Saturday, October 1, 2011
End of first quarter: Irish 14, Purdue 0
By Matt Fortuna
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A primetime audience saw everything Notre Dame does good and bad through the first quarter, one the Fighting Irish have escaped leading 14-0.
Gary Gray picked off Caleb TerBush's first pass of the game, and Tommy Rees hit Michael Floyd two plays later for a 35-yard touchdown pass. Jonas Gray punched it in from two yards out with three seconds left in the quarter for the Irish's other score.
David Ruffer had a 28-yard field goal attempt blocked earlier in the frame after the Irish failed to score on a series that started with a first-and-goal from the Purdue 5. A false start penalty on Chis Watt was the killer on that drive.
Also mind-boggling is, once again, the punt-return game, as John Goodman lost two yards on the one punt he did return and watched the ball roll for a 61-yard punt on the one kick he chose not to return.
Still, the mental gaffes have affected the Boilermakers more so far, as they committed consecutive penalties on the Irish's next red zone trip, resulting in two new sets of downs from inside the 5.
Encouraging for the Irish has been their ability to do whatever they want in the run game so far. Notre Dame has gained 75 yards on 11 carries, and its offensive line is manhandling the Purdue front seven so far.
It will be interesting to see if this can continue as the game progresses. Regardless, the Irish have put themselves in great position to start, so long as they can avoid shooting themselves in the foot once again.