Purdue will come into South Bend on Saturday with a 2-1 record after a late touchdown gave the Boilermakers a 32-25 win over Central Michigan last weekend. There is no question that quarterback Curtis Painter, who is in his third year as the full-time starter, is the leader of the offense, but he is not Purdue's only weapon.
"He has a strong arm, he gets rid of the ball quick, he makes quick decisions, he'll throw a lot of quick passes and in addition to that, he's not afraid to tuck it and run," Weis said. "His biggest helper is (running back) Kory Sheets. Kory has done a heck of a job being the full-time guy. He shared carries in the past, but now he's the go-to-guy. He has more touchdowns than anyone in Purdue history with 43.
"The guy's got good speed, good quicks and he likes to run north and south, which is the sign of a good runner and he's also a good receiver out of the backfield. One other thing with this kid, he can make you miss."
"Their offense this year isn't exactly the same as their offense last year, mainly because you take that tight end and that slot receiver from last year who were two of the best college football players that we went against," he said. "A good portion of their offense centered around getting the ball to that tight end and getting to that slot receiver. Now that doesn't mean they still don't have a tight end and a slot receiver, but now all of a sudden, it might be 24 (Sheets) getting the ball on handoffs all the time, or it might be 21 (Greg Orton) out there getting the ball thrown to the him all the time."
Orton takes over the number one receiver role, but the job of replacing what Bryant did falls to Desmond Tardy.
"Orton is the team's leading receiver over at Z. We'll hear a lot about Tardy this week, who is expected to fill the role of Dorien Bryant, who had been a nemesis of ours for the last few years. He has a lot of similar components, he catches the ball well, he has good speed," Weis said. "I think we'll see a bunch of receivers that it'll get involved in this mix."
Purdue's offensive line could shift against the Irish as it tries to work right tackle Sean Sester back into the lineup after an injury.
"Sester, he had a back injury, and they're trying to ease him back into there, no pun intended," Weis said. "The more he plays over at right tackle I think we'll see Zach Jones a little bit more over there at left tackle."
On defense, Purdue's strengths start up front.
"I think really the cornerstone of their defense is their front four. I think they return three guys that played a whole bunch for them. Alex Magee started 25 games, he was a tackle, now he's at end. Along with (Ryan) Kerrigan, who will be the other end, and we'll also see (Keyon) Brown as a swing guy. I think they'll play all three of them," Weis said. "We got Ryan Baker as the nose and (Mike) Neal as the three technique. I think their defensive line has really played pretty stout for them so far this year."
Purdue could make some changes at linebacker this week after playing a bunch of nickel units in its first three games. Anthony Heygood is their top linebacker and will play outside in a 4-3, while shifting inside when Purdue brings in an extra defensive back.
"If they're playing 4-3, Kevin Green will handle the Mike and (Joe) Holland will handle the Will," Weis said. "Because of the teams they've played against, they've played almost all nickel defense. So that's moved Heygood from the Sam into the Mike position."
The Boilermakers have played as many as seven guys in the secondary and based on what package they are in, guys play in different places.
"They have a core group of guys they roll in and out," said Weis. "Some of them are playing corner and safety and nickel. So they've done a nice job of getting these guys to be interchangeable."
Chris Summers is a kicker with a strong leg, who added punting to his duties this season, but the big play guys on special teams for Purdue are Sheets and Tardy.
"Tardy and Sheets are really the guys you got to be worried about. And punt return, they'll put Tardy back there," said Weis. "I think they're the guys that we're going have zero in on if we're going to have a chance of beating Purdue."