Live Blog — Notre Dame vs. Purdue


With two victories behind them in impressive fashion, Notre Dame has a chance to start September with three straight victories for the second time in three seasons. Off to a clean start, the Irish are tied for the best in the nation in turnover margin, sitting pretty at +6 heading into Saturday night’s game.

On paper, this looks like another lopsided football game. But against Purdue the past few years, nothing is assured.

With a night game in a neutral site putting an end to a 69-year consecutive game streak between the two Indiana rivals, we could be in for a one-sided Shamrock Series victory or a game that brings the Irish into their first bye week searching for answers.

As usual, we’re here for you. The live blog will be rolling, ready to discuss alternate uniforms, running back rotations and Brian VanGorder’s defense. Or the game. Really, whatever else you’d like to discuss.

With another Saturday evening football game on tap on NBC, so let’s have some fun.


Pregame Six Pack: An all Hoosiers Shamrock Series


It’s that time of year again. The annual Shamrock Series. For a program built upon tradition and history, consider the Shamrock Series something similar — only started five years ago. (So maybe not that similar at all.)

But the newest barnstorming efforts have warmed up even the most ardent traditionalist, and while the Irish will be taking the field in alternate uniforms (more on this later), the game has grown on people. Starting in San Antonio, moving to Yankee Stadium, the nation’s capital, Solider Field and Jerry Jones’ football Xanadu, the Shamrock Series has taken Notre Dame into geographically important locations and usually paired the Irish will an equally interesting opponent. Making it even better? The Irish have always gone home happy, rolling along to a victory in each of the five games.

Of course, battling Purdue in Indianapolis won’t get confused for playing Miami in Chicago or playing the first football game in new Yankee Stadium. But for an in-state rivalry that’s often felt like second fiddle, it’s almost appropriate that the annual battle for the Shillelagh will end Saturday night, putting a stop to a 69-game streak that was tied for the fourth longest in NCAA history.

With two Irish captains hailing from inside the city limits, returning to Indianapolis will be a homecoming of sorts. With 35 native Hoosiers taking the field between teams, it’ll serve as a regional showcase, not necessarily the original idea for the game, but nothing to be ashamed of, either.

With NBC broadcasting another primetime affair (kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET), let’s get your ready with our Pregame Six Pack. As usual, here are six tidbits, fun facts, leftovers or miscellaneous musings to get you ready for Notre Dame and Purdue.


After 69 years, a streak ends. Let’s show it some respect. 

Notre Dame and Purdue are set to play again in 2020, but an annual battle that dates back to 1946 is ending. That’s a product of a nine-game Big Ten schedule and Notre Dame’s five-game scheduling alliance with the ACC.

A week after the college football world practically mourned the loss of the Irish’s rivalry with Michigan, the break in the series with Purdue is merely a passing thought. And while the Irish’s 57-26-2 record is fairly one-sided, consider this a reminder that there’s been some very good football played in this series.

Here’s a walk down memory lane:

1950, 1954, 1965 and 1967: Purdue knocked off a Notre Dame team that was ranked No. 1 in the country.
1968: With Purdue ranked No. 1 and Notre Dame No.2, the Irish knocked off the Boilermakers 37-22
1979: Purdue quarterback Mark Herrmann led a second-half comeback to beat the No. 5 Irish 28-22.
1984: In their last (and only) neutral site meeting, an unranked Purdue squad knocked off No. 8 Notre Dame 23-21.
1997: In just his second game at Purdue, Joe Tiller shocked Bob Davie’s No. 12 Irish 28-17.
1999: With 3rd-and-goal at the 1, Notre Dame can’t get a final snap off, losing to No. 20 Purdue at Ross-Ade Stadium.
2000: Returning the favor, Nick Setta’s field goal with time expiring beat Drew Brees and the No. 13 Boilermakers
2009: With an injury that looked a lot worse than “turf toe,” Jimmy Clausen hit Kyle Rudolph to pull out a win 24-21.
2012: After Purdue tied the game at 17, Tommy Rees entered to boos and led ND to a winning field goal in the game’s final seconds.
2013: Purdue scored the game’s first 10 points, but a 21-point fourth quarter and a pick six help ND win 31-24.

