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Notre Dame Football: W.I.N. (What’s Important Now) — Purdue Week

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Not sure what’s more worrying: the ND offensive line, or Little Caesars hitting Big Pizza with that PEPPERONI AMBUSH

Yep, yeah that’s what I’m saying — we really need to figure that out ASAP. No, I’m sorry, I don’t have time now. I’m actually late for another meeting that I’m leading, so I really need to hop off.

Yep, sorry — just send me a follow-up email with any major talking points I missed, and we can circle back as needed. We need to set up another call to discuss anyway. Okay great, thanks everyone, talk soon!

*clicks “End Call” and lets out an exasperated sigh*

I cannot believe it’s not even noon yet, this is the Monday from hell. Jesus, okay, collect yourself, you gotta hop into the weekly call now.

*clicks “Join Call” button*

Helloooo everyone, my apologies for being late.

Yeah I wish it was because I overslept after a weekend of beer and football, Tim. I was actually on another meeting with the Big Pizza team, they were trying to figure out their next move ever since Little Caesars hit ‘em with that Pepperoni Ambush. Yeah, that was ROUGH, we definitely don’t know what to do about it yet.

Anyway, since we’re already a bit behind, let’s dive right in to our Project W.I.N. weekly call...plenty happened last week that we need to discuss, because I have a steering committee meeting later this week and they’ll be expecting some answers.

Yeah, I know — should be a fun week.

Okay, so if everyone can see my screen...??

Awesome, let’s jump right in.

Here’s today’s agenda, pretty much the same as always — and in the interest of time I’m going to skip the refresher slides on what W.I.N. is...I think we’ve all got that down at this point.

So...let’s review last week’s performance.

Another rough week with lots of negatives — bad offensive line play against a MAC defense, a very dumb pick-six, some inexplicable big plays for the opponent, another injured left tackle, etc.

However, there were still some promising accomplishments I want to highlight, because we should always celebrate successes, no matter how small. The Irish offensive skill guys continue to look fantastic, with Michael Mayer looking every bit the All-American he’s going to be by season’s end and Kevin Austin continuing to look like a true WR1.

Bellyman and Chris Tyree also continue to positively impact the offense and make big plays despite having nowhere to run, and the secondary receivers — Lenzy, Wilkins, and Davis — continue to find little ways to chip in. I mean how fun was Davis’s reverse pass for the two-point conversion??

Oh, and then I’m sure y’all noticed the QB play. Sure, Jack Coan ended up having a fine game and managed to throw the game-winner seconds after having his finger popped back into place on the sideline (which was awesome and badass), but blue-chip frosh Tyler Buchner had himself a DEBUT and may bring the mobile dimension at QB that this offense desperately needs, considering the line’s many issues protecting the quarterback.

Add in some solid performances from MTA, Foskey, and Bertrand, and there’s still enough here to at least say we enjoy watching this team, even if it can be maddening/frustrating/depressingly pathetic at times.

Okay, time to take a quick look at our scorecard — as you can see, we’ve got a few more reds and yellows popping up.

This is definitely not great timing for all this, especially considering the steerco meeting later in the week — but we will just have to ensure we have a mitigation plan for each item’s big risks, so PLEASE sound off in the comments as to what your plan is to help us neutralize these issues...especially the defense and offensive line problems.

Shout out to Mike Bean for successfully and efficiently popping Coan’s finger back into place, that was an unforeseen complication that he quickly dealt with, so hats off to him for being agile and adaptable under pressure!

Also, big shout-outs to the Irish QBs, Michael Mayer, and the running backs for their contributions and hitting some goals this week. I’m confident that Tommy will continue to find ways for all of you to hit your numbers.

Finally, I want to recognize the Little Caesars team for the perfect execution on their Pepperoni Ambush of Big Pizza — it was very well done, unexpected, and honestly something I didn’t fully understand the first 10 times I saw the commercial because I kept not paying attention until the very end.

But after finally watching the whole thing, hats off to that crew — they sure threw a wrench into things on the Big Pizza side, it was really a genius move by the competition!

Be sure to head to the appendix of the deck I send out, I’ve got a special Venn Diagram regarding Big Pizza, Little Caesars, and what they both can and cannot do.

Okay, it’s time for our favorite part of these meetings — Team Members of the Week!!!!

I can’t imagine any of these are a surprise...

Michael Mayer continues to look every bit the part of the best tight end in the country, and is very much so on pace to smash the single-season Notre Dame record for touchdown catches by a tight end.

Tyler Buchner, considered THE FUTURE for the Irish, came into a wild and rough game and provided an undeniable spark with his legs and even a little bit with his arm, forcing Toledo to respect another mobile threat in the backfield and really opening up the offense. Coan played well enough to likely keep his starting job, but it’s clear this team needs Buchner as at least a partial contributor to make this offense really work, considering the offensive line’s many flaws and limitations.

