Sep 8, 2012, 12:02 PM EDT
After traversing the Atlantic Ocean to kick off the season, No. 22 Notre Dame woke up this morning in a familiar place, welcoming Purdue to Notre Dame Stadium for the 2012 home opener.
A win will start the Irish off 2-0, taking quite a bit of momentum into a two-game stretch that’ll likely define the season. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, here are a few questions I’ve been thinking about before Saturday’s game gets underway at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Can the Irish build on their impressive performance against Navy?
The Irish have been the definition of Jekyll and Hyde over the past few seasons. Look like world beaters one Saturday and chumps the next. After playing a clean game and having a dominant performance last Saturday, can the Irish keep the momentum and play even better against a Big Ten opponent?
I’ve heard the cliche that a team makes its biggest improvements between the first and second games of a season about a dozen times this week. If it’s the case, it should be plenty of fun to watch the leap the Irish make this weekend.
How will the offensive line look against a stout Purdue defensive front?
Running the ball down the throats of an undersized Navy defensive line was a welcome sight. But doing it against Purdue is a different story. Led by Kawann Short, an All-American caliber player, the Irish ground game will face a much stiffer test this afternoon.
At 6-foot-3, 315 pounds, Short is a boulder in the middle of a defensive front that also features former Irish recruit Bruce Gaston and promising defensive end Ryan Russell, who could be ready for a breakout season.
Want another reason to worry about Short? He’s blocked four kicks over the past two seasons.
How will Everett Golson evolve this Saturday?
Golson looked poised last Saturday, doing his job and running the offense efficiently last week as the Irish pounded Navy with a stout running game. Golson completed 12 of 18 passes (two of those incompletions were drops), with most of those throws on or around the line of scrimmage. Will offensive coordinator Chuck Martin and head coach Brian Kelly open things up against a Boilermakers defense that has plenty of experience at cornerback?
The Irish receiving corps didn’t have the chance to show its relative inexperience last Saturday, essentially not needed after Notre Dame ran for almost 300 yards. Tyler Eifert only made a splash in the red zone, snatching a jump ball for a touchdown but otherwise kept out of the vertical passing game. With a strong arm and great touch on his deep ball, Golson has the ability to beat defenses down field. We’ll see if the Irish try it this afternoon.
How will the Irish secondary look against a traditional passing offense?
You can give the inexperienced Irish secondary a pass for its performance against Navy. But if Purdue throws the ball all over Notre Dame, expect a long season for the back-end of Bob Diaco‘s defense.
With Zeke Motta and Jamoris Slaughter committed to stopping the run, cornerbacks Bennett Jackson and true freshman KeiVarae Russell both lost their share of one-on-one battles. But with the Irish able to employ traditional coverage schemes and play plenty of zone, we’ll see how the defense fares against the Boilermakers aerial attack, which might feature three different quarterbacks.
Jun 19, 2013, 2:35 PM EDT
Not many skill players have come to Notre Dame in recent years with the expectations of Florida’s Greg Bryant. After a heralded prep career, Bryant walks onto campus with many believing he’s already the best running back in South Bend. Of course, heralded freshmen phenoms are nothing new for the Irish. But getting the type…
Jun 19, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT
As part of their build up for the upcoming season, ESPN’s Insiders took a look at the health of major programs as they are positioned for the future. While Power Rankings have turned into a staple of just about every daily website, a Future Power Ranking was a cool idea. The group of Travis Haney,…
Jun 18, 2013, 10:50 AM EDT
When Hunter Bivin gave a verbal commitment to Notre Dame, most fans thought the Irish were getting a prototype offensive tackle that had the chance to compete for the job of Zack Martin’s replacement. It turns out the Irish were getting much, much more, with the versatile Bivin being a veritable Swiss Army Knife for…
Jun 16, 2013, 12:41 PM EDT
With the freshman class on campus and the football team starting voluntary workouts and summer school, the team is now in the hands of strength coach Paul Longo and medical trainer Rob Hunt. That’s good news for an important recruiting class that will likely have a few early contributors come September. One athlete who doesn’t…
Jun 13, 2013, 8:17 PM EDT
Caught up in the commotion of DeShone Kizer’s commitment to the Irish was the news of how Kizer actually committed to Notre Dame. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound quarterback called to deliver the good news to Brian Kelly and the head coach wasn’t in South Bend, but actually in New England spending some time with Bill Belicheck…
Jun 12, 2013, 8:00 PM EDT