If Purdue managed to find a way to pull off a victory on Saturday night, it’d go to the top of this list as one of the most improbable in the series. And Boilermakers head coach Darrell Hazell knows it.

“I think we can go win this game with the mentality that no one expects us to win,” Hazell said this week.


Notre Dame has a chance to start 3-0. That’s a much bigger deal than you’d expect

Notre Dame stands a win against Purdue away from starting the season 3-0. That would mark the second time in three seasons that the Irish have accomplished that feat.

That stat likely garners a polite golf clap from a usually demanding Irish crowd. But consider that the last time Notre Dame pulled something like that off in two out of three years was during a four-year run in the glory days of Lou Holtz, when the Irish started 3-0 in four straight seasons from 1987-90.

After entering more than a few seasons over the past decade or so with lofty expectations, “Call me after September” turned into a default answer when asked if the Irish had what it takes to compete that season. But a victory over Purdue and a bye week off before heading to the Meadowlands to play Syracuse put the Irish in a place where they’ll likely be 4-0 when they welcome Stanford to South Bend, a game that could have early playoff implications.

From there, things toughen quite a bit, with the Cardinal, North Carolina and Florida State Notre Dame’s October foes. But for anyone looking for another data point that Brian Kelly has things pointing in the right direction, just look at the past 25 years.


Another week, another football game with no news on the suspension of Notre Dame’s five players. 

While the resounding victory certainly muted any of the riotous volleying through Notre Dame’s fandom, another week has come and gone with no update from the university administration on the academic honesty hearings for DaVaris Daniels, Eilar Hardy, Kendall Moore, KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams.

After telling the media two weeks ago that the official investigation into the matter was finished, the Honor Code proceedings, run by the Provost office, have moved forward with radio silence. While that’s been frustrating to the players, their families, their teammates and the Irish coaching staff, Kelly continues to take a “What can you do?” approach.

“You guys are anxious. I’m anxious. We’re all anxious,” Kelly said. “We all want to know but there’s nothing we can do.

“This is separation of church and state. This is the deans. They have their domain and that’s their business. It truly is their business and I respect that. They don’t give me advice about play calling and that’s the truth of the matter. Whether that’s a poor analogy or not, they handle academic honest. They handle those things. That’s their domain and that’s their world. I want my guys back but I get it.”

Kelly said that in a hypothetical world where any of his players are cleared to return to the team even on Friday, he’d dress them and bring them to Indianapolis. Unsure of how prepared they’d be, he’d welcoming them back with open arms.

But result is still unexpected, so the Irish will likely do battle down three projected starters and two veteran reserves for the third time this year.


In Notre Dame’s two opening victories, Everett Golson and the Irish offense have finished the first half with a flourish. 

While both of the Irish’s first two victories looked to be of the blowout variety, both football games would’ve had a much different complexion if Everett Golson didn’t play incredibly dynamic football in the minutes before halftime. The Irish scored a combined 28 points in the final four minutes of the second quarter, putting up two touchdowns against both Rice and Michigan.

“Offensively, obviously the quarterback is a special guy. He makes a lot of plays,” Hazell said this week when asked talking about Golson. “He got himself out of trouble against Rice, he got himself out of trouble against Michigan and made some huge plays for them, especially right before the half. I thought that was the big deciding factor in both of those games, he made some very big plays.”

Golson’s numbers in these critical moments are ridiculous, with the Irish scoring touchdowns on their final two drives before half in each football game. Against Rice, Golson was a bit more heroic; against Michigan more methodical.

Golson was three of four before scampering into the end zone from 14 yards out to score with just 3:18 remaining. But after Matthias Farley’s interception of Driphus Jackson, Golson threw two perfect long balls. The first was dropped by Will Fuller, but C.J. Prosise made amends for an earlier drop, converting a 53-yarder for a touchdown with just five seconds remaining in the half.

Against Michigan, Golson’s penultimate drive before half was a time-consuming march. The Irish went 13 plays over 5:14, with Golson going six of seven before hitting Amir Carlisle on a rollout on 3rd and Goal. The critical throw on that drive was a 4th and 3 conversion, where Golson threw a perfect strike to Will Fuller who beat Blake Countess on an inside release.

