Notre Dame - Purdue Preview

Notre Dame is in a tough spot this weekend as they make their way down to West Lafayette (Ind.) to take on the Purude Boilermakers. IrishEyes takes a look at the match-up between the longtime rivals.

Notre Dame vs. Purdue
Fighting Irish   Boilermakers
Saturday, September 29th
Ross-Ade Stadium, Wes Lafayette, IN.
12:00 EST


Purdue On Offense:

Purdue Offense '07 Rank Per Game ND Defense '07 Rank Per Game
Rushing Offense #29 202.75 Rushing Defense #111 232.75
Pass Offense #12 324.25 Pass Defense #4 119.25
Pass Eff. Offense #16 158.38 Pass Eff. Defense #55 120.34
Total Offense #8 527.00 Total Defense #52 352.00
Scoring Offense #7 48.50 Scoring Defense #91 33.25

Anticipated Depth Chart.

  Curtis Painter, Sr.      114-166-1,290     16/1            68.7
  Joey Elliott, Jr. 1-4-7 0/1 25.0

Curtis Painter (6-foot-4, 223 pounds) is dangerous player, and he's starting to come into his own. He has a solid arm and he can make all the throws. He can pick apart a defense if you don't get pressure on him. If he's pressured, he has the mobility to get out of the pocket and pick up big chunks of yardage rushing. He runs Tiller's offense very well. The key for the defense is to get into his throwing lanes and get their hands up. His touchdown to interception ratio tells you that he isn't make to force the ball if the play isn't there.

Joey Elliott (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) is more of a traditional quarterback. He's a solid quarterback, but the Boilermakers will rely on Painter.

  RB Hgt/Wgt Rushes-Yards
  Kory Sheets, Sr. 6-0/206 62/378, 4TDs
  Dan Dierking, Fr. 5-10/182 29/227, 1 TD

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. Last season he didn't look comfortable running between the tackles, but he's shown a willingness to put the shoulder down this season. Sheets is a very good receiver. He already has 14 receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown. 

Jaycen Taylor had been the No.2 running back for Purdue, but he was lost for the season last week with a broken arm. Freshman Dan Dierking will spell Sheets. Dierking is a little light, but he's been solid thus far with a 6.2 yards per carry average.

  WR Hgt/Wgt Stats
  Dorien Bryant, Sr. 5-10/175  32 rcpt/368 yds/ 3TDs
  Greg Orton, Jr. 6-3/199  15 rcpts/178 yds/2 TDs
  Selwyn Lymon, Jr. 6-4/215  14 rcpts/144 yds/2 TDs
  Jake Standeford 5th. 6-2/195  9  rcpts/91 yds/1 TD
  Desmond Tardy, Sr. 6-1/199  5 rcpts/31 yds/0 TD

What makes Painter so good is that he has a very good group of receivers. He has guys that can go deep. He has big receivers and he has receivers that can work underneath.

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. 

Greg Orton has good size 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, although Selwyn Lymon is probably a more dangerous player. Lymon is a big, strong receiver that really uses his body well. Lymon can work underneath, but you definitely have to respect his ability to get deep.

Notre Dame will see plenty of Jake Standeford and Desmond Tardy. Standeford works the zones underneath. He's a savvy receiver that catches anything in his area.

  TE Hgt/Wgt Stats
  Dustin Keller, 5th. 6-4/240 15 rcpts/283 yds/ 4TDs
  Kyle Adams, Jr. 6-5/251 6 rcpts/88 yds/2 TDs

If the wide receivers weren't enough to worry about, Painter has a very good group of tight ends that he can work the ball to. The main tight end is Dustin Keller, who is a converted wide receiver. He's been in the program a long time so he understands what he needs to do. 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 and has a 68 percent completion percentage. 

Kyle Adams and Jerry Wasikowski will also work into the mix. Both are better blockers than Keller, and both are solid receivers.

  Offensive Line Hgt/Wgt Experience
  LT Sean Sester, Sr., 6-7/325 29 Starts
  LG Zach Reckman, Jr. 6-6/295 4 Starts
  C Robbie Powell, 5th. 6-5/307 29 Starts
  RG Jordan Grimes, Sr. 6-3/325 30 starts
  RT Zach Jones, Jr. 6-5/300 3 starts

This group has done an outstanding job thus far into the 2007 season. Sester, Powell, and Grimes are the returning starters. The unit has not only given Painter enough time to throw the ball, they have also helped the Purdue offense average 202 yards on the ground per game.  

