Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Post Mortem: Notre Dame 35, Purdue 21


The Irish found their running game on Saturday. Defense? I'll get back to you.

The stat sheet says that the Irish dominated the game both by ground and by air, with Darius Walker tallying 146 yards on the former, Brady Quinn 316 via the latter. The Irish held the edge in first downs, third down conversions, and held a huge advantage in time of possession.

And still Purdue piled up 490 yards of total offense. On the other hand, while all that yardage might be nice, this was a Purdue unit that came in averaging 40 points per game. Holding them to 21 deserves some sort of acknowledgment. In addition, the Irish minimized the opportunities to inflict damage on themselves by holding onto the ball and commiting only 5 penalties, two of which were HIGHLY questionable pass interference calls.

While that gouge of yardage does nothing to quiet the suspicions about Notre Dame's defense, you also have to consider that 88 of them came on what I like to call the ultimate PlayStation possession. With just 1 minute left in the first half, Purude QB Curtis Painter found Selwyn Lymon on a post, and Irish defenders Darrin Walls and Tom Zbikowski ran into each other, springing Lymon loose for an 88-yard touchdown. That's a play that every buzzed freshmen playing NCAA '07 on his PS2 completes, but the odds of it working in real life are ridiculously slim.

Then another 80 yards were racked up by Purdue on a TD drive when they trailed by 21 in the 4th quarter. While last week should serve as a reminder that the game is NEVER over in the minds of an Irish fan, was anybody truly fearful that Notre Dame would cough the game away like the Spartans did? My point is that 490 yards certainly isn't the way you want a defense to perform, but it can in fact be misleading - just like you'd look at Brady Quinn's 29 for 38 number and assume he bombed away on the 115th ranked secondary in college football. It was more of the dink, dunk, hook, and screen variety, but it got the job done.

The Irish are now fully into the "ho-hum" part of the schedule, with only UCLA representing a legitimate challenge before the season-ender against USC. If they can use this underbelly to get into a groove before the Novemeber 25th date at the Coliseum, a lot of what we expected to be on the line that day will be.

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