Monday, October 04, 2004

Purdue 41, ND 16

It started with the breaks beating the boys, and then it just got a lot worse. Let's get this over with.

Quarterback: Brady Quinn set a Notre Dame Stadium record for passing yards with 432. He hit 10 different receivers, once again including himself. The only thing he didn't do was throw the ball into the end zone (his only passing touchdown came from good after-the-catch running by Rhema McKnight). I'll tell you what - Purdue's defense must get rolled every week in practice. Whenever we played Purdue's game - dinking and dunking passes down the field - we moved the ball rather effectively. But again, it's not about yards, it's about points.

Running Back: When will I learn? Purdue had good rushing stats coming into the game. Being a Big 10 team, they didn't disappoint with that run defense. Again we tried to run Marcus Wilson up the middle, and again he went nowhere. Darius Walker's fumble was unfortunately the beginning of the end for the Irish. On a positive note, the backs did do a decent job of picking up the blitz on most plays - including Walker (I believe) taking out a much larger linebacker on a big pass play.

Fullback: Again RPN lined up behind Josh Schmidt, and this week he scored a two-yard touchdown.

Receiver: Rhema McKnight is back. He had 113 yards, including 40 on his touchdown. Matt Shelton and Jeff Samardzija also had good games. Shelton is seeing more routes that are testing his open field skills; he's decent in that respect, but he's still best at being a straight burner.

Tight End: Anthony Fasano had a huge game (155 yards receiving, in fact), and even showed he had some moves in the open field. If Fasano had turned in this type of performance for Miami, ESPN wouldn't stop calling him the next Shockey or Winslow for the rest of his career.

O-Line: Seven sacks and 76 rushing yards. Then again, there is a thing called "max protect" that you're allowed to use every once in a while.

D-Line: The two sacks by the ND line (one by Abiamiri and a combination by Tuck and Pauley) are the only two given up by Purdue all year. Kyle Orton had time all day to throw, so I'll give credit to the Purdue line in this one. By the way, with Tuck's half sack in the game, he is now a half a sack away from the Notre Dame all-time (and by all time I mean 'since sacks were first counted') record.

Linebacker: OK, so my knowledge of football coverage schemes is limited to the NCAA Football line of video games. But bear with me. There were at least four plays in a row where Taylor Stubblefield, their best receiver, was lined up in the slot, with a linebacker in coverage! And it wasn't just cover linebacker Derek Curry - runstoppers Brandon Hoyte and Mike Goolsby got their chances too. Good good.

Safety: Apparently, Quentin Burrell and Tom Zbikowski somehow combined for 12 tackles in this one. I say "somehow," because they sure didn't get them from helping out the corners. It wasn't their fault, though. First, Purdue ran many 4- and 5-wide receiver sets. Second, personnel mismatches often required Zbikowski to play up on a receiver, leaving Burrell alone to cover both sides of the field on the deep ball (or to line up to help one of the linebackers cover Stubblefield).

Cornerback: Well, when you a) don't get much safety help against a great passing quarterback, and b) line up a 5'7" guy against a 6'9" guy on an obvious fade route situation, there's little you can do. It was obvious coming into this game that the corners were susceptible to the deep route, and to the idiot fan (me), it didn't appear that the playcalling helped. Correct me if I'm wrong, though.

Kicker: Carl Gioia did a decent job, but he tried to rely on the wind a little too much, and started to put the ball in the middle of the field. That led to trouble, as we all know. DJ (Ellen loves him) made from 26 and missed from 44.

Punter: DJ is (or should be) starting to make a name for himself as a punter. In the "one of the few positives from this game" category is DJ's line: 3 punts, 148 yards, 49.3 average, long 59, 2 inside the 20.

Kick Returner: Nothing exciting yet, but it could just be the blocking.

Punt Returner: One return for five yards. Gary Godsey could have fallen down and gotten 5 yards. He did also Beat Purdue. Twice.

Special Teams: Well, I guess that's what you get when you pick a special teams coach at random. Just as the Moneyballers are now rethinking the importance of defense and baserunning in baseball, hopefully ND will soon realize the importance of a good special teams unit.

It should be an exciting Weekend in Review tomorrow, and I'd almost dare to say it will top next weekend's events. Stay tuned....