With only 1:24 left on the clock, Golson went to work again, escaping danger before finding Fuller, Cam McDaniel and Ben Koyack. But the dagger was the perfect throw to the corner of the end zone, with Fuller beating Countess on 3rd and 1 for a back-breaking 24-yard touchdown.

That staggeringly good football in the minutes before halftime serves as a bullet to the heart of an opponent. We’ll see if Golson delivers another one on Saturday night.


In the short history of the Shamrock Series, Under Armour’s first effort is a good one. 

Few things in college football are as hallowed as the golden helmets and traditional blue and gold of Notre Dame’s uniforms. But even fewer things are more beloved to recruits and 18-to-22-year-old college football players than alternate uniforms.

So while the men on the front porch will never get past seeing the Irish wearing some uniform that makes them look like a team straight out of Any Given Sunday, give Under Armour credit for playing to the soul of the university when it designed this year’s uniform.



While we’re talking alternate uniforms, let’s turn back the clock and take a look at the recent tweaks made.

Notre Dame vs. Army in 2010:











Review: Man, that helmet used to be ugly. But it’s tough to screw up that classic green jersey. 


Notre Dame vs. Maryland in 2011:











Review: Look at all the mismatching golds, all on George Atkinson. And don’t get me started on the helmet swirls. 


Notre Dame vs. Michigan in 2011:











Review: Everything about this game looked pretty good until the fourth quarter. Even the retro uniforms. 


Notre Dame vs. Miami in 2012:









Review: Inverted leprechauns, unbalanced helmet colors. The Irish sure played better than they looked. 


Notre Dame vs. Arizona State in 2013:









Review: Not much to complain about with these uniforms. The all-white look was really smooth. 


After mastering the fundamentals under Bob Diaco, the Irish are playing a new game on defense under Brian VanGorder. 

While the fist pump may be the thing that went viral, Brian VanGorder’s work coaching the Irish defense is doing the same thing to future opponents. After a flurry of third down blitzes and packages suffocated Michigan’s offense, Purdue is just one of ten remaining opponents that are hard at work breaking down tape of Notre Dame’s multiple looks.

Tim Prister over at Irish Illustrated took a deep dive ($) into VanGorder’s exotic third down looks against Devin Gardner and came out thinking no two looked the same. That evaluation may be mirrored by Purdue offensive coordinator John Shoop, who talked about the multiplicity of the Irish blitz packages while complimenting the personnel as well.

“They’re a talented group. They’re a talented group at every level, up front, at the linebackers, in the secondary,” Shoop said. “Scheme-wise, they have as much volume as anybody we’ve seen in a long time.”

Darrell Hazell was adamant about Purdue needing to succeed on first and second down, likely calling on running backs Akeem Hunt and Raheem Mostert, the Big Ten sprint champion.

“Their makeup is completely different on third down than it is on first and second down,” Hazell said, talking about the Irish defense. “You can’t let them get into 3rd-and-9s or 11s, because then they’re going to heat you up.”

For all the worries that existed this offseason about a young Irish defense struggling to mesh with a complex, scheme-heavy defensive coordinator (don’t lie, the name Tenuta came into your head a few times), Notre Dame’s defense has been one of the surprising early successes of the season.

Interestingly, Kelly credited the guy who was no longer on the sidelines for making it all possible.

“It was a big shift. But the fundamentals are there,” Kelly said earlier this week. “When we came here, Bob was the right fit for me, as we needed to reestablish the fundamentals of defense here at Notre Dame. We did that. We laid those principals down, and now we were ready for that next step. And Brian’s brought in some very aggressive packages, especially on third down. Those teams that come in to the game on third down have been very disruptive, and I think it’s the next step for our defensive progression.”

Hazell understands the challenge at hand


With a betting line that’s hovering just above four touchdowns, this weekend’s Shamrock Series game looks like it could be the most lopsided matchup since the series premiere, when Notre Dame beat hapless Washington State in San Antonio, a victory that would go down as Charlie Weis’ final in South Bend.

