This season, through three games, Purdue has racked up 210 yards per game on the ground, an increase of over 80 yards from 2004. The passing numbers, with more plays being dedicated to the run, are down from last year. The Boilermakers are averaging more than a 100 yards per game less through the air than in 2004. This could be evidence of Tiller wanting to be more balanced on offense. Defensive coordinator Rick Minter knows the spread option offense is difficult to defend.
"The option is the great equalizer," Minter said. "Urban Meyer has got a good trend going. Rich Rodriquez, Tommy Bowden and all those guys are from the same family. They've all fed off one another. When I was at Cincinnati, we had the same style of offense. It's basketball on grass. It's about match ups and space and making the one-on-one plays."
To see the option this early in the season has a built-in benefit for Notre Dame. It gives the Irish some practice on an offense they will see later in the year, Navy. Purdue doesn't run the full-fledged option attack the Midshipmen does but the same principles exist. Notre Dame plays Navy on November 12th, a month and a half away, but some practice is better than no practice.
"Navy we don't play until a lot later on," Weis said. "This will be a great foundation for Navy. But Navy isn't until towards the end of the year. It's a unique running game. It's not the same. The option, like the run and shoot and offenses in the past, you have to do some serious studying to make sure you're ready to go in a week."
The proliferation of offensive schemes around the nation has made it tough on defensive coordinators. Meyer's spread option is being duplicated around the nation while here at Notre Dame, head coach Charlie Weis confuses the opposition with an array of different formations and personnel groupings to fit the strengths of the team. Minter struggled to find the right analogy for the varying schemes he battles to break.
"Every week is difficult for us," Minter said. "If you look at what we've faced on defense, it's just about four different offenses. This is how it is this day in age on defense. There are so many different vast arrays of philosophies on offense right now.
"This is just another flavor of spreading you out. Washington spread us out. Michigan State spread us out. The flavors to choose from are different. It's like having a Baskin Robbins store. They own this part of the store and someone else owns the other part of the store. You never know what you are going to get. I guess that was like a box of chocolates."
*Quarterback Brady Quinn is quickly rising in the Notre Dame passing records list. Since 1950, a Notre Dame signal caller has thrown for 300 yards or more 13 times. Quinn has done it four times in his career, including two this season vs. Washington and Michigan State. He's the only quarterback in Irish history to throw for over 400 yards twice. Unfortunately, both those games were losses (at Purdue 2003 and home vs. Michigan State 2005).
Quinn's accomplishments don't stop there. He tied the single game touchdown mark against the Spartans this year and broke the completions in a single game record in the same contest. Quinn is the fourth Notre Dame quarterback to throw for over 5,000 yards (5,598), is 16 touchdowns short of the career mark set by Ron Powlus (52) and is first on average passing yards per game with 199.9.
*A key stat for a team is third down conversions on both offense and defense. Notre Dame is averaging 43% on offense and only allowing opposing offenses to convert 25.9% of the time (14-of-54). Purdue is 40% on offensive 3rd down conversion and limiting teams to 34% on defense. Alarmingly, they let the Minnesota Golden Gophers cash in on 11-of-20 third downs last weekend in their 42-35 double overtime loss.