Five Questions: Purdue

Week Five offers another road tilt for the Irish, this time for a short trip over to West Lafayette (IN) to battle Purdue. After a close-call victory at Pittsburgh, Dave Berk has five related, pressing questions for Saturday night's matchup with the upset-minded Boilers.

Over the years, I've been told by many college coaches the same refrain after a big win or tough loss:

"They all count as one."

While Notre Dame left Heinz Field after earning its second victory of the season, Irish fans were not happy about the team's performance. Which leads us to our five questions/points of interest for the faithful to consider before Saturday's prime time, nationally televised kick-off.

Question One: Which Irish team will show up? The team that handled Michigan State or the one that struggled to put down Pittsburgh?

Back-to-back weeks offered fans a look two disparate Notre Dame teams. The Irish were the aggressors vs. the #15 Spartans, but struggled to find consistency vs. Pittsburgh, coming away with a three-point win. The former is needed this week against another Big 10 opponent that will give the Irish its best shot, especially after two weeks of preparation.

Question Two: Will Brian Kelly's faith remain in quarterback Tommy Rees if the sophomore struggles against Purdue?

Many Irish fans questioned why Kelly stayed with his young signal caller against Pittsburgh. Now Rees must show why Kelly has so much faith in his abilities to win games this season. A clean, turnover-free game is step one for the young triggerman.

Question Three: Will Purdue's week off give them a chance to knock off the Irish?

For a team that struggled against both Rice and Middle Tennessee, a week off to prepare for the Irish was essential. The Boilers should bring their best effort of the season to the field Saturday night, if not, look for head coach Danny Hope's hot seat to turn from a simmer to full boil as the natives grow restless in West Lafayette.

Question Four: Will Notre Dame play consistent football for four quarters?

Irish fans have yet to see their 2011 team play four full quarters of solid football. Purdue has a solid defense and running game, but the Boilers are likely the least dangerous football team Notre Dame will face over the season's first two months. The Irish need to put together a solid overall game as it did often last November during the season-ending winning streak.

Question Five: Will Notre Dame's defense continue to shut down the opponents' running game?

The Irish have done a great job stopping the run this season, but Purdue enters the game averaging 258 rushing yards per contest, using multiple runners led by the duo of Ralph Bolden and Akeem Shavers. Notre Dame has shut-down or controlled more talented, explosive runners already this season, but the Boilers present a challenge up front -- one that is likely the key to the contest for both sides.


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