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Opponent preview: Purdue

Aug 23, 2012, 1:02 PM EDT

Cierre Wood AP

This is the second of twelve opponent updates as we sprint towards next Saturday’s opening game in Dublin. For more, check out the preview of Navy.

The Overview:

Forgive Danny Hope if he’s been feeling snake bit. After taking over the Boilermakers program from Joe Tiller, Hope has had to battle a rash of bad injury luck and inconsistent play from his young team, short-circuiting any progress he was hoping for in West Lafayette. But with depth at quarterback, a stout defense, and 15 returning starters, 2012 might be different, and Purdue might be a dark horse candidate to make some noise in a Big Ten that’s shook up with perennial powers Penn State and Ohio State sitting out the postseason.

Last time against the Irish:

Heading into a primetime start in Ross-Ade Stadium, Boilermaker fans were excited to see their lockdown cornerback Ricardo Allen take his shot at Michael Floyd. It didn’t turn out well for Allen, who was beat long and often by Floyd, who had a big day as the Irish rolled to a 38-10 victory over the Boilermakers.

“We got off to a good start obviously on the road against a Big Ten team,” Brian Kelly said after the game. “Getting Mike Floyd the ball early on really gave us a lot of confidence.”

That confidence also wore off on running back Cierre Wood, who had his best game in an Irish uniform, running for 191 yards on 20 carries, including a 55 yard touchdown. Tommy Rees threw for three touchdowns with no picks and the Irish defense shut down the Purdue running game.

Degree of Difficulty:

Of the 12 games the Irish play this season, I rank Purdue as the eighth toughest game on the schedule.

12.
11.
10. Navy
9.
8. Purdue

The Match-up:

It looks like Caleb Terbush has won the quarterback battle heading into the opener, with the senior building off a solid 2011 campaign. He’ll have the protection of an offensive line that returns four starters and a strong running game anchored by Akeem Shavers and Akeem Hunt. Ralph Bolden is coming back from another ACL tear, making it questionable that the former standout runner will make an impact. Wide receiver Antavian Edison is the big play threat in the Boilermakers passing game, with dynamic return man Raheem Mostert a weapon as well.

The Purdue defense is anchored by Kawann Short, a returning All-Big Ten selection that could be a first round draft pick. He’ll be joined up front by Bruce Gaston (a former Irish target), Ryan Russell, and Brandon Taylor, giving the Boilermakers a stout front four. Linebacker Dwayne Beckford will do his best to replace Joe Holland, and he’s put a December DUI behind him. All-Big Ten cornerback Ricardo Allen is back in the secondary joined by Josh Johnson and Normondo Harris. They are one of the Big Ten’s strongest cornerback trio.

How the Irish will win:

By playing solid football. Personnel wise, Purdue is improved, but the Irish are in another league still, even with Danny Hope building his program consistently. And while the Irish don’t have a great match-up with Purdue’s strengths along the front four and in coverage, neither do the Boilermakers. Running against the Irish isn’t easy, and if Purdue won’t be able to rely on a ground game that was surprisingly sturdy last season.

How the Irish will lose:

Even if it is the home opener, the let down factor is alive and well with Purdue warming up with cupcake Eastern Kentucky while Notre Dame will be battling time zones, jet lag, and cut-blocks on its way back from Dublin. While Tommy Rees will be eligible to play, Everett Golson will likely still be behind center, and he’ll face a tough defensive front and cornerbacks with play-making ability. TerBush has the skills to be dangerous both through the air and on the ground, and a special teams play by Raheem Mostert or some forced turnovers by new defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar‘s unit could make this interesting.

Gut Feeling:

September hasn’t been kind to the Irish, but with the ground game humming and Everett Golson getting his legs beneath him, I expect the Irish to be 2-0 heading into their dreaded dates with the state of Michigan.

  1. don74 - Aug 23, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    I think this game is the indicator for the season. After traveling to Ireland to play the option based Navy, Purdue will show us how we stack up against a more traditional team.

    Coming back from the time zone change and playing at home for the first time this year will be challenging for the first time starters.

    A convincing win will show us what we have. A struggle will not bode well for Michigan, MSU and OK.

