First Notre Dame Drive/4th Quarter:
Breakdown: After an Ian Williams 4th-down interception, Notre Dame took possession inside their own 3-yard line. Notre Dame 20 Purdue 3
- (Crist under center/2-wides far right/2-TE split in power formation): On Notre Dame's third play under center, tailback Armando Allen is pummeled by an unblocked Ryan Kerrigan for a two-point Safety. Neither Braxston Cave or Chris Stewart looked to block Kerrigan and left tackle Zack Martin joined Stewart in a double-team block of linebacker Jason Werner at the second level (in other words, either Stewart or Martin was responsible for at least breathing on Kerrigan who was lined up at RDE; likely Martin).
Rudolph, lined up to Martin's left, also blocked Werner (who apparently wasn't going to make the tackle), leaving CB Charlton Williams free on a blitz. Williams would have tackled Allen at the goal line as well. So too would have an unblocked Bruce Gaston, whom Cave ignored head up. Shades of 2007…but hey, at least Werner was triple-teamed.
- Notre Dame 20 Purdue 5
Second Notre Dame Drive/4th Quarter:
Breakdown: Following a Robert Marve touchdown and subsequent ill-advised personal foul penalty, the Irish take possession at the Purdue 41-yard line thanks to a 38-yard kick return by Cierre Wood. Wood fumbled but was bailed out by teammate Zeke Motta's diving recovery. Notre Dame 20 Purdue 12
- (3-wides far left/Floyd solo near right): After bouncing into the middle of the line, Allen is limited to two yards by unblocked Jason Werner. Nice job by the freshman nose Bruce Gaston to occupy both Stewart and Cave on the play, allowing Werner a free run to scrimmage. Zack Martin did his job, forcing Kerrigan far upfield.
- (Same Formation): The combination of a good upfield pass rusher and Dever losing Gooden one-on-one on the right side forces Crist to step up in the pocket where he's dropped for a 2-yard loss by Kawaan Short. (The Boilers' first sack, though officially ruled a tackle-for-loss because college football has no idea how to score such a play).
- (Floyd/Rudolph split far left with Kamara/Riddick near right): Facing 3rd and 10 from the Purdue 41-yard line, Crist bails quickly to his left when safety Albert Evans comes on a zone blitz from his right (near side). With the Purdue D-Line stunting right, Crist has no out from the pocket and is eventually sacked by Ryan Kerrigan. This sack is on Crist, who bailed far too quickly (Allen picked up the safety blitz). The Irish are forced to punt.
Third Notre Dame Drive/4th Quarter:
Breakdown: Clinging to a 20-12 lead, the Irish take over at their own 41-yard line with 8:17 remaining.
- (Empty Backfield/3-wide far right/2-wide near left): Crist throws (dangerously) behind T.J. Jones on a out to the right side incomplete.
- (2-wide left/Rudolph offset left/Floyd solo near right): Allen gains 13 yards over left tackle. Just enough of a seal by Zack Martin outside and Chris Stewart executed two blocks including one at the second level on linebacker Dwayne Beckford to open the hole. Jason Werner tripped up Allen near the marker. Floyd owned his man downfield.
- (3-wide right with Rudolph inside/Floyd solo left): Allen runs through a cavernous hole over right tackle for an 18-yard gain. Good seal by Rudolph outside and Dever blocking down with a fine solo effort on Kerrigan. Robinson and Cave both win and a pulling Stewart bothered Joe Holland just enough.
- (2-wides left/Rudolph tight left/Floyd solo right): Allen gains 3 more before linebacker Joe Holland makes the stop. Stewart caved in his defensive tackle; Rudolph handled Gooden but a pulling Cave whiffed on Holland to end what would have been a huge gain as both Riddick and Floyd had their defenders squared up downfield and Zack Martin was leading Allen into open space to the left side. Likely a 28-yard touchdown had Cave not suffered one of his few errors on the day.
- (2-wides split to both sides with Rudolph and Floyd near left): Crist throws a pass deep out of bounds in the left corner of the end zone (intended for Floyd on a fade). It'll be awhile before he throws a fade route as well as Jimmy Clausen did in 2009. In fairness to Crist, Clausen threw his share of stinkers in 2008 as well.
- (Empty backfield/3-wide right/2-wide left): Facing 3rd and 7 from the Purdue 25-yard line, Crist rediscovers Rudolph for an 11-yard out-route and crucial first down. Rudolph ran another rolling out from the left slot with Floyd aligned outside him, further taxing the defense.
- (2-wides right/Rudolph tight right/Floyd solo left): Crist loses six yards on a sack by Jason Werner, who came almost completely untouched on a delayed blitz over right guard. Taylor Dever blocked no one and tailback Armando Allen failed in his late blitz pickup attempt, though he was influenced by an outside delayed blitz from athlete Ricardo Allen. Dever likely needed to pick up Werner and allow Allen to handle the nickel back Allen from the outside. Purdue overloaded ND's right side on the play and Crist had no chance.
- (Empty backfield/3-wides right/Rudolph and Floyd near left): Crist fails to gain after being flushed from the pocket to the near boundary left. DT Kawaan Short split Cave and Stewart to force Crist from the pocket and Gerald Gooden stayed home to negate Crist an outside line. Of note, Zack Martin executed a nice down block on a blitzing Joe Holland to give Crist time had he not bailed to run. Theo Riddick appeared to break open to Crist's sideline but the junior quarterback held onto the ball with a safety over the top of the sophomore speedster.
- (Pair of wides split left and right with Rudolph/Floyd near): Facing 3rd and 16, Crist again attempts a fade to Floyd; this time the throw is far too flat and just out of Floyd's reach out of bounds, again in the far left corner and into the curiously close ND drum section. That's an injury waiting to happen.
- David Ruffer's 37-yard field goal attempt is good. ND 23 Purdue 12
Final Notre Dame Drive/4th Quarter:
Breakdown: After the Irish defense holds Purdue on downs, Notre Dame takes possession with 2:04 remaining at the Purdue 44-yard line. ND 23 Purdue 12
- (Split wides/2-tight end with Tyler Eifert in motion right): Allen is stopped off right tackle for no gain by Kerrigan and Werner. Kerrigan stunts inside Robinson (beating him) and then Robinson pulls the double-whammy, losing his block on Werner outside. Robinson had been mostly solid prior to this lackluster effort. Dever fails to execute as well while Stewart dominates his man on the backside.
- (2-wides far right/2-tight ends with Eifert in motion left): Facing 2nd and 10, Allen gains 3 yards on sheer will up the middle. Good job by both Stewart and Robinson to allow a little space inside as Cave kicked out to the second level.
- (3-wides far left/Floyd solo near right): Following a Purdue timeout, Notre Dame faced a 3rd and 7 at the Purdue 41-yard line and 1:26 remaining. Crist sealed the contest with an 8-yard strike to Floyd on a simple hook route. Ricardo Allen gave Floyd had far too large a cushion for the situation.
- Allen carries for three yards after a nice spin move in the backfield. Eifert got a nice seal block in motion.
- (Victory Formation): The Irish kneel to end the contest with a 23-12 season-opening victory.
Fourth Quarter Observations:
- Rudolph disappeared from the passing attack for nearly three quarters before making a clutch catch to set up Ruffer's clinching field goal.
- One mental mistake by Dever vs. a delayed blitz contributed to a 6-yard sack in the red zone.
- Crist's inexperience showed in the final period.
- If trades were allowed in college football, I'd put Kerrigan high on the Irish, or any team's, wish list.
Note: With defensive personnel reviews still to come, IrishEyes' will wrap-up its Purdue coverage with its Rank and File column Tuesday morning.