Chicago Colleges: Cole Luke

ND 30, Purdue 14: Three things we learned

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
1:31
AM CT
INDIANAPOLIS -- Remarkably, Purdue gave Notre Dame a good game. Again. This one was in doubt until the fourth quarter before the No. 11 Fighting Irish pulled away with a 30-14 win to improve to 3-0 and remain undefeated in Shamrock Series games. They now enter a bye week before facing Syracuse on Sept. 27 in East Rutherford, N.J.

Here are the biggest takeaways from Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium:

[+] EnlargeEverett Golson, Jalani Phillips
Michael Hickey/Getty ImagesDespite being sacked four times, Everett Golson was able to make big plays with his arm and his legs against Purdue.
1) The Irish handle "adversity" well. Yes, that was the buzzword following a 16-point win, appropriate or not. In the context of the number of injuries Notre Dame's secondary suffered, that will work, as starting cornerback Cole Luke left the game with what coach Brian Kelly said was a neck injury and safety Nicky Baratti left with yet another shoulder injury. The unit was already down safety and captain Austin Collinsworth because of a Grade 2 MCL sprain. The Irish also lost receiver Amir Carlisle early in the game with an MCL sprain, were without defensive end Andrew Trumbetti, who was still banged up from the Michigan game, and did not use starting right guard Christian Lombard, still nursing a high-ankle sprain. That doesn't include the five players suspended due to the academic probe.

But seven penalties did not help matters, especially with starting safety Max Redfield getting ejected in the second quarter for targeting, further depleting a thin secondary. Hats off to true freshman Drue Tranquill, a former Purdue commit who was thrust into plenty of meaningful action and performed well.

"He did great," Kelly said. "He doesn't know what he's doing, but he's awesome. He's running around there. I say that kiddingly because he does know what he's doing. But we're trying to really keep it simple for him out there. He was such a locked-in kid. We're able to do some things with him, and he's only been here, what, eight, 10 weeks? Where would we be without that young man? It's really pretty incredible."

2) Everett Golson's still got it going. At times, Notre Dame's offense looked like it went with the gameplan of "let Golson dance around and make something happen." More often than not, he did just that, hitting running back Greg Bryant for his first career catches -- a pair of 17-yarders off broken plays -- and finishing 25 of 40 for 259 yards with two touchdowns and, most importantly, no turnovers. Golson also was the Irish's leading rusher, notching 56 yards on the ground and another touchdown despite being sacked four times being hurried six times by the Boilermakers. His leaps will continue to be a big storyline all season long, and he now boasts a 13-1 record as a Notre Dame starting quarterback (.929), second to only Johnny Lujack (20-1-1, .932).

He has said and done all the right things off the field as well.

"I also missed a wide-open pass, I don't know if y'all watched the film," Golson said, critiquing his 15-yard touchdown run. "I definitely missed a pass. Yeah, it was good for us, we got a touchdown, but as far as me, I want to be more of a pocket-passer. I missed the pass. I just have to execute better."

3) Paging the offensive line. Far too early to hit the panic button here, but the play up front could use some improvements before Stanford comes to town Oct. 4. To be fair, the unit was missing its fifth-year senior in Lombard (Matt Hegarty replaced him), and though only one of the Irish's five offensive penalties came from a lineman (a Steve Elmer false start), Golson was sacked four times by Purdue. That number probably could have been higher if not for Golson's mobility. Notre Dame averaged just 3.7 yards per rush after averaging just 1.7 yards per rush in last week's rout of Michigan. Take away the quarterback on Saturday and that average against the Boilermakers drops to 3.46 yards per rush. Again, it is very early, but if there's one unit that needs to pick up its play as Notre Dame readies for the meat of their schedule, it is the offensive line.

"We're not sustaining," Kelly said. "I mean, we're in position. We're falling off a block here. We miss a fit here. And maybe it's just the continuity took us a little bit longer. It's nothing big, but it's everything.

"It's going to get better. They will get better. It's just we're not where we need to be. We're going to keep working, keep grinding. We'll get there. We're just not there yet. We're on the 3-yard line, we're running a double-team into the B-gap, we slip and fall. Somebody fires through the B-gap. Little things like that. They got to get cleaned up before we get to where we want to be offensively."

Irish lunch links

April, 2, 2014
Apr 2
12:00
PM CT
Tough, tough news for Natalie Achonwa and the Irish.

Recapping Friday's 'The Echoes'

December, 16, 2013
12/16/13
9:00
AM CT
Brian Kelly's bigger workload was on display already Friday night, when the Notre Dame head coach presented not one, not two, not three, but four different awards during the Irish's awards banquet, named "The Echoes" for the second straight year.

