The short distances to convert helped Notre Dame vs. the Boilermakers. The first four games, the Irish were in 3rd-and-longs the vast majority of times. This past weekend, it was the opposite situation.
"I try to get us into third and short," head coach Charlie Weis said. "That's what I what I try to do. And there's been several games this year that I haven't done that very well. So going into this game, that was one of the things we were trying to do is be in more manageable third down situations than we have been in. And the easiest way to do that is to hand it off and get positive yards."
One final note on conversion rates: through five games, the Irish have gone for it 12 times on fourth down. Amazingly, they've converted 10 of them for first downs. The 12 attempts are tied for seventh in the nation. The 10 successful conversions are tied with Wyoming and New Mexico State for first. In the Purdue victory, Notre Dame was 2-for-2 in this category.
"I think that usually those plays are occurring in low risk situations," Weis said. "Usually it's been probably a time when you prefer to punt the ball. I'm talking about over the season. But some of that is luck. But some of it is showing confidence in your offense and your defense. It's a whole bunch of factors that all are unique to that one situation that comes up."
*In the spring time and carrying over to the season, a point of emphasis was on the pass rush. So far, the results have been mixed. Notre Dame has totaled eight sacks through five games, good for 82nd in the nation. Last season, the Irish had 11 sacks through five games for a unit that ended up being ranked 34th in total sacks.
*Punter Geoff Price once again had a solid day. The senior booted the ball three times for a net average of 45.7 yards per punt. For the year, Price's average is 47.5 yards per punt, still on pace to beat Craig Hentrich's single season average record of 44.9 yards per punt. Eight of his 20 punts have been downed inside the 20-yard line.
*A 14-7 besting of Purdue narrowed the gap in Notre Dame's first quarter woes. For the season, they've still been outscored 51-24 in the first 15 minutes of play. In the second quarter, the Irish's advantage is 59-38. In 2005, it was 145-47. Notre Dame's best quarter is the third only because they've held opponents to 15 points in this time frame while they've posted 35.
*The offense set seven offensive team game highs against Purdue. The Irish had more rushes, yards rushing, touchdown rushes, pass completions, total plays, total offense and first downs vs. the Boilermakers than against any other team in 2006. The big question: can Notre Dame top these totals next week? Stanford brings the 117th ranked defense to South Bend next weekend.