Purdue On Offense:
Joe Tiller pumped life back into the Purdue program when he took over in 1997, and now he has the second most head coaching victories in Boilermaker history with a record of 67-43. Tiller had led the Boilers to eight straight bowl appearances until the team suffered through it's first losing season (5-6) in his nine years in West Lafayette. Tiller is 4-5 against the Fighting Irish over that time period.
This season Purdue has been shaky out of the gate, but they'll enter Notre Dame Stadium with a 4-0 record with home wins over Indiana State (Division IAA), Miami University (Ohio), Ball State and Minnesota. The game against Indiana State was tight deep into the third quarter (32- 28) before Purdue scored a touchdown at the 3:07 mark to stretch their lead to 11 points. Tiller then used the fourth quarter to add cosmetic scores and reach the final of 60-35.
The following week Miami missed a 39-yard field goal that
would have won the game at the end of regulation play. Instead the game went into overtime where Purdue prevailed in
the first overtime possession. The Boilermakers handled Ball State 38-28 in week three and
then opened their Big Ten schedule last week with another close victory against
Tiller has always pulled a handful of kids from the junior
college ranks in order to patch holes in the Boilermaker roster. In the last
recruiting class, Tiller signed nine junior college players.
Anticipated Depth Chart. Returning starter = +.
Curtis Painter (6-foot-4, 228 pounds) is dangerous player. He's somewhat similar to Michigan State's Drew Stanton, except that he isn't quite as dangerous when he runs the ball. Last season he rushed for 251 yards on 52 attempts. Through four games this season he's only rushed 19 times for 29 yards, but he has found the end zone three times. Painter has improved his accuracy from 52.4 percent in 2005 to over 64 percent this season. He's still young and he's still learning, but he is a dangerous player.
Joey Elliott (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) is more of a traditional quarterback. If
he's in the game, it probably won't be good news for the Boilermakers.
Kory Sheets can hit the big play. He's a terrific athlete that does everything well. He does most of his damage to the outside. He doesn't appear to be comfortable working between the guards. Sheets is a dynamite receiver. He already has 11 receptions for two touchdowns to go along with his 321 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Purdue isn't very deep at running back, so this guy needs to stay healthy.
Jaycen Taylor is a juco transfer. He's more of your third down
back, but he's only caught two balls for 20 yards. He has been effective
carrying the ball 29 times for 229 yards. Although his rushing totals are
impressive, Purdue doesn't want to rely on him carrying the ball due to his
Tiller has done well to get this unit together and they are by far the most athletic group of receivers I've seen in West Lafayette. They have a good blend of sizes and they have playmakers that can stretch the field. This unit is young, so there will be growing pains. Bryant has the talent to pull the load until the youngsters step up.
Dorien Bryant is without question the leader of this unit. He has very soft hands and he makes something happen once he gets the ball. He has superior speed, so he's a threat to go deep, but he'll also go over the middle without fear. Tiller works to get him the ball in a number of ways; at the line of scrimmage, deep passes, he'll come out of the backfield, and even throw the ball. He led the team in receiving last season with just under 1,000 yards. Through four games Bryant has caught 27 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns.
Greg Orton has good size and he catches most everything. He has decent speed, but he isn't going to wear you out deep. He's the Boiler's No.2 guy. As a true freshman he caught nine passes for 94 yards. He has been slowed by a hip pointer, but ND should see him.
Purdue fans have had to wait a year for Selwyn Lymon to hit the field due to grade issues. It took the Fort Wayne, Ind. product a couple games to get going, but he announced his arrival with a huge eight-catch, 90-yard performance against Ball State. He's physically mature and he has the size to be very dominant. This kid is going to be a good one.
Desmond Tardy and Jake Standeford will mix into the line-up. Chattams and
Standeford aren't spectacular, but they will catch the ball.
When you look at Dustin Keller's gaudy 19.9 yards per catch average it isn't tough to imagine that he is a converted wide receiver. He added some size in the off-season, but he has more to add. Keller is not a strong blocker. He is a very tough match-up and he'll turn linebackers around. Blend this player in with the wide receivers and it is easy to see how Painter averages nearly 300 yards passing per game. Keller did injure a wrist against Minnesota. He has been in a cast, but he is expected to play. If he remains in the cast it will be difficult to include him in the Boiler passing game.
Jerry Wasikowski will get some action, but he won't steal much time from Keller.