But Purdue has exceeded expectations quite a few times over the past handful of matchups with the Irish, something Boilermakers head coach Darrell Hazell knows needs to happen on Saturday night if his team has a chance of getting over the hump against Notre Dame.

But first, the challenge is to look inward, fixing a team who’s uneven performance against Central Michigan was a huge step backwards and leaves Purdue sitting at 1-1 entering the non-conference matchup.

“As you watch the film, there are a lot of things obviously we have to do much better as a football team,” Hazell said this week during his press conference. “That’s every position. We’re certain to make sure we do those things and we can’t self-inflicted wounds where we are at this stage of the program. We’ve got to make sure we do things right from every position across the board and things will get a whole lot better.”


The first position that needs fixing is quarterback. As we mentioned during our opponent profile with Travis Miller of Hammer & Rails, Hazell hasn’t committed to Danny Etling or Austin Appleby, but he’s against a quarterback by committee philosophy.

And while quarterback play is hardly just about one player, whoever takes the field, Etling or Appleby, is going to need to play better than they did against either Western or Central Michigan. That hasn’t been easy against the Irish through the first two weeks, with Brian VanGorder’s defense holding opposing quarterbacks to the following ugly statline:

34 of 56 (60.7 percent) for 415 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT.

While Devin Gardner and Rice’s duo of Driphus Jackson and Tyler Stehling both hovered around the 60 percent mark, the completions, minus a small handful of outliers, have been short gains. And as the Irish begin revealing bits and pieces of their new defensive scheme, the scouting report — and defensive standouts — begin to gain notice.

“I think they are a fast defense, with No. 91 (Sheldon Day) and No. 9 (Jaylon Smith) really impactful players,” Hazell said.

It’s no coincidence that both Day and Smith are local products, recruiting victories in the state of Indiana that have to hurt for Boilermakers fans. Added to that list should be Drue Tranquill, with the freshman safety already contributing for the Irish after being a one-time Purdue commitment.

The early transition to Brian VanGorder’s defense has shown a team on film that’s far more athletic than what the Irish showed last year.

“They run sideline to sideline extremely well and there are certain things you can counter that with that we have to be able to do. You have to stay out of negative plays against this team,” Hazell said. “We’re crazy if we think we can consistently out run them laterally. We have to make sure we do some things to get on them quick, hit them quick, get the ball out of the QB’s hands.”

A quick look at the past five years of this series and a few trends begin to stick out. First, this game has been far closer than anyone remembers — at least on Notre Dame’s side of it. The Irish needed 21 fourth-quarter points last year to win, which included a pick-six from Bennett Jackson.

The year before that, people mostly remember Tommy Rees’ entrance late in the game to march the Irish to a game-winning field goal, but the powerful Notre Dame running game that averaged 200 yards a game? It was held to just 52 yards on 36 carries, a brutal 1.4 yards a touch.

Powered by monster days from Michael Floyd and Cierre Wood, the Irish jumped all over Purdue in West Lafayette, taking a boisterous home crowd out of a nice game with an early long touchdown catch by Floyd and a 55-yard run by Wood. In Kelly’s first game as an Irish coach, Notre Dame out-uglied Purdue 23-12, taking a 20-3 lead into the fourth quarter.

And while it feels like ancient history, in Jimmy Clausen’s sparkling final season in South Bend, he put together a clunker before coming through in the end, completing just 15 of 26 throws for 171 yards, throwing a rare interception before a late touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph won the game with 24 seconds to go. Then again, it was Clausen’s first game back after a “turf toe” injury, later diagnosed as multiple torn ligaments that were repaired in the run-up to the NFL Draft.

Purdue has been close so many times before. To do it again, Hazel needs to follow a familiar formula.

“We need to come out and establish ourselves early in the game and start to go toe to toe,” Hazell said. “One of the keys to the victory is to match their intensity level from the get-go.”




And in that corner… The Purdue Boilermakers


For the second week in a row, we’ll be up late watching Notre Dame, only this Saturday it may be tough to decipher who the Fighting Irish are. With their Shamrock Series uniforms paying homage to the Golden Dome and the spirit of campus, the Irish will take on Purdue for the last time until 2020, putting an end to a consecutive games streak that’s tied for the fourth-longest in college football.

