Attaboy, Theo. Attaboy.
I'm going to take a cue from the Notre Dame's offensive coaching staff and just let Tyler Eifert write this week's Feathers In The Cap & Black Eyes. Because he'll just do everything for us and all. Anyway, you can't go undefeated unless you win your second game, right? Right? Honestly, that wasn't pretty, but I'm not hitting the panic button yet. Yes, our vaunted offensive line committed several penalties and got manhandled by Purdue. Yes, it seemed that we could do nothing on offense if it didn't involve Tyler Eifert. And yes, the book has been written on how to beat us. So why am I not hitting the panic button? Well, because no one else on our schedule has Kawann Short and BJ Gaston, and, and... Oh, I have it--Everett Golson led us on a game-winning fourth-quarter drive. No, no he didn't. Tommy Rees came off the bench for one drive and the W.
Still, I feel like by virtue of their dual war daddy defensive tackles, Purdue was a tougher matchup for us than Michigan or State. We'll see. Boy it's tough to be optimistic. After watching that game, I just feel like we still have a LOOOOONNNGGG way to go. But that's probably to be expected for a team breaking in new wide receivers, a new quarterback, and basically an entirely new secondary. Right? Without further ado:
Feathers In The Cap
The Little Guy, er Guys. Theo Riddick, Roby Toma, and TJ Jones all played really well, though Theo deserves his own entry. He found it difficult to make hay, what with a defensive tackle in his face whenever he got the ball, but he ground out 53 of the hardest-earned yards I've ever seen. He also notched 44 yards in the receiving game and gave the Irish their only offensive spark outside of Tyler Eifert. Oh, and he put a 300-lb. defensive tackle on his backside. Toma did his role-playing thing, and TJ Jones made plays when given the chance.
Defensive line. These guys gave Purdue almost as tough a day as Purdue's defensive line gave our offense. Hats off to 'em.
Tyler Eifert. Eifert averaged a Playstation-esque 24.5 yards per reception en route to notching 98 receiving yards. Even though 8 Irish players caught passes today, it just seemed like the Irish couldn't get consistent production from anyone not named Tyler Eifert.
Defense. They gave up fewer than 100 yards on the ground and fewer than 200 through the air.
Strategery. Maybe the Irish started believing their own hype. Maybe Purdue is a pretty good team. Maybe the Irish aren't. But if that was a let-down game, it was better to have it against Purdue. Maybe this will wake the Irish up as they enter the Michigan portion of their schedule. And maybe Michigan will come into next week with an inflated sense of self and a lack of respect for the Irish. Nahhhhh...
And, last, but not least... Tommy Rees. He's been a goat for Irish fans over the past few seasons, but he lead us to the win today. As Mike Mayock pointed out, Rees didn't always make the best throw, but he made the right decisions. It wasn't pretty, but it was a win.
And last last--Coach Kelly. He pretty much put his job on the line by deciding to go with a completely-cold Tommy Rees to finish the game. One wonders if Kelly shouldn't have sat Golson a little sooner just to give him a chance to calm down. In any event, Kelly's decision paid off.
Offensive line. False starts at home are just inexcusable. So is getting manhandled by Purdue in your own house. What more needs to be said.
Getting the offensive plays in. Yikes. How does this continue to be a problem?
Offensive play-calling. What happened to the screen game? I get that we just were not going to run against Purdue. I get that we needed to pass to set up the run. I don't like it, but I get it. But why, oh why didn't we see any bubble screens? What happened to the short and intermediate passing game? Maybe Golson just wasn't seeing what he needed to see, but if we couldn't run the ball, why not work the staple of Kelly's spread--the bubble screen. I realize that Purdue was playing pretty tight press coverage at the line, but I saw linebackers lined up 8 yards off of our slot backs on several occasions.
Notre Dame fans. Booing Tommy Rees? Or booing Coach Kelly for playing Tommy Rees? Either way, grow up, losers. This kid took the field to do what? Anger you? No, to win the damn game. And he did just that, so don't you feel stupid? I'm as ready as anyone to see the end of the Tommy Rees era, but once the kid takes the field for the Irish, he's our quarterback, so get behind him.
Defense. Well, they played very well over all, but like Michigan last year, they let us down down in the fourth quarter. Get off the field on fourth down, men. Also, Carlo Calabrese covering the middle of the field with the game on the line? Ah uh. Dealbreaker.
Injuries. We lost seven men at varying times throughout the day. Which sucks. Well, injured Irish--get well, get well soon, we want you to get well!
Well readers--what'd I miss?