Tiller Hopes Winning Continues

Last season, Notre Dame went down to West Lafayette and handed Purdue it's lunch. The Irish steamrolled the Boilermakers 49-28 at Ross-Ade Stadium. Both teams went in opposite directions. Notre Dame went to a BCS game. Purdue, for the first time under head coach Joe Tiller, stayed home during the holiday season.

A chance at some payback is possible this weekend for the Boilermakers. They travel north and bring their 4-0 record to town to face the No. 12 Irish on Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:43 p.m. In 2005, it was a coming out party of sorts for Brady Quinn. The Notre Dame signal caller threw for 440 yards and three touchdowns. More impressive, Quinn completed 80 percent of his passes.

"He's very physical and pretty similar to Drew Bledsoe," Tiller said. "Drew is a big, strong guy and Quinn is a big, strong guy. They both have tremendous confidence in their arm and arm strength. Both are extremely smart and very competitive. Physically, they're very similar. I think Brady, as a matter of fact, as far as muscle tone, well, it's been a long time since I saw a quarterback with biceps like that. He's just a very physical guy."

Could it get worse this year in the Purdue secondary? The Boilermakers are a miserable 115th in passing defense. Their schedule hasn't exactly been murderers row. Indiana State totaled 235 passing yards, Miami (OH) 386, Ball State 291 and Minnesota 227. What's going to happen when they face a Notre Dame offense that has to weapons but yet to find their rhythm? Remember, it was last season in the Boilermaker contest that Quinn and Weis both said the Irish found consistency. The Purdue secondary better have their signals down.

"It will be critical, obviously," Tiller said about his secondary stepping up to the challenge. "I think the difference between this year and last year is that Notre Dame is probably more efficient. It's basically the same guys. The same guy is throwing and with the exception of one guy, it's the same guys catching it. So identification and communication will be key."

Tiller, who called Notre Dame "likely the most talented team we'll face," has a weapon on offense to counter the Irish. Quarterback Curtis Painter has tossed eight touchdowns and completed 64 percent of his passes. He's got shifty Dorien Bryant (27 catches, 351 yards and three touchdowns) as his main target. Last week in the win over Minnesota, Painter was a highly efficient 18-of-27 for 243 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.

"I think Curtis is getting closer to performing the way he would like to and we would like him to," Tiller said. "I think he needs to continue to develop his patience and be more detailed in what it is that he is doing. He's making progress. He hasn't played a full season yet. He's started nine games, which is not a complete college season, so I would grade him as a first-year starter. And he continues to improve.

"He's getting more comfortable with the offense. I don't think it's a people issue so much as it's the offense. Again, he's not where he needs to be. He needs more patience. He's had a couple of weeks in a row where he's been more patient in what he is doing and as a result the ball gets thrown around."

"A win at Notre Dame would be big for us," Painter said. "We're coming off four wins right now this week and I think we're getting better. To get a win against a top-ranked team like them would be great for us and it would also help us out even more for the Big Ten games coming up."

This is a game that can propel Purdue into the rankings. Despite being undefeated through four games, the Boilermakers are getting no love from the voters in both polls. A win in South Bend against a top-12 opponent can make for a special season in West Lafayette.

"This is a fun game to be involved in," Tiller said. "As far as importance is concerned, everyone has heard me say the college football season is a year long playoff. We're in the Big Ten conference and our most important games are always Big Ten games. However, this is a game, obviously, that we look forward to playing just because it's a national stage."

"I'm going to talk to some of my teammates, like (Kory) Sheets, Bryant and Painter about how it's (Notre Dame Stadium) going to be," running back Jaycen Taylor said. "But as far as getting hyped, I'm a very mellow guy. My hype comes from how good I do on the field. I don't jump around before the game because if I don't do anything on the field then the hype is all for nothing."

"If you look at the last two years whenever we played Notre Dame, they were tough games," Painter said. "I think I can look at them and call them a rival because of the type of games we play and the atmosphere that surrounds it."

***The Purdue Sports Information Department contributed greatly to this report.

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