Purdue wont run two tight ends very often. He is a solid blocker. He does have a
couple catches, but if he's in, expect a run.
This group isn't going to blow a defense off the ball, but they are crafty blockers. Last year this unit produced 186.7 yards per game and 4.9 yards per rushing attempt. Although Purdue is only averaging 164.0 yards per game this season, they are now averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
Kokomo, Ind. native Mike Otto, is in his fourth season as the starting left tackle. Otto isn't really powerful, but he certainly is an effective blocker...solid
technician. He moves his feet really well and maintains his balance. Otto is a very good pass blocker and a solid overall player. This will be a tough match-up for Chris Frome, but Otto won't drive him off the ball.
Purdue On Defense:
What the heck happened to this group? In 2004 the Purdue defense allowed 18.7 points per game. In 2005, with all 11 starters returning from the '04 defensive unit it ballooned to 28.1 points per contest. Purdue replaced over half of the starters this season and the results are even worse. Through four games, the Purdue defense is surrendering (literally) a whopping 28.75 points per game and they've yet to play the meat of their schedule.
Brock Spack likes to rotate his front seven as much as he can during the game in order to keep fresh legs on the field. I don't think he'll be able to do that this weekend because Purdue just doesn't have quality depth. They have bodies, but there is a drop-off when they reach to the second front. Anthony Spencer is the lone returning starter up front from last year's defense. Alex Magee, Ryan Baker and Mike McDonald (juco) have very limited experience.
The "book" on Notre Dame is to bring as much pressure as you can. The trouble with that game plan for Spack is that several of his secondary players will be in difficult one-on-one situations. If it's Samardzija and McKnight I don't think there is a defensive back on the Purdue roster that can slow them down. I wouldn't be surprised to see both Irish receivers with over a hundred yards receiving.
Purdue's cornerbacks are freshman Royce Adams and junior Terrell Vinson, The safeties are freshman Brandon Erwin and junior Justin Scott. So, the heart of the problem for Spack is an issue that Notre Dame fans have discussed endlessly over the last several years; Do you blitz to get to the quarterback before he can deliver the ball accurately, which exposes the defensive backs, or is it best to sit back in a zone and let the quarterback pick you apart?
Anticipated Depth Chart. Returning starter = +
Anthony Spencer is having another huge year for the
Boilermakers. Spencer already has 28 tackles, nine tackles for a loss and five
sacks. For a defensive end, those numbers are solid numbers for a season let alone
four games into the year. Spencer is fun to watch. He is all over the field and
he plays to the whistle. Not only can he apply pressure to the quarterback, but
he is also stout against the run. Sam Young will have his hands full.
Mike McDonald is one of the junior college transfers that Tiller
brought in over the summer. McDonald works hard, but it looks like he's still
adjusting to the jump in competition or maybe still getting a feel for Purdue's
Cliff Avril is second on the team in tackles with 31. Six of those have been behind the line of scrimmage. Avril has two sacks on the season, and he can cause trouble coming on the blitz.
Dan Bick isn't big, he isn't tremendously athletic, but he makes plays. Bick leads the Boilermakers in tackles.
Stanford Keglar had been at SAM backer, and that might be his best position, but Spack needs to get the best players on the field. Keglar is fourth on the team in tackles.
This has to be a major concern for Purdue. Last season this group was horrible and three of those starters moved on. To compound Purdue's troubles, Zach Logan, the cornerback Brady Quinn picked on in last year's game, is still struggling to defend the pass and he has been replaced in the starting line-up by Terrell Vinson. Vinson received his first start against Ball State.
Aaron Lane was scheduled to start at the cornerback spot opposite of Vinson, but Lane broke his shoulder blade and will miss six weeks of action. Taking over for the injured Lane is true freshman Royce Adams.
Is that the last of the bad news? Not yet. Starting strong safety Torri Williams suffered a season ending knee injury and he is lost for the season. Standing in for Williams is junior college transfer Justin Scott.
Finally, true freshman Brandon Erwin will start at the free
Additional information: The best match-up to watch is the Notre Dame defensive line against the Purdue offensive line. Both units are very good. If Notre Dame doesn't apply pressure to Painter, he's good enough to make Notre Dame pay and he has the skill position players to assist him.
That being said, this game shouldn't be close. Purdue is undermanned on the defensive side of the ball. They are green and they do not have the depth to run with Notre Dame.
If tight end Dustin Keller is limited by his injury, Purdue will miss him.
Notre Dame vs Purdue Preview
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