Outside of the dreadful 2007 season, the Charlie Weis era put up prolific offensive numbers. But even within that offensive success, the running game never found equal footing, failing to add a worthy complement to Weis’ downfield passing attack. Breaking in new quarterback Dayne Crist and three new offensive linemen, the Irish relied on the running game against Purdue, with the Irish getting the bulk of its offensive success on the ground last week. Both Cierre Wood and Armando Allen moved the ball effectively, with Allen running for just shy of 100 yards and Wood sporting a gaudy yards-per-carry average. The Irish gashed Purdue for nine different running plays of 10+ yards, and using the new CableCam system, we get a closer look at how the offense did it.
You’ve got to be impressed by the great work of center Braxston Cave. With Dan Wenger now likely gone for a large portion of the season, it’s good to see Cave assert himself so well in the running game. Cave was a force pulling and taking defenders to the ground with effective cut blocks. He also did a great job of getting to the second level, as well as help seal off some running lanes. You’ve also got to be happy with the quarterback/center exchange, something that’s plagued past Notre Dame centers far more experienced than Braxston.
Zack Martin’s performance also has to make Irish fans very happy. While these plays only highlighted the work Zack did running the ball, both he and Taylor Dever held up quite well against the Big Ten’s best passing rushing end. Martin showed a great burst on the edge, both leading the way to spring long runs, or holding his block one-on-one on the backside. Martin’s athleticism is pretty clear when you watch this video.
Both Chris Stewart and Trevor Robinson looked great as well, moving with great mobility and being incredibly active on blocks on the second level. It’s amazing to watch a mass of humanity like Stewart hurdle plays and chase the ball down, and it’s clear that Robinson is an incredible athlete and a huge asset to have at right guard.
Last but not least, Taylor Dever had a nice debut, working on an island for the most part when sealing the backside, but also doing a great job stretching across the field or moving to the linebackers when the play extended.
While the Michigan secondary is ravaged with injuries, the Irish offensive is also going to need to establish itself up front with the running game, battling some key personnel like Wolverines defensive tackle Mike Martin.