After starting last week's game versus Michigan State with six straight rushing plays, the Irish opened up against Purdue with five-receiver empty sets and threw on the first three plays. Unfortunately, the result was not much different as all three passes were incomplete and the Irish went three-and-out.
Notre Dame came out running the ball on its next possession, mixing in a couple of completions, but the drive stalled on 4th-and-1 at Purdue's 39-yard line. In the end, the Irish got close to the balance they wanted, officially rushing 40 times and passing 35.
"We figured that to win this, we had to end up being somewhere in the 50/50 mix," Charlie Weis said. "Last week, when we came out deciding we were going to smash-mouth it early, I think that Michigan State dictated the tempo and we weren't going to let that happen again."
TATE'S TOUCHES: The Boilermakers did a good job of limiting Golden Tate's touches. In the first half, Tate had just one catch, the six-yard touchdown on the fade in the second quarter.
Tate finished the day with five grabs for 64 yards, but for the most part Purdue was able to roll its coverage and prevent him from getting loose in the open field.
Weis stated during the week that extra attention paid to Tate would open things up for other players. That was the case for Michael Floyd, who had six catches for 100 yards as the Boilermakers rolled their safety over the top of Tate on the other side.
TIGHT AT TIGHT END: With Will Yeatman out after his arrest last weekend and Luke Schmidt unable to play because of headaches, the Irish were left super thin at tight end. Kyle Rudolph took all the reps as the number one tight end while Asaph Schwapp filled in for Schmidt at move tight end.
Weis proved that being down three guys from the preseason depth chart would not deter him from using multiple tight end sets. As the Irish ran the clock out on their final possession, Weis sent four ‘tight ends' on to the field. Rudolph and Schwapp were both lined up as move tight ends with offensive linemen Trevor Robinson and Taylor Dever inserted outside of each tackle.
Weis said that the situation could change before Stanford.
"We'll go week-by-week on that and see what happens," he said.
FRESHMEN FACTORS: In addition to Blanton's pick-six, the freshmen class continues to make an impact on both sides of the ball. Rudolph caught three balls for 32 yards and had his first career touchdown in the third quarter to put the Irish up 28-14. Floyd led the Irish with six catches for 100 yards. Right guard Robinson spelled Chris Stewart for a bit in the second quarter and Notre Dame seemed to find some running room behind him.
Defensively, Ethan Johnson started at defensive tackle and Darius Fleming saw plenty of action next to him at defensive end. Jonas Gray became the ninth member of the freshman class to see action this year, playing on special teams.
WALKER GETS ON THE BOARD: After struggling through three games and missing a 31-yarder in the second quarter, Brandon Walker made his first field goal of the season from 41 yards out to ice the game in the fourth.
Weis said that the make was as important to Walker as it was to the team.
"I didn't talk to him after the miss, Brian (Polian) talked to him," Weis said. "That (made field goal) was a big kick for him and a big kick for the team."
OTHER TIDBITS: Notre Dame lost the opening coin toss for the second straight week, preventing any insight as to whether Weis would put the defense out first as he did in the first two games. Purdue took the ball… The officials reviewed four calls and overturned two, Desmond Tardy's 54-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter and Tate's 38-yard catch in the fourth, which was initially ruled incomplete… Neither team gave the defense much time to change personnel as both offenses went no-huddle for the majority of time… The win was Notre Dame's fourth straight home victory and the 15th home win over Purdue in the last 16 tries.