On paper and in Las Vegas, the Irish are decided favorites, four touchdown favorites to beat a 1-1 Purdue team that split games with Western Michigan and Central Michigan. And while last week’s loss took some wind from the Boilermakers’ sails, it’s not hard to see from the past two seasons that Purdue regularly plays its best football against Notre Dame.

As we’ve been doing since the ’09 season, we caught up with Travis Miller to talk about the battle for the Shillelagh. Travis writes and edits the Hammer & Rails blog, and we talked earlier this week about the matchup from my perspective. He was kind enough to answer some of my questions (none included the world’s largest drum) to get us ready for another Big Ten opponent, soon to be a rarity on the Irish slate.

Hope you enjoy.


Not getting a chance to see Purdue’s loss to Central Michigan, but reading the aftermath, it sure seems like it was a disappointing game from start to finish. What went wrong? And how bad is Darrell Hazell’s second Boilermakers squad?

Really, Purdue shot themselves in the foot time and again. I counted ten absolutely crucial mistakes that ended up making a very big difference, especially because Central Michigan didn’t necessarily dominate the game. They basically made Purdue pay the maximum penalty for each mistake.

It was extremely frustrating because the Western Michigan game was mostly clean, and had Purdue played like that against the Chips it probably would have been enough for the win. Instead, it looked like a major step back. It was a very undisciplined performance and every time something good happened and it looked like there would be a turnaround, something went wrong.


The quarterback play seems like a mess. Danny Etling was a highly touted recruit. But his numbers have been pretty brutal through two games, and Austin Appleby relieved him, though didn’t necessarily fare much better.

What would you do at the quarterback position? Is this an indictment of offensive coordinator John Shoop?

I think it could be considered that. Etling finished the year strong with a near 500 yard game at Indiana last season, but he went through the offseason without truly fending off Appleby. I like Appleby because he has a great attitude. He has never conceded an inch to Etling and has showed, at least in practice, that he can be decent. Last week was a little rough because we basically gave him a quarter to erase a three TD deficit, but he did have some decent moments with a scoring drive and a few other positive plays.

The one quarterback that is my favorite is one that likely won’t play this year. David Blough, a true freshman from Texas, was an Elite 11 finalist last season and he enrolled early to go through spring practice. In my opinion he had the best day of the three in the spring game and he was very accurate in fall camp. He has drawn some Drew Brees comparisons and he is a fearless competitor. Hazell has said he wants to redshirt him this season, but I think he has a very exciting future.


The ground game seems to be rolling along well enough, especially considering the lack of big plays in the passing game. Is that how you’d attack Notre Dame’s defense?

I think the ground game is somewhat deceptive because it had a big day against Western Michigan, but we had to go away from it after falling behind against Central. I would give it a grade of incomplete, but considering we gained a TOTAL of 805 yards and only had 6 TDs on the ground for all of 2013 it is already much better.

I think Purdue is going to have to mix it up to have success. Etling has shown he can be successful moving the ball with his feet if needed and he already has a pair of rushing scores. Raheem Mostert and Akeem Hunt are dangerous, but we need to get them the ball in space. Mostert has blinding speed and is the reigning Big Ten champion in the 60-, 100-, and 200-meters. He also competed well in the NCAA meet in those events. If they get some space, they can score on any play. The problem is getting them that space.


For as disappointing as the offense has been, Purdue is giving up 36 points a game to two MAC programs in Michigan. Eight starters return. Assess Greg Hudson’s defense?

It is extremely young and is still a work in progress. I felt it wasn’t that bad until the second half against Central. That’s when Thomas Rawls did most of his damage. Our linebackers, aside from true freshman Ja’Whaun Bentley, aren’t really Big Ten linebackers and the front four is mostly sophomores.

I am excited to see what Bentley and freshman Gelen Robinson can develop into in their careers. Bentley already has played well and even had a long interception to set up a score last week. He is the first legitimate linebacker we have had in a decade. Robinson is coming along a little more slowly, but he is the son of basketball legend Glenn Robinson and a true athlete. He was a two-time undefeated state champion in wrestling, a state champ in track & field, and a 4-star commit in football. We’re trying him out at rush end in our 3-4/4-3 hybrid and on special teams, but he is coming along.