Finally, big shout-outs are in store for MTA and Bertrand, who both played very strong games. Bertrand’s earned him the game ball from Coach Kelly thanks to his 11 tackles (3 for loss), 1 sack, and game-clinching fumble recovery.

Meanwhile, MTA had 2 of the Irish’s 5 sacks, including the game-clinching one that forced the fumble Bertrand recovered. It was an especially heavy and emotional day for MTA, whose heroics happened on the day of his father’s funeral, which he subsequently virtually attended after the game — talk about a dedicated, hard-working young man to do all that on such a tough day for him and his family. Hopefully the service was a beautiful celebration of a wonderful life.

NCAA Football: Toledo at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, we have a BONUS AWARD this week!!!

You betcha, this is somewhat of a career award for his hard work on all the different Notre Dame football projects over the years, especially considering the various roles he played on each project team and his willingness to literally do it all in order to get the job done.

Avery Davis, congrats on your Swiss Army Knife Award — there’s a Chipotle gift card heading to your inbox shortly!!!

Okay, now let’s turn our attention forward. Here’s the competitor overview we’ve put together about the Purdue Boilermakers.

Obviously I won’t go through all of this — you need to review this and learn it in your down time this week, please — but here are some key notes from the above:

  • Purdue’s official mascot is NOT Purdue Pete. It’s a train. Purdue Pete is a secondary, cast-off, unholy nightmare who should never have existed.
  • Purdue coach Jeff Brohm played in the original XFL and had this famous moment where he got actually, literally destroyed and then 6 days later started the next game and gave one of the greatest pregame interviews of all-time:
  • Purdue has never defeated Rutgers, lol
  • Purdue has a host of famous alumni you should know about, including the inventor of the chicken nugget, Orville Redenbacher, Dick the Bruiser, and “Sully” Sullenberger (the real one, not Tom Hanks)

Okay, now let’s dive a little deeper — what should we know about this Purdue team, specifically?

As you can see, there are really four big names to know for this Purdue squad.

First is David Bell, who’s one of the best wide receivers in the country and almost certainly the best wideout the Irish will face this season. Freeman HAS to make some adjustments this week to limit his big plays, because he’ll have one or two regardless. Giving him the same opportunities as the Toledo and FSU players had will be BAD for the Irish.

Part of limiting Bell will hopefully be sending a very aggressive pass rush at Purdue QB Jack Plummer, who has played very efficient and clean football to-date but who also has only faced Oregon State and UConn to-date. Throwing him off his game/rhythm will go a long way to keeping the ball out of Bell’s hands.

On the other side of the ball, George Karlaftis is the big name to know. He hasn’t had to do too much yet in Purdue’s first two games, but he’s a future NFL DE (potentially a 1st/2nd rounder in 2022) who could give ND fits, considering the lack of good tackles — especially on the left side. This will be a similar test to Jermaine Johnson II of FSU, who had a bit of a field day in pressuring Jack Coan.

Syndication: Journal-Courier Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Also, considering the 6 sacks the Irish just surrendered to Toledo, you gotta think Purdue is gonna bring it when Coan is under center, looking for similar results. Better protection, maybe some designed roll-outs, and more Tyler Buchner are probably the three big things for the Irish to try this weekend.

Finally, please note that one of Purdue’s top two rushers is named King Doerue, and that is a really awesome name.

Okay, we’ve only got two minutes, so really quick, here’s What’s Important Now for this week:

As I’ve mentioned earlier, the Irish need to find a way to keep Jack Coan on his feet and give him time to find all those incredible receivers he has at his disposal, including the ones he should seek out more, like Braden Lenzy and Avery Davis. Hopefully Tommy can also continue to find more creative ways to get Bellyman and Tyree the ball in space, because they just need a little of that in order to be super dangerous.

Furthermore, Buchner should continue to get reps to throw off the defense and provide that extra running threat in the backfield, and it wouldn’t hurt to get the freshmen receivers a handful of reps too — Lorenzo Styles and Deion Colzie can both contribute out there.

Defensively, Marcus Freeman has gotta find a way to contain David Bell while also dialing up lots of pressure to throw Plummer off his very comfortable game he’s got going on right now. The DBs CANNOT let Bell get behind them very often — he and Plummer are both quite capable of making the Irish pay handsomely for doing so.

Alright, well it looks like we’re at time — does anyone have any questions?

Quiet group today, huh?

Alright, well I will go ahead and send you all the link to this week’s deck — definitely be sure to review the appendix slide and let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns about anything!

Alright, hope you all have a great week — let’s be better than we were a week ago!!!!

*Clicks “End Call” button*

Who are we kidding? We just almost lost to Toledo at home after needing overtime to beat a team who lost to Jacksonville State.

Time for Coffee #3 of the day, well before we even hit noon!!!