempts- a punishing average of almost 8 a carry. We’ll need continued success on the ground to post expected victories against Stanford and the Washington Willinghams.

While after the first quarter the offense was firing on all cylinders, the defense also played a phenomenal game. Countering that Purdue spread, the boys used the nickel defense for most of the afternoon, which came armed with a vast array of confusing blitzes and coverage packages. While the D didn’t register a sack, they had Purdue QB Curtis Painter on the ground most of the game. The pressure certainly affected his overall effectiveness. It was bend but don’t break, as we surrendered 360 passing yards, but the D made the stops when they had to be made.

The return game was good again, as Allen almost broke a few kickoff returns for TDs. Nevertheless, Notre Dame often had excellent starting field position. Maust only had to punt twice, but he averaged 46.5. That’s excellent. One of the punts pinned Purdue inside the 20. Walker was perfect on extra points, but he did miss one close FG. Good thing it didn’t matter. He made one of 41 yards. Keep it goin’ Irish. We’ve matched the win total from last year. We can only continue to go up! Half way to bowl eligibility!

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Some Comments: SDSU @ ND

jimmy

That was close. Too close. Definitely not anywhere close to the quite comfortable margin of 21 the spread had us at, but a win is a win. Especially for a team that was the unexpected doormat of D1 last season, winning a tough game like this I feel can begin the cohesion process of the group.It will definitely be needed against a hungry Michigan team next week, looking to appease the maize and blue faithful after two shaky performances at The Big House. An away win at ND would be a potent remedy for skepticism.

Based on how we played for most of the game, we would probably get schooled by most teams. But that was yesterday, and there were many good things that happen too. The [winning] streak is alive with the sound of BLOCKING. Clausen was sacked 0, ZERO times. That’s about 9 fewer times than last seasons opener. He had to scramble at times, but for the most part, he had TONS of time to throw. While this could be attributed to SDSU’s depleted defensive line, college athletes, no matter who they play for, are usually pretty athletic. SDSU clearly had an athletic team, and they brought their best game to the hostile confines of historic Notre Dame Stadium (which hosted its 400th game!).

It’s not a secret that Charlie wants to pound it. I think if you were (un)lucky enough to watch the NBC broadcast, you were probably reminded of this numerous times. We seemed to be effective, but really, stats-wise, it wouldn’t seem it, with Allen and Hughes running for 59 and 54 yards respectively, and their averages at 3.5 and 3.4. We’d like to see that number over 4 at the very least. But in general not a bad showing.

golden

Passing was a huge question mark coming into the season, especially with Clausen having surgery, and well, not being too impressive or effective last season. He certainly came out firing, showing improved touch, accuracy and arm strength. Don’t forget about confidence. His body language, his look of determination and control of the huddle all oozed of a new confidence level, so that was nice to see. Perhaps it has to do with his “Sampson-like” locks he has now. Don’t cut your hair Jimmy. The receivers came up big for the most part, though there were a few drops. While we may not have utilized our tight end play, I was thoroughly impressed with freshman Kyle Rudolph, who wears that #9 we all came to love. Golden “is thy” Tate had a great game as well, with a TD and 93 yards receiving. His catches always have a knack for being timely.

Clearly, the offense needed some improvement, but our defensive and special teams play was not stellar either. The most notable difference is the change in defensive scheme to a 3-4. It’s tough to play, but it allows for confusing blitzes to be run. LB play is vital, and NT penetration is of the utmost importance. The line really didn’t get too much overpowering penetration. They did record a sack or two, and even an interception by DE Kerry Neal. The line and the LB’s NEED to get into the backfield. This will be important next week against the newly implemented spread offense of UM.

Special teams was sub par. the return game was fine, but again, the kicking is going to make or break games. Punting was good, as Eric Maust had an average close to 40 yards, and had 2 kicks downed inside the 20. But the FG kicking… we missed another one, not to mention a botched hold. We’ll need improvement there.

Overall, it was a bit disappointing to see such a close game, but certainly not as disappointing if we had lost. It was clear that this year’s team has underlying glimmers of explosive potential that hopefully begin to emerge more strongly as the season goes on (and as the ability is needed!). Last year, the experience just wasn’t there, and you could feel the lack of a competitive bite even in the stands as we watched. A bowl big is certainly possible with the schedule and the increasing maturity of the team, but we have to improve next week against Michigan to have a chance.

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