GAME WATCH PREVIEW: PURDUE
WHO: Purdue at Notre (Notre Dame Stadium, cap. 77,622)
WHEN: Saturday, September 18, 12:30 p.m.
WHERE: Blake Street Tavern: 2301 Blake Street, Denver, CO; we will be in the basement. It is not as ventilated as being outside.
PARKING: May be an issue, so go early. Other clubs will also be having their watches at Blake Street that day and several have earlier starts, so you can do the math.
BRING: Money for the traditional raffle; a designated Domer to drive; and a burning desire to see us off to a 3-0 start!
Purdue (2-0, 0-0 Big 10) has beaten its first two opponents (UConn and Oregon State), neither of which is very good this year, so it will be hard to tell how they will fare against the Irish. Their coach is Jeff Brohm, who is a pretty good offensive coach.
Like Toledo, Purdue’s strength is its passing game. Purdue’s QB, Jack Plummer, is completing more than 70% of his passes this year, albeit against UConn and Oregon State. Still, 70% (73%, really) is very good. His is more of a pocket passer and is not much of a threat to run.
His number one target is WR David Bell. He is a legitimate NFL candidate, and so expect to hear his name a lot. If we don’t, it’s likely because ND has adjusted to take him out of the game, and he will probably see a lot of double coverage on him. At very least, ND should know where he lines up at all times.
Purdue also has a good tight end in Payne Durham.
Watch Purdue try to get him the ball in the middle of the field, in trying to exploit what may be perceived as one of ND’s weaknesses, the linebacking corp.
Purdue’s running game is not great, in large part because their offensive line is pretty porous. In fact, Purdue has surrendered a lot of tackles for loss (they are ranked 112th), even though neither UConn nor Oregon State have strong defensive lines. I like our chances of shutting down the running game and forcing Purdue to try to beat us through the air.
Given the last couple of weeks, it is likely that Purdue will hit a couple of big pass plays, and may surrender some touchdowns in this manner. But I don’t expect them to be able to capitalize on ND’s defense other than on the odd broken long play.
On defense, Purdue was pretty bad last year, but has improved this year, particularly against the run (but: UConn and Oregon State). Here’s hoping the Irish offensive line can gain some confidence by establishing the run early in the game.
Purdue’s defensive star is George Karlaftis. He is a great pass rusher and will line up wherever Purdue smells blood. This week, expect him to line up a lot challenging whoever plays left tackle. (We were on to our third string left tackle in the Purdue game, but the second string LT may be back this week; he sprained his ankle and it wasn’t as bad as initially thought.)
Purdue has proven to be susceptible to the big play, and there is a possibility of multiple big plays for ND.
As for Notre Dame, Brian Kelly talked this week of scheming to help out our left tackle woes. This could include using a running back to help in pass protection (Kyren Williams is a really good pass blocker) and using a tight end or two to help slow down a pass rush, so that the pressure is not all on the left tackle. Of course, this means fewer people in pass patterns and fewer people that Purdue needs to defend.
On paper, Notre Dame wins this easily (they are a 7.5-point favorite), but as we have seen with FSU (who lost to Jacksonville State last week!) and Toledo, we have not played the games on paper, and have yet to cover the spread. I think this changes this week. (I didn’t even know Jacksonville State was a thing.)
Bottom line: as I said before the FSU game, it is always tough for teams to overcome inexperience on the offensive line, especially early in the season. We have compounded this problem with injuries to two left tackles this year, and that does not bode well for when we enter the heart of our season next week against Wisconsin. But I believe we prevail this week.
Bill’s prediction: Notre Dame beats Purdue like it was the World’s Largest Drum. Notre Dame 38, Purdon’t 20.
Next week: game time is at 10:00 a.m.! Come to Blake Street for brunch – they do a great job with brunch! Also, we are trying to coordinate a food drive with Blake Street through Muffet McGraw’s Meals with Muffet. Watch this space for details, and please talk it up this week at the game watch and amongst your friends. Thanks!
Go Irish! Go to Blake Street! Saturday! 12:30 p.m.!
– Bill Webb, 88, 91JD