The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are 3-0 for the fourth season in a row after a 27-13 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers in front of a GREEN OUT crowd that was still about 3000 people short of a sellout. The Irish weren’t perfect, and the imperfections kept this from being a blowout, but both the offense and the defense showed noticeable improvements in multiple areas.
THE QB SITUATION
Going into this game, the conversation about Jack Coan and Tyler Buchner was really heating up. Both quarterbacks did some really good things against Toledo, so how would the Irish move forward with both without making it a “controversy”?
Honestly, the game didn’t provide any more clarity other than the fact that ND will continue to sprinkle in Buchner with its main course of Coan.
Coan went 15-31 for 231 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Boilers. There were some huge drops from Braden Lenzy and Kevin Austin, but Coan still had his own issues early in the game. Buchner only attempted one pass (incomplete) but did rush 3 times for 24 yards — one of which was a 20 yarder to get a big first down.
Prepare for more of the same.
Michael Mayer was targeted 4 times and Kevin Austin was targeted 8 times on the day. Those 12 targets amassed one catch for 5 yards (Mayer). While the Boilers did a decisive job of taking Mayer out of the game, Austin was much more frustrating. He had drops and at least one of the targets looked like he just flat-out lost the ball in the air. If I told you these stats before the game, you would likely think the Irish lost — and yet here we are. Notre Dame did a good job of getting other players involved, but moving forward they need to punish teams for taking one of these players out with the other player. It’s a bit of a package deal, and somehow it didn’t matter against Purdue.
With Lenzy and Austin having the yips, and Mayer being essentially took out of the game, Avery Davis stepped up in a huge way. His 62 yard touchdown reception was pure speed, and came after Lenzy’s drop — which made me appreciate it even more. Davis caught 5 balls for 120 yards and that TD. Without him, the offense wouldn’t have done much today, and he should be appreciated more by the fanbase in this regard.
A KYLE HAMILTON
If you thought Kyle Hamilton had an off game last week (even though he had an INT stolen from him) he made up for it against Purdue. Kyle had 10 tackles on the day with 2 pass breakups and a huge interception in the endzone. But his day was more than just those stats, it was how he came about them. Fourth down stops, and hitting David Bell so hard that the stadium went silent for about 20 minutes (thankfully Bell is going to be okay, but it was a scary time in the game). He’s the best defensive back in the country, and showed it on just about every snap of the game. Notre Dame has a Kyle Hamilton in its tool box, and no one else does.
JD Bertrand had another great game at linebacker. On Saturday he notched 12 tackles and was as stout as he was in the previous games. This was his third game in a row with 10 or more stops. Notre Dame’s front seven was considered a strength before the season, but multiple injuries at linebacker has put a strain on what and who the Irish put out on the field throughout the game — Bertrand’s steady play has greatly lessened the strain.
ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE
Despite giving up 4 sacks on the day, the offensive line did a better job than the last two games. It wasn’t great — or all that good — but it was better, and two of those sacks can probably be placed on Jack Coan’s lap. Notre Dame took freshman offensive tackle Joe Alt and put a #45 jersey on him so they could use him as a third tackle to help Tosh Baker and keep George Karlaftis in check. Jarrett Patterson was as steady as he’s always been, but I do think Zeke Correll played a little better. Notre Dame brought in Andrew Kristofic at LG in place of Correll at times, and he did fine — but not great. Cain Madden played his best game of the year, but there was still “leakage” and not enough push in the running game. While Kelly complimented Josh Lugg in the postgame presser, he still played below the level that the Irish need moving forward.
Is there a fix? Maybe, but that would require a major reshuffling, and with Notre Dame down to its 3rd LT, it may be out of the question as well.
Notre Dame kept both of its major streaks alive with the win. Their home winning streak now sits at 26, and their winning streak against unranked teams at 35.
USING THE RUNNING BACKS
With C’bo Flemister out another game, Notre Dame continued to lean completely on Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree. Neither Audric Estime or Logan Diggs have yet to see the field this season. While the numbers are eye-popping, the cumulative total of what both backs did versus Purdue is impressive enough. Tyree and Williams combined for 120 yards rushing and 77 yards receiving and two total touchdowns (both by Williams). Finding ways to get these two players in space should be a major focus moving forward as the line will likely never be as consistent opening holes as they were last year. A more NFL like approach is needed, and it’s working.
A SPECIAL DAY
Jay Bramblett needs some special praise for his day. He punted 7 times and averaged 42.6 yards a punt with two of them landing inside the 20 — one of which pinned Purdue back near the goaline. It’s never sexy, but Bramblett’s consistency can be a major devensive weapon moving forward.