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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Notre Dame 27 Purdue 13

September 18, 2021

Notre Dame won ugly for the third straight week, but they did manage to put some lipstick on this pig of a game. Great players and really good defense won this game for Notre Dame. That might be the way they have to win any game this year.

Kyren Williams had 136-yards of total offense and his two big play touchdowns came when Notre Dame needed them the most. Kyle Hamilton had a critical 4th down stop to get the ball back to the offense and an interception in the end zone in the 4th quarter. When Michael Mayer and Kevin Austin managed to combine for one catch, somebody else had to step up and it was Avery Davis with the first 100-yard game of his career.

Those players were difference-makers. Without them, Notre Dame would have been ordinary and ordinary gets you beat by Purdue. With them, it gets the Irish their first double digit win of the season and a much better feeling heading into Wisconsin next week.

- The offense is way too reliant on the boom and has too many bust plays, but the key to the defensive performance was far less busts. Even with a less boom (17.7% Havoc rate), it was enough to keep things in front of them and tackle well.

It’s not a coincidence that the one Purdue touchdown drive was when they missed tackles and gave up the big play through the air. I’m sure many had the feeling that this was the start of something bad like it had been in previous weeks.

It never happened.

Several players had their best games of the season, including Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, DJ Brown, and Drew White.

To only give up one play over 10-yards in the first half is phenomenal. They gave up two 30-yard plays on the touchdown drive, but outside of that held Purdue in check in the second half as well.

- Purdue was only 4 of 16 and threw for 1.4 yards per attempt on 3rd downs. Notre Dame ran more Dime in this game and it worked really well.

- It would be fair to say that the defense didn’t handle adversity well in the first two games. Purdue only scored one touchdown on four red zone trips so you could say they responded in a big way in this game. Playing well in that area had a huge impact on the game, especially with the way the offense struggled.

- It feels weird to say the offensive line run blocked better in this game, but I felt they did. They actually moved people off the ball more often than not. It was at the very least a step in the right direction.

Pass protection on the other hand was an adventure at offensive tackle. It’s pretty difficult to have success throwing the ball when the tackles are getting bullied back in the pocket way too often. It’s obviously not just a Tosh Baker playing as a third string tackle issue.

Josh Lugg is someone you hope can handle a George Karlaftis more than he did. Notre Dame had to max protect too much in this game just to help everyone out.

The Havoc Rate for Purdue against Notre Dame was only 16.7% so the strategy worked in that sense. They had to protect the offensive line to have a chance and they did what was needed.

- This could have been another close to 400-yard passing day for Jack Coan. Obviously there were some drops on the receiver side of things and some misses where he didn’t give Kevin Austin a shot at making a play. Notre Dame has to take better advantage of teams that play cover 1 against them.

- Let’s hope the deal with Tyler Buchner’s hamstring isn’t serious. They are still going to need him in the next couple of weeks.

- One thing I loved seeing is Cam Hart bouncing back after a rough drive in the 3rd quarter.

He gave up the big play to David Bell and was interfering when he did it. He threw his hands up to try and not get called and Bell ended up making a great catch. He needs to finish there and let it be 15 instead of 32.

Then he gave up the touchdown where he didn’t work through the hands of the receiver.

Later on they took a shot with Bell in the 4th quarter and he didn’t back down. Could it have been a penalty? Maybe, but let the refs call it if it is. Don’t give up the big play there.

He didn’t and got the tip that led to the interception that ended the game.

- Because they had to max protect more, that meant less routes for Michael Mayer and Purdue also did a good job taking him away. They bracketed him on some plays and you have to tip your cap to Jalen Graham who really did a great job in coverage against Mayer.

- The Irish didn’t let Karlaftis beat them and they didn’t let Bell beat them. He had 9.1 per reception despite that one big play. That’s a job well done by the coaching staff and the players in that regard.

They have a long way to go still, but this was significantly better on defense (4.4 yards per play) when things weren’t working with Mayer and Austin, they had Davis become another playmaker for them. The flaws are still present, but this was at least a step in the right direction.

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