First Notre Dame Drive:
Breakdown: The Irish began the season from their own 20-yard line in the now standard no-huddle, shotgun spread offense. Skill position starters include Michael Floyd, Theo Riddick, T.J. Jones, Kyle Rudolph and Armando Allen. The offensive line (from left to right): Zack Martin, Chris Stewart, Braxston Cave, Trevor Robinson and Taylor Dever. Dayne Crist took every snap at Quarterback on Saturday.
The Irish gain 31 yards on six plays, stopping their charge at the Boilermakers 49-yard line.
- (3-Wide Right/Rudolph tight left): Handoff to Allen gains 4 yards up the middle. Both Robinson and Zack Martin chipped on left defensive Kawann Short, but Martin lost his block a split second too quickly and Short stopped Allen just through the initial hole. Center Braxston Cave dominated at the point, opening a running land that Short closed from behind to limit the gain.
- (3-Wide Right/Rudolph tight left): Crist stepped up in the pocket to fire a strike to slot receiver Theo Riddick. Riddick, who stumbled out of his initial break, hooked near the ND 35-yard line but allowed the pass to glance off his inside shoulder pads. Robinson left his initial (successful) block to spin back and help Dever with Boilermakers All-America pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan.
- (4-Receivers split/Allen aligned left of Crist): Facing 3rd and 6 at his own 23-yard line, Crist hits Rudolph crossing left from the right slot for an easy catch and run, gaining 13 yards for a 1st Down.
- (Alignment not visible due to NBC Replay): The Brian Kelly no-huddle catches NBC off guard (replaying the previous snap) for the first time in 2010. With 1st Down at their own 36-yard line, Crist fires a 13-yard (post) in-route to T.J. Jones for his first career catch at the 49-yard line.
- (3-Wide Right/Floyd split left/Allen right of Crist): A sprint-option hand-off to Allen moving left loses three yards as Kerrigan fires through the backfield untouched to destroy the play. Dever blocked down in a double-team effort with Robinson, leaving Kerrigan unblocked. The design of the play must not take into account a top talent such as Kerrigan blowing it up from the backside. Had Crist read the hard-charging Kerrigan and kept the option handoff, he had green pastures to his right side over the vacated area. At right tackle, Martin created the proper running lane, but Kerrigan drove Allen backwards allowing Martin's assigned player (Gerald Gooden) to get a piece of the tackle as well.
- (2-wide Right/Rudolph tight right/Floyd near left): A delayed hand-off to Allen gains 3 up the middle. Solid job by the front five; only Rudolph missed his kick-out block at the second level vs. linebacker Jason Werner, who made the stop. A nice cut right was available for Allen had Rudolph not been late in his block attempt.
- (Empty backfield/3-wide right/Rudolph, Floyd near left): Facing 3rd and long, Crist fails to step up in the pocket and a blocked Kerrigan smacks the ball out of the young QBs grasp. Crist recovered the fumble and took it to the line of scrimmage to end the drive. Though Dever was beaten, he did recover to keep Kerrigan outside. A veteran Crist will avoid that miscue as he had plenty of room to step up into a nicely formed pocket from the rest of the OL. Nice job by the redshirt-freshman Martin of controlling Gooden's pass rush on the left side.
- Skill position subs on the drive: Cierre Wood entered in place of Allen, lining up as the far right receiver on the final play.
Second Notre Dame Drive:
Breakdown: After forcing the Boilers to punt after three plays, the Irish took over on their own 15-yard line following a beautiful 51-yard punt by Carson Wiggs. 0-0
- (Floyd and Rudolph split right/Jones and Riddick split left): Riddick records his first career catch, gaining six yards on a tunnel screen to the ND 21-yard line. Riddick took one hard step upfield before cutting on a horizontal right underneath T.J. Jones; spun out of the first hit for a few extra yards as he fell.
- (Floyd and Rudolph near left/Jones and Riddick far right): Crist faked a handoff to Allen moving right, then fired a quick out to Rudolph left, gaining 7 yards for an Irish first down. Rudolph pivoted inside before breaking out – a route with which Irish fans will become familiar in 2010.
- (2-wide right/Rudolph tight left/Floyd near left): Crist, this time under center for the first time in 2010, hands off to Allen moving left but the senior runner is again crushed by a hard-charging Kerrigan, who comes unblocked down the line of scrimmage to kill the play, dropping Allen and forcing a fumble (recovered by Allen forward) for a gain of four yards. Dever again blocked down helping Robinson; a pulling Cave missed a cut block attempt in the hole, which muddled Allen's cutback lane. Stewart, Martin (two blocks), Rudolph and a cracking Michael Floyd all won their assignments, opening a huge lane off the left side in the process. Not sure why Robinson needs help on that run left from Dever, who would have been well served to at least touch Kerrigan, negating his momentum.