There seem to be bright spots though. Frankie Williams has been dynamic. Fort Wayne product Landon Feichter leads the team in tackles. Can this defense find a way to stop Notre Dame’s offense, led by Everett Golson?

Williams may not play because he was ejected from the Central Michigan game due to a targeting penalty. Taylor Richards, our preseason starting safety, will play after serving a two-game suspension due to an off-the-field incident (DUI). The moment where Williams was tossed was a big one because Purdue had just cut the lead to 14-7 and he slowed up before hitting a receiver on an incomplete pass over the middle. Central got 15 yards, our top defender (and punt returner) was tossed, and they immediately got a big play that set up a touchdown. It ended up being a huge moment.

I am slightly encouraged that Purdue has done decent in the passing game for the most part and so far Notre Dame has done more through the air than on the ground, but I am also a realist. Back-to-back 150+ yard rushing games to MAC running backs is not good. It is probably going to be a long night, and it seems like Purdue always gives up a long TD pass to Notre Dame anyway.


This game will end a streak of 68 consecutive years where this game has been played. The rivalry will return in 2020, but considering we just spent last week blathering on about Michigan-Notre Dame and the scheduling issues, what could have been done differently to save this game? (Or do you consider it saved, considering that it’s already set for 2020?)

I think it is absolutely ridiculous this is happening, though more traditional rivalries like Texas-Texas A&M, Kansas-Missouri, and others being thrown away for the sake of more money is worse. I am furious with our AD, Morgan Burke, because he basically lost a rivalry that has been going on for almost seven decades and a game that, no matter what, puts Purdue in the national spotlight for a week. The game is always nationally televised regardless of venue and I feel like it is a major loss in terms of our exposure.

Of course, both schools had their hand forced a little. With the Big Ten going to nine games for its league slate Purdue got on the wrong end of the rotation. It was going to have Notre Dame at Ross-Ade in years where it already had five Big Ten home games, so in the four home game seasons it was going to have to go to South Bend. That would mean only six home games at most and the loss of that seventh game revenue. Combined with Notre Dame’s ACC commitments it made things tricky, especially with the rest of Purdue’s non-conference commitments.

What I would have done is played it at a neutral site this year, then in South Bend next year to flip the years on the rotation. Then Purdue would have had a built-in Big Ten caliber home game in the year where it only had four league home dates. It would still have two more non-conference dates to fill at home, but it would basically have no versatility for home-and-homes with other schools. At least now we have some alternatives with Virginia Tech (West Lafayette 2015, Blacksburg 2023), Missouri (Columbia 2017, West Lafayette 2018), Cincinnati (at Purdue in 2016 after we went there last season), at Marshall in 2015 (they came to us in 2012), and Nevada (West Lafayette 2016, at Reno in 2019).

Those are all different, but none of them carry the attention that a game with Notre Dame would, and that is what sucks for us.


What’s your gut tell you about this game? Purdue has played ND tough the last two seasons, even as significant underdogs. How do they get over the hump, or is it going to be a tough night for Boilermakers fans?

I am really disheartened by what I saw against Central because it felt like a major step back. The first game against Western was the first time in over a year where we actually looked like an FBS level football team. I would say we looked like a real football team for about three quarters of one game last year (against Notre Dame), and for most of the game defensively against Michigan State. The rest of the time we didn’t even look like we belonged on the same field as anyone else.

If the same Purdue team that played last week against Central shows up the Irish will win by 50. Of course, I thought the same last year and the Boilers gave Notre Dame quite a bit of trouble. I am hoping for the latter, but expecting the former.


I really appreciate Travis’ time and effort during a busy week. He’ll be talking to or with three different Notre Dame football websites, so be sure to go over to Hammer & Rails and check it out. You can also follow him on Twitter @HammerandRails.

With Michigan in past, focus shifts to Purdue


As Brian Kelly pointed out on Saturday night, the decisive victory over Michigan counts as only one win. So while Saturday night’s game against Purdue looks like one of the more lopsided on the Irish schedule, consider the past two matchups.