For those worried about the Irish defensive line after the surprising loss of Eddie Vanderdoes, it’s probably worth taking a look at who’s returning along the Irish front. Just about everybody. While the Irish lose senior captain Kapron Lewis-Moore to graduation, they return five of their top six players up front, including All-American caliber talent…
Jun 12, 2013, 11:52 AM EDT
After a lot of grumbling by Arizona State athletic director Steve Patterson, it appears that Notre Dame and Arizona State’s game in 2014 will go on after all. The Sun Devil’s athletic director took to the internet yesterday to announce that the Irish’s date in Tempe that looked to be in jeopardy is back on…
Jun 11, 2013, 9:00 PM EDT
Notre Dame received the commitment of Toledo quarterback DeShone Kizer Tuesday. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound quarterback had offers from Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Penn State, and Tennessee among others. “I am privileged to say that I will be continuing my Fighting Irish tradition by playing football at the University of Notre Dame!” Kizer Tweeted this afternoon. Kizer’s…
Jun 10, 2013, 5:41 PM EDT
We’re a week away from freshman reporting to summer school — finalizing the assembly of the 2013 Fighting Irish football team on campus and beginning offseason workouts. Across the country, guys like Greg Bryant and Jaylon Smith say goodbye to home and high school and prepare to go from All-Everything recruits to freshmen football players,…
Jun 7, 2013, 7:01 PM EDT
As someone that had the opportunity to participate in this coaching staff’s very first Fantasy Camp, I can tell you that it’s an incredible experience. The Notre Dame staff roles out the red carpet for both campers and returning alums, making the short week one of the best experiences you could ever hope for if…
Jun 6, 2013, 1:40 AM EDT
Editors Note: While there’s no doubt that Rees will be the starting quarterback against Temple, the headline of this story has been tweaked to be a little less definitive, as talking at a banquet hardly construes an official announcement. UPDATE: It appears that Kelly did more than hint at Rees being the frontrunner for the…
Jun 5, 2013, 6:39 PM EDT
In one of the great examples of June being the Sahara for college football fans, Notre Dame recruit Elijah Hood, one of the best running backs in the country, got caught up in social media circus yesterday, courtesy of a Vine video he made. Hood, one of the most active social media users in the…
Jun 4, 2013, 5:11 PM EDT
Eddie Vanderdoes won’t be attending Notre Dame. Both Brian Kelly and the talented defensive lineman agree on that. How the situation ever got to this point, well that’s a story most people are still trying to figure out. Today, after a few weeks of murky details slowly coming to the surface, Vanderdoes, Notre Dame and…
Jun 3, 2013, 1:52 PM EDT
Summer break is over for the Irish football team. Returning members of the football team came back to South Bend yesterday to begin preparation for the 2013 season. While all workouts are technically voluntary, every player (freshmen will show up in two weeks) is expected to begin work with strength and conditioning coach Paul Longo…
May 31, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT
Everett Golson intends to return to Notre Dame after his suspension. That’s the good news. But for Brian Kelly and his coaching staff, there’s no planning for good intentions, and right now the quarterback depth chart looks vastly different without Golson at the top of it. The once robust quarterback group had a very tough…
May 28, 2013, 4:13 PM EDT
Since the revelation of Everett Golson‘s suspension from Notre Dame, not much had been clear about the future of the Irish’s starting quarterback. But after listening to head coach Brian Kelly, one thing now is: The door is wide open for Golson to return in the spring. Kelly spoke briefly with the media Tuesday afternoon,…
May 27, 2013, 5:34 PM EDT
In the span of one holiday weekend, the trajectory of Notre Dame’s football program has been irrevocably changed. That’s not hyperbole. Coming off a twelve-win season and finally solving a quarterback conundrum that took three seasons to sort, Brian Kelly turned down an opportunity to jump to the NFL, presumably because he saw the bright…
May 26, 2013, 9:22 PM EDT
A day after news broke that Everett Golson was no longer enrolled at Notre Dame, the quarterback confirmed and clarified the circumstances surrounding his shocking departure. With the university bound to silence due to privacy laws, Golson himself acknowledged an academic situation that let to a suspension for the fall semester, ending his football season…
May 26, 2013, 12:40 AM EDT
Starting quarterback Everett Golson is no longer enrolled at Notre Dame. The bombshell was confirmed last Saturday night by university spokesman Dennis Brown to multiple outlets, with local NBC affiliate WNDU the first to report the news. Two sources tells Inside the Irish that an academic violation is the root of the problem, and may…
May 24, 2013, 6:59 PM EDT
With the unofficial kickoff to summer upon us, we’re inside 100 days until football is back. That may seem like quite a long time, but we’ve got plenty of ground to cover in the next few months as we get a better look at what the 2013 Fighting Irish will be. Before everybody disappears for…
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