- (2-wide right/Rudolph tight right/Floyd near left): Facing 2nd and 6 at his own 32-yard line, Crist tosses a swing pass into the near flat to Allen whose tackled out of bounds for no gain. Its possible Floyd missed a blocking assignment (he took off inside after a linebacker, leaving his cornerback free), though more likely Crist telegraphed the pass.
- (3-wide right/Rudolph Floyd near left/Empty backfield): With 3rd and 6 from his own 32, Crist again hits a right-slotted Rudolph crossing left. This time the Boilers linebacker Joe Holland read the play, chasing Rudolph to drop the big tight end for four yards, forcing an Irish punt. Floyd was open on a square-in behind Rudolph but Crist took his first option (Rudolph) immediately).
Third Notre Dame Drive:
Breakdown: After a Darrin Walls interception, the Irish took possession at their own 16-yard line with 4:27 remaining in the opening period. 0-0 Cierre Wood makes his college debut at running back, subbing for Allen. Duval Kamara for T.J. Jones.
- (Floyd solo near right/Rudolph offset left/2-wide far left): Wood gains 16 yards over the right side on his first college carry. Wood made one quick cut inside a block by Dever (not vs. Kerrigan) and a tremendous cut block in space by a pulling Braxston Cave. Floyd also dominated his man on the right side to allow Wood a huge lane. Robinson blocked down expertly to guarantee the initial hole. Wood made both necessary cuts to pick up the yardage untouched until an ankle tackle took him out of bounds.
- (Floyd near right/Rudolph tight left/2-wide left): Wood rips off 15 more yards, this time to the left thanks to another pull and cut by Cave (at the second level). Martin also shoves his man inside while Rudolph controlled Kerrigan at the point, absorbing Kerrigan's initial rush upfield and taking him deep enough to allow Wood the path over left tackle. Riddick won vs. his assigned defender as well; Stewart had no one to block in space but was easily out in front. A good open-field tackle by Purdue safety Albert Evans saved a huge gain as Wood had a cutback lane through the middle of the defense.
- Kawaan Short ends Wood's private party, dropping the redshirt-freshman in the backfield for a 5-yard loss. The slow-developing handoff killed the play from the outset as Short ran through a non-block by Cave (looked like Cave was supposed to chip, then pull left, but he didn't make enough contact with Short on the delayed handoff). Stewart completely caved in his assigned defender.
- (Empty backfield/3-wide far right/Rudolph slot left with Floyd near left): Crist hits Rudolph for 9 yards on a rolling out route to the left. "Rolling" isn't generally a complimentary terms used to describe a route, by the way.
- (2-wide far right/Rudolph tight right/Floyd solo near left): Facing 3rd and 6 at midfield, Wood gains his requisite 15 yards on a sprint left, outrunning Kerrigan who again burst over the right side untouched. Stewart and Martin executed perfectly (Cave helped with a chip on Stewart's defender) and Floyd held his block downfield for the duration of the play. Rudolph missed a chip/cut block on Kerrigan that nearly blew up the play in the backfield but Wood ran out of the defender's ankle tackle. Dever, after a chip at the second level, was 20 yards downfield ready for an extra block.
- (Kamara and Riddick right/slotted Rudolph left with Floyd outside him): Crist fires a deeper slant pass (he had one inside as well) to Kamara for a 12-yard gain. Kamara bobbled the initially offering before corralling it and taking a big shot while securing his first catch of the season.
- (3-wide left/Rudolph tight left/Floyd solo right/): Allen returned for Wood and produces one of the niftiest runs of his Irish career, taking a handoff up the gut, cutting deftly outside right and sprinting past a defender before waiting on a Michael Floyd block on the sideline to allow a dive into the far right pylon for Notre Dame's first score of the 2010 season. Allen juked Purdue linebacker Joe Holland in the initial hole to set up the rest of the 22-yard TD run, the longest scoring rush of his career. Taylor Dever's seal of RDE Gerald Gooden was the key to the play. Dever would receive a perfect grade on the block while Robinson, Cave and Stewart also won their battles as did a pulling Martin who slammed into the already controlled Gooden.
First Quarter Observations:
- Taylor Dever showed up much better on film than live. Most of Kerrigan's plays in the backfield were a result of Crist's inexperience (stepping up in the pocket; poor read on option handoffs, slow development of plays, etc.).
- Braxston Cave helped kick off the Cierre Wood era in style with two tremendous cut blocks in space.
- Rudolph is not yet full speed (as expected) after missing most of the spring and August with injuries.
- Nothing like a little competition to bring out the best in the senior Allen.
- Crist started 8-9 for 65 yards with his deepest pass traveling no more than 13 yards downfield.
First Quarter Score: Notre Dame 7 Purdue 0
Note: The Second Quarter will be published mid-morning.