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Hazell eager to take on Irish challenge

Sep 11, 2013, 3:55 PM EDT

Darrell Hazell

With a primetime start and a team that is still adapting to a new system, Purdue coach Darrell Hazell looks ready for his biggest challenge to date: A Notre Dame team that’s looking to rebound after a difficult loss to Michigan.

In his weekly press conference, Hazell talked about some of the challenges his team with face, and what’ll they’ll need to do to win a game where they’re more than three touchdown underdogs.

A week after his offensive line struggled sustaining their blocks against Indiana State, Hazell talked about the challenge that All-American Louis Nix and the Irish front seven pose for the Boilermakers.

“They’re very good up front. Those guys are very good inside. The nose guard, Nix, he’s outstanding,” Hazell said. “The thing that impresses me about him is to watch him run down and chase the ball at 350 pounds.  You wouldn’t think a guy that big plays with so much energy down the field, but he does a great job.  The other guys on the edge, they’re outstanding as well. So we’re going to have to do a good job of creating some double teams.”

Double-teams? Check. And that won’t just be the strategy for Nix, but also Stephon Tuitt, who was remarkably kept off the stat sheet, even though he made a game-changing play on his endzone interception of Devin Gardner.

Hazell talked about the work Michigan did to keep Tuitt from causing too many problems up front.

“They did a good job of doubling him,” Hazell said. “They ran the ball outside. They got it out of the quarterbacks hands as fast as they can on three step, and if they weren’t throwing three step, a lot of times they were going seven-man protection so he was not getting the rush.”

From a defensive perspective, it’s interesting to hear what Hazel saw looking over the game film of Notre Dame’s loss to Michigan. For those that have accused Bob Diaco of playing too vanilla up front, the Irish were burnt as they tried to get pressure on Gardner, especially on third downs.

“They rely a lot on their front seven. They play a lot of manned coverage that probably exposed them a little bit last week, some of those routes,” Hazell said. “But they’re going to bring the house on third down.  They’re going to twist and bring blitz on third down.  Just watched the third down cut-up reel, and it was a frenzy of blitzes coming from all areas.

“We’re going to have to do a good job on third down of understanding the situation and not getting ourselves in a 3rd and 15 or 3rd and 12, and managing that situation especially early in the game so that the crowd, their part of the crowd, doesn’t get all juiced up.”

Ross-Ade has been a feisty place for the Irish, both with pro-Notre Dame fans and a home crowd that did their best to will Purdue to an almost upset of Jimmy Clausen’s final Irish squad in 2009. And if you thought you’d get through the week without rivalry talk, Hazell also spoke about how excited he was to take part in this in-state rivalry, a game that’s been played for an awful long time. 

“Anytime you get two good universities going against each other that are so close to each other, there are bragging rights,” Hazell said. “There are absolutely bragging rights.  This is a big game for us.

“It’s really fun just to think how long this series has been going on uninterrupted. I’m excited about this game Saturday night.  There is a lot of hype going on right now.  We’ve got to make sure as a staff and as a football team that we put in the preparations that we need to do to help our chances to be successful, and that is the bottom line.”

  1. dudeacow - Sep 11, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    I think I know the problem of our defense: we’re blitzing too often, leaving the secondary in man coverage, which they are unable to do. Also, months of the first team D going against an offense with an immobile quarterback has hurt their ability to stop QB runs.

    • seadomer - Sep 11, 2013 at 4:56 PM

      Yup, we missed Kap and Manti more than we realized and that half a second delay in blitzing in making the “improved” secondary look much worse than it is.

      • irish4006 - Sep 12, 2013 at 3:39 PM

        Sometimes that half a second early look on the blitz was just as bad. Bennett coming up on a blitz could be seen from a mile away, multiple times.

  2. seadomer - Sep 11, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Sorry. Even if the score was 52-6. I won’t be bragging anything … just happy that D is shutting down and O is performing well against weaker teams

  3. 25kgold - Sep 11, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    28-10 Irish. We’re not going to demolish Purdue, it’s just not in our DNA this year.

  4. papadec - Sep 11, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    ND doesn’t run up the score, on anyone – with the possible exception of usc, if they can.

    • seadomer - Sep 11, 2013 at 6:35 PM

      Errr … I know we don’t do it on purpose, but what abt Navy and Miami last year .. was that running up?

      • papadec - Sep 11, 2013 at 9:26 PM

        Or Wake Forest. Sometimes even the 2nd or 3rd team players are just that much better.

      • nudeman - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:43 PM

        No, that’s not running it up

        Running it up is a team that is winning 41-2 in the 4th quarter and still throwing it.
        I don’t have game tape to reference from the Miami and Navy games, but I’d be surprised if they tried to run it up against them

        Having said that … anytime they are ahead of Miami 56-0 and want to pile it on … I’ll look the other way

    • 1historian - Sep 12, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      1992 – BC is at Notre Dame and the Irish are way ahead – by 35-40 points in the 3rd quarter. The ND punter goes back to punt and it’s a fake punt and he runs it for a 1st down. A few minutes later the camera catches him on the sideline with his buddies having a good laugh about it, and then the camera catches the BC players on the other side watching this.