    • 808raiderinparadise - Aug 23, 2012 at 6:40 PM

      If ND doesn’t blow-out both these teams by 21+ then they might only win 1 out of the next 6.

      Its time to arrive ND, LETS GO IRISH !!!!!!!!!

      Schedule is brutal, BUT if Golson takes care of the football and gets the ball to playmakers and C. Wood has the hiesman candidate year I expect him to, then the D will do the rest and ND can expect BCS at least ….

      All hinges on the those first 2 games, must be clean and dominant, because after that its hardddddddddddd

  2. irish4006 - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    Does anyone know why it was important for us to play a game in Dublin? As far as I know, they don’t even care about pro football (not to be confused with the other kind of football that is very popular in Ireland), why would they be interested in seeing two college football teams from across the ocean fighting it out in Dublin? It was a terrible idea, esp. for a season opener.

    • joeschu - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:24 PM

      I presume for the same reason any CFB decision is made – cold hard cash.

    • bernhtp - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:50 PM

      It shows Notre Dame’s national and international character. It leverages Notre Dame’s draw and tradition to evangelize American Football to Europe. It’s a cool junket and experience for the football team. It’s a distinguishing feature of Notre Dame – Notre Dame is different and very relevant – that can be used for recruiting purposes.

      BTW, did you see the high schools that will also be there and at the Notre Dame – Navy game and the special recruiting opportunity this brings?

      http://notredame.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1399793

    • nudeman - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:53 PM

      I can’t disagree, but it’s all about cultivating the Ireland market for ND gear.
      Shirts, hats, thongs – everything with “ND” stamped on it.
      It’s 99.99% about money. Not even sure what the other .01% is for.

      • nudeman - Aug 23, 2012 at 4:28 PM

        Speak the truth and people kill you for it
        You guys think they’re going there because they’re homesick for the old sod?
        I love that I get “thumbs down” for this.

        LOVE IT

        Clowns

      • dbldmr - Aug 23, 2012 at 4:47 PM

        The whole thing is about the money, either at home or in Ireland. Why else would games start at 3:30 and take four hours to play? It certainly isn’t for the pleasure and convenience of the 90,000 sitting in the stands. There’s nothing better than leaving the parking lot at 7:30 to enjoy the dining scene in South Bend.

        NBC drives the train because they write the check. I can’t argue with that. The check is pretty big. I can wish all I want for the good old days, but they’re gone. As long as I have sufficient bar supplies I can outlast the crowd after the game.

      • ndfansince69 - Aug 23, 2012 at 4:53 PM

        The truth can hurt. Yet, it’s still the truth.

        Win!
        Make money!
        Go Irish!

      • bernhtp - Aug 23, 2012 at 6:00 PM

        I didn’t give you a thumbs down. Money, while always a consideration, is not foremost on the minds of people making this decision. There are many goals in doing this trip, many of which are general to Notre Dame as an academic institution. Making Notre Dame more international – students, faculty, research partnerships, studies abroad, peace initiatives, philanthropy, religious outreach, etc. – is a major initiative right now. Putting out the ND name internationally is a piece of this.

        While ND-tagged shirts, hat, and, uh, thongs do bring it a few bucks, and that’s good, that is not what drives this.

  3. joeschu - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    Off topic, but Lynch has to sit a year… http://espn.go.com/blog/notre-dame-football/post/_/id/8209/usf-de-aaron-lynch-waiver-request-denied

    • bernhtp - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:36 PM

      As expected. His application for hardship due to distant pussy didn’t produce a tear from the NCAA.

      • andy44teg - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:53 PM

        Jeez, bern..that’s a lil vulgar coming from you…but i agree with ya…Lynch has gotta feel like a giant d-bag right about now.

      • nudeman - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:54 PM

        Read somewhere else he’s getting married this weekend.
        If true, his relationship with the chick is about to jump the shark.

        Q: Why is divorce so expensive?
        A: Because it’s WORTH IT.

      • bb90grad - Aug 24, 2012 at 1:50 PM

        Hopefully she won’t rub it in by wearing thongs with ND emblazoned on them. Of course we are referring to flip flops here.

