Morning everyone! Tomorrow is hopefully the dawning of the next great Purdue upset. Until then, we've got some more Boilermakings Notes and a Q&A with the Notre Dame blog one Foot Down. Also, expect more tailgating and brewing goodness from John and Keith, as well as a basketball recruiting post from Andy. Here are my questions as answered by Jon Altenburger of One Foot Down:
1. What does Tommy Rees need to do to solve his turnover woes? Does he do it this week?
Tommy just needs to make better decisions. He has a habit of trying to do too much sometimes. He'll try and fit the ball into a tight space or force the ball to Michael Floyd. Once Tommy starts to go through his progressions and throw the ball away if no one is open, he'll be fine. Brian Kelly loves to throw the ball, but the running game has been money this season, so Rees doesn't need to be Andrew Luck, or even Tony Pike. A lot of people hate the term "game manager," but that's what Notre Dame needs from Tommy Rees. He just needs to be safer with the ball, avoid mistakes and keep the chains moving.
As for this week, I think Rees will have a good day. I'm still clinging to the idea that the turnovers will eventually regress to the mean, and since most of them come from Rees, I'm expecting him to clean up his play. Rees didn't have a very good game against Pitt, so I'm looking for a bounce back game from him.
2. Do you share the opinion that I do in that ND should throw over the middle to Tyler Eifert on nearly every play because we refuse to adjust or stop that route against anyone?
Hey, it worked in the second half against Pitt, so I say keep it going. Eifert is a match-up problem for almost every team the Irish play, and, with Pitt taking Michael Floyd out of the game, Rees seemed to find a groove throwing to his tight end. Tommy needs to get better at spreading the ball around to players not named "Michael Floyd", so I'm hoping Eifert sees the ball thrown his way quite a few times.
3. What advantages (if any) do you see Purdue having?
Notre Dame has run the ball very well to start the season, but the offensive line hasn't been getting as much of a push in the last two games. Purdue has two big bodies in the middle in Bruce Gaston and Kawann Short, so if the line isn't getting a push, those two could wreak havoc and slow down the Irish run game, forcing the game into Tommy Rees's hands.
Notre Dame also still has Gary Gray, who is having a terrible season. So no matter who he covers, it would bode well for the Boilermakers if they picked on him all night.
4. Do you think ND's lackluster special teams play can make a huge difference?
Absolutely. I thought coming into this season special teams would be a strength (outside of kick returns). The Irish did an excellent job on kick coverage last season and David Ruffer was perfect up until his last kick of the season. This season, though, the Irish are giving up big returns, Ruffer has missed two field goals, and Ben Turk's punting has been dreadful. I'm well aware of Carson Wigg's leg, so if this game is tied late in the 4th quarter, Purdue definitely should feel better about their chances.
5. Finally, How many turnovers does ND need to make in order for Purdue to have a chance?
Well, the Irish turned it over five times against USF and four times against Michigan (not counting that fumble on the final kickoff) and lost. They turned it over three times against Michigan State and twice against Pitt and won. Therefore, empirical evidence suggests that if the Irish turn it over three times or less, they'll win. If they turn it over four or more times, Purdue will win. It's science.
Thanks Jon! My answer to his questions should be posted later today.
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