      Fast forward to 1993. (Austin Collinsworth’s dad made that point during the 3rd quarter of the game in 1993)

      There are games in which team ‘a’ beats the s..t out of team ‘b’. This is understood and accepted, but when team ‘a’ rubs team the nose of team ‘b’ in the aforementioned substance, there are consequences.

      Last year v. Navy & Miami – IMO they were that much better than the other team – they did not rub it in.

      I remember a ND game back in the 60s and I think it was during the era of Ara. The Irish were playing Pitt and the score at halftime was 49-0 ND. The 2nd half by mutual agreement between coaches was all running plays.

      • fish95 - Sep 12, 2013 at 11:10 AM

        1historian, I attended that ’92 BC game as a student … also attended the pep rally the evening prior. It was inside the JACC …

        Holz had been taking a lot of heat that year for his play calling in the final minutes of the Michigan game (which was played to a tie – obviously, this was pre-OT).

        During the pep-rally, a respectable looking elderly gentleman and friend of Holz (former player, I think – but don’t recall exactly) somewhat nervously rose to address the fans and defend Lou by reading Teddy Roosevelt’s classic poem “The Man in the Arena” … the center grew respectfully quiet save for a large and obnoxious contingent of BC students, who drowned out the gentleman’s words with classless taunts and jeers – not even aimed at ND in general, but at the man reading the poem.

        Holz looked furious. The next day the team came out FIRED UP … BC was completely overwhelmed from the get go.

        I don’t have any insight into what was said in the locker room but I will go to my grave believing that Holz ran up the score (rightly or wrongly) as retribution for the prior evening.

  5. seadomer - Sep 11, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    Today’s big news is obviously the SEC players receiving improper benefits etc and Pause (moment of silence ……….) for 9/11

    Ok, if somehow the NCGs of 2011 and 2012 were to be forfeited, who would be the National Champs of those years or would it just vacant.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:32 PM

      Well, here’s the catch, there isn’t an NCAA champion in the FBS. The champion is “selected” by the BCS. So, i’m not sure if the NCAA can vacate anything.

  6. 25kgold - Sep 11, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    ND for 2012!!!

  7. 25kgold - Sep 11, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    But then the big talk would be that the only way ND can win a national championship is if the NCAA gives it to us…. (I’ll take it anyways).

  8. fnc111 - Sep 11, 2013 at 8:39 PM

    Since when has ND run up the score on USC lol? Two squeak out wins in a decade+.

    • papadec - Sep 11, 2013 at 9:28 PM

      Yes, it has been awhile. Like I said – IF they can.

    • 1historian - Sep 12, 2013 at 9:31 AM


  9. scottatnd - Sep 11, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    SEC news today? What did I miss? Anyone have a link?

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:33 PM

      • seadomer - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:40 PM

        hahahahahahaha …. I know, right?

  10. 1historian - Sep 12, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    fish95 – thanks for your post. I was completely unaware of what had transpired at the pep rally the night before, and in light of that what happened the next day is understandable.

    I do, though, stand by what I said – when you beat the s..t out of a team and then rub their noses in it, the sports gods place a curse on you and how long it lasts is entirely up to them.

    2 examples –

    1) the 1986 Super Bowl won by DA BEARSS!!! In the 4th quarter they were way ahead and they were on the Patriots’ 2 yard line and Ditka sent in ‘The Refrigerator’ to score the TD instead of Walter Payton. Rub it in #1

    After the game Ditka was quoted as saying “They didn’t belong on the same field with us.” An arguable point, but you are NOT SUPPOSED TO SAY THAT. Rub it in #2.

    With the talent on that team they should have won at least 1 more Super Bowl. THAT team never got to another SB.

    2) 1985 – The Boston Celtics wiped out the Los Angeles lakers in game #1 of the NBA Finals by 42 points – 108-66, and they rubbed it in in the last few minutes.

    The result? LA won the title that year and they clinched it on the fabled parquet floor of the Boston Garden.

    FYI – I am an old fart and I go all the way back to Joe Kuharich and that SOB from Northwestern we could never beat. So let’s talk about rubbing it in – in 1964 SCal was down 17-0 at the half and ND was going to win it all in Ara’s 1st year. The result of course was somewhat short of that.
    1966 – I was overseas and ND was awesome and so was Michigan State and the game of the year was the battle between the two and I was away that weekend (I was in the service in the mid-east) and when I got back I found it had been a tie and there was a huge furor over the last few minutes of the game in which ND didn’t play to win because replacement QB Coley O’Brien was out of gas – he was diabetic. The excrement hit the air circulator in the press and then ND had one more game in the season (they didn’t play bowl games in those days) and it was against Southern Cal in La and the Irish got off to a good start and with a few minutes left in the1st half it was 17-0 and the announcer started talking about the game 2 years previous (I was listening to it on a SW radio) and then suddenly ND scored twice in rapid succession and at the half the score was 31-0.

    The final was 51-0, and legend has it that the SC coach (I forget his name) said after the game – “I’ll never lose to that Armenian bastard (Parseghian) again”.

    He didn’t, as a matter of fact the next year he showed up with a halfback named O.J. Simpson and in the 3rd quarter OJ scored on an end around that had to be seen to be believed.

    If we don’t beat Purdue – we’re in trouble.

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