Grimes and Sester are very good. Both started as projects a couple years ago, but both have developed into very good linemen. Grimes is a better run blocker. He can generally handle defensive linemen by himself. He used to struggle with his pass blocking, but that part of his game has really evolved. 

Sester used to be rail thin, but now he's a monster at 6-foot-7, 325 pounds. Although the weight came, he didn't lose his mobility. He's very solid. Probably one of the better tackles Notre Dame will face. 

Powell is also very solid. He is a solid run blocker and he is very good in pass protection. Reckman and Jones fill out the first unit. Both have done well thus far into the season. Beyond the starting unit, Purdue is thin.

Purdue On Defense:

Purdue Defense '07 Rank Per Game ND Offense '07 Rank Per Game
Rushing Defense #61 147.00 Rushing Offense #119 25.75
Pass Defense #67 227.00 Pass Offense #117 111.25
Pass Eff. Defense #15 97.33 Pass Eff. Offense #115 90.99
Total Defense #59 374.00 Total Offense #119 137.00
Scoring Defense #42 20.75 Scoring Offense #118 6.75

Anticipated Depth Chart

  Defensive Line Hgt/Wgt Stats
  DE Cliff Avril, Sr. 6-3/251 8 tckls/ 4.0 TFLs
  DT Ryan Baker, Sr. 6-5/288 7 tckls/ 1.0 TFLs
  DT Alex Magee, Jr. 6-4/295 6 tckls/ 0.5 TFLs
  DE Keyon Brown, Jr. 6-3/241 6 tckls/ 0.0 TFLs

Cliff Avril has moved to the front-four after splitting time between defensive end and linebacker last season. He's the speed guy coming of the edge. His strength as a linebacker was his ability to get to the quarterback. He has a lot of experience. He has a high motor and he'll play until the whistle. 

Baker and Magee aren't getting into the backfield much this season, but the they're doing enough to allow the linebackers to clean up behind them. Both players might be better suited for the outside, but the Boilermakers need the size inside. 

Brown is only starting his fourth game of his career, but he did enough to move past several other players that were expected to compete for the starting end position.

Purdue will rotate a heavily. Expect to see defensive ends Eugene Bright and Mike McDonald. On the inside the relief will come from Mike Neal and Jared Zwilling.

  Linebackers Hgt/Wgt Stats
  SLB Anthony Heygood, Sr. 6-2/ 230 21 tackles - 5 TFLs
  MLB Josh Ferguson, 5th. 6-3/242 23 tackles - 2.0 TFLs
  WLB Stanford Keglar, 5th 6-2/247 25 tackles - 2.0 TFLs

The Purdue linebackers make a ton of plays. They don't have bunch of guys that will run sideline to sideline, but this is an experienced bunch that knows how to find the football. They also have depth.

All the linebackers are sound, but Heygood is the most disruptive. He's athletic. He'll chase the ball around the field and he knows how to play in traffic. Keglar will also chase the ball. He does tend to run around blocks, but that's picky for a guy that makes all the plays that he does. Keglar has started 32 games in his career.

Dan Bick should also be considered another starter. Bick has started 17 ball games for Purdue. He's a very steady player.

  Defensive Backs Hgt/Wgt Stats
  CB Royce Adams, So. 6-0/183 10 tckls/ 0 INT
  CB Terrell Vinson, 5th. 5-9/180 29 tckls/ 0 INT
  FS Brandon King, Jr. 5-11/192 13 tckls/ 0 INT
  SS Justin Scott, Sr. 6-0, 209 22 tckls/ 0 INT

Last season this group really struggled because they were young. This is the same unit as Notre Dame saw last season, but they have much more experience. Last weekend against Michigan State Notre Dame wasn't able to take advantage of a young secondary, so I'm not sure this will be a problem for Purdue. 

What has been an issue for the Purdue secondary the past several years, is that they haven't been making a lot of plays on the ball, or causing turnovers. So far in 2007, this unit is still waiting to nab their first interception. The other issue for Purdue is that they're aren't very deep here. 

Purdue hasn't faced a stiff schedule to date, Toledo, Eastern Illinois, Central Michigan, and Minnesota, but they have dominated every contest. Purdue is a different opponent than those Notre Dame has faced up to this time. Purdue is a balanced ball club, but they can really move the ball through the air. Painter is very good. He has a very talented group of receivers to throw to, and he has an offensive line that not only protects him, but they also open up the running game.

Michigan State handled Notre Dame pretty good last weekend, and I think this team is better than the Spartans.

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