        Yes I am still 12 years old at heart

    • gtizzo - Aug 23, 2012 at 4:32 PM

      Lynch should look at people who really made a “commitment” to be the best. There was an Olympic athlete who was home a grand total of 17 days out of a year. This is a athlete under the age of 20.

  4. vegasmark - Aug 23, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    Maybe it’s just me, but every time I see Terbush written, I feel like someone’s making fun of the poor guy, then I remember it’s his actual name, not a mean nickname…

    PS – Bern, I didn’t see that one coming, I genuinely cracked up at that. Great burn!

  5. gtizzo - Aug 23, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    Keith I agree with your result,

    Yes ND will be 2-0. I don’t agree with your assessment of Purdue. Danny Hope is on life support at Purdue and this is his year to keep his job. Purdue is on its third defensive coordinator in three years! Fellow Irish fans know how well that works out. The starting eleven for Purdue on defense are nice but they have nothing for defensive depth. There offense doesn’t have a proven “go to guy” at either WR or TE. Even ND without Floyd still has Eifert as a “go to guy”. Plus Purdue is a one trick pony if Bolden can’t play because of injury, I see another blowout for Purdue in South Bend. I don’t see Purdue throwing the ball to victory even with ND having a thin secondary. The other thing that everyone who has done a preview of the ND vs Purdue game has missed. Jonas Gray was getting the corner on the Purdue defense all game long. Yes Gray is gone, but Riddick should be able to accomplish the same thing with his speed.

  6. irisheyesnate - Aug 23, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    I agree nudeman!

  7. irisheyesnate - Aug 23, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    Lynch is a D-bag

  8. italianirish - Aug 23, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    I think it would be great if we told our d-backs to be super-aggressive in the first 2 games and really go after INTs.

    Obviously there are downsides to this plan such as us deflating the confidence of the really young crew if they keep getting beat deep. But if we go into MSU with these crazy ball-hawking defensive backs who have 3 or 4 interceptions in 2 games, they might not be thinking so much about taking advantage of our obvious weakness. I’m clearly not a football coach, but if they said “this is our plan against 2 shitty quarterbacks,” I think I’d like it. If it works, it would make all the other teams on the schedule at least think twice about chucking the ball deep.

  9. kiopta1 - Aug 23, 2012 at 7:00 PM

    I think our front 7 and running game could win us many games but we play so many teams that are very talented up and down…so I hope and pray that our secondary and passing game can grow and execute rapidly.

  10. kiopta1 - Aug 23, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    The thing that makes me feel a bit better about our secondary is that they seem to have more speed and athleticism over previous squads…but we have to see if they can learn fast and be mentally tough to execute in tough environments….that includes home games.

  11. ndgoldandblue - Aug 23, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    I don’t know. There’s just something about this game that doesn’t feel right. I’m fairly confident that we’re going to beat Navy, but I’ve got a bad feeling about the Purdue game. I don’t know…maybe it’s all the pub that Purdue seems to be getting. As Keith said, Purdue has a few All-Big Ten players, and they return a lot of starters. Plus, they have a solid secondary, which we cannot say is true of the Irish.

    Frankly, from what I saw from Terbush last year, I think the guy’s a poor man’s Tino Sunseri, and that’s saying very little. However, the rest of the team looks to be more well-rounded and more experienced than the Irish (according to Keith’s assessment). They have solid corners and we have talented, yet unproven receivers. In the same vein, Purdue’s receivers are mediocre at best and they’re going up against an equally mediocre secondary that features more converted players than true corners. It’s basically a wash. So where is this game won? Up front, I suppose. Do we have more talent, better yet, more heart to win this game up front? I hope so.

    Last year, I had a sinking feeling before the USF game. Remember how that turned out? This game scares me. Kelly better tell his players to take this game incredibly seriously–to take it as seriously as the USC game. Because if they walk on the field just expecting to win, they could be in a world of hurt.

  12. irishdodger - Aug 25, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    Purdue won’t be as easy as assumed. Jet lag & a rookie QB could spell disaster. I think we’ll see Rees in this game…unfortunately.

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