The Irish looked like prohibitive favorites in both 2012 and 2013, only to slip away with victory against Danny Hope and then Darrell Hazell’s respective squads. In 2012, Kelly called in Tommy Rees for the save. Rees entered to a chorus of boos from the crowd, but completed a heroic third down conversion to John Goodman before Kyle Brindza kicked the game-winning field goal 20-17.

Last year, the Irish were down heading into the fourth quarter before DaVaris Daniels made a big play and Bennett Jackson scored on a pick six to sneak away with a 31-24 victory. So if you think Purdue plans on ending the fourth-longest consecutive game streak in the history of college football quietly, you best think again.

“We began Monday talking about the games we’ve had against Purdue over the last couple years have been really tough ones,” Kelly said today. “Last year 31‑24, and certainly two years ago here at Notre Dame leading a great come back.  Tommy Rees coming in and mounting a comeback to beat Purdue.

“So we know a lot about the kind of challenge it will have from an in‑state rival in Purdue. Made it clear to our team that it’s really about our preparation again this week and how we prepare is going to be really what we focus on this week.  We know our opponent, and we know about the resolve that they’ll play with.”

With Boilermakers head coach unwilling to commit to quarterback Danny Etling, the Irish will need to prepare for backup Austin Appleby, who threw for a touchdown on his first attempt against Central Michigan. The secondary will welcome back Taylor Richards from a two-game suspension as well.

So while a lopsided loss to Kelly’s former Chippewas program has some believing this will be a cake walk, the Irish staff has sounded the alarm. Now the players will have to heed the warning.

“If you watch the film and turn it on you really see two different teams,” Kelly said, talking about the Boilermakers squad they usually face. “Last year they had a game that went right down to the end against Indiana State, it was 20‑17.  The week before they got blown out against Cincinnati. And then they play us to obviously a tight ballgame.  It’s just in‑state rival. Just throw out all of what happened before, and they just played very, very well with a great deal of enthusiasm and emotion, and we’re going to have to meet and exceed that.”


Torii Hunter Jr. will begin working with the team as he nears a return from a groin tear. With a bye week after Purdue, it might not be worth bringing Hunter back for Saturday night, but Kelly is keeping the window open.

“Hunter will work in to some team work and see how he goes today,” Kelly said. “Now we’ll get into some full speed cutting, (passing skeleton), and seven on seven team work and see how he responds to that.  He’s been working the passing tree, doing things against air.  Now we’ll put some live bodies up against him and see how he goes today.”

What we’ll see from Hunter when he does return remains to be seen. Kelly talked about his potential fit in the offense and what the redshirt freshman will bring to the field.

“He’s first of all somebody that is explosive. He’s an explosive player,” Kelly said. “He is somebody that yards after the catch I think will be one that we’ll talk about. He’s a strong player in the sense that he can handle somebody on top of him. It will be interesting to see.

“I think we’ve got to get him out there and really figure out what position. He’s somebody that could really play all three. He could be in the slot, but he could play on the perimeter. I’m anxious to really figure out where it is. But there is no question when we get him healthy he’s going to get an opportunity to play for us.”

After missing last season as he recovered from a broken femur suffered at U.S. Army All-American Bowl practice, getting Hunter onto the field feels long overdue.


After struggling in his first start, safety Elijah Shumate was a huge factor on Saturday night, finishing tied for the team lead with 10 tackles and ending the game with a triumphant interception and touchdown return, the second part nullified by a Max Redfield personal foul.

When asked about the step Shumate took forward, Kelly talked about not just the complete game he played on the field, but his ability to step outside his comfort zone and communicate with his teammates.

“I think this was probably the best game that he’s played since he’s been here,” Kelly said. “What he did that he hasn’t been doing is he communicated so much more effectively outside of what his normal comfort level is. And I think we’ve talked about this a little bit.

“He’s not a guy that really is somebody that speaks out, and he’s not a great communicator.  He keeps to himself.  He did a really good job.  But there are still things that he has to improve on there. I really think it was he didn’t want to let his teammates down.  He knew he was counted on.  When you’re placed into that position, he didn’t want to let his teammates down.  I think that was really the impetus that put him in the kind of role of playing the way he did on Saturday.”