Sunday, September 30, 2007

Purdue 33, Notre Dame 19

The Irish have played two good halves this year. Unfortunately, those two halves haven't come in the same game. Notre Dame spotted Purdue a 23-point lead, and try as they might, they just couldn't come back.

Quarterback: Purdue defensive coordinator Brock Spack wisely chose to shut down the run and force Jimmy Clausen to make plays. However, surprisingly, Spack put very little pressure on Clausen, and the freshman QB was able to make plays. Clausen completed 18 of 26 passes for 169 yards, with a TD and a pick, before leaving due to an injury. However, it probably wasn't the rib injury that knocked him out. Clausen also injured his left foot, and had trouble planting on it. This caused him to lose some touch on passes downfield.
Clausen was replaced by Evan Sharpley, who performed rather well, completing 16 of 26 passes for 208 yards, 2 TDs, and one interception. Despite what ESPN commentator Andre Ware said, there is no QB controversy. Both Irish passers played well, and the starting job next week will solely come down to Clausen's injury status.

Running Back: As mentioned above, Purdue tried to stuff the run and force the Notre Dame QBs to beat them. At halftime, Charlie Weis was asked what he planned to do to get the running game going, and he replied that he was going to do whatever it took to score, run or pass. With the passing game working, the running game was shelved. The Irish finished with 52 pass attempts and 26 rushes, including 2 sacks. Armando Allen and Junior Jabbie had the best days of any Irish rushers. Allen finished with 6 carries for 26 yards, and Jabbie 4 for 16.

Fullback: Asaph Schwapp finished with 1 catch for 5 yards.

Receiver: After picking up 3 catches, David Grimes left with an injury. With Grimes out, the younger smurfs needed to step up, and they did. The headlines went to Golden Tate, who benefitted from Coach Weis' "If it works, keep going to it" philosophy. On three occasions, Tate streaked up the right sideline and displayed great hands for a reception. One of those catches came on a key fourth down, and another went for a touchdown. But with less aplomb, Robby Parris and Duval Kamara established themselves as future stars. Parris caught 7 passes for 93 yards, and Kamara added 6 receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown. Congratulations to both Tate and Kamara on their first of many touchdown receptions.

Tight End: As the Irish have struggled on offense, John Carlson's draft stock has slipped. However, in this one, Carlson appeared to have gotten back on track. The fifth-year senior had 5 receptions for 30 yards and a brilliant touchdown.

O-Line: The line had their best performance of the season, as they gave up only 2 sacks, and the team put up 426 total yards of offense.

D-Line: Trevor Laws again had a solid day, with 6 tackles. Three of those stops were in the backfield, including one sack.

Linebacker: Purdue had quite a few big runs straight up the middle. But when the Boilers were stopped up the gut, it was probably Joe Brockington doing the stopping. Brockington finished with a team-high 9 tackles, including one in the backfield. John Ryan had his best game of the season, with 6 tackles, which included two for a loss, one being a sack.

Safety: It was a solid performance by backup safety Kyle McCarthy. McCarthy finished with 3 tackles and a key interception. Tom Zbikowski had an even bigger day, with 7 tackles and an interception of his own.

Cornerback: Ambrose Wooden, Terrail Lambert, and Darrin Walls each had 3 tackles, and Raeshon McNeil added a pass breakup.

Kicker: It was a tough day for the Irish placekickers. Brandon Walker had a field goal blocked and missed a PAT. Nate Whitaker replaced Walker and only made one of two PAT attempts.

Punter: Eric Maust punted for the Irish in this one. From what I could gather, Geoff Price was simply replaced due to inconsistency, no injury. At least, if Price is injured, no one is admitting it. Maust filled in admirably, averaging 44 yards per punt on 3 kicks.

Kick Returner: Armando Allen had the most returns for the Irish, averaging 20 yards per on 4 tries. His long was 33.

Punt Returner: Tom Zbikowski had only one punt return, for 6 yards.

Special Teams: The Boilermakers were not able to return a punt. They did average 20.8 yards per kickoff returns on 4 tries. The Irish field goal unit had trouble this Saturday. As mentioned above, a field goal was blocked, and Nate Whitaker's first PAT was missed after Evan Sharpley had trouble handling the snap.