A closer look at the play of the Irish defensive backs in Saturday's victory over the Boilermakers:
Second Half: Excellent play on 4th and 1 to deflect a Marve pass, killing the Boilermakers drive inside the 5-yard line.
Observations: Extremely tough for one wide receiver to block in space. Hard to argue against Gray as the team's defensive MVP vs. the Boilers.
Jamoris Slaughter might have made the play had Walls not picked it off…showed good force in run support to take down an inside handoff to the slot receiver who had cleared the tackle box…solid through the first 20 game minutes as a tackler vs. powerful receiver Keith Smith.
Second Half: Beaten badly by Cortez Smith on a simple go-route at about the nine-minute mark…Walls responded with a fantastic hit on Keith Smith for no gain the following play, chopping down the oversized target at the line of scrimmage; that's how you respond to a poor previous play…decent coverage deep downfield vs. Walls on a scramble pass that traveled 50 yards, though either Walls or Siller could have been called for interference simply because officials routinely screw up that judgment call…Finally looked a little sloppy on reverse during Purdue's final possession…
Observations: Strong consistently as a tackler after allowing the short catch…Gave up a few catches to Keith Smith but consistently made the stop and that's the key vs. the strong and aggressive Smith. If he plays that aggressively each week the Irish will win 9-10 games.
Jamoris SlaughterNice break on a scramble deep ball to break up a 3rd and long pass attempt; Slaughter came off his deeper receiver to make the breakup…looked quick on containment blitz outside but Marve completed the off balance 3rd down pass…Cleaned up a Te'o mistake in space with a perfect form tackle on Antavian Edison.
Second Half: Sat out the bulk of the half with an ankle injury.
Observations: Even on replay I never noticed where/when Slaughter suffered his ankle injury. The safety position needs his athleticism next week.
Observations: Played extensive second half minutes in place of injured Jamoris Slaughter…top play was a diving fumble recovery of Cierre Wood's error on 38-yard kick return. Motta will be a good one but he just looks like a huge linebacker on the back end right now.
Observations: Blanton will be a solid No. 3 cornerback with the addition of more zone coverages this year. Confidence remains the key for the junior corner.
POSITION NOTESThe secondary missed no tackles in the first half (linebackers, on the other hand)…Outnumbered once in bunch formation on 3rd and 7 (obvious forthcoming conversion was noted by a few of us in the press box pre-snap). Likely the team's most impressive defensive unit in the season opener, due largely to the play of cornerbacks Gary Gray and Darrin Walls.