Purdue vs. Notre Dame: How do they match up?
Posted: 09/07/2012 at 7:55 pm
By: Rachel Terlep
Head coach Brian Kelly just hopes the crowd at Notre Dame Stadium is ready, too.
“I felt our guys, at times, ran in the stadium like we were running into the Basilica or we were running to the Grotto,” Kelly said after practice Thursday. “We’re running into the stadium! We’re running into a football stadium! I want our guys to feel comfortable in the stadium, in the locker room, on the field, on the sidelines.”
No. 22 Notre Dame (1-0) is a 14½ point favorite over Purdue (1-0), but Kelly wants to light a fire under the relatively subdued atmosphere around Notre Dame Stadium.
The Irish come into today’s game off a 50-10 win over Navy, but traveled 3,600 miles both ways and shouldered a five-hour time change in the process.
Purdue, on the other hand, comes in off a 48-6 annihilation of FCS opponent Eastern Kentucky at home.
How does Blue and Gold match up against Black and Gold?
Sixth-year quarterback Robert Marve put up impressive numbers against Eastern Kentucky, completing 30 of 38 pass attempts for 295 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
But last year’s starter, Caleb TerBush, is back from a one-game suspension and got the starting nod from head coach Danny Hope, who hopes TerBush will protect the ball better than Marve.
TerBush will present a more tradition opponent for the Notre Dame defense, opposed to the triple-option madness from service academies like Navy. He’s a fairly accurate quarterback, finishing last season with a 61.7 completion percentage for 13 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Purdue doesn’t have any big-name receivers in its arsenal, but watch out for Gary Bush, O.J. Ross and Antavian Edison. They combined for 21 catches last week and make up for lack of size with darting speed. Edison tallied 107 yards against Notre Dame last year, including two plus-20-yard completions.
Gabe Holmes, a 6-foot-5, 247-pound tight end, will be a large target for TerBush.
On the ground, Purdue only gained 84 yards on Notre Dame last year and the Irish return nearly every player along their front seven. Running back Ralph Bolden will be the go-to tailback but is still recovering from his third ACL injury.
It’s hard to picture Purdue doing much on the ground today, so expect TerBush to air it out against a shaky Irish secondary.
The highlight of Purdue’s defense comes in a pair of defensive tackles: Kawaan Short and Bruce Gaston.
Short is a future NFL draft prospect and registered a sack and two blocked kicks against Eastern Kentucky last week.
Short and Gaston will present a seasoned Irish offensive line with its first true test of the year.
Even if the Notre Dame front five can keep the pass rush at bay, Irish quarterback Everett Golson needs to be wary of Boilermaker cornerbacks Josh Johnson and Ricardo Allen lurking downfield.
Allen finished the 2001 season with 79 tackles, three interceptions and a forced fumble, while Johnson contributed 64 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble.
The good news for Notre Dame is that its loaded backfield is facing a slightly shorthanded Purdue linebacker corps. The Boilermakers are without their top two linebackers from last year: Joe Holland graduated and Dwayne Beckford was kicked off the team.
Notre Dame rushed for 287 yards against Purdue last year with Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray. Expect similar results from Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III.
Though Notre Dame is a solid favorite, the Irish can never afford to look past a rival like Purdue. The Boilermakers have won 11 out of 39 contests at Notre Dame Stadium and are on an upswing off of its first seven-win season in four years, so an upset is not out of the picture.
If Notre Dame forces early mistakes from TerBush — while limiting Golson’s — and can run the ball against Short and Gaston, the Irish should win the tug-of-war match.
Notre Dame 31, Purdue 17