Yesterday the Irish held on to beat the Boilers 23-12 to start off the Brian Kelly era with a win. The first year Irish coach promised a new look for the team, and he was right. Notre Dame now runs the type of offense that drives me crazy. They line up, look as if they are going to snap the ball before looking over to the sidelines to get the play. As someone who takes pictures at the game it drives me absolutely crazy. I had a blast at the game though. My two favorite teams usually play later in the year which makes it hard on me. I loved them playing to start the season. I can now spend the rest of the season rooting for the Boilers without having to step out for a week when the Irish come to town.
Before I get too much into the game let me talk a little about the campus. Twenty years ago I attended my first Irish game, and I walked the campus with my father. It was my first real look at what a college campus looked like. I still enjoy walking the campus before a game. There is so much to see. The library shown above is just part of what makes a gameday in South Bend so much fun. You have the Golden Dome, the Basilica, the pre game concert, and the administration building just to name a few things to do. Another great part of the Notre Dame gameday is the student food tents. They are all competing with each other to raise money for their organizations. It is kind of neat to see how they try to get you to their grills. At the top of this post is a picture that I took during the teams walk to the stadium. That is another great Notre Dame tradition. After they attend a pre game mass they walk the campus to the stadium. This gives the fans a great view of the men they will soon watch on the field. Make some time before your next game in South Bend to walk the campus. You will be glad you did.
The Irish started the game off strong taking an early 10-0 lead. They really seemed like they could have gotten a lot more, but stalled in the red zone. Irish running backs Armando Allen and Cierre Wood had good days helping the Irish move down the field. Wood is shown above breaking a big one. The holes were there for the Irish yesterday. I really thought that Purdue was strong up front, but they had some trouble stopping the run. Michael Floyd and freshman receiver TJ Jones also were keys on the day. When Dayne Crist was in trouble Kyle Rudolph seemed to be sitting wide open over the middle. The Irish appear to have the weapons on offense to win some games.
One great part of the game was about halfway through the third quarter. My dad leans over to me and says that he would like to see more sacks. The next two plays resulted in Marve getting sacked by Notre Dame defenders. The last one was returned for a score only to be brought back by the replay. It did show a bit of a pass rush though which the Irish need. Now that I know that Taylor Swift was at the game I wish he had leaned over and wished she would sit by us. I guess the sacks were okay though. The Irish had four sacks on the day, and also forced two interceptions by Marve.
Shortly after that sequence Notre Dame had the ball in the Purdue red zone with a chance to blow the game open. Michael Floyd caught a ball going into the end zone, and for some reason dropped it. The ball was picked up by Logan Link of Purdue, and keep the Boilers in the game. If Floyd goes in for the score it is 27-3, and the Boilers are pretty much out of it. Instead Purdue gets a touchdown and a safety to get within a score of the Irish. A fumbled kickoff after the Marve touchdown could have just swung this game into Purdue’s favor. Luckily the Irish pounced on the ball, and kicked a field goal thanks to great field position. Purdue scored its only touchdown on a great scramble by Robert Marve. He went into the end zone untouched for six. For some reason though he decided to dive once he was in the end zone, and cost his team fifteen yards on the kickoff.
Marve had an okay game in his Purdue debut. The offensive line did not really give him much time to do anything. It appears that the Boilers knew this would be an issue coming in. They had him rolling out early on. Keith Smith had a great day for the Boilers hauling in 12 passes. He just needs some help by some other receivers. Both Cortez Smith and Justin Siller had a deep ball in their hands without bringing it in. Cortez jumped for some reason instead of catching the ball in stride which would have probably been a touchdown.
The defense seemed to improve as the game went on. I saw a lot of new faces on the field. True freshman Bruce Gaston teamed up with Ryan Kerrigan to record the safety for the Boilers. That safety is pictured above. It really is to bad the goalposts had to be in the way. Kerrigan is exactly what we expected him to be. He was a disruptive force out there yesterday. He stripped Crist on the first drive, and never really let up. The freshmen thrown into the first on defense yesterday really seemed to step it up. As they settle in this team will only improve.
Next Saturday I will be in West Lafayette to see the Boilers take on the Leathernecks of Western Illinois. I think the Boiler faithful should have fun watching this team then.