He did say on Saturday, however, that he does not expect any more of his assistants to leave, and that was seemingly confirmed shortly afterward by defensive line coach Mike Elston, whose first-ever tweet was the announcement he's staying at Notre Dame. (There had been some chatter that he could follow Bob Diaco to UConn to become the Huskies' defensive coordinator.)

As for the awards show, TJ Jones took home team MVP honors in a team vote that Kelly said wasn't even close. (Yours truly had predicted Jones as the winner beforehand, just as he had predicted the correct final score of the Stanford game.)

Jones easily took home best-dressed honors on the night, wearing a burgundy suit with a bowtie and some hipster glasses. Corey Robinson and Chris Watt were among the bowtie-wearers as well.

The biggest news, or non-news, of the night came when Stephon Tuitt met with the media afterward, saying he remains undecided on his future.

As for the big winners on Friday...
There was also in-show fan voting for best hit and best catch honors, which went to Tuitt and Jones for their plays against USC.

What we learned: Week 8

October, 20, 2013
10/20/13
9:00
AM CT
Here is what to take away from Notre Dame's 14-10 win Saturday over USC, as the Irish improved to 5-2 on the season with a trip to Air Force awaiting them this week:

1. No Rees = big problem. Notre Dame's offensive woes were evident when Tommy Rees went down in the third quarter with a neck strain. The Irish totaled just 30 yards (including penalties) and netted one first down on six drives (not including a seventh in which Hendrix kneeled twice.) Notre Dame better hope that Rees heals quickly, as it simply could not move the ball without him Saturday against USC.

2. Defense steps up when called upon. This looked like the Notre Dame defense of 2012 on Saturday, with the Irish playing big in the second half when the offense needed to be bailed out. USC punted the ball four times, missed a field goal, turned it over on downs twice and had a pass picked off by Jaylon Smith -- all in the second half. The Irish brought pressure up front and defended the run much better late, limiting the Trojans' chances of making something happen in a tight game.

3. Atmosphere doesn't get to newcomers. Smith had a pick to open the third quarter, Cole Luke played well in the secondary and Joe Schmidt stepped up big late in his first real extended action with the Irish. The noise level was very loud and USC had a number of false-start penalties. But after last season's eight-total-turnover game against Michigan and Saturday's offensively-challenged second half, perhaps we could all use a break from home night games, at least from a football perspective.

What we learned: Week 4

September, 22, 2013
9/22/13
10:00
AM CT
Did we really learn anything from Notre Dame's 17-13 win over Michigan State?

1. Limiting mistakes is sometimes enough. We all know that turnovers have cost Notre Dame in the past. But I didn't realize just how much until I saw this postgame stat: The Irish are 12-0 under coach Brian Kelly when they don't turn it over. They came awfully close a few times Saturday, especially on special teams, and Tommy Rees did not have a great day. But they won the turnover battle 1-0, which ended up being the difference in the game.

2. Run game needs to get going. The Irish ran for just 82 yards on 32 carries. They went empty backfield on a number of third-and-short plays, an oddity considering that Rees is not a mobile quarterback. MSU's defense is among the best in the nation, so the Spartans deserve some credit, but this was not the kind of start the Irish wanted on the ground through four games.

3. Rookies step up. Corey Robinson had his best game. Will Fuller made a 37-yard catch. Cole Luke and Devin Butler saw time together. Tarean Folston even got four carries for 12 yards. (Though everyone's still waiting to see Greg Bryant on more than kick coverage.) The first-year guys took advantage of some opportunities, perhaps earning more trust as the season progresses.

Bryant addition another boost

December, 10, 2012
12/10/12
9:50
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Notre Dame has gotten quite the lift off the field following a 12-0 regular season on it.

Look no further than this past weekend, when four-star running back Greg Bryant pledged to the Irish, one day after the school beat out Ohio State for Class of 2014 Watch List offensive lineman Jimmy Byrne. Insider

Bryant, Notre Dame's 22nd 2013 commit, immediately becomes the Irish's second-highest rated prospect, beyond Jaylon Smith. And he will likely have the chance to step in immediately, with the Irish losing Theo Riddick and possibly Cierre Wood after this season.

With Bryant, George Atkinson III, Cam McDaniel, the yet-to-be-seen Amir Carlisle and freshman William Mahone, the Irish should have no shortage of backs to turn to next season, and the different styles each brings will create an interesting dynamic.

The addition of Bryant moved Notre Dame up one spot, to No. 3, in ESPN's class of 2013 recruiting rankings, behind USC and Florida. Insider You can read scouts' take on Bryant here. Insider

Below, we break down the Irish's 2013 and 2014 recruiting classes. The 2013 class features eight ESPN150 prospects (*), four ESPN300 prospects (**), 17 four-star commits and one five-star. The Class of 2014 consists of four players, three of whom are ESPN Watch List members.

Class of 2013
Class of 2014

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