Keys to a Purdue Win
Purdue football has a legitimate chance to upset the Irish on Saturday in Ross-Ade Stadium. If the team can successfully adhere to these keys I predict an upset.
The most important aspect of Saturday night’s game is Time Management. If Purdue can run the ball efficiently and take as much time off the clock it will limit the time Notre Dame’s offense is on the field.
If Purdue can string together 10 plus play drives it could really wear down the Irish defense. Now this is where I hope Robert Marve will get a lion’s share of the snaps. He has the ability to extend drives and make third and long throws. He saved a drive in the Southeast Missouri State game by completing a 26 yard pass to Antavian Edison on 3rd and 14. Coach Hope has still stuck with Caleb Terbush at no. 1, but says both will play. The good thing about both of these quarterbacks is they both have been smart with the ball. Terbush has one interception, which accounts for the quarterback’s only turnover this season. Speaking of the passing game the offense needs to test Gary Gray. He has the propensity to get beat, especially on crucial plays.
The obvious double team will be on Michael Floyd, but the defense must target Tyler Eifert on third downs. Rees is still a young quarterback and has a tendency to lean on Eifert when Floyd is being double teamed, especially on third downs. He has not shown that he distributes the ball among his receivers, which opens the opportunity of baiting him into interceptions.
Back to time management, if Purdue’s defense can stay fresh they need to make Notre Dame struggle for scores. Now the best case scenario is for the Irish to go three and out, but Notre Dame’s offense can be very efficient and has dangerous playmakers. The defense really needs to focus on not giving up the big play, make Rees have to produce a 10-11 play drive if they are going to score. The longer the drive has to be, the more likely Rees will make a mistake. Also, the longer the scoring drives take the less possessions the Irish will have throughout the game. This coupled with hopefully some time consuming drives by Purdue’s offense can really keep the score down and keep Purdue into it.
The defensive line might have the toughest job this week. They are going against a pretty good offensive line that averages 6’4 306 lbs., and has only given up 4 sacks on Rees in three and half games. Now with that being said out of those four sacks, three of them ended with fumbles lost. If the defensive line can get to Rees and focus on stripping the ball, it could easily change the dynamic of the game. Gerald Gooden (expected to play), Robert Maci and Ryan Russell must have huge games off the edges and get after Rees.
As for the run, Notre Dame is only averaging 153 yards per game, which isn’t anything spectacular. Kawann Short and Bruce Gaston should be effective at stopping the run up the middle. The Irish running game has accounted for 2 lost fumbles, which could be something to watch for on Saturday.
There is a lot of talk that Notre Dame football could be 4-0 if not for turnovers and that they are still a great team and should still be 10-2 when all is said and done. The bottom-line is that the turnovers happened and nothing shows that they are going to stop. Tommy Rees has accounted for 9 turnovers and has had at least 2 turnovers in each game. This tells me that no matter what the outcome of the game, Rees will turn the ball over. The only question is how many? And can the opponent capitalize on them? I expect that Notre Dame will test cornerback Ricardo Allen and I also expect Allen to win a few of those challenges and come down with at least one int. I also think Purdue could get another interception if they appropriately target Tyler Eifert on third down. On top of the interceptions there will be opportunities to strip the ball from Tommy Rees, Cierre Wood, or Jonas Gray.
Purdue has done a very good job at protecting the ball, with only three turnovers at this point. So the turnover margin should be in Purdue’s favor. I think the Irish will have 2-3 turnovers and if Purdue can get at least 10 points from them it will be the difference between winning and losing.
X-Factor: Special Teams
Purdue has Carson Wiggs, who is capable of kicking a 67 yard field goal. This could be the aspect that gives Purdue the edge. I would not be surprised if the game comes down to Wiggs nailing a long field goal to win or extend the game.
Wouldn’t be surprised:
· If Tommy Rees gets pulled
· Ricardo Allen and Josh Johnson each have an interception
· Purdue has its first punt/kickoff return for a td
· Antavian Edison or Waynelle Gravesande has 100 yards or more receiving
In short, I agree Purdue has a tall order this Saturday night. On the contrary, Purdue has nothing to lose this weekend. If they lose, it was the outcome most were expecting; if they win, it could be considered a salvation win. There seems to be no or little pressure on them to pull something off. This lack of pressure could make this team just play inside themselves, which tends to improve the rhythm of a team. Now the only aspect that could derail the game Purdue needs is coaching decisions. The two points I am worried about is will Hope realize when to have Marve take the helm and will we be bold enough to use the foot of Carson Wiggs.
Most are predicting a Notre Dame victory, but I just cannot bring myself to pick a team that has so many turnovers. Also, I think the matchup is closer than people think. Something is telling me that this Saturday night we will see a different Purdue team.
Purdue 20